We all knew this was going to happen and it happened yesterday. If you have no idea what I am talking about let me quickly summarize it for you and then give you my take on it.
VMware announced yesterday that it is adding support for Microsoft RDS Session Host (a.k.a. Terminal Server, Terminal Services, TS or simply RDS) on its product. So now they can deliver sessions from either Desktop OSs (what VMware View was all about since day one) and from Server OSs (with the RDS Session Host role enabled) using PCoIP.
Why I am saying this is the only article you will ever need about the subject? Well first of all I am the one writing it. Does not get better than that. Then I am not on VMware’s or Citrix’s payroll. Finally I am one of the so called ‘Dinosaurs’ in the RDS world (remember, I got the first MVP award ever for RDS specifically back in 2001). Oh and I drive a Lamborghini.
So seriously let’s take a look at the whole thing and what I think it is important with this release.
– RDS as a platform. I am very happy to see VMware doing this. Honestly. This just proves that all I have been saying all these years, that RDS is a solid platform AND not going to the grave in the near future is true. VMware now officially recognizes this. This also means a lot more work for all of us in this industry as now lots of VMware customers will start deploying this and will realize it is way more complex than a broker and a protocol. They have to deal with printing, profiles, logon times, session sharing, etc. The list goes on. For us, the industry dinosaurs, this is GREAT news. Be prepared to have hundreds of new customers lined up at your door, asking you to help them with their RDS issues.
– Citrix as a solution. There is no other way to put this. VMware is validating what Citrix has been saying for years WHILE acknowledging they (VMware) did have a big hole on their application delivery solution and that Citrix was correct all these years by addressing both the desktop and server OS application delivery mechanisms. Yes, a little tap in the back for Citrix.
– Citrix as a company. One thing I have been saying to Citrix for YEARS, even though I am a Citrix CTP as well, was the fact Citrix was milking the XenApp cow for VERY long, without really innovating much. Minor improvements here and there, evolution (albeit slow IMHO) instead of revolution.
Then the world, according Brian Madden, would flip everything to VDI and RDS would die, Citrix jumped into the VDI bandwagon and more than that, started to back stab the product (XenApp) that made Citrix, well, Citrix. Decided to rename XenApp to XenDesktop “Customers are stupid” Edition (ok, App Edition), chop off some features that made XenApp 6.5 a very solid platform and then released XenApp 7.5 “Phoenix” again, still a limping version of XenApp 6.5, not really offering anything better than its previous release. Basically screwing its customers, partners and itself along the way. Cannot get better than this, screwing up wise. Not sure who they hired for the job of screwing things up but whomever that is, this guy is a GENIUS at the subject. Next time I want to screw up something I will definitely give Mr. G a call.
So VMware announcement means two things for Citrix: first, RDS is indeed an important platform what leads to XenApp is important and has to be fixed, if you do not want people starting to test Horizon 6 to jump ship or not buy your product. Secondly, and the most important thing here is, Citrix now has someone on their back and if they want to stay on top they will have to become the Ol’good Citrix we, the dinosaurs in the industry (RickD, DougBrown, SteveG, SBass, Benny, etc) learned to love.
The one that innovates, that pushes the industry as a whole forward. And not the current Citrix that looks more like a bunch of farmers that know nothing more than milking a cow. And supervised by a marketing clown. Yep, it is that bad. Hopefully this will be great for the industry, leading to the same type of war we saw at the protocol level, where years ago Citrix was the king by a huge lead and now for 99% of the use cases the protocol is almost irrelevant (this helped the industry so much that even Microsoft released something great, RDP8.1, what is something borderline mystical as they do have a history of releasing stuff from their asses – you know what that is). So the lesson here: this is great for the industry, great for Citrix – if they see this as a challenge and live up to the expectations – and great for VMware, that is broadening its reach and addressing the problem properly. Great.
– XenApp as a product. Well thanks to customer feedback (more like customer wrath really) Citrix had to bring it back from the ashes. Then VMware comes and tells the world RDS is amazing. I hope this is a wake up call to Citrix so they realize how important XenApp is and always has been for their strategy and more than that, for them as a company. This move by VMware hopefully will guarantee XenApp is a product customers can trust in the long run, what many feel was not the case since Citrix almost renamed itself Cindesktop.
– Horizon 6 itself. If you have been in the industry for long you know there is more to RDS than simply having a way for people to connect to an RDS Session Host over a protocol. Problems that are not there with VDI (app compatibility, session sharing, etc) will definitely be there when you throw RDS to the mix.
Right now, no one has played with Horizon 6. No one knows what it can do as a complete solution, as something that goes beyond brokering a session to an RDS SH host using PCoIP. How does it handle printing? How does it handle the user environment? How does it handle the server build itself? How much automation there is to increase farm capabilities? The list goes on and for now no one has an answer to that.
That is why no decent blogger should say Horizon 6 is great or it sucks. No one knows that. And I can bet things will change from what some analysts saw today to what will be actually shipping. My take is, if VMware is intelligent, they carefully looked at what is out there, the competition, and addressed most of the needs when it is out. If that is not the case, customers may get burnt with a solution that falls short from its promises and may go for a competitor. Or, if you are really loyal to the brand and NOT in a hurry to have that working, you may just say “Oh well it is a V1 product so half of the things not working properly is to be expected – they will get better”.
My personal take is I hope it is good as again this will drive the competition and the industry forward. And I will have years of consulting on the RDS space still to go. Great. But until I see it in the wild I cannot say how good or bad it is. Period.
– UX is important. Yes, the user experience is key. And how seamless things integrate with all the platforms that can work as an endpoint is very important. As Shawn Bass mentioned, Citrix ignored a lot of platforms with their receiver, to the point the receiver on OSX for example sucks. I will say this is an industry trend in general as Microsoft apps on OSX do suck too. But there is one point we cannot forget: the AX (the Admin eXperience) has to be good.
No matter how good the UX is, if the AX sucks big time and the whole thing is a PITA to get going and to maintain, IT departments will certainly back slash it and bury it somewhere. Lesson here is it has to be polished in all fronts, especially if you are the last player to the game, the one that had years of research available, studying everything that sucks with your competitors. So yes, we do expect VMware offering to be polished in all fronts.
– VDI as a platform. Well thanks to the first point on this article, Horizon 6 puts the last nail in the VDI coffin. What I mean is, in the coffin that says VDI is everything, VDI is better than sex, I want to do a MILF with a VDI tattoo on her lower back (I bet you pictured it). VDI is simply another option, another tool in your tollbox and VMware finally acknowledges it. Plus this goes beyond Citrix and VMware.
This is also a wake up call to all the VDI fanboys out there, that were blinded by Brian’s predictions (failed by the way) that VDI was going to take over the world and Claudio would retire due to lack of work for him as an RDS guru. Lesson here, VDI fanboys, go learn RDS and stop thinking BrianMadden.com is the bible. Brian is no Jesus. He does not even have a long beard. And he lives in San Francisco.
To conclude this post I just want to say this: 2014 is the year of RDS and this is not a prediction.
Thanks VMware for confirming what I have been saying all along.
And VMware, welcome to the RDS world. I have my arms wide open.
[Hugging sound] [VMware fanboys crying in background]