The major players and where the money is

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print

After 2009's recession delays, zero-client, thin-client and desktop-virtualization technologies are poised to infiltrate companies, from the enterprise to the midsized organization to small business. Here's Channel Insider's guide to the technology, the trends, the turf wars and the promise.

The major players
Virtualization giant VMware has been setting the tone by dominating the server virtualization market which has exploded over the past few years. Can it do the same with desktop virtualization? The company laid out its plans to channel partners at a conference earlier this year, which focused on key areas such as the integration of its recently acquired e-mail and collaboration platform, Zimbra, as well as desktop virtualization technologies.

VMware introduced VMware View 4 last year, which incorporates the PC-over-IP protocol, technology which one IT solution provider told Channel Insider was "disruptive" and "game-changing".

But VMware’s strength doesn’t mean that virtualization rival, Citrix, is out of the game either. Managed services and infrastructure provider Carpathia Hosting told Channel Insider the reasons behind why it chose Citrix over VMware for cloud virtualization. Check them out here.

Microsoft the long shot? Well, when it comes to virtualization the software giant was late to the game with its server virtualization. The best selling points may be its integration with everything Microsoft and its price – shipping free with Windows Server.   And some in the industry are saying that Microsoft’s Hyper-V may very well appeal to small businesses that are looking to get in the game, but don’t want to shell out lots of cash yet. Solution providers have told Channel Insider that it’s no big deal to migrate from one hypervisor to another if the company grows. So what does it matter?

Plus, Microsoft recently made a host of desktop virtualization announcements, including a partnership with Citrix to create a "VDI Kick Start Promotion" that combines Citrix's XenDesktop with Microsoft's VDI and offers the package to businesses for just $28 per user. And in an indication that things are heating up, the companies said that to win customers back over to Citrix desktop virtualization, Citrix and Microsoft are offering a promotion in which they will allow customers to trade up to 500 VMware desktop virtualization licenses for the combined Citrix XenDesktop/Microsoft VDI desktop virtualization licenses at zero cost to the customer.Microsoft is also planning virtualization features for its Windows 7 SP 1 when released that will improve performance.

Where the real money is

And just like everything else, it’s not the hardware sales that are going to make you money with virtual clients, it’s the ongoing service engagements.


Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com