Is Citrix the Real Challenge to VMware?: Page 2

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If VMware is worried about this, they’re not showing it. Their message these days is all about the emerging markets of desktop virtualization and cloud computing.

VMware also has more to worry about than just Citrix. Sun and Red Hat both have compelling virtualization stories. Virtual Iron is quietly dominating the SME space, and Cisco is entering the fray.

What about those emerging sectors, anyway?

While VMware still owns the server virtualization market, those emerging sectors have yet to be won. The cloud computing space is wide open – even conceptually, since vendors and analysts don’t even agree on what exactly a cloud is.

“It’s amazing how people use the term in such different ways,” said David Mitchell Smith, a VP and fellow at Gartner. “On one side you have purists who say there is no such thing as an internal cloud. On the other, you have people so into infrastructure and nothing else that to them ‘cloud’ equals ‘virtualization.’”

Smith believes that internal clouds will be the first to emerge, since IT has a lot more experience with enterprise infrastructure than anything remotely resembling public clouds.

Desktop virtualization is another story. While it, too, is a market in its infancy, it’s easy enough to define, and the demand is certainly there. IDC predicts the market could grow to $2 billion within the next couple of years.

In a down economy, that may be a stretch, but technologies that helps with cost cutting tend to weather recessions reasonably well. “It’s the high cost of managing desktops that’s driving adoption,” Wolf said. “The emergence of the desktop hypervisor will also deliver a number of benefits beyond cost. There are still technical issues to work out, but we’re only a couple of years away from this being a mainstream technology.”

With its acquisition of XenSource in 2007, Citrix vaulted itself ahead of other competitors as a desktop virtualization provider. According to the Burton Group, Citrix is doing well in the nascent VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) market, with deployments almost evenly divided between Citrix and VMware. Compare that to the server virtualization market, where IDC estimates VMware’s market share at 78% – although even that number has been eroding.

Citrix looked to have another edge in VDI race – a partnership with Intel – until VMware inked an almost identical deal earlier this month. The Intel deal is important in that it will help drive embedded hypervisor technology. Today’s VDI deployments are akin to the old thin-client model.

With embedded hypervisors, on the other hand, fully capable computers can be segmented to keep enterprise applications compartmentalized away from anything else a user may load onto the device. Wolf predicts that OEMs will start shipping computers with embedded hypervisors in 2010. The technology will mature in 2011 and reach the mainstream the following year.

Today, neither Citrix nor VMware is shipping a client hypervisor. The only company currently doing so today is a startup founded in 2006, Neocleus Neocleus.

Even so, when virtualization moves out of the data center and onto client devices, Citrix starts looking better and better. It’s been aggressively developing (and hyping) client-side hypervisors, it has XenSource under its roof, and there’s that partnership with Microsoft to consider.

ALSO SEE: Five Companies Shaping Cloud Computing: Who Wins?


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Tags: Microsoft, virtualization, Red Hat, Citrix, VMware


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