I am fresh back from the biggest ever VMworld Europe, buoyed by the numerous announcements and developments in their end-user capabilities. On the back of our strengthening strategic partnership I thought it was time to address that age-old question; which is best Citrix or VMware?
It’s not easy being a consultant. It’s even harder when you don’t work for a vendor and so aren’t invested in a specific technology stack. Yes, I get it, there are worse things in life, but all things are relative. For me, nothing represents that better than organisations asking whether they should choose VMware or Citrix? The response ‘it depends’ is often met with exasperation, but it’s key to everything we do, by focusing on the value to a business and the requirements they are trying to meet.
Back in 2014, VMware bought AirWatch for $1.54 billion; a staggering fifteen times it’s reputed worth. We had already seen the explosion of mobile devices into organisations and the realisation of how much more productive they could make people, but it was also evident that managing mobile devices was a different proposition to managing static PCs.
Pretty soon that was looking like a smart move. However, roll forward to 2018 and the benefits of Mobile Device Management are being exploited across the wider estate. Making the purchase look like a fabulous move. The development of Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) has allowed VMware to talk not just about virtual desktops, not just about mobile devices but the whole end-user estate. With this the focus has shifted just from competing with Citrix to move directly with Microsoft. With virtual desktops constant at around 10% for most customers the bigger opportunity remains the physical world hence the development of Workspace ONE. The prize now is looking beyond the Microsoft ecosystem at how the workplace is becoming more disparate, driven by consumer/colleague choice. This strategic, holistic, vision is now more often what drives solution choice.
In August 2017, VMware bought Apteligent, nine months later they bought E8 Security and delivered Workspace ONE Intelligence to improve user experience, optimise resources and strengthen security and compliance. In May of this year, they announced their strategic partnership with Okta which increased their capabilities to deliver a compelling identity story. I said above that the focus has shifted from Citrix to Microsoft, with these acquisitions and the capabilities they bring, in truth VMware is battling against their partnership.
The decision to remain on a certain virtual platform should be considered alongside how devices will be managed, how identity will be handled, what cloud investment strategy has been decided, which endpoint security requirements you have. Most organisations have existing investments in technology that come up for renewal at different times so changes need to be modular and fit an end vision. They must interact and exist alongside other products until the time is right to retire them. So where do you start? In Workspace ONE I see four opportunities.
Device diversity – organisations are increasingly looking beyond Microsoft Windows to support greater user choice. The drive from Apple and Google into Enterprise organisations is, so far, better supported and has more focus from VMware
Consumerisation of IT – as the consumer world now leads the Enterprise world there is an expectation of a certain user experience and ease of use. Workspace ONE delivers a consistent consumer-like experience across multiple OS platforms and form-factors.
Existing AirWatch investment – where mobile devices are already being managed via AirWatch the ability to extend that management to the primary device estate through a ‘single pane of glass’ can make a strong case for retaining and strategically developing investment in VMware.
Existing virtual desktop and app investment – where VMware Horizon has been deployed the built-in integration into Workspace ONE and potential licence benefits could make the case for deploying the wider portfolio of products. Publishing applications through the Workspace ONE app can be a key driver to greater end-point diversity.
VMware can co-exist with traditional management systems to manage a wide range of devices and form factors. Using analytics, they now have insight into the user experience, with their open security platform they can take advantage off best of breed vendors and with their partnership with Okta they have an identity solution to integrate any application strategy safely and securely. That gives them the capability to offer a direct comparison to Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility and Security suite.
Competition provides benefits for the user and drives vendors to be innovative. If you believe that your future desktop strategy extends beyond the Microsoft world, then Workspace ONE is something you need to consider. Let’s have the conversation, just don’t expect a simple answer.
It’s been a hectic couple of weeks, mainly as it’s been conference season which involves spending time away (usually in a foreign country), listening to vendor x, y, z, talk about their market perspective, and how their technology fits into the eco system of workplace technology (well, usually they talk about more than just workplace, but it’s what I pay most attention to 🙂 ).
Whilst it’s often perceived as a jolly, the days at such events are ordinarily long, mixed with a combination of vendor key messages, technology insights and details of technology improvements, and vendor meetings where we often talk about what we’ve done the past year with respect to them, and what we all think the opportunity is going to be for the following year.
For those of you internally, you’ll know that we’ve (CC) established ourselves as the leading service provider in the UK around Windows transformation, with our EMEA business equating to worldwide levels of prominence, numbers which frankly leave me very proud of what we’ve achieved over the last 15 years of improving and refining of our extensive service offerings to our customers.
It was actually this traction that lead to Citrix & Cisco asking us (well me) to present at the recent Citrix conference to extol the benefits of how we’ve deployed their integrated technology stacks to our customers, and how we’ve made such traction in a difficult market, (desktop virtualisation). We’re being used as the poster boy (for want of a better description), on how it can be done, and how it’s possible to provide cutting edge desktop transformation services that provide innovate solutions to business problems. Quite a vindication from these key vendors we felt, and why we agreed to do it.
This position in the market is allowing us to starting thinking about the future of workplace services, and for the last 6 months or so, I’ve been working on and considering the next generation of services and technologies, and how they’re going to impact us, our service offerings, and most importantly our customers.
The key vendors in this area are all thinking big, and are thinking cloud enablement (private and public) and this tricky integration and how it can reduce costs and provide better services for modern working environments.
In the next 12-18 months, it will be possible to build a true Desktop as a Service (DaaS) model, that critically will be able to flexible both up and down, and scale appropriately with need, (which the IT industry really can’t do right now). I fully anticipate however, it will probably be another 2-3 years before it’ll really be a viable option for our customer to consider buying and is thus part of our next generation of service development unlikely to gain any traction until after the Windows XP to 7 uplift.
I’m working with these vendors on helping them shape their products, to be more complete service offerings, (as the vendors are notorious on concentrating on technology features and functions over service integration considerations or really thinking about their customers business need and problems), and I’ll share more on these interesting developments in time when it becomes more appropriate to share this insight.
I’m off on Holiday from today for 2 weeks; recharge the batteries before the big push for the remainder of the year. I’ll pick up the blog when I return, as whilst I like technology and my job, even I like to put it down sometimes. 🙂