VMware acquires desktop management company Wanova

Moving against Citrix, VMware gains central image management and persistent user-installed apps for physical and virtual desktops

VMware basically owns the x86 server virtualization right now, but that hasn't stopped Citrix, Microsoft, Red Hat, and others from trying to gain momentum and take away market share from the virtualization giant. Despite VMware's strong grip on the server side, it has yet to find a way to achieve that same level of success within the desktop virtualization market.

After an exciting week at Citrix Synergy 2012 in San Francisco earlier this month, Citrix seemed to gain even more momentum and possibly pulled further ahead of VMware as it showcased upcoming technologies that will provide the company with an even better-defined story for transforming the corporate desktop. But now, less than two weeks later, VMware strikes back with the announcement that it plans to acquire Silicon Valley-based Wanova, adding a significant piece of technology to its end-user computing (EUC) portfolio. From a competitive standpoint, this acquisition will give VMware features and capabilities that begin to level the playing field with Citrix.

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Wanova, a maker of desktop management and layering software, was founded back in 2007 by Dr. Issy Ben-Shaul and Ilan Kessler. The two previously worked together to build WAN services firm Actona (later acquired by Cisco), which developed a WAN optimization product that later became the foundation of the Cisco Application Delivery business unit. It was this expertise in wide area networking and the ability to optimize the movement of data over a WAN that gave the company the credibility to start Wanova.

The company exited stealth mode in August 2009 after raising $13 million in a Series A round of funding from Greylock Partners, Carmel Ventures, and Opus Capital. It then raised another $10 million in a Series B round last August from the same three venture capitalist firms.

Neither VMware nor Wanova representatives have divulged the financial terms of the acquisition deal, but a spokesperson for VMware said the deal is expected to close sometime in the second quarter. They added that all 50 employees at Wanova, including the company's founders, are expected to move to VMware once the acquisition closes.

Wanova's flagship product that interested VMware is called Mirage. It centralizes image management by using the company's layering technology in the data center. It is this layering technology that allows administrators to separate the management and delivery of images. The images of the endpoints are cloned into the data center to enable the benefits of centralized management and recovery while leaving cached copies of the image on each endpoint for local (and offline) execution. Mirage decouples the image into individual layers that can be managed, delivered, and restored independently from each other to offer increased flexibility. Those logical layers include the operating system, corporate/departmental-installed applications, user-installed applications, and user data and settings.

"Wanova Mirage is an innovative image replication and layering technology that combines sophisticated, layered image management with client-side execution and persistent caching," said Scott Davis, CTO of VMware's End User Computing group. "It was designed to centralize the management of desktop images in the data center and to deliver those images efficiently to physical Windows systems for a native user experience, as well as to virtual machines for execution."

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