It could also be that VMware realized just how hard it is to create and support a bare-metal client hypervisor and then make any money off it. If you thought supporting all the various server hardware out there was difficult, just ask Microsoft about supporting all the various versions of laptop and desktop hardware.
Now that Citrix is offering this new type of client hypervisor, will it make things easier or more difficult for organizations trying to decide their future desktop virtualization plans?
Bartoletti believes the biggest barrier to desktop virtualization is that the big vendors actually have too many solutions available. "Large customers get bogged down trying to figure out which mix of desktop virtualization strategies is right for each user type, while smaller companies might just look for a packaged out of the box solution. I think Citrix is protecting both flanks, and acting quite nimble," he added.
But things aren't all rainbows and pixie dust with this release. There are limitations with XenClient, as you might expect with any 1.0 release, and some of these limitations can prove quite frustrating.
The first limitation is the hardware support. Much like VMware ESX back in the early days of server virtualization, Citrix XenClient has a small number of supported platforms, according to the XenClient hardware compatibility list. There are 23 products officially supported; however, the system model alone does not imply support. There are nine different laptops in that list from Dell, eight from HP, and six from Lenovo. These laptops range from Intel Core 2 Duo to Intel Core i7 -- but the one thing they all have in common is that they must have Intel vPro technology in order to be considered compatible. For many folks that requirement could be a deal breaker -- and heaven forbid you try to use processors from Advanced Micro Devices!
Another frustrating limitation is the hardware requirements for supported graphic adapters, where the supported laptop machines are required to have Intel graphical processing units (GPUs). XenClient is only offering support on Intel's GMA 4500 or HD Graphic adapters. GPUs from other providers like ATI or Nvidia will not work.
In a world where we have contract workers with their own machines and employees operating under "buy your own PC" initiatives, client-side virtualization could be a great way to isolate and keep the organization's applications and information separate from users' personal files and apps. But the hardware and support restrictions currently imposed by XenClient 1.0 are probably going to be way too restrictive to generate wide acceptance.
But let's remember, this is a 1.0 product. Perhaps organizations will stick their big toe in the water to try it out, give feedback, and help Citrix expand its features and support. On the other hand, if organizations try it and have a negative experience, will that be enough to turn them off desktop virtualization? Let's hope that's not the case.
This article, "Citrix XenClient extends desktop virtualization to mobile," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in virtualization and cloud computing at InfoWorld.com.