What is jealousy? First off, it would be categorized as an emotion which typically refers to the negative thoughts and feelings of insecurity, fear, and anxiety over an anticipated loss of something that the person values, such as a relationship, friendship, love or … market share? I think both Citrix and Microsoft have more recently felt the sting of this emotion. That’s odd, who would both Microsoft and Citrix be jealous of? Easy answer, VMware. Citrix and Microsoft have been in competition for a while now, and it’s clear that VMware is leaps and bounds ahead of both vendors and is the clear leader when it comes to virtualization. Back in June of 2010 Gartner, Inc announced that VMware is positioned in the Leaders quadrant of the Magic Quadrant for x86 Server Virtualization Infrastructure. According to the report:

The 86x Server Virtualization Infrastructure market is a foundation for two extremely important market trends – infrastructure modernization, and cloud computing.” Moreover, “virtualization is enabling a fundamental change in how enterprises manage, deploy and deliver IT,” and, ”x86 architecture server virtualization is now considered a mainstream trend (roughly 25% of the market is penetrated), and the strategic path from server virtualization to cloud computing is becoming more apparent to enterprises. “Since pioneering virtualization for x86 systems 10 years ago, VMware has helped thousands of customers reduce IT complexity to achieve new levels of efficiency, service and value,” said Rick Jackson, chief marketing officer, VMware. “We believe our position as a leader reflects this success, reinforces our belief that virtualization is central to next-generation IT strategy, and recognizes our vision for delivering a clear and compelling path to cloud computing.”

More recently Citrix and Microsoft have decided to form an alliance in an attempt to dominate the VDI market and strike a calculated blow to VMware’s market share. This partnership was unoriginal and affectionately called “V-Alliance.” First off, odd that they still decided to us a v in front of their idea name, even sillier because it had to be an uppercase V due to copyright laws enforced by VMware. Come on, both Microsoft and Citrix are relatively good at marketing, and this is the best they could come up with? It seems to me to be more like a spit in the eye of VMware by mocking their product naming convention. Maybe it isn’t, you be the judge. Since this alliance was formed both companies have decided to go on the road and promote V-Alliance in their Citrix and Microsoft Roadshow. This roadshow as been to a ton of cities nationwide and is coming to an end with only 7 shows left (here is the list of remaining shows). I will personally be in attendance at the November 3rd show in Washington DC at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel. I’m hoping to see what the two companies have to bring to the VDI arena that hasn’t already been put in place by VMware.

Ok, out of some respect to both of these companies I should at least describe what this V-Alliance is and what it aims to accomplish, that’s only fair. Let’s start with going right to the source, the actual V-Alliance website, here’s what they have to say about this new alliance:

The role of IT is changing. Now, more than ever, IT needs to operate closer to the business and businesses need to transform their IT into a lean and integrated business tool. Here is how we can help. Citrix® and Microsoft® are offering you the reality of The Optimized Desktop. Together with our V-Alliance partners, we will help you achieve your goals for efficiency, cost reductions, compliance, integrated management, and security. With Cloud Computing becoming more relevant, it’s important to prepare for the next IT evolution. The V-Alliance is shared between Microsoft, Citrix, and Intel®. The goal of the alliance is to provide you with a central place to find all the materials you need to address your customers needs for delivering the ultimate desktop.

This gives us a pretty good idea of what they are trying to accomplish by aligning, although to me it seems as if they are only ganging up on VMware in an attempt to bully them out of market share while shedding a negative light on VMware as a company. You might wonder why I am making such accusations, to understand this better check out the post Mike Laverick wrote over at RTFM. It outlines the full-page negative ad attacking VMware which was released shortly before the kick-off of VMworld 2010 in San Francisco. Further evidence would be the Miercom report, paid for by Citrix to basically match up XenDesktop 4 with VMware View 4, and the results were obviously biased, see my earlier post on this topic.

I guess in the end, it comes across as if neither company could get it done on their own and had to join forces in order to compete with VMware. Oddly enough, it doesn’t seem as if Citrix is hurting for business according to the MarketWatch.com Q3 financial assessment of Citrix: “In the third quarter of fiscal 2010, Citrix achieved revenue of $472 million, compared to $401 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2009, representing 18 percent revenue growth.” Any growth is good growth, which is why I don’t quite understand the need to align with Microsoft. There’s no need for this in my opinion, just present a good product, provide great support, and innovate, all of which VMware already has accomplished and keeps getting better at. As a parting note, here’s a short quote about V-Alliance from Microsoft outlining what they believe this alliance will offer their collective customers:

The tight integration of Citrix solutions with Window Server 2008, Hyper-V virtualization technology, Remote Desktop Services (RDS), and Microsoft System Center suite provides application and desktop delivery solutions for customers of all sizes, including enterprise, large, midmarket, and small and midsize businesses. Key benefits include: Lower cost of IT operations, speedy deployment of desktops and applications and a quality end user experience

Will your organization be joining this V-Alliance? Is this alliance good for Microsoft and Citrix? Or is it good for VMware? Will Citrix be absolved by Microsoft in the end? Hopefully not, after all Citrix does present good desktop virtualization solutions, and competition is good for both Citrix and VMware. I don’t think you will ever find VMware trashing Citrix or any company for that matter. At any rate, these are all valid questions and the answers will only reveal themselves in years to come. Could V-Alliance be the beginning of the end for Citrix? Only time will tell.


Greg W Stuart
Greg is the owner and editor of vDestination.com. He's been a VMware vExpert every year since 2011. Greg enjoys spending time with his wife and 3 kids. He works as a Sr. Consultant at VMware and resides in Northern Virginia, 15 minutes west of Washington DC.

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