May 24, 2011, 4:23 PM — Citrix Systems is expanding its menu of options and, in the process, its lead over VMware in the virtual desktop business by acquiring Kaviza, which sells an appliance-based VDI server designed to give SMBs a drop-in ability to build virtual desktops.
Citrix bought an undisclosed amount of Kaviza last April for an undisclosed amount of money, with the intent of using its VDI-in-a-box as a way to counter complaints by end users that desktop virtualization is just too complicated.
VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) is the most radical form of virtual desktops. Rather than run an operating system, applications and data on a user's local machine, all those things run in a virtual machine on a server in the data center.
Implemented correctly, VDI all but eliminate hands-on support and reconfiguration of desktop PCs – not to mention increase the security of data, make them more virus-proof and give IT more control over what apps are run on its infrastructure.
If a user's desktop is infected, becomes unstable due to corruption in OS systems files or causes any other trouble, it's simple to just shut it down on the server and relaunch another VM with exactly the same data and apps. Problem solved.
Making it work means a big investment in new servers to run all the new virtual machines, expanding network bandwidth, huge increases in storage and I/O and still doesn't eliminate all the cost of hardware or support on the user's end – they still have to type on something, and even the thinnest-client hardware costs something to buy, install and maintain.
Despite the benefits, it's tough to overcome the complexities. You have to make sure "VM storms" don't swamp the network and SAN in the morning as everyone signs on at once and solving the problem of how to keep the files containing a user's personalizations, personal data and installed files live and attached to the VM as it is relaunched, or moved from one server to another during load balancing.