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VMware Ready program extended to boost VDI adoption

Company extends the program to include VMware View solutions for government.

VMware is banking on a new channel program to boost VMware View adoption initially in government accounts and then more broadly.

The VMware Ready Desktop Solutions program, announced today, recognizes partners that build solutions around VMware View that meet criteria both from VMware and the government. VMware works with aspiring partners on a test suite for the solution. The partner then has to run the test and validate the solution on-site.

The program initially targets federal agencies trying to comply with the Telework Act of 2010, which aims to ensure that government employees can work productively -- and securely -- whether they’re in the office or not. VMware plans to bring the program to other verticals, including state and local government and education, over time.

“All these green IT and teleworker initiatives are changing the mindset among rank-and-file workers,” said Sudhir Verma, senior director of consulting services for Force 3, a government-focused integrator. “If you asked me last year, I’d have said that [VDI] was IT driven. But today users expect to be able to work anywhere, anytime and access their work on any device.”

Verma said the logo will help his company differentiate itself and gain more traction around virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) in government accounts. Force 3 and Hewlett-Packard Services (HP Services) are the first two integrators to gain the VMware Ready Desktop Solutions imprimatur.

VDI is one of those technologies that has been on the cusp of wide adoption for what seems to be years now. According to TechTarget’s Virtualization Decisions 2010 survey, 33.7% of 808 IT pros responding said they were evaluating client or desktop virtualization, while 20.7% of respondents said they were deploying or extending desktop virtualization in their companies.

The Windows 7 migration case for VDI
VARs with virtualization chops hope that Windows 7 migrations will drive more VDI work going forward. And there are quite a few of those migrations still on tap. Verma estimated that fewer than 40% of government desktops have moved from Windows XP to Windows 7 so far.

Andrew Brust, CEO of Blue Badge Insights and a longtime Microsoft partner, agreed that there is a lot of Windows XP still out there.

“Many accounts wish to upgrade but are still waiting for their own vendors to certify Windows 7 compatibility for their apps,” he said. “Or they have a reliance on [Internet Explorer 6] and so have not proceeded with upgrades yet, even though they are planned.”

These application compatibility worries could, in and of themselves, bolster the case for VDI, which enables a new operating system to keep running older, legacy applications.

If shops moving to Windows 7 virtualize their desktops first, the migration gets a lot less complicated, said Jack Kaiser, vice president of strategic technologies for GreenPages Technology Solutions, a VMware partner in Kittery, Maine. 

Ironically, complexity is one thing that has slowed VDI adoption thus far, Kaiser said.

“In the last two weeks, two CIOs told me that [VDI] is unlike any other project [because] it touches every single person in the company, and people’s desktops are their lifeblood,” he added. “If advertising salespeople can’t get their email out the door, revenue stops. So it’s a long sales cycle with a lot of moving parts, but I think we’re getting closer to wide adoption.”

Many observers see Citrix XenDesktop as the de facto leader in the desktop virtualization market, but VMware is working hard to parlay its server virtualization dominance into desktop success with VMware View. The good news for VARs that make money integrating multi-vendor solutions is that many shops want the best of both vendors.

“We’ve seen a lot of interest in both VMware and Citrix, but we’re seeing more VMware deployment with the hypervisor and Citrix as the connection broker -- hybrid solutions,” said one East Coast VAR that works with both vendors. “Our engineers say that VMware is dominant on the hypervisor, but a lot of desktop people are already very familiar with Citrix, and they like XenDesktop for remote environments, where they see it having better performance. VMware may close the gap with the new View, but that’s still uncertain.”

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