Provision to Take IBM References

Desktop virtualization vendor now sports IBM and HP arrangements

July 18, 2007

3 Min Read
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In a move that highlights the growing importance of desktop virtualization, Provision Networks has arranged for IBM to reference its software in future sales of the IBM Virtual Client Solution. (See IBM Picks Provision.)

Desktop virtualization is gaining momentum as a way for companies to streamline the configuration of laptops and desktops, save on software licensing costs, and simplify management. (See Desktop Virtualization Brokers Emerge.) The technologies involved in the trend come from a slew of vendors, and partnerships are intricate and downright confusing.

Provision Networks claims to simplify matters by covering three market segments. The firm started off in 2004 by licensing the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) from Microsoft to offer enterprise terminal services, competing with Citrix. According to Provision CEO and co-founder Paul Ghostine, the limitation of this approach was that Microsoft's protocol only delivered full desktops, not individual applications for those desktops.

In 2005, therefore, the company implemented VMware Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) to create virtual machines populated with desktop operating systems and applications. The resulting Virtual Access Suite for VDI became the company's flagship in 2006.

Then this year, Provision focused on integrating its RDP terminal server capabilities with the VDI integration it offered in 2005. The result, according to Ghostine, is a product that supports terminal services like Citrix, dedicated remote desktops like those offered by IBM on BladeCenter servers, and a broker for shared remote desktops like the ones offered by Dunes and Zeus."We are the only vendor to support all three computing models," Ghostine asserts.

For IBM's part, IBM's Virtual Client Solution provides a framework for extending desktop services from IBM System x or BladeCenter servers, including ones linked to IBM System Storage DS3400 or DS4000 arrays. IBM partners with a range of companies to flesh out solutions, including Neoware, Devon IT, and Wyse Technology for thin client hardware; VMware for virtualization; and LeoStream for brokering virtual desktops.

And now IBM can steer customers to Provision Networks if it sees a need to offer a mixed bag of options.

According to Ghostine, a company can offer an Intranet that gives users a single interface for desktop applications, offering access to demo servers via the terminal services in Provision's software; access to physical and blade servers via the IBM integration; and links to virtual PCs through the VMware VDI spec.

Ghostine hopes the IBM reference-selling will encourage customers to use Provision in combination with IBM gear to streamline app delivery while maintaining centralized control.There's a real-world precedent for this kind of setup: Investools, an investment analysis educational company with offices in New York, Chicago, Salt Lake City, Palo Alto, Calif., and India, deploys the two products together. "[W]e have relied exclusively on Provision Networks to virtualize our desktop infrastructure and application delivery from centrally-managed IBM System x servers," said Jeff Brown, telecommunications manager at Investools, in a prepared statement.

Provision Networks can't claim to have a resale agreement with IBM, but HP does resell the vendor's software as part of an overall VDI solution set that includes HP's hardware. Provision also has a certification partnership with Datacore and an agreement with Connexan, and IBM VAR specializing in iSCSI. And this week, it announced a partnership with application virtualization vendor Thinstall. (See Thinstall, Provision Partner.)

Meanwhile, there's no room for playing favorites in the view of IBM, which continues a multiplicity of partnerships with Citrix and others involved in this segment.

Provision's Ghostine seems confident his company will maintain an edge despite growing competition and "coopetition." Provision has over 170,000 user desktops either installed or in test labs, he claims.

Provision Networks' software is licensed by concurrent users. Its Virtual Access Suite with VDI only costs about $50/user. All bells and whistles for support of terminal services, remote dedicated users, and remote shared services, costs $99/user.Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

  • Citrix Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CTXS)

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • Neoware Systems Inc.

  • Provision Networks

  • VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW)

  • Wyse Technology

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