VMware Buys Wanova: Watch Out, Citrix

VMware makes another move indicating it intends to catch up to Citrix in the desktop virtualization market. Wanova's technology brings VMware a number of advantages.

Charles Babcock

May 22, 2012

3 Min Read
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VMware announced Tuesday that it is acquiring desktop management specialist Wanova, a move that will enhance VMware View's desktop virtualization capabilities. Wanova centralizes the management of end-user desktops, but reverses direction and allows them to be located on distributed end-user devices at runtime.

Wanova's Mirage system streams users' individual desktops from a central server to their devices, where both application logic and the users' displays run using the devices' compute power. In VMware View 5.1, the most common way to run end-user desktops is to execute application logic on a central server and send only display results to the end-user device. With the Wanova approach, Windows PCs and laptops and Apple Macintoshes and iPads remain active compute devices, running applications instead of being reduced to functioning as dumb terminal-like displays.

In addition, Wanova's Mirage can deal with both bare physical and virtual desktops with the same conventions, in the same system. The approach reunites management of end-user computing after virtualization imposed a split between bare metal versus virtual systems.

Phil Montgomery, VMware senior director of product management, said the acquisition will allow VMware "to redefine the virtual desktop infrastructure market" to include management of physical and virtual desktops by one system.

[ VMware rival Citrix Systems' has also turned to acquisition to advance its desktop virtualization capabilities. See Citrix Buys RingCube For Personalized Virtual Desktop Capabilities.]

Wanova, a San Jose, Calif., company, got its name from its founders' expertise in wide area networking and ability to optimize the movement of data over a WAN. The user's desktop image is maintained and stored on a central server. When needed, it streams down the wire to the device and is run there, according said Montgomery.

It also uses a technique known as "layering" to capture and maintain user-added applications. Layering, or keeping each application as a discrete entity, captures those user-added applications in their own layers so that the rest of the desktop, built from golden images and composite desktop templates, is unaffected by them.

Wanova Mirage also includes branch cache capability, a feature that pushes one master desktop image to a branch office; a branch server then loads multiple users' computers.

The Wanova approach treats the central server image of the desktop as a master copy. After an initial download, the end-user device stores a copy of the desktop, with synchronization occurring between the two at the initiation of the central server.

If a user's desktop is corrupted on his own device, it's a simple matter for the central server to replace it with a fresh copy. Montgomery said VMware will be looking to make this approach work across both Windows and Macintosh systems and mobile devices after the acquisition closes. The purchase is expected to be complete by the end of the second quarter; no purchase price was disclosed

Just three weeks ago, VMware announced its latest plans to bring a more sophisticated desktop virtualization system to market. The acquisition underscores its determination to catch up with Citrix Systems, deemed the market leader in the virtual desktop infrastructure space by IDC. In a recent interview, VMware CTO Steve Herrod acknowledged that VMware had been falling behind before the advent of View 5.1.

Montgomery isn't allowed to talk about product plans until after the acquisition. But he said, "It's pretty obvious where we can snap all this in." VMware's View 5.1 doesn't currently have a capacity to deal with physical desktops or stream desktops to devices for execution on the device's own hardware.

"IT teams need to evolve from managing devices towards managing user workspaces and experience across multiple devices. The combination of VMware and Wanova addresses this evolution," said Sebastiano Tevarotto, chairman and CEO of Wanova.

Wanova was founded in 2008 by Ilan Kessler and Issy Ben-Shaul, previously co-founders of Actona Technologies, which acquired by Cisco in 2004 and became the foundation for Cisco Wide Area Application Services.

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