Citrix tops VMware in desktop virtualization, again

Citrix's VDI technology has surged ahead of rival VMware's, according to the Burton Group

Citrix's VDI technology has surged ahead of rival VMware's, according to the Burton Group, which says Citrix's XenDesktop software is the first "enterprise-ready" server-hosted virtual desktop product.

The Burton Group claims that server-hosted VDI platforms need 52 specific features to be deemed enterprise-ready, and that an update Citrix made this week makes it the first to meet all of them.

VMware: no 'timeline' for release of delay-ridden client hypervisor

Previously, XenDesktop was missing role-based access controls and administrative change logging capabilities, which are necessary to provide an audit trail for administrative actions. The initial release of XenDesktop 4 also lacked a suitable enterprise-class support policy, according to the Burton Group.

With XenDesktop 4 Service Pack 1, Citrix now meets all of the research firm's requirements, analyst Chris Wolf said in a blog post Thursday.

"Burton Group extensively tested the above features in our lab to ensure that they met our requirements, and the result was a platform that we can recommend for large-scale enterprise environments," Wolf writes.

Citrix has also pushed ahead of VMware in the bare-metal desktop hypervisor market, as VMware failed to deliver on a product it initially planned to release last year. (Don't miss our bare-metal hypervisor primer.)

While VMware struggles on the client hypervisor side, it may not be long before it catches up with Citrix's server-hosted desktop capabilities.

VMware View 4.01 meets more than 90% of the Burton Group's required features, but lacks role-based access control, enterprise management integration and Windows 7 guest support.

The Burton Group expects VMware to meet all of the enterprise requirements in VMware View 4.5, expected sometime in 2010.

Even though Citrix complies with all of Burton Group's required features, it meets just 76% of "preferred" features and about 50% of "optional" ones. Citrix still has room for improvement in reducing management complexity, including reducing the number of consoles needed to manage XenDesktop deployments.

VMware has further to go, as it meets just over 40% of the Burton Group's preferred features, and only 20% of optional ones.

VMware's slowness in comparison to Citrix won't necessarily be fatal, as both companies have captured a significant portion of early virtual desktop customers. New data from IDC shows that VDI hasn't really taken off yet, so the race to provide the definitive desktop virtualization platform is far from over.

The Burton Group also rates server hypervisors on enterprise-readiness. In that arena, VMware was the first to meet all requirements, ahead of Ctirx.

Follow Jon Brodkin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jbrodkin

Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.

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Jon Brodkin

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