Dell announced that it is being acquired by Michael Dell and Silver Lake for $24.4 billion. (Dell Press Release)

One of the investment vehicles being used for this transaction is a $2 billion loan from Microsoft. With many rumors floating around last week, I focused on what this means for Microsoft’s relationship with the other hardware OEM’s (HP, Lenovo, etc.)

I was reading this post by Mary Jo Foley of ZD Net. Mary Jo’s post is comparing the Dell situation with Nokia. The majority of the post compares the advantage Nokia would have in the mobile device market with Microsoft investment.

Quoting from the article, “While Microsoft still gives Nokia props and is counting on Nokia for turn-by-turn navigation and Maps technologies for all Windows Phones, Nokia isn’t the only Windows Phone game in town.”

The Nokia-Microsoft relationship has evolved from devices to a software relationship as well. Nokia will be the mapping and navigation solution for all Windows Phone.  Even Bings maps sports a Nokia copyright on it. Microsoft looks to have walked away from the mapping and navigation front and is leveraging Nokia for all their needs.

Will the Dell-Microsoft relationship follow a similar path?

Citrix XenDesktop and VMware View are the big players when it comes to virtual desktop solutions. VMware View runs exclusively on VMware vSphere, and while XenDesktop runs on Hyper-V, the vast majority of implementations run on vSphere and Citrix XenServer.

In order to promote a VDI use-case on Hyper-V, Microsoft baked these functions into the Windows Server platform. I have yet to see a production environment using the Microsoft VDI services.

So that brings us to Dell Software’s vWorkspace. The vWorkspace product page actively promotes Microsoft Hyper-V Server.

In release 7.5, vWorkspace added 3 unique Hyper-V functions:

  • Direct support for Microsoft Hyper-V which includes free Hyper-V Server (Watch video)
  • Introduced Hyper-V Catalyst Components HyperCache and HyperDeploy (Watch video)
  • Desktop Clouds built on Hyper-V (Watch video)

Even though vWorkspace can leverage VMware vSphere and Parallels Virtuozzo Containers, a Microsoft Hyper-V and Microsoft System Center is the premier virtualization platform for the product.

Would Microsoft scrap its development of a Microsoft VDI solution in favor of  vWorkspace built on Microsoft virtualization. I bet the vWorkspace team would be happy about that.

After being tasked with creating a “product” SKU around Virtual Desktop, I came up with a VDI Questionnaire for potential VDI customers starting with 200 users. Understanding that its difficult to get all of the customer details clearly defined from a list of questions, I think we cover the majority of the key components.

I would love to hear your feedback

Preliminary List

  1. Is this going to be a hosted or on premise solution?
  2. What services are we expected to provide as part of this quote?
  • Design
  • Hosting
  • Infrastructure Implementation
  • Desktop Image Creation
  • Monitoring and Patching
  • Thin Client deployment
  1. Are we expected to provide VDI aware antivirus or with it come from your current vendor?
  2. Should Xendesktop Training for your staff be included in the quote
  3. Assuming success with the first 200 desktops, are there plans to grow the environment larger?
  4. Is adequate storage for shares in place for user files and user profile storage, or do you need NAS space quoted as well?
  5. What applications are you expecting to see on the desktops?

 Infrastructure

  1. Is this going to be a hosted or on premise solution?
  2. Is Microsoft Active Directory present in the environment? What is the domain functional level?
  3. Does the customer have an ELA which covers VDA pricing?
  4. Are we going to be deploying XenApp along with the VDI deployment?
  5. Is there a preferred storage vendor? Protocol?

Desktop Image

  1. Is there any profile redirection or profile management in place?
  2. Is Windows 7×32 or x64 going to be the desktop image?
  3. As the virtual desktop is very different than traditional desktops, are you aware of specific security requirements that could affect the project timeline?
  4. Are we expected to provide VDI aware antivirus or with it come from your current vendor?
  5. Do you have a list of applications that the environment is expected to support?
  6. Are you currently doing any application virtualization? If so, what vendor?
  7. How many desktop images do you anticipate?
  8. Is adequate storage for shares in place for user files and user profile storage, or do you need NAS space quoted as well?

Networking/Security

  1. Is the customer looking to hand off at layer 2 or 3?
  2. Is there a pair of 10GB uplinks that we will be able to connect the pod to?
  3. Is two-factor authentication (RSA) a requirement?
  4. Is there a local WAN? If so, can we see a Visio of the environment?
  5. Is DHCP currently being used in the environment?
  6. Can multiple dedicated subnets be allocated for the VDI environment, some of which have address capacity requirements?

Clients

  1. Are iDevices and Android devices in scope for external user access?
  2. Is any desktop equipment being reused?
  3. Are we doing physical deployments, are there restrictions that could affect the deployment (ie. No work on user desks between 8 and 5)?
  4. Are there any existing Thin-Clients in place? What models?

Operations/Growth

  1. What type and level of training would you like for your staff?
  2. Assuming success with the first 200 desktops, are there plans to grow the environment larger?
  3. What services are we expected to provide as part of this quote?
  • Design
  • Hosting
  • Infrastructure Implementation
  • Desktop Image Creation
  • Monitoring and Patching
  • Thin Client deployment

Scott’s post on multiple hypervisor’s got me thinking…

Regardless of workload (server, VDI, DR, Test/Dev) I myself only really see one hypervisor out there… VMware. I think so many companies have built their operational policies, processes and procedures around ESX that it is going to be an incredibly difficult migration to something else. I know of one of my customers that is running Citrix XenServer in a XenDesktop environment. Unfortunately, they are unhappy with the solution and there is talk of plans to move to an ESX based XenDesktop solution. I also know of a single customer running Microsoft Hyper-V Server. However, it is not in production or Test/Dev; it’s more of a tinkering environment and an excuse to play with Hyper-V.

Why are customers slow to move to other hypervisors? I think there are a couple other compelling reasons for customers to stick with VMware.

  1. Almost all of my customers are well past 80% virtualized, making it much more difficult to back out and change direction given the investment that they already have.
  2. Almost all of my customers are using other VMware products like Site Recovery Manager and vCloud Director, which utilize VMware’s ESX hypervisor at their core.
  3. VMware has become “comfort food” for IT Professionals, stable, comfortable to use and familiar.

I think these three reasons alone are pretty compelling in terms of the effort (equals money) required to either introduce or replace a VMware Hypervisor environment.

With other customers that I’ve spoken to, another problem for competing hypervisors like XenServer, KVM and Hyper-V, is the price. The free, or near free price seems to subliminally  highlight the difference in feature set when compared to VMware; whether rational or not. Take into account the various State and Local EDucation (SLED) discounts, it’s almost impractical for SLED customers to not deploy VMware and the various VMware applications with the gargantuan feature set.. This, I believe, is the key component for VMware.

As for desktop virtualization aka end-user virtualization; VMware seems to keep holding ground as well. Hypervisors like XenServer and KVM are not widely supported by mainstream monitoring and management platforms (SolarWinds, EM7, etc.). Hyper-V is just recently supported by XenDesktop and is definitely not supported by VMware View. Not to mention, when purchasing View, it’s pretty advantageous to purchase View Premier as your entitled to ESX Enterprise Plus. Not only is that a great deal, but pretty much seals the Hypervisor market share for VMware View.

So that being said, what are you seeing in the general public?