VMware aims to improve VDI graphics on Chromebooks

As VMware looks to compete with Citrix for EUC dominance, it's added a partnership with Google and Nvidia for Chromebooks graphics performance, and teamed up with Cortado for Horizon 6 printing.

SAN FRANCISCO -- New VMware partnerships aim to improve VDI graphics and printing capabilities.

VMware, Google and Nvidia  are offering a tech preview where desktops and applications are delivered to the Acer Chromebook 13. VMware has also teamed up with Cortado to bring printing to Horizon 6.

The deals, introduced at VMworld 2014 here this week, continue VMware’s push to compete against Citrix in the desktop and application delivery market. They come on the heels of VMware’s acquisition of CloudVolumes, an application layering vendor, and the addition of remote desktop session hosting in Horizon 6.

Whether or not [what VMware is doing] is significant enough to make a company choose VMware over XenDesktop, specifically for VDI, remains to be seen.
David JohnsonAnalyst, Forrester Research

Until now, VMware has been a one-trick pony; its Horizon View product for VDI has been the only real challenge to Citrix, said David Johnson, analyst with Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass.

"VDI is not as common or as cost effective in [as many] cases as the session-based model is, and Citrix still has a great deal of strength there," Johnson said. "Whether or not [what VMware is doing] is significant enough to make a company choose VMware over XenDesktop, specifically for VDI, remains to be seen."

VMware, Nvidia, Google partnership boosts Chromebooks performance

In February, VMware launched support for Chromebooks in Horizon 6 over HTML5 using the Blast protocol, and Nvidia and VMware have said that native support for vGPU will extend to vSphere by 2015.

But this new collaboration between all three vendors includes a Chromebook with the Nvidia Tegra K1 processor built into the device to decode graphics, and a custom version of VMware's Blast protocol, which delivers virtual desktops to HTML5 environments.

Google's penetration in education markets with Chromebooks likely drove this three-way partnership, said Todd Knapp, CTO and founder of Envision Technology Advisors LLC in Pawtucket, R.I.

"There's a lot of need there for high-definition video and a lot of need for being able to rapidly create and destroy user compute environments," he said.

Citrix also beefed up its Chromebooks support in recent versions of XenApp and XenDesktop, in part through its own partnership with Nvidia.

VMware and Nvidia customers can receive early access to the Chromebooks tech preview by registering on Nvidia's website.

VMware’s partnership with Cortado and its ThinPrint Engine 10 adds printing capabilities to Horizon 6. Printing had been a missing feature in the product since its introduction this past spring.

"I don't think VMware wanted people to know that was a big barrier, because they didn't make a lot of noise about it," Johnson said. "But it was."

The key to VMware’s success will be how well it integrates all of these new features together.

"[End-user computing] has been amorphous clay for the last five years, and [VMware's] got to get all the kids in the sandbox to hand over their piece of Play-Doh and turn it into one thing," Johnson said. "That's hard to do. It takes time."

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