VMware explains what it's doing with the new execs it just hired from Citrix

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VMware hired two well-known executives from Citrix and appointed a new CTO to its end user computing group yesterday. It's all part of a broader plan to bring the ease of use and simplicity of consumer products to desktop virtualization, said Sanjay Poonen, executive vice president and general manager for VMware’s end user computing group.

“We will focus on a scenario where the experience needs to be consumer-like,” Poonen told CITEworld. While some desktop virtualization deployments will be complex and will require involved implementations, some customers in the mid-market may be able to easily order up a cloud-based desktop virtualization on the fly and start using the services right away, he said. “We’re heading in that direction,” he said.

Bob Schultz, who most recently was group vice president and general manager of desktop and applications for Citrix, is now chief strategy lead for VMware’s end user computing group. Sumit Dhawan also joins the group to oversee strategy, product portfolio, and engineering, after spending nearly 16 years at Citrix. VMware also said that Kit Colbert, a 10-year VMware veteran, is now chief technology officer for the end user computing group.

The announcement follows a string of other moves from VMware last year indicating that the company is getting serious about desktop virtualization. While VMware dominates the server virtualization market, its competitors like Citrix are better known in the desktop virtualization world.

Last year, VMware hired Poonen from SAP, acquired Desktone, and won a deal to power Cisco’s desktop as a service offering. “This is a good signal that the company is investing in this category. It’s an important category where we see growth and an opportunity where we can take market share from legacy competitors,” Poonen said.

The proliferation of the types of devices used in businesses is driving this demand. Workers want to be able to use tablets, mobile phones, or their personal laptops to access their documents or work apps. They’re used to independently using services like Dropbox to more easily access files from multiple devices. VMware is hoping to model its desktop virtualization offerings, particularly its cloud-based service based on its recent acquisition of Desktone, around this demand.

It also expects that the cloud-based offering will help lower costs, which Poonen said has been a barrier to adoption. “Traditional desktop virtualization solutions have been expensive, complex, hard to manage, and not ready for the cloud,” Poonen said.

Lowering cost will be key. “We fundamentally believe that when we get the cost cheaper than the cost of a laptop it will take away the biggest inhibitors of traditional desktop virtualization,” he said. “Being able to do this in a cloud environment, private or public, is a huge opportunity to take cost out. You don’t have to invest in that infrastructure itself. The service provider or cloud provider does that for you.”

While VMware may be ramping up in hopes of capitalizing on the desktop virtualization opportunity, it will face challenges. Just after it announced its Desktone acquisition, Amazon announced a desktop-as-a-service offering. While Amazon itself has challenges given that it isn’t well-known for serving enterprise customers, it’s a big name with a massive presence in the cloud market.

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