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Virtual App wars move from OS to desktop

Quoting CRN

Microsoft, Citrix and AppStream are among the pack of vendors rushing to gain a foothold in the application virtualisation market, where the focus is moving beyond the server and operating system to desktop applications.

As the focus on virtualisation moves beyond the server and operating system to desktop applications, new offerings including Microsoft's recently acquired SoftGrid platform and Citrix's Project Tarpon technology and will hit the US streets later this quarter.

AppStream's AppStream 5.0, StreamTheory's AppExpress, Altiris' Software Virtualization Solution and Ardence Software Streaming Platform are other alternatives that stream desktop applications.

Partners and customers increasingly are eyeing application virtualization and streaming offerings to reduce desktop application conflicts, management and security woes, speed up upgrades to Windows and Office, and stream application bits to the desktop on demand.

The market for such software remains in its infancy, but one Citrix partner predicted the availability of new application virtualization products will open new opportunities for VARs.

"Being able to choose, at the time an administrator provisions access to an application, whether to publish it and run it from the server or to stream it to a desktop is extremely powerful," said Marc Mangus, vice president of practice development at MTM Technologies, a Citrix partner in Houston. Citrix's Tarpon will enable streaming to PCs and Windows Terminals without any compromise on functionality, he said.

Application virtualisation separates where desktop applications are used from where they run. According to Gartner Group, 'app virtualisation' creates a wrapper or container around the app configuration to isolate it from the operating system. Desktop applications are then streamed to a standard PC desktop and executed locally without installing them to the disk, much the same way video is streamed to a desktop from the Internet.

Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) predicts the application virtualisation market will grow significantly, but it will be some time before the dollars start rolling in. According to a recent EMA survey of 150 enterprises and SMB customers, OS and server virtualization will be used at least partially by 97 percent of respondents, and app virtualisation will be used by 94 percent.

"At the moment, we're seeing a big pickup in server virtualisation and running multiple operating systems on base hardware," said Andi Mann, senior analyst at EMA. "Application virtualisation will become more important over the next 12 to 24 months. We're in an early growth period now."

Mann said there's plenty of room for AppStream, Ardence and Altiris, but Microsoft and Citrix, close partners in the terminal services software market for more than a decade, no doubt will face off as key rivals in this market as desktop application delivery moves to an on-demand model.

Microsoft, threw the first salvo in May when it announced plans to buy Boston-based Softricity, just months after Citrix announced an internal project to develop application virtualisation software called Tarpon. Citrix once mulled buying Softricity, a major Citrix ISV, several sources told CRN.

The software giant completed the deal in July and announced it will release the first two company-branded versions of its Softricity SoftGrid app virtualisation platform SoftGrid for desktops and SoftGrid for terminal services in the near future at reduced prices. Microsoft also said it will announce support for Windows Vista and the Windows Longhorn server in the future.

Microsoft channel partners that currently support Microsoft Virtual Server and VMware are optimistic about their prospects in the application virtualisation space.

"We are a huge proponent of Microsoft's Softricity, and our clients are amazed by its capability and effectiveness," said John Dodge, solutions architect at Foedus, a virtualisation software solution provider in New York. "We've had clients revising their entire year's budget based on the Softricity value proposition."

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Read the rest of the article, here.

Published Monday, September 11, 2006 6:57 AM by David Marshall
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