Yesterday, I read an article about a customer who had chosen for Citrix XenDesktop on VMware vSphere. By choosing Citrix, according to the customer, he wasn’t “vendor locked in”. As many people know VMware View requires VMware vSphere. The Citrix frontend can run on multiple hypervisors. I came across 1 other case where vendor lock in was used as a reason to go for a combination of products from different vendors; a customer explained to me he decided to go for vSphere in the backend and Citrix XenDesktop in the frontend. Also, for Application Virtualization he was going for a specific product. He wanted to create a flexible building block kind of environment; no vendor lock in and be able to change a building block when necessary.
Is seeing VMware View as “vendor lock in” a good driver for your decision? Does “vendor lock in” in this case exist?
VDI environments basically consist of 2 parts; the hypervisor layer (hypervisor, its features and management platform) and the VDI frontend. These 2 parts make up 1 solution. In the case of VMware VDI it is difficult to actually see them as individual products. The VMware back- and frontend integrate, almost unite and become one optimal working solution. Together, features become available which won’t be there with any other combination. Think about the 3D driver, which resides in vSphere and VMware View uses to support Windows Aero, basic 3D and OpenGL2.1/DirectX 9. More “exclusive” features will come out like this, making the combination more and more stronger. Also on other levels integration happen. On a development level, both development groups (View and vSphere) communicate, make plans, share ideas and build with having each other’s product in mind. Last but not least, support. It does benefits when the whole stack is coming from 1 vendor. It could make troubleshooting a lot easier.
You want to be able to change building blocks? Would you ever do so after the implementation of your first choice? Well, you might but probably not until after your solution’s economic value is zero and that might take 3-5 years. Nobody likes to throw away money. After the economic write-off, you have to invest again and can decide for other vendors for whatever reason. Of course there are exceptions where an issue occurs and no solution is available so that you have no choice than to change building blocks or even the complete solution. In all other cases I doubt you will change a building block because another vendor has a feature you might like, or your license price went up, as an example. Think about the technical implication, your knowledge/resources internally and again, which features would you lose when going for another building block.
The VMware solution will bring you more and exclusive features and functionality. Changing building blocks, in whichever combination you use them and from vendors will most likely not happen before the economic write-off or exceptional circumstances. In this case, to me, vendor lock in doesn’t exist. Comments are most welcome!