Citrix announced Wednesday that it has acquired RingCube to expand its virtual desktop product line and add flexibility to Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). By adding VDesk's technologies to its current XenDesktop offerings, Citrix plans to simplify the transition from physical desktops to virtual desktops.
According to John Fanelli, vice president of product marketing for the Enterprise Desktops and Applications group at Citrix, companies generally have had two not entirely satisfying choices for VDI – dedicated or pooled VDI. Dedicated VDI allows companies to move the desktop virtual machine into the data center and allows admins more control over the desktop, but at the expense of storing full images of each user's desktop. As Fanelli pointed out, if a company has 100 VDI users, it has to store 100 VMs that are full images. This can be quite costly when it comes to storage. Each user, however, does have the ability to customize their desktop and save settings between sessions.
The pooled VDI model is an alternative that slims down the required storage, but at the cost of forcing all users to have the same image. When a user restarts their desktop or logs in/out of their desktop, the settings resume to the default image. Fanelli says that this is fine for call center environments and a few other scenarios, but not quite suitable for many use cases.
RingCube's VDesk offerings, however, give a third alternative – the personal vDisk. The company can have a standard Windows image that serves as the basis for every user's desktop, but each user has a "vDisk" that saves their application settings and changes compared with the standard Windows image. This means that the storage required for 100 users is not 100 copies of Windows and all its applications, but one copy of the Windows image and 100 vDisks that are changes as compared to the initial image.
RingCube's products are already fully compatible with Citrix's XenDesktop offering, so the amount of work required to mesh the product lines should be minimal. However, Citrix is keeping mum about its plans for RingCube's offerings now that the acquisition has closed. According to Fanelli, the existing customers will continue to be supported under any agreements they have with RingCube currently but sales have stopped until Citrix announces its pricing and plans. Fanelli says that Citrix is not giving a timeline for that announcement. Pricing for the RingCube VDI personalization software was at $65 per user.
Note that RingCube is not the only company that offers technology like the personal vDisk. For example, Red Hat's Virtualization for Desktops also offers what it calls "linked images," that it claims will save "up to 90 percent storage capacity."