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TMCNet:  Systancia offers application and desktop virtualization in a single product

[November 25, 2009]

Systancia offers application and desktop virtualization in a single product

Nov 25, 2009 (Datamonitor via COMTEX) -- Systancia is bringing a new version of its software to market, the major enhancement being that it has added a desktop virtualization capability to the product. However, this approach is more expensive than application virtualization/server-based computing, so companies will likely stick to app virtualization where they can and use virtual desktop infrastructure only where they must.

Systancia, a developer of application virtualization and terminal services technology based in France, has been in its domestic market for 10 years with its AppliDis platform, which runs on Microsoft's Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) and offers server-based computing along the lines of Citrix's flagship XenApp product (formerly Presentation Server and MetaFrame), or indeed Microsoft's own Terminal Services offering.

Now, however, it is expanding both the remit of its product and the international footprint of its business, with offices opening in the UK and Germany. As for the product, the big news is the addition of support for desktop virtualization, through the inclusion of connection broker technology that Systancia itself developed. This enables the company to offer a level of management of the virtual machines (VMs), regardless of which hypervisor they are running on.

Systancia's move to bring application and desktop virtualization into a single product is an interesting one. Although Citrix is moving in a similar direction with XenApp and XenDesktop, these are not a single product. None of the other players in the virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) space are talking about any such initiative at the moment, although Microsoft would be a logical suspect for doing so.

In order to manage access and authorizations, as well as carry out remote management of the guest operating system (XP, Vista or Windows 7), all VDI technologies have to install a daemon on each virtualized machine. This enables it to talk to a connection broker, which can then find out whether the guest operating system is available or already in use and decide whether to give a restart order or register to Active Directory, and so on.

The connection broker does not need to talk to the hypervisor for this purpose, and AppliDis lets administrators install the necessary daemon on physical or virtual machines, manually or remotely via a script. AppliDis can then control and provide access to each machine, which gives it the ability to manage all VMs on all hypervisors, as well as all physical machines on which the daemon has been installed.

There are, however, specific management capabilities such as creating, pausing, stopping and starting a machine for which AppliDis does need to talk to the hypervisor. Those supported in the first release are VMware's ESX and ESXi, as well as Microsoft's Hyper-v, the expectation being that Systancia will add support for the open source Xen hypervisor and, perhaps, a kernel-based virtual machine down the road.

This new dual role for AppliDis is underlined by a slight change in name, with the software becoming AppliDis Fusion in its new version (v4.0). Other new features in this release are AppliDis MyApps, a portal on which end users can request access to additional enterprise applications, and AppliDis ezPrint, a universal print driver.

Systancia will also offer the VDI module, which it calls AppliDis ezVDI, as a standalone product, but expects it to sell mainly as part of the broader Fusion product. This is not least because companies will usually have a considerably larger requirement for application virtualization, which is suited to task-based workers, than for VDI, which is more for knowledge-based ones.

Once the initial investment in a back-end storage area network to hold all of the virtual machines has been made and the network has been upgraded to handle the traffic, VDI is cheaper than deploying full "fat" clients to every employee's desktop. VDI is, however, more expensive than application virtualization/server-based computing as delivered by Citrix or Microsoft, so Ovum expects companies to adopt an "app virtualization where you can, VDI where you must," approach, as the latter represents a more expensive approach in both hard and software terms.

For 2010, Systancia is planning to add a module providing Common Internet File System optimization for file transfer and browsing within RDP, called AppliDis ezFile, and one for managing other peripherals such as scanners, called AppliDis ezScan. Also on the roadmap are support for so-called offline VDI, which is the capability that the VDI vendors are adding by including client hypervisors in their portfolio, and the expansion of Systancia's operating system support from the Windows world to Linux, both for VDI and traditional server-based computing environments.

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