Citrix snaps up Kaviza for small-business VDI

HandshakeSAN FRANCISCO As it kicks off its Citrix Summit 2011 partner conference here, Citrix Systems announced Monday that it has purchased one of its technology partners, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) developer Kaviza.

Kaviza is focused on desktop virtualization for the SMB market; its flagship product is an offering called VDI-in-a-Box.

“We’ve been developing virtualization products for over 17 years now, and our channel has been moving with us as those products have gone from tactical point solutions to scale, but there’s been a segment that we haven’t addressed with purpose-built product in SMB,” said Tom Flink, vice president of channels and market development at Citrix. “We recognize that, and we think that desktop virtualization – and VDI in particular – has a lot of space for that.”

Kaviza’s value proposition is primarily with organizations too small to look at a full desktop virtualization environment with dedicated hardware, said Krishna Subramanian, vice president of marketing and business development at the company. It’s designed to be run on “any off-the-shelf server,” and not require an SAN or other infrastructure that full VDI solutions may require. Kumar Goswami, CEO of Kaviza, said the software is designed to be installed and supported by “desktop IT staff,” and the company aims to make a virtual desktop less expensive than purchasing a standalone PC.

“We’re trying to keep the cost for a virtual desktop, including the device, down to about $500-$700,” Subramanian said.

The company has been working with Citrix for about a year and a half, and has been licensing Citrix’s HDX technology for multimedia usage in desktop virtualization. Under the terms of the purchase, Kaviza leadership, including Subramanian and Goswami, will join Citrix, with Goswami heading up products for the new small business solutions group and Subramanian leading marketing and business development for the group. The division will be led by group vice president and general manager Troy Trenchard, who also handles the security and acceleration group at Citrix.

Today, Kaviza works with about 50 partners worldwide, and those partners will continue to offer VDI-in-a-box under the Citrix banner. For July 1, Citrix plans to integrate those partners who are not already a Citrix partner into the broader Citrix partner community, and to open the VDI-in-a-box up to non-Kaviza solution providers. Partners will be able to register Kaviza-related deals with Citrix starting June 1, Subramanian said, and the companies plan to do a channel training Webinar in early June about VDI-in-a-box. Training will be available as of July 1, but a full partner certification is still in the works, she said.

“It’s a very simple solution to install, deploy and configure,” Trenchard said. “It will fit in well with our Gold and Silver partners. The beauty is that because of the nature of the products, those who have the expertise [around desktop virtualization] will train up very quickly.”

Another major opportunity for expanding the channel comes courtesy of Citrix’s longstanding and expanding relationship with software titan Microsoft. While Citrix has built strong connections with Microsoft’s enterprise-focused partners around its XenDekstop line of products, Flink said there’s an opportunity to connect with more small-business partners in Microsoft’s SMS&P organization.

“Many Microsoft partners have just put their toe in the water thus far when it comes to virtualization,” Flink said, and at that, many have primarily worked on server virtualization.

Kaviza has an existing North American distribution deal with Ingram Micro, and Citrix will work with its distributors worldwide on bringing VDI-in-a-Box on-board. Existing Kaviza technology partners, including Dell and Wyse, will continue to work with the technology as it transitions to Citrix.

Goswami and Trenchard said the company’s products would be brought up to date with the Citrix look and feel, but branding plans going forward were not yet complete.