VMware announces updates to their End User Computing vision
On the second day of VMworld 2012 San Francisco the keynote from Steve Herrod the CTO of VMware gave the world a peak at what exciting things are coming soon in the End User Computing (EUC) arena. During the general session Dr. Herrod showcased updates to existing products and spoke about several projects that are in development. This provide a pretty clear vision on where VMware is heading and the types of features and technology they will be providing.
I have to admit that I spend a good amount of time working with our customers on VDI solutions, so I am a bit focused on desktops. But what I saw today has me very excited about what is coming from VMware around the EUC area. The features and products that I saw tied in with conversations that I’ve had with customers recently that need these types of products.
To start off we got a glimpse in how VMware intends to use the Mirage product that was acquired when they purchased Wanova this year. To set the base Mirage allows you to use a central desktop image and push this out to physical desktops, much like what VDI brokers do with virtual desktops. But this is for the physical side of desktops. What does this mean for companies? Well if gives you the ability to central manage actual desktops but still gain many of the benefits that customers are seeking with VDI. Mirage is going to be an option added to VMware’s desktop portfolio that will give customers another option for the users that might have wanted to use Local Mode for checking out desktops but it was not a perfect fit.
The one part of Mirage that I was excited about was the ability to take my Mirage based desktop image and import it into View and let the user connect to it from View as another option if something should happen to their physical end point. This is great and something that I think sets VMware apart from other desktop products.
The rapid desktop program was also discussed in the session. This program is a partnership between VMware and hardware vendors that aims at helping SMB customers deploy View solutions faster and easier. These vendors are packaging servers with View already installed from the factory that aim at just having the customer import a desktop image and then being provisioning desktops.
Next up on the list of things announced was something being called Project App Shift. This was something that I had not yet heard about and was really surprised. App Shift aims at making it easier to use desktop applications on a tablet or touch based device. Functions like copy and paste are made easier and focused on touch based usage. This will go a long way at improving the user experience of applications and desktop consumed on these types of devices.
Then came the real bulk of the news that focused on VMware Horizon. Since last year VMware was positioning Horizon as an app manager that would allow you to assign applications to user desktops. But after today its very clear that Horizon is going to be the focal point of VMware’s EUC strategy.
Horizon has been renamed into VMware Horizon Suite and will be the access portal or broker to all desktop services from VMware. The Horizon Suite will still be used as an application assignment tool, but will also be able to assign and present View desktops also. I will cover the presenting of a View desktops a little later in this post. The project Octopus app that VMware has been developing is being pulled into the Horizon Suite and will no longer be a separate product. The goal here is to provide a complete solution and not a bunch of parts.
To go along with SaaS apps and ThinApps that Horizon can present today, VMware will be allowing mobile apps to be presented from the Apple and Google app stores. One thing that really surprised me was the ability to assign and present XenApp applications through Horizon is coming. I really like this ability because XenApp has a huge presence in the market and is a great solution for some use cases. I think its wise for VMware to not ignore this ability. Horizon Suite is in Alpha development mode now and VMware hopes to release a Beta version in Q4.
Next up is something that I get asked about all the time from customers and that is App Blast. This is the ability to present a Windows application in an HTML 5 browser session. Although VMware did not talk about using App Blast for presenting apps in this session you could read between the lines that it must be coming soon. What they did talk about is using App Blast to present View desktop sessions to your browser rather than using the traditional View client. This offers another option for presenting desktops to your customers.
Lastly we got a more detailed look at Horizon Mobile, which is the work that VMware is doing with mobile phones. The Android version that we saw in the past allows the phone to run a VM on your phone that could be your work phone image. This would allow your company to check out an image that you can run side by side on your own device. What we saw today is what they have planned for Apple IOS devices. Since they don’t have the freedom to take the same approach with Apple devices they are using Horizon to create secure containers that Apps will run within. These secure containers will allow companies to pin lock applications for access and dis-allow copy and past from corporate apps to personal apps on the phone. This would allow copying sensitive data while using apps on your IOS device.
In closing there was a lot of news to digest and my head is still spinning thinking about all the cool things that VMware has on the Horizon. Pardon the Horizon pun.