News: VMware Welcomes Wanova – Is it a Mirage – does VMware finally get desktops?

In the way that you stick you hand into your jeans pockets and find an unexpected high denomination bill neatly folded-up, we find that VMware has announced entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Wanova and in turn integrate their Mirage desktop management product into VMware’s End-User Computing (EUC) portfolio.

This  acquisition does indeed represent a very exciting and strategic addition for VMware.  The combination of VMware View and Wanova Mirage will be an an industry first pairing that could well dramatically redefine the VDI market: and first because there are no other products that operate like Mirage. It is increasingly common to find vendors acknowledging that a VDI-only solution is not enough. Citrix know it. Desktone  know it. Quest know it. Virtual Bridges know it. We’ve critiqued before that by having a VDI only view, VMware doesn’t “get” desktops. With their Wanova acquisition VMware is no longer restricted to only delivering centrally hosted virtual desktops.

What is it that Wanova’s Mirage can offer, and how does Mirage differ from other solutions?

What is Wanova’s Mirage?

Scott Davis describes Wanova Mirage as “an innovative image replication and layering technology that combines sophisticated, layered image management with client-side execution and persistent caching. It was designed to centralize the management of desktop images in the data center and to deliver those images efficiently to physical Windows systems for a native user experience, as well as to virtual machines for execution“.

And we’d agree. We’ve spoken before about how Mirage can extend to the enterprise and took an in-depth look at what made Mirage tick.

Wanova’s approach to desktop virtualization differs from solutions such as View, XenDesktop or vWorkspace where desktop workloads run in the data center. This is a application, data and OS management platform. More significantly it also differs from other desktop virtualization solutions,  such as Citrix XenClient Enterprise, or MokaFive in that it does not depend on a client hypervisor for its operation.

Wanova’s approach can help deliver a range of scenarios to give the best possible user experience depending on what the user needs. Importantly, it gives a centrally managed option to allow users to continue to run the desktop workload on the endpoint while at the same time using desktop virtualization techniques to maintain a copy of the endpoint desktop within the data-center for management, backup, and disaster recovery purposes.

How Will it Fit to VMware’s EUC model?

We’ve considered before VMware’s acquisitions for VDI. With RTO for example, we asked does VDI need user virtualization or does user virtualization need VDI? In that, we highlighted the compelling feature of Mirage’s solution in that it worked across platforms: it wasn’t just for VDI but for traditional PCs/laptops and could help bring mix in BYOD with both on- and off-line options.

VMware now have an underlying technology that can provide efficient image diversity and management to VMware View and VMware View Composer. The layered image management is highly complementary to VMware View Composer provisioning and runtime storage technology by enabling comprehensive personalization with user-installed and departmental application layers coupled to a common base image.

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A considerable issue for VDI transformations is “what to do about the off-line use cases”. VMware need no longer ignore that, or pass it off as inconsequential. With Mirage, it is possible to enable seamless two-way replication of managed Windows images, applications and persona between the data center and physical laptops, as well as delivering them for execution as VMs on Windows, Mac with VMware Fusion and Linux. The automatic replication and synchronization is well suited to this use case and makes VMware View completely compatible with off-line execution for roaming laptops and tethered desktops where WAN connectivity (or lack of it) makes using a remoted desktop impractical or even impossible.

And at a more traditional level, VMware can now broadens their EUC offering to bringing operational and centralized management benefits associated with centrally hosted desktops to distributed devices such as laptops and physical systems. This means both native user experience through local execution and disconnected access. The benefits include push-button image restore/recompose with user state preservation, desktop DR, far more reliable patch management and a variety of migration use cases. With Wanova Mirage functionality, VMware can now enable very sophisticated migration scenarios; including efficient automated zero touch mass migrations from Windows XP to Windows 7 and hardware upgrades or refreshes.

Is it the PC or VDI that is Dead?

Over time, applications will entirely and only exist as web applications. That time is not now. To transition to that environment will need a range of tools. Relying solely and only on VDI just does not cut it. Does not cut it because it can be expensive to initiate a VDI project. Does not cut it because it is not an all encompassing solution, either because the workload needs a dedicated resource, or the worker needs an off-line device, or the remote bandwidth isn’t available to support a good user experience. VMware needed to enhance their EUC platform – because more complete solutions from competitors such as Citrix and Quest offer a wider range of services.  With the Wanova acquisition they’ve done just that.

Still announcements “to acquire” is a future tense. RTO’s profile optimisation solution took far too long to deliver. This is a technology that should be delivered sooner rather than later – if only because it can offer partners and customers a centrally hosted platform that can be tool to help Windows7/Windows8 migrations without the complexity of a full VDI solution.  More importantly, it allows VMware beyond the traditional devices – laptops, PCs, thin-clients to continue to develop their own strategy to counter other end user device strategies such as Citrix’s Project Avalon.