VMware Advances End User Computing Vision with View, Horizon and Personal Cloud Updates

Kind to come just one week before the Citrix Synergy conference in San Francisco, VMware announced the next step towards its vision for End User Computing today by unveiling the latest updates to VMware View and Horizon Application manager, as well as  sharing more news about its Project Octopus beta.

VMware View 5.1

Although only a point release, View 5.1 is nonetheless a significant step forward for VMware. View 5.1 is the first release of View to be able to take advantage of  View Storage Accelerator. VMware watchers expected to see a formal announcement of View Storage Accelerator in conjunction with the launch of vSphere 5 last year. However, in a last-minute decision VMware dropped all reference to View Storage Accelerator from the launch announcement, prompting speculation that the problem was not with vSphere, but either with the updates to View needed to take advantage of the new caching feature, or with the View Management Console. Regardless of what happened last July, VMware has now made good on its commitments by including support for View Storage Accelerator for the first time with View 5.1. View Accelerator is VMware’s answer to Citrix XenServer IntelliCache which improves VDI performance by intelligently caches virtual desktop storage on local (SSD) storage on the host server. By locally caching shared data most of the storage IOPS are performed locally within the host rather than being written out to data center SAN storage. This significantly improves VDI performance, during activities such as virtual desktop boot up and user logon which tend to have the highest IOPS requirements.

Until today, the only way to achieve IntelliCache-like performance without resorting to high-performance storage hardware, was to use either Atlantis Computing ILIO or Virsto for vSphere from Virsto Software. Without performing any formal testing, it is not possible to say how Atlantis and Virsto will fare with the release of View Storage Accelerator, however with Atlantis and Virsto offering support for XenServer and Hyper-V it is unlikely to cause them any significant concerns.

Also being offered in View 5.1 for the first time is the much delayed View Persona Management feature. Somewhat evolved from the product previously acquired from RTO. View Persona Management includes support for both physical and virtual desktops. While not of the same maturity as AppSense’s User Virtualization offering, View Persona Management will meet the needs of many organizations and should do much to streamline migration from physical to non–assistance virtual desktops.

Also new to View 5.1 is a revised USB stack that that will do much to improve support for isochronous USB devices such as speakers, USB headset, web cams etc. View had suffered from compatibility issues with isochronous USB devices which limited the number of USB devices that it was able to support. Problems with USB device support has been cited by some organizations as being in part responsible for deciding not to deploy View in the past.

The other big change to View 5.1 is VMware vCenter Operations for VMware View to provide improved insight into virtual desktop performance, and is a much needed addition especially considering the number of larger implementations as organizations move View deployments beyond pilot’s into rollout. In a recent briefing Vittorio Viarengo, VMware Vice President End-User Computing shared news of continued growth in VMware View adoption including a 50,000 seat deployment by Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ. To some context behind the strategic importance of View to BoTM, in March 2010 the bank had approximately 35,000 full-time employees in 850 branches.

Other improvements offered in View 5.1 include:

  • Localization of the admin consoles to provide support for French, German, Japanese, Korean, and Simplified Chinese.
  • Improvements to Local Mode including multi-monitor support and expanded USB device compatibility.
  • Performance Enhancements to the admin console to provide faster response times in larger environments.

finally, VMware is introducing View Composer Array Integration (VCAI) which is offered in view 5.1 as a tech preview. VCAI will extend support to native storage array cloning abilities to offload storage operations from view into the virtual storage infrastructure. This should significantly improve provisioning speeds in larger environments.

Pricing for VMware View 5.1 is unchanged with View 5.1 Enterprise Edition list price being  $150 per concurrent connection and Premier Edition $250 per concurrent connection.

VMware Horizon Application Manager 1.5

VMware continues to flesh out its post-PC management strategy with Horizon Application Manager 1.5. Put simply Horizon is the glue that binds apps to users. Providing the centralized policies and unified application delivery and device aware workspace needed to manage and secure access to any application from any endpoint.

equally suited to both service provider and enterprise IT use VMware Horizon Application Manager1.5 will be priced at $60 per user for the on-premise, perpetual license version and will include VMware ThinApp for management of VMware ThinApp entitlements. The hosted version starts at $30 per user/per year for the management of SaaS and cloud applications. Priced like this, VMware should expect early adopters to look at the on-premise solution very much as if it were an enterprise App Store with a short implementation time and rapid return on investment. Then in the long-term VMware should expect to see continued growth as organizations transition to consuming more and more SaaS and cloud applications.

For additional details on VMware Horizon Application Manager or to learn more about the VMware Horizon ISV program go to HorizonManager.com.

VMware Project Octopus

Octopus still retains its project status, not yet ready for production, but continuing down a development path that should see it released as a 1.0 production solution before the end of this year. When released Octopus will become the data access and file synchronization components of Horizon, and should seamlessly integrate with the existing Horizon components, from both the management and end-user interface perspectives. One thing that VMware has already made clear is that when it comes, Octopus will be delivered as both a universal HTML 5 client and as native clients for Windows, Mac OS X, IOPS and Android. VMware has not yet indicated if it will make a Metro version of the Octopus client available for Windows 8 tablets and smart phones.

Project Octopus will be available as public and private cloud hosted services as well as being available as a virtual appliance for on premises deployments. Given the still low levels of trust in cloud services as well as, the comparatively high costs of cloud storage, the availability of a virtual appliance for local data center deployment is likely to be essential to Octopus gaining widespread adoption.

A release date for the data has not yet been announced, beyond it being confirmed that it will be offered some time in Q2. When it does, it is likely to be a closed beta available only to qualified customers.

Full information on today’s announcement is available from VMware here