VMware with its View 5.1 standard virtualized desktops for on-premise use and Horizon Suite for mobile users is trying to eliminate some of the barriers that have held back desktop virtualization so far. One of those barriers is the difficulty of converting legacy Windows applications into a form that can be consumed by end users without an expensive rewriting and migration effort.
Users may do that through use of technology acquired by VMware from Wanova in May. Wanova's Mirage offered a way to compliment the use of golden images of, say, Windows and Office, with end user-added applications. Anything supplied by the end user to the desktop is kept in its own separate layer of the desktop image, so that the golden image remains unchanged, except by a central server commissioned to patch and update it. In that way, a single golden image can equip thousands of individualized desktops, minimizing the central storage costs of desktop virtualization.
Horizon Suite, through Wanova, can stream a user desktop from a central server to an end user device where it runs as a verified and up to date set of applications. The applications are stored on the device and can be reused when the device is disconnected from the network. But once reconnected, periodic checks are run to make sure the mobile device's applications remain uncorrupted and up to date.
By giving virtualization administrators the tools to convert legacy desktop applications into services, it is making the conversion to virtual desktops less disruptive and painful to either end users or IT.
Herrod claimed VMware would replaces "a hodgepodge of existing tools" with a coherent VMware approach. But the task remains a complicated one and several months of testing Horizon Suite's components still remain before it is likely to emerge as a product. And when it does emerge, it is likely to be valuable enough in the enterprise to command a healthy price tag.
The virtualized user workspace commitments help VMware to rapidly fill in a gap in its concept of a software-defined data center.
A set of upcoming Horizon mobile virtualization products, combined with VMware View 5.1, which was upgraded in May to provide standard on-premise desktops while Horizon commands mobile users, gives VMware a way to extend virtualization's reach out to one of IT's most persistent problems--delivering a quality experience to the workforce in an automated way. If much of the task of tracking, updating, and securing end users can be handed over to automated systems, IT's ability to face other issues should improve.
If customers decide the end user initiatives may be combined with VMware's growing set of private cloud products, announced Monday, then the company's reach is beginning to span the data center. Now, as former CEO Paul Maritz (he just stepped down from the post) once said, it becomes all-important for VMware to execute the strategy without misstep. Doing so leaves it providing a virtualization management console that has a role in managing all data center operations. They would include server, storage and networking operations; end user virtualization and mobile end user management.