At VMworld, VMware CTO Steve Herrod shares more details on upcoming Horizon tools that extend desktop virtualization to Android, iOS devices. VMware has talked up that idea before, but the suite's beta version won't be ready until late 2012.
At VMware, desktop virtualization is just another part of its expanding universe.
The server virtualization leader has drawn together a set experimental technologies and products into the Horizon Suite, a set of products meant to redefine the end user workspace and enable it to follow mobile workers wherever they go.
Horizon Suite isn't available yet, although beta users will be able to test it by the end of the year. Attendees at VMworld in San Francisco got a glimpse of Horizon during a keynote by CTO Steve Herrod on the second morning of the conference. When it's released sometime in 2013, VMware will have completed the cycle of IT reformation that it launched with its success in early server consolidation. The idea is IT departments, instead of issuing operating system patches and updating desktops, will get out of maintenance mode and into a more automated way of doing things.
By taking control of end user desktops and moving them, virtually, into the data center, VMware is proposing to bring end users within reach of the same automated procedures and policies that it recommends for governing the software-defined data center of the future. That goal may have been summed up best when Herrod said, "That's what virtual desktop infrastructure is about--taking a desktop and moving it into the data center. Then change the way you manage them."
With end user access and privileges managed by policies governing the creation of virtual desktops, end users should be able to activate and provision their desktops of choice on their own and migrate them across the different devices they are using. At a later point, Herrod added the wry remark: "This fulfills IT's need to talk to end users less."
VMware introduced the first part of the Horizon suite as a stand-alone product, Horizon Application Manager, nine months ago. Application Manager is an entitlement engine that knows how to apply rules and policies to an end user's request for a desktop. The forthcoming Horizon Suite makes use of technology from VMware's Project Octopus, which provides a way for users on different devices in the same organization to share files; Project AppBlast, which helps to deliver Windows-based and other applications to a browser window or device display; and ThinApp, which converts, say, an existing Windows XP application into a containerized form so that it may run under Windows 7 or 8 without modification as a virtual machine.
All such applications are available from a VMware application catalogue that functions on-premise like an online store.
Another component, Horizon Mobility, can gear the application to work with various mobile devices, including Android and iOS tablets and smartphones, Herrod said. He made a point of saying Mobility worked with Android devices, then suggested Windows Phone was the other big category of device. Then he corrected himself to the iPhone family.
In giving an early look at the Horizon Suite, VMware is telling its customers that it has finally grasped the many aspects of end user virtualization and will deliver on them. Particularly troublesome has been the BYOD, or bring your own device, side of it, with un-tethered users mixing personal and business use on the same device. When business applications run in containers on a personal device, they are protected from interference from other applications and their data is stored only in a Horizon folder that can't be accessed without the right password.
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