VMware extends Horizon beyond virtual desktop infrastructure

VMware has bundled its VDI software with other VMware desktop virtualization products

VMware is about to release a new version of its Horizon VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) software that will allow administrators to manage VDI and non-VDI deployments in a unified manner, by using multiple VMware technologies.

"We are extending VMware Horizon beyond VDI, to be able to do virtual desktops," said Sumit Dhawan, VMware vice president and general manager of desktop products and end-user computing.

Horizon is now "a complete system, able to handle 100 percent of desktops," Dhawan said.

VDI technologies, such as Horizon's, encapsulate a user's entire OS and desktop environment within a virtual machine, so it can be accessed or downloaded over a network.

VDI can be beneficial over standard desktop PCs, in a number of ways.

It allows users to access their desktop environments from multiple devices. It also allows administrators to more closely manage their user's OSes, given that they are stored on centralized servers.

However, VMware found that most of its Horizon enterprise customers do not rely solely on VDI. Instead, most run a mixture of VDI machines and regular desktop and laptop machines.

So, in the premium versions of Horizon 6.0, scheduled to be released by July, VMware has added a number of VMware software programs to manage non-VDI deployments as well.

The advanced and enterprise versions of this software package now include image management software, which provides a way for administrators to manage applications that are accessed both from VDI deployments and traditional desktop machines, Dhawan said.

Instead of installing software directly on a desktop, or a virtual desktop, the administrator can elect to put the software within a container, which then can be updated whenever necessary.

In this setup, client server applications can be run from the data center, whereas applications that require local access can reside on the worker's machine, in a container that can be updated, if needed, when the machine is online. Administrators can use VMware Mirage to build the OS images that can be used within a VDI or to run a physical machine.

Horizon now includes, or is integrated with, other VMware products to further simplify an administrator's workload in other ways.

The updated software package also provides a browser interface, called Workspace, where users can access all of their applications, whether they exist as a cloud service, an internal cloud service, or as a desktop application.

Workspace can be handy for users accessing their applications from their own, non-work devices -- a practice often called bring-your-own-device, or BYOD -- and for those users who require multiple desktops to carry out their work duties.

The advanced and enterprise versions are the first to incorporate VMware's View, a portal for accessing applications self-service style. View provides a single location to handle sign-in and permissions management.

The advanced version of the software also provides VMware's Virtual SAN (storage area network) software, which pools storage across multiple servers. Virtual SAN software could lower the cost of VDI deployments by minimizing the need for external SANs to house VDI and container images.

Those using VMware vCenter Operations can now get monitoring metrics on Horizon usage, using the enterprise edition of Horizon.

Pricing for Horizon begins at US$250 per concurrent user.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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