VMware again lets users run virtualised desktops locally with Flex

Employees get a desktop they can use without Internet access and IT keeps control of it

VMware is offering a new product, Horizon Flex, that lets IT departments run containerised and secured virtual desktops locally on PC or Mac laptops and desktops. Users get a desktop that works when they are traveling or in places without Internet connectivity, Kit Colbert, CTO for end-user computing at VMware, said in a blog post Tuesday, introducing Horizon Flex.

Administrators can control the longevity of the virtualized software container by setting up a date when its use expires or by remotely killing it. Admins can also allow or deny the use of peripheral devices. The desktops can be installed for customers, contractors or remote employees using a USB stick or via the corporate network.

This isn't the first time VMware has introduced a product like this. VMware ACE, which the company dropped in 2011, had the same goal of letting administrators secure virtual desktops running on Windows or Mac laptops, according to Colbert.

He thinks VMware had the right idea, but in retrospect, was probably too early to market. The big trends today are BYO and mobility, which were both in their infancy when ACE debuted in 2005, Colbert said.

VMware's strategy for how desktops should run has evolved from being very focused on virtual desktops that run in a data center to giving IT departments more flexibility. The launch of Horizon Flex is the latest example of this strategy. The company has realized that it can't afford to be too wedded to any one technology when it comes to desktops.

VMware also envisions desktop environments where cloud-based desktops and applications work as a backup, which will be possible with Horizon Air Desktop DR. The purported advantage is the same as with other cloud-based services -- relieving the IT department from having to set up and manage an environment of their own.

Horizon Flex and Horizon Air Desktop DR are expected to be available before the end of the year and cost from US$250 per device and $5 per month and reserved desktop.

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