VMware ships Horizon Mirage with application layering for modular desktops

The company adds more flexibility to enterprises that want to run traditional desktops

VMware's Horizon Mirage 4.0 allows IT departments to be more flexible when they put together centrally managed desktop images using separated application packages.

VMware lives and breathes desktop virtualization, but enterprises still want and need to run traditional desktops where applications execute on the PC. To address this fact, VMware last year acquired Wanova, a company whose software was used to centralize and simplify the management of physical desktop images while letting users get the native performance of a PC, it said at the time.

The latest iteration of that software is Horizon Mirage 4.0. It became generally available on Monday and the basic idea is still the same: to centrally manage desktop images.

The most notable feature in version 4.0 is application layering, according to VMware.

In a Mirage environment, the IT department first configures so-called base layers, which include the OS and applications that are used across the whole enterprise. It is possible to create multiple base layers that can be customized for different countries or business units. However, only one base layer can be assigned to each PC, according to VMware.

On top of the base layer, administrators can now configure layers containing only applications -- and deliver them to Mirage-managed devices independently of the base layer. An application layer can include applications for the sales department, for example. Previously the applications were all part of the base layer, but the addition of the application layers allow IT departments to be more granular, according to Erwin Breneis, lead systems engineer at VMware.

Each layer can be migrated, updated, or restored independently of the others.

If the IT department decides to allow it, users can still control their own data and settings, as well as install their own applications on their endpoints. This personalization exists side-by-side with the IT-controlled base and application layers.

Today, Mirage works with Windows XP and Windows 7, and can be used to help migrate from one to the other. That's important because Windows XP support ends next April.

VMware will soon add support for Windows 8 as well.

Mirage is part of VMware's Horizon Suite end-user computing package, which also includes Workspace and View, and is this week being demonstrated by VMware at the Cebit trade show in Hanover, Germany.

Version 5.2 of View -- which is used to remotely access desktops running on a server -- includes bandwidth improvements, hardware accelerated 3D graphics and the platform can now understand native iOS and Android gestures.

There is also support for Windows 8 and improved management when used in large deployments, which will decrease the time it takes to provision the platform, VMware promises.

Today, View and Mirage use separate management tools, but VMware's goal is to bring the two together, so administrators can use one console to control both virtual and traditional desktops, according to Breneis.

Horizon Workspace is a new product that allows administrators to create customized sets of applications and data for end users.

Horizon View 5.2 and Horizon Workspace have now also become generally available.

Horizon Mirage 4 and Workspace both cost US$150 per named user, while Horizon View 5.2 costs $250 per concurrent connection and is offered in increments of 10 or 100 licenses. The whole suite costs from $300 per named user, according to VMware.

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Mikael Ricknäs

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