VMworld 2013 Europe: VMware Updates Horizon Suite, Acquires Desktone

VMworld 2013 Europe was in Barcelona this year, and VMware had a host of updates and announcements to make at the show. I’ve had high hopes about what might be announced around VMware Horizon Suite this week, and I’ve written about VMware’s Horizon efforts previously in my post asking if VMware Horizon Workspace was maturing fast enough. So let’s cover some of what VMware announced this week.

VMware Updates and Announcements

Horizon View 5.3

The brand new version of VMware Horizon View was just announced and is offering some nice improvements. VMware is working on improving user experience and offering features to allow customers to overcome roadblocks and accommodate new use cases. Here are some of the new features in Horizon View 5.3:

  • Virtual Dedicated Graphics Acceleration (vDGA): This is now fully supported in View 5.3. vDGA allows administrators to dedicate a single discrete GPU to a virtual desktop. This will allow View users to perform high-end workstation graphics functions that have required physical PCs in the past.
  • Windows 8.1 Support: View 5.3 now supports both Windows 8 and 8.1. Note that Windows 8.1 does not yet support View local mode and Persona Management.
  • HTML5 Blast improvements: With View 5.3, VMware has also improved their Blast technology used for displaying a View desktop in an HTML5 web browser. The new version of Blast now supports sound, copy/past clipboard, and has improved graphics performance. This is good, but I still only see the use of Blast for those rare situations when you don’t have a View client available.
  • Real-time audio/video for Linux clients: This allows for the local pass-thru of USB devices for these services. It offers performance increase to uses of applications such as Skype, Webex, and Google hangouts. This is also good, but the fact is, right now I have almost never seen anyone other than a few people using a Linux device to access a View desktop.
  • View Client updates: The Windows client has been rewritten from the ground-up, offering a unified architecture that the other View clients already offer. The iOS 7 client app was updated to have a new iOS 7 look. I will have to look at this since I’m not a huge fan of the look of iOS 7. To me, it looks too much like a teenage girls phone.
  • Server 2008 support: View now supports using Windows 2008R2 server as a desktop OS. This means that customers can now use a server OS as their desktop platform. This can help customers because Microsoft does offer SPLA licensing for server 2008 (and they do not for desktop operating systems).
  • Horizon Mirage support: It’s about time! This support will allow customers to manage certain types of View desktops with Mirage. Think of this as full clone persistent desktops but with Mirage for management. This should be a big win for customers looking to utilize these types of functions, and it’ll make managing users profiles and applications easier for these use cases.
  • View direct connections: The gives the availability to all customers to use the View client direct connection plugin, and it allows a user to directly connect to a View desktop without the need to connect through a View connection server. There are a few use cases that might make good use of this feature.

Horizon Workspace

The Horizon Mobile piece of Workspace is getting a few more devices added to the supported device list, including the Sony Xperia Z1 and Z Ultra smartphones.

Horizon Mirage 4.3

I won’t kid anyone here – the big news is that Mirage now supports the ability to manage View desktops. This is something that customers have been asking for since they discovered how cool Mirage can be. I am excited to talk with customers about how Mirage might make some of their user requirements easier to manage. There are also some management updates that include improvements to the Mirage web management portal.

ThinApp 5.0

With the announcement of ThinApp 5.0 the ability to capture and package 64-bit applications is now possible. This has not been a huge issue to this point but was something that ThinApp lacked that Microsoft App-V provided. Also announced is the integration with third-part persona management tools, which needs to be explained in more detail, but I’m guessing this will allow these tools to provider more flexibility when it comes to assigning apps to users.

VMware Acquires Desktone

The really big news here is that VMware has announced that it is acquiring Desktone, the Desktop as a Service (DaaS) partner that provides View services to customers. This gives VMware a method of delivering DaaS to customers and there’s already talk about how this will be offered as a service on top of vCloud Hybrid Service. Currently DaaS does not come up in that many customer talks, but with the ability for View to support Windows Server, it helps address licensing concerns.

The big thing that might help Enterprise customers in this news is the ability for Desktone to manage multiple locations or View instances. This would help customers that are trying to create one EUC environment but need to distribute resources in different locations.

VMware Horizon Suite Bundling Options

Besides the announcements that I have already covered on each of the individual products there are some changes to the Horizon Suite offering itself. The announcement offers details about additional products and features that are included when purchasing the Horizon Suite offering rather than just parts.

The good news is that VMware will now be including vC OPs for View with the Horizon Suite going forward. I think this is a huge win for customers deploying VMware for their EUC environments. Personally, I was never a fan of deploying View without any type of monitoring tools, and vC OPs for View offers customers some of the best monitoring available for View today.

Another piece of good news is that VSAN will also be included to Horizon Suite customers. It’s still in beta, so do not use in product installs. But going forward, as VSAN becomes a GA product this will offer customers an additional option for building storage for their VDI environments.

Overall, I’m glad to see these EUC product announcements, but I’m still disappointed at the lack of news around the Horizon Workspace product. Here’s to hoping for some new Workspace news separately from VMware in Q4.