VMware View 4.6 will launch sans profile management

A new version of VMware View will arrive next week. And déjà vu! A certain key feature remains among the missing.

When VMware launches View 4.6 next week, it will include some needed improvements, such as PCoIP tunneling. But the software won't have, and it may never include, the integrated profile management capabilities that VMware had promised its VDI customers.

VMware partners learned during the company's recent Partner Exchange that RTO Software will not be part of View 4.6. According to one New England-based VMware View integrator, "The problems are so major that [the RTO investment] has been totally deep-sixed." Another source close to VMware confirmed that the company has all but nixed its RTO integration plans.

The integrator, who preferred anonymity, tested RTO Software's Virtual Profiles last year and said that it works great with Windows XP, but with Windows 7, it "locks up and corrupts files."

Other sources confirmed problems with Windows 7, but VMware has denied that the lack of Windows 7 compatibility is the reason for the failed launch of the RTO technology. Meanwhile, the company hasn't offered customers an official reason.

VMware signed an OEM agreement with RTO Software in September 2009 to integrate Virtual Profiles technology with VMware View. It then acquired some of RTO's technologies in February 2010. VMware said profile management software would be built into View 4.5 and included it in the View 4.5 beta, but the company pulled the feature before releasing a second beta in June. VMware later said it would integrate RTO in future versions of View, but it has provided no timeline.

VMware recently stated in an email, "Profile management is a key component of VMware's strategy to modernize the enterprise desktop and will be offered in future releases of View." It also said that "customers can expect further innovation and integration of persona management."

Profile management third-party tools are IT's only option
Meanwhile, products from companies such as AppSense, RES Software and Unidesk can fill VMware's persona management gap. Last August, VMware pacified customers by forming a partnership with Liquidware Labs to sell Liquidware's ProfileUnity with View 4.5 at a steep discount -- about 50% off retail (or $10 per user). For View 4.6, Liquidware said it plans to offer a discount that will amount to about $16 per user.

These third-party products offer more features than the built-in RTO technologies. Nevertheless, some customers said they're frustrated because they must bolt on another product that adds even more cost and complexity to their environments.

To add further abuse, VMware rival Citrix has long offered a basic profile management tool, User Profile Manager, in its XenDesktop desktop virtualization offering.

IT shops want profile management integrated into VDI because it helps provide a smooth transition from physical to virtual desktops. The software also helps with end-user roaming among application-delivery methods such as Terminal Services, XenApp or a virtual desktop, said Chris Wolf, an analyst at Gartner Inc.

In addition, Wolf noted that profile management software improves performance and scalability compared with the use of traditional roaming user profiles.

Without user profile management software, customers can try to manage user desktop images with View Composer and linked clones, but that doesn't cut it for large-scale deployments, said the New England-based integrator. "VMware wants you to manage user data with linked clones, but we haven't seen it work for more than 50 clones per guest," he said.

For now, he automatically includes the cost of Liquidware Labs' profile management software into all VMware View deals.

Many enterprises are also no doubt wary of adding third-party tools because of potential industry consolidation and the fear that their vendor of choice may not remain around for very long.

What is in View 4.6?
View 4.6 does support secure PC-over-IP (PcoIP) tunneling. VMware View 4.5 lacks support for PCoIP sessions via the View Security Gateway, so remote users have had to use a secure virtual private network (VPN) tunnel, which adds latency. In addition, remote locations without a VPN could not use PCoIP.

View 4.6 also includes a number of bug fixes, better support for Windows 7 Service Pack 1 and enhanced USB device compatability, according to reports from the VMware Partner Exchange.

Let us know what you think about this story; email Bridget Botelhoor follow @BridgetBotelho on Twitter.

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