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VMware mobilizes virtual desktops with View 5 and Horizon App Manager

Bridget Botelho

With VMware View 5, IT pros will see better PCoIP performance, more client device supportand -- finally -- integrated persona management. Also, VMware's Horizon App Manager application broker will get a mobile version with ThinApp and View integration.

With these and other enhancements unveiled at

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VMworld 2011 this week, IT can deliver virtual desktops and both cloud and on-premise Windows applications to more mobile devices.

VMware View 5
The Virtual Profiles management tool VMware acquired from RTO Software last year is part of View 5, but it's inadequate for one really important job -- Windows XP to Windows 7 migrations. It doesn't support XP to Windows 7 profile compatibility. So, View customers have to use third-party profile management tools from partners such as Lakeside Software or Liquidware Labs for Windows migrations.

What the "View Persona Management" feature in View 5 (Premier Edition) does provide is a basic way to manage user data and settings, application data and Windows registry settings configured by user applications. That end user profile layer is independent of the virtual desktop, so the end user can log into any View desktop -- persistent or non-persistent -- and see his profile, said Raj Mallempati, a spokesperson for the enterprise desktop group at VMware.

Jason Morris, an IT manager at Concord National, a Canadian corporate services firm, has tested View 5. He welcomed the updates from View 4.6 and added that even though the profile management piece is important, the most significant upgrades involve PCoIP.

VMware updated PCoIP for View 5 to address some of the problems IT pros have when they deliver View over a WAN -- specifically, inconsistent graphics and video performance. PCoIP requires more bandwidth than competitive remote desktop protocols.

VMware makes the claim that its improved PCoIP cuts bandwidth consumption up to 75%, which would make a huge difference in the performance of 3D graphics on a WAN. The company also supports WAN accelerator products from third-party vendors to make an even bigger difference.

Morris currently delivers virtual desktops to five of the company's remote branches using VMware View 4.6 and PCoIP. He and his end users have noticed big performance improvements on the WAN during the past year. But Morris must monitor bandwidth usage very closely and is skeptical of VMware's promises.

"The PCoIP improvement of over 70% is a pretty tall claim," Morris said.

At the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Boston, CIO Tom Scanlon delivers desktops to remote campuses with VMware View and PCoIP. Many of his end users require high definition support. Scanlon said he's hopeful that VMware's promises are true because it would make a big difference when delivering virtual desktops to 200 concurrent end users on a WAN.

"We notice a big improvement between 4.5 and 4.6, so it would be nice to have them continue that trend," Scanlon said.

In addition to persona management and PCoIP fixes, VMware also added View 5 clients for iPad (iOS) and Android devices, so end users can access View 5 from more mobile platforms.

VMware did not include a storage management feature similar to Citrix IntelliCache to lower virtual desktop storage costs, which some VMware watchers had expected. VMware said it will cut storage requirements through third-party storage partners.

View shops also need third-party support if they want the type of user application personalization that Citrix customers now get with all versions of XenDesktop 5.5 for no extra charge. Liquidware Labs said it will deliver that feature as an add-on for View 5 later this year.

ThinApp meets Horizon
VMware's initial release of Horizon App Manager only supported SaaS applications. But an updated version launched this week will support on-premise Windows applications. With this upgrade, applications virtualized with VMware ThinApp can be delivered to the Horizon cloud service and managed along with SaaS applications as part of Horizon's application catalog.

VMware said the value here is that end users can access Windows and SaaS apps with a single sign on and IT shops can enforce user access policies for both SaaS and on-premise Windows apps.

VMware said IT shops will not violate Microsoft licensing rules if they access the apps through Horizon because the enterprise already owns and licenses the applications.

Virtual desktop mobility with Horizon Mobile Manager
VMware's Horizon Mobile Manager is an extension of Horizon App Manager, which lets IT deliver cloud and on-premise apps to mobile phones. View end users can also connect to Horizon-based applications through their View mobile device clients.

View/Horizon end users can also recreate a corporate environment on their personal mobile device to connect to the VPN and access business documents. If an employee leaves the company, IT can kill access to the corporate View/Horizon environment and the employee can keep their phone.

VMware said running two separate environments on a mobile phone doesn't require excess resources and uses up to no more than 1% extra phone battery life.

Horizon Mobile Manager will not begin testing until the end of the year because mobile device carriers must install a shim for it to work.

Horizon App Manager pricing starts at $30 per user, per year. VMware did not provide pricing for Horizon Mobile Manager.

Check out our full VMworld 2011 conference coverage.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Bridget Botelho or follow @BridgetBotelho on Twitter.


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