Not a Mirage: VMware Horizon View updates absent from VMworld 2013

Colin Steele, Executive Editor

SAN FRANCISCO -- The theme of this year's VMworld conference was "defy convention" and VMware did just that by not making a single end user computing roadmap statement during its keynote. 

The second day keynote is usually reserved for updates to the end user computing (EUC) suite of products that now comprise the Horizon Suite: View, Mirage, and Workspace. Last year, Horizon Mobile and SocialCast played a large role.

VMware Inc. had promised to dial back its forward-looking EUC announcements, but the user community here was surprised by the complete lack of updates.

Many VMworld 2013 attendees were looking forward to hearing about what's new or upcoming in the Horizon Suite, said Gunnar Berger, an analyst at Gartner, Inc., a research firm based in Stamford, Conn.

"We want to hear what's going on with View, the constant push for supporting [Remote Desktop Services], and we're not getting any of that," he said. "You come here to hear vision. I want to have a vision of where we're going."

Where is View 5.5?

VMware was expected to disclose new features for the yet-to-be-released View 5.5 and discuss its change in strategy related to Horizon Mobile and the fall release of Apple’s iOS 7. But details on those platforms were  reserved for breakout sessions.

In one session, Scott Davis, VMware's chief technology officer for end-user computing, previewed some desktop virtualization-related features currently under development including Mirage for virtual desktops.

VMware's image management product, Horizon Mirage, only works on physical desktops now. But soon, it will also work with linked clones and View desktops. This feature will allow users to install applications, personalize their desktops and preserve those settings across virtual desktop sessions.

Another session about what's coming in Horizon View gave little additional detail, repeating the keynote mentions of vCloud Automation Center (vCAC) integration for automatic provisioning of desktops and the ability to deliver View desktops as a service through VMware's vCloud Hybrid Service.

VMware also claims it doesn't have a timeline for the next View release – which would normally be around this time, based on the company's typical release cadence.

VMware users barraged with software-defined platforms

The lack of EUC product updates left some attendees feeling gypped – but others understand VMware's strategy here.

"They get accused a lot of diluting the messages," said Todd Knapp, CEO of Envision Technology Advisors, a virtualization consulting service based in Pawtucket, R.I. “They had to pick a horse this year.”

That horse was the backend infrastructure. Day-two updates from VMware centered on operational IT components that they tie into its network virtualization platform NSX, its software defined datacenter technologies, such as vCAC, vCenter Operations Manager and vCenter Log Insight, said Jeff Wilhelm, CTO of Envision Technology Advisors.

The focus on NSX and updates to its potentially transformative abilities was understandable to some.

"Money is the bottom line, and cloud is where it's at, so that's why VMware is focusing on that," said an IT specialist for a large federal government agency, who requested anonymity.

VMware Project Orcha

While he was disappointed by the lack of EUC-focus here, Gartner's Berger doesn't think that indicates a de-emphasis of VMware's EUC line, noting there was good EUC content in VMware CTO Scott Davis' super session this week.

"But not everybody goes to that," Berger said.

During that session, Davis demonstrated Project Orcha, a “technique that  automatically enables access to a file within Horizon Workspace while on a tablet that is incompatible with the native tablet applications required  to process the file,” he wrote in a blog post.

Project Orcha triggers a workflow that seamlessly opens the file in a Horizon View desktop and remotes the user interface back to the tablet.

Also not mentioned at the conference, but published on VMware’s Office of the CTO blog, were a raft of new Android mobile devices that will ship with its mobile virtualization capability and a hybrid cloud desktop as a service, basically the equivalent of Windows as a Service.

Although, some IT pros more or less got exactly what they've always been asking for from VMware's EUC department this week..

“I shouldn't be surprised,” tweeted Shawn Bass, an independent virtualization consultant based in Chicago. “I usually complain that EUC products get featured and never shipped. They fixed it by not covering them.”

News Writer James Furbush contributed to this report.

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