VMware Horizon Suite to get a tuneup

At VMworld 2013, each part of the VMware Horizon Suite could get some fine-tuning, including Mirage integration with View.

Sitting down to write an article speculating on what will happen at VMworld has, in the past, been an easy thing to do. This year, there's nothing major to preview.

VMware has been known for making promises about new products or technologies without following through the next year. In the past 12 months, however, we have seen both VMware and Citrix dial back the "keynote one-upmanship." This is good for just about everyone -- except maybe for writers looking for preview material.

So there's no litany of products to speculate about for VMworld 2013. Big deal! It means that we can focus on what we actually know. This year, I'm especially looking forward to some possible tweaking in each part of the VMware Horizon Suite.

New Horizon View

VMware is expected to release a new version of View that includes security and network enhancements. This version, though, will not be a major platform release. All signs point to a minor version, so since we're currently at Horizon View 5.2, expect to see 5.3 or something similar.

While the enhancements to View probably won't be all that exciting, I've noticed that Nvidia is a key sponsor of the show. Nvidia made waves at Citrix Synergy with its GPU virtualization technology that works with XenDesktop. Since it was a Citrix show, they weren't talking about VMware products, but I fully expect to see a similar announcement for VMware View customers.

Horizon Mobile for Android

Mobility is affecting more people in the desktop virtualization space. VMware has a tool called Horizon Mobile that facilitates dual-persona technology on mobile devices.

There are two very different parts to Horizon Mobile, though -- one for Android and one for iOS. The iOS tool is very similar to the other mobile application management (MAM) products out there, wrapping applications in a secure, manageable bubble. This is quickly becoming the "normal" solution for dealing with mobile applications.

The Android version, on the other hand, is the polar opposite of the iOS one. Rather than using a native OS and wrapping applications, Horizon Mobile for Android actually uses a completely separate operating system running as a virtual machine (VM) on the phone. This is resource-heavy, so it requires special phones with special versions of Android. The goal is to keep the device personal while fully managing the business Android VM.

I've always felt like VMware did this just because it could, but that end users would never be able to wrap their heads around it. Since it's doing something more mainstream with iOS support, I'd expect to see a similar offering for Android. If customers are using the Android VM tool too, they can keep it, but as it stands today VMware doesn't have a "traditional" MAM offering for Android. I'm hoping that changes.

Fixing files in Horizon Workspace

I don't know of any changes forthcoming with Horizon Workspace, but I do know that I'd like to see a few changes in the files functionality. Currently, it's made to resemble tools such as Box and Dropbox, but in doing so VMware left out any integration with existing enterprise data.

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That means that to use this, you'd have to forklift your users' data out of the existing file share and into Horizon Workspace, which could be challenging for IT and for the users who are used to looking in specific places for their files. I'm hopeful that VMware expands this part of the suite to integrate into existing corporate file shares like other products on the market.

There are some other shortcomings that I anticipate will be addressed in Horizon Workspace, which is currently in its 1.0 release. There is no integration for any Remote Desktop Session Host-based solutions, even Teradici Arch, which uses the PCoIP protocol and the View connection broker. There is also no "open in" functionality in Workspace to allow users to choose how they want to access the app (View, Terminal Services or native application).

I suspect we'll see a lot of changes in Workspace during the show, tying up loose ends like this.

Horizon Mirage to work with View?

The last thing I'm looking forward to hearing about is VMware Mirage. Earlier this year, the company released Mirage 4.0, adding support for application-specific layers in addition to the Base, All Applications and User layer. This feature gives more granular control over which apps are deployed to a machine.

I don't actually expect much more on this front, but I hope we'll see some development work done to make Mirage work with View. Today, Mirage is only suited for physical desktops or those that run inside a client hypervisor. When used in a View environment, performance suffers to the point where it's not worth using. This has been technically challenging for VMware since the acquisition of Wanova.

The entire keynote on day two is dedicated to end-user computing, so I expect to have some of these points addressed there. Whatever we don't find, we'll hunt down. It's sure to be a huge show with lots of surprises.

This was first published in August 2013
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