After hoping and praying for more information about Project AppBlast, I remain unclear on how VMware will fold
this tool into its desktop and end-user computing offerings.
Heading into VMworld 2012 last week, I was looking forward to getting some news about two projects announced at last year's show: AppBlast and Octopus. Octopus, while not yet released, is essentially a corporate Dropbox. When released, it will be renamed Horizon Data and included in the Horizon Suite that combines Octopus, ThinApp, Horizon Application Manager and Horizon Mobile.
AppBlast, which delivers desktops and seamless applications via HTML5, was essentially a no-show. It will be folded into the Horizon Suite as well, but the company hasn't explained how AppBlast technology will be implemented or which tool it will be a part of. Still, I was able to take away a few important bits of information.
AppBlast: Feature, not product
First, I learned, VMware AppBlast is not a product.
After AppBlast barely received a mention in the end-user computing keynote, I tracked down some VMware employees and asked where it was. Besides hearing that "it's coming" and "we're really close," there was one thing that became abundantly clear: AppBlast is not a product, and it will not be released as an add-on or upgrade. Instead, AppBlast is a feature, and when the technology is turned loose, it will be part of some other VMware product.
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Exactly which product remains a mystery.
It seems that the biggest hang-up is deciding where VMware AppBlast should live. Should it be part of VMware View? If so, how is an HTML5 client positioned against PCoIP? Or, is it part of Horizon to provide a way to deliver any desktop or application to any device without Citrix XenApp? Keep in mind, XenApp support was officially announced for Horizon at last week's show.
The bottom line is that the Project AppBlast technology exists, but it's still looking for a home within the Horizon Suite. Perhaps we'll see an update during VMworld Europe in October in Barcelona.
AppBlast is pure HTML5
This process, as you might imagine, is not that efficient. It requires a gateway to sit between the virtual desktop (or terminal server) that makes a connection via the native protocol, then translates that into data that can be sent to the browser. During this process, certain features such as sound, WAN optimization and media redirection are cut out because the browser doesn't support them.
What remains to be seen, though, is what advantages running as pure HTML5 gives the end user. The limitations still exist where the browser can't match a native client in terms of functionality. There's still the issue with media redirection and sound, too.
We may know a little more about VMware AppBlast, but the experience and actual implementation are still an enigma.