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Let's get this straight: VMware Horizon Suite

The cogs in VMware's Horizon Suite all work together to help you manage physical and virtual desktops, plus applications.

VMware's Horizon Suite aims to give you a one-stop shop for managing physical desktops, virtual desktops and mobile apps, but with so many products and tools folded into one, things can be a little confusing.

The suite is made up of View, Mirage and Workspace -- products that are meant to help you deliver desktops and applications to endpoints. Within Workspace are Horizon Data, Horizon Mobile and Horizon Application Manager products. As of April 30, 2014, VMware is no longer taking orders for the suite as a whole. But all of the products are still supported and available. Read on to learn what each component does and how it works.


Horizon View is VMware's desktop virtualization platform for vSphere. When the Horizon Suite launched, VMware View became Horizon View. Version 5.2 was the first iteration of View under the Horizon SKU. At that point, VMware eliminated the lower-cost Enterprise version of View. Now Horizon View costs $250 per concurrent user per year, but the whole Horizon Suite costs $300 per CCU per year.

If you're already a View shop and you don't need the mobility aspects of the Horizon Suite, it may not make sense to buy the whole kit and caboodle, however. The move from View 5.1 to Horizon View 5.2 is the same as any other upgrade; it's just a name change with some minor changes and improvements such as an HTML5 client called Blast (formerly AppBlast) that lets Horizon deliver desktops to browsers, and deeper vSphere integration. Horizon View 5.2 also has better disk space and 3D graphics support, as well as Unity Touch -- a swiping capability that provides smoother touch gestures for Windows desktops on tablets -- and added support for Windows 8. Horizon View 5.3 has context-aware adaptive security, plus improvements to Teradici's PCoIP Hardware Accelerator.


VMware bought Wanova Mirage in 2012, and that product is now Horizon Mirage. It lets you centrally manage and back up images for both physical and virtual desktops. When Mirage first came out, it only worked on physical desktops. Now it has support to manage persistent View desktops, and an upcoming release will support nonpersistent View desktops.

With Horizon Mirage, you can update one part of the image without affecting the rest. For example, you could make changes to the OS without touching applications or user data. Synchronization technology in Mirage ensures that changes users make to their desktops get backed up to a Mirage server. Mirage takes up a lot of storage and CPU, however, so expect to see at least some impact on density or Mirage performance.


Horizon Workspace is VMware's enterprise mobility management software. It gives users one point through which they can access corporate data, apps and virtual desktops from any device. Workspace delivers applications to browsers, and it uses single sign-on to authenticate users to a back-end identity management system, which helps keep data secure. Workers who use Android and iOS devices use native Horizon View clients to access virtual desktops. Other devices rely on HTML5 and AppBlast.

Workspace includes Horizon Application Manager, Horizon Data and Horizon Mobile.

HorizonApplication Manager lets you manage users' access to software as a service apps. This was the portal that workers used to access corporate applications before Workspace.

Horizon Data, formerly known as Project Octopus, is a file syncing and sharing application. It's like an on-premises version of Dropbox. It does not integrate with third-party cloud storage services.

Horizon Mobile is a mobile virtualization and application wrapping tool, depending on which mobile device OS you're looking at. Some Android devices from Verizon have hypervisors installed on them, creating a custom OS that only IT-approved apps can run on. This is a kind of secure container for work data that can't touch or interact with users' personal data.

On Apple iOS devices, Horizon Mobile is an app wrapping tool. Software added to corporate apps allows IT to determine and enforce how those apps and their data can interact with other apps and data on the device.

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Which component of the Horizon Suite do you think is the most useful?