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VMware View 5.1 brings management, storage upgrades plus BYOD tools

New features in VMware View 5.1 improve VDI management and lower storage costs. And that's not all: BYOD shops get new mobile app tools with Project Octopus and Horizon App Manager 1.5.

Mobility has become so critical to workforce culture that much of what VMware introduced as part of its end user computing strategy today -- View 5.1, Project Octopus beta and Horizon App Manager 1.5 -- involves delivering virtual desktops and applications to mobile devices.

Many BYOD shops turn to desktop virtualization products such as View to improve mobile device security. Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) has given the law firm of Foley & Lardner LLP a way to support a bring your own device (BYOD) policy in a secure way.

"Having VDI and BYOD deployed together lets us deliver virtual desktops from our own private cloud; it's a nice security model," said Rick Varju, director of engineering and operations for the firm. "Admittedly, VDI does not mitigate all risks of using mobile devices in the enterprise, but it does mitigate much of the risk."

So far, the global law firm has deployed 1,200 of VMware Inc.'s View desktops, which its lawyers often access using iPads.

The firm plans to upgrade to View 5.1 within the next 60 days to gain some of the new features that lower VDI storage costs and simplify virtual desktop management.

View 5.1 improves management, storage

Two of the new features in View 5.1 already exist in VMware vSphere but have been adapted for virtual desktops.

One is VMware vCenter Operations for View -- an add-on management tool that gives administrators insight into desktop performance to troubleshoot issues and assign resources appropriately.

This should prove useful as many VDI shops must use multiple products to perform those management tasks. Varju, for example, uses one piece of software to manage virtual desktops and capture user performance metrics and another, Microsoft Systems Center Configuration Manager, for patch deployment.

"Any tool that would pull all of that together would be very helpful," he said.

More on VMware View:

VMware mobilizes virtual desktops with View 5 and Horizon App Manager

VMware delivers View 5 with Persona Management, PCoIP boost

VMware shops using View 5 for BYOD realize VDI challenges

The other vSphere feature available in View 5.1 is View Storage Accelerator. It helps prevent performance bottlenecks and reduces storage costs by caching image blocks while reading View desktop images to prevent storage overloads, according to VMware. In vSphere, this feature was called Content-Based Read Cache.

Storage is a typical VDI challenge and "improvements are always welcome that reduce storage requirements and improve I/O performance," said Steve Brasen, an analyst with Enterprise Management Associates, Inc., an IT analysis firm based in Boulder, Colo.

View Storage Accelerator will help reduce "the amount of storage configuration 'arm wrestling' administrators need to perform to enhance the overall end user experience," Brasen said.

View 5.1 also includes View Composer Array Integration (VCAI), a new feature that relies on native cloning capabilities in storage arrays to offload storage ops. It improves the provisioning and management functions of View Composer and supports third-party storage, VMware said.

In addition, VMware View Persona Management, first available with View 5 in September 2011, now extends to physical desktops. This means IT can manage all user data -- physical and virtual -- the same way. It also gives IT a simpler way to migrate user data from Windows PCs to virtual machines, VMware said.

Another feature in View 5.1 is a new USB stack that improves device support and integration of RADIUS two-factor authentication. This should eliminate problems related to USB devices that require native device drivers, said Vittorio Viarengo, vice president of VMware end-user computing.

USB device support was quite limited prior to VMware View 4.6, but support has steadily improved since then, Varju said.

Octopus and Horizon bring mobile app management

Project Octopus, VMware's version of an enterprise DropBox, hit beta today. The much-talked about cloud storage and file sharing service lets employees share data and collaborate from any device.

Octopus also lets IT administrators govern usage and set policies for data access and sharing. It can be deployed on-premise in a vSphere environment or accessed through VMware service providers.

The company did not provide any details regarding Octopus licensing or cost, but it is likely to be part of an integrated platform, said Viarengo.

In addition, the new version of Horizon Application Manager, 1.5, is now available as an on-premises software for IT pros who aren't comfortable with public cloud services. Previously, it was only available as a cloud-hosted service.

Horizon allows IT to deliver Software as a Service (SaaS) apps and corporate Windows applications from one location, and IT can define security and application access policies. End users access Horizon App Manager through a Web browser and see it as an application store.

BYOD companies find Horizon appealing because it's a one-stop shop that requires only a single-sign on to "keep things simple for end users" and it provides two-factor authentication for better IT security, Varju said.

View 5.1 pricing

VMware View 5.1 is expected to be available in Q2 2012 in two editions, priced the same as version 5.

VMware View 5.1 Enterprise Edition includes VMware vSphere 5 for desktops, VMware vCenter Server 5 and VMware View Manager 5. VMware View 5.1 Enterprise Edition will be priced at $150 per concurrent connection.

VMware View 5.1 Premier Edition includes VMware vSphere 5 for desktops, VMware vCenter Server 5, VMware View Manager 5, VMware View Client with Local Mode, VMware ThinApp 4.6, VMware View Composer and VMware vShield Endpoint. VMware View 5.1 Premier Edition will be priced at $250 per concurrent connection.

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

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