Dell's release of vWorkspace 8 shows that the company is still committed to Quest's product -- it even added some new, enticing features.
Dell acquired Quest Software in July 2012, and until now it was uncertain whether the company would continue to update and provide support for Quest's vWorkspace desktop virtualization platform. However, Dell quietly released vWorkspace 8 in April -- the first major release under the Dell umbrella -- and packed on new features, integration and an improved user experience.
The lack of hullaballoo around the release could be because Dell doesn't want to disrupt its partnerships with Citrix and VMware. Having a launch party would surely anger the two companies whose relationships with Dell are probably worth more revenue than vWorkspace alone. It could also be that the communication path between Dell and the community is quite different from the Quest days.
At any rate, vWorkspace is back. Here is what the new version has to offer.
Support for Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8
For many years, vWorkspace has been closely tied to Microsoft. I once wrote that if Citrix hitched its wagon to Microsoft's star, Quest welded theirs to its frame. That close relationship hasn't changed with this release; vWorkspace has been modernized to support Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8. On the Server 2012 front, it supports desktops delivered via Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH) and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) -- including Windows 8 if you're so inclined -- as well as Hyper-V 3.
Right now vWorkspace is the only top-tier product that works with Windows Server 2012 RDSH.
If you're keeping score, that means that right now vWorkspace is the only top-tier product that works with Windows Server 2012 RDSH. Citrix Synergy 2013 is right around the corner, so I hope we'll see something on the Citrix front. In the meantime you have Microsoft, Dell vWorkspace, DesktopSites (for smaller shops) and 2X at your disposal.
Catalyst is the umbrella term for two technologies, HyperCache and HyperDeploy, that optimize memory and provisioning in virtual desktop environments. They have been updated to include support for Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V 3.
HyperCache, which caches frequently used disk blocks in memory for fast access, now also works under RDSH workloads in addition to VDI. HyperDeploy takes its provisioning technology one step further by taking advantage of memory for image storage, which reduces the amount of disk space required and increases the overall performance of virtual machines.
User Experience Monitoring feature
The last major feature that is part of vWorkspace 8 is User Experience Monitoring. This feature is based on Foglight, one of the flagship products Quest brought to the Dell acquisition.
Foglight can be used as a monitoring tool all around an organization, but in this case it monitors both the server and the endpoint to get a handle on the user experience. It can see inside the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) and Quest's Experience Optimized Protocol, as well as network, server and client-side conditions.
Dell vWorkspace 8 appears to be a solid release, and customers the world over should be happy to see the company's commitment to the product line. How Dell walks the fine line between partner and competitor remains to be seen, but it's reassuring to see development progressing on one of the industry's top-tier desktop virtualization products.