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VMware View shops not taking the Horizon Suite bait

VMware is pushing the Horizon Suite's pricing and management capabilities, but View shops aren't biting just yet.

BOSTON -- VMware View shops are drawn to protocol and graphics enhancements in View 5.2, but many won't jump at the chance to upgrade to the full Horizon Suite.

VMware Inc. in February 2013 released the VMware Horizon Suite , which combines View for desktop virtualization, Mirage for image management, and Workspace for mobility management. The company has pushed its centralized management, pricing and mobile integration, but many View shops don't need those extra capabilities if they don't support bring your own device (BYOD) or require a lot of collaboration.

Version 5.2 is the first iteration of View that's part of Horizon. Existing shops can simply upgrade to View 5.2 without getting the entire suite -- and it won't look any different.

"It's just a name change," said Tony Leone, a systems engineer at VMware. "From a functionality perspective, they get all the same features with the upgrade process [to View 5.2]."

View customers at this week's Boston VMware User Group (VMUG) meeting said that's exactly what they're doing.

Charles Ferreira, a systems administrator at Southern New Hampshire University, said his View 5.1 environment will move to 5.2, but they won't purchase Horizon Suite. The fact that Horizon View 5.2 is just the same old upgrade process is a compelling factor.

Fitchburg State University will upgrade from View 5.1 to 5.2 in two weeks. The university will not buy the full Horizon View suite because it's focused on delivering full virtual desktops to students, according to John Niles, a systems analyst and virtual desktop infrastructure administrator at the university.

"I can see where, if you're on tablets … or don't need a full desktop, [Horizon Workspace] might be useful," Niles said.

View shops might not need Horizon Suite if they use View for testing purposes.

One VMUG attendee, a virtualization domain architect for a large financial company, said he uses View 5.1 to do proof of concepts and software testing in a cloud-based lab. Their main goal is to prevent data leakage, so they don't require many of the advanced capabilities View offers, he said.

Still, companies that do require everything the Horizon Suite offers can benefit from reduced pricing. On its own, View costs $250 per user per year, while the suite costs $300.

Horizon Workspace is one of the biggest drivers for customers adopting the suite, especially among shops that do a lot of collaboration and file sharing. For environments that migrate from Windows XP to Windows 7, Mirage is another driver because it can centralize physical and virtual desktop images. (Mirage doesn't yet support Windows 8.) Horizon Suite is also enticing for BYOD shops because of its single sign-on portal, Leone said.

View shops might have those BYOD or collaboration needs, but don't realize they would benefit from Horizon Suite because different teams within IT aren't communicating with each other, Leone said.

"IT has to connect the dots within the organization," he said.

View customers eye 3-D graphics, Blast

Whether they're buying the suite or not, View customers are intrigued by improvements to View 5.2.

The increased 3-D graphics support was a big draw for his university's gaming courses, Ferreira said. View 5.2 can support more virtual machines with graphics-heavy applications than before, and it uses vSphere to provide hardware-accelerated graphics.

Administrators are particularly interested in Blast, a new protocol technology that uses HTML5 to allow virtual desktop access from a browser rather than a client. VMware's Leone warned that Blast isn't a replacement for PC over IP, though; it won't work for all types of desktops, especially those that require peripherals or audio.

Another addition to Horizon View 5.2 is Unity Touch, a swiping capability that provides smoother touch gestures for Windows desktops on a tablet. View 5.2 also added support for Windows 8.

VMware engineers at the VMUG said that upcoming additions to Horizon would include direct graphics improvements for View and increased support for iOS devices. Still, there is no word of a Horizon View upgrade coming ahead of VMworld 2013.

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