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Horizon Mirage 4.3 supports physical and virtual VMware View desktops

The new version of VMware's physical desktop management product, Horizon Mirage, will now manage persistent View virtual desktops too.

VMware Horizon View shops can finally manage physical and virtual desktop images with one tool.

Horizon Mirage 4.3, the new version of VMware Inc.'s physical desktop management software, now supports persistent virtual desktops as well.

VMware View 5.3, revealed during VMworld Europe this week in Barcelona, has advanced graphics capabilities, and ThinApp 5.0 now supports 64-bit applications and integrates more deeply with persona management products including AppSense's Environment Manager. These will be available later in Q4.

More on VMware Horizon View

But it's the much-anticipated Mirage news that will get people talking.

"The simplification of virtual and physical management is a big deal," said Gunnar Berger, an analyst at Gartner, Inc., an IT analysis firm based in Stamford, Conn.

Mirage came into the VMware fold through the 2012 Wanova acquisition. The technology separates physical desktop images into layers -- operating system, applications, user settings, etc. -- with the goal of balancing end-user personalization and IT control. Mirage also offers traditional desktop management features, such as snapshots, recovery and OS migration capabilities.

The ability to manage a single image across physical and virtual desktops could be a big draw for existing View customers, Berger said. Depending on price, it could spark a battle with Microsoft's System Center Configuration Manager, which has a strong hold on the PC lifecycle management market, Berger added.

Horizon Mirage worked with View desktops in the past, but VMware did not support it until now.

More news for VMware View desktops

In View 5.3, VMware eliminated some of the remaining barriers to virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) adoption, such as poor performance when running high-end graphics applications. The new virtual dedicated graphics acceleration (vDGA) feature lets an administrator assign a host's graphics card to a specific user and remote the display over the PC over IP (PCoIP) protocol.

"This starts taking care of some of those last user experience hurdles," said Mason Uyeda, senior director of technical marketing at VMware.

The vDGA feature works with graphics cards from Nvidia and ATI. It did not require any changes to the PCoIP protocol itself, just the drivers, Uyeda said.

Typically, the uses for VDI have been similar to those for Remote Desktop Services, but that is changing thanks to vDGA and similar advancements, Berger said.

"It raises the bar for VDI, because now, pretty much anything you can think of can run on a virtual desktop," he said.

In other View 5.3 news, the Blast protocol for running virtual desktops in Web browsers can now stream audio and run on Google Chromebooks. And a new plug-in called View Agent Direct Connect allows admins and Desktop as a Service providers to map users' physical endpoints to their virtual desktops without having to write custom connection brokers.

Horizon Suite gets free vCOPS

The vCenter Operations (vCOPS) Manager for View product will also be part of the Horizon Suite, which includes View, Mirage and Workspace, at no additional charge.

"This is a big move from VMware," said Victor Bohnert, executive director of the VMware User Group.

VCOPS monitors and analyzes network, storage and compute performance, which can help IT identify and address VDI problems more effectively.

"The first call you're going to get is, 'It's slow,'" Berger said. "How are you going to respond to that?"

VMware customers expected these end-user computing updates during VMworld San Francisco in August, where the company faced backlash for practically ignoring these technologies.

These product releases come a week after VMware's primary competitor in the desktop virtualization market, Citrix, lowered its financial outlook for this quarter. After that news, Mark Murphy, a Piper Jaffray financial analyst wrote that View's traction is "exploding" and that VMware "has closed a significant portion of the competitive gap" with Citrix.

Citrix has had a leg up on VMware because of its ability to virtualize critical business applications, such as customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning software, but that's not as much of a differentiator these days, Bohnert said.

"Anecdotally, what I hear is more and more people are impressed with the ability of View to stand up to Citrix," he said.

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