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VMware Horizon DaaS to deliver apps as a service

Horizon DaaS customers will soon be able to deliver apps as a service. But IT still must ensure users can be productive on those apps no matter where they try to access them.

In an increasingly mobile world, delivery of full virtual desktops to devices has become passé. With that in mind, IT may soon have a new way to deliver just applications through VMware's Horizon DaaS.

VMware will add a new wrinkle to Horizon DaaS in the third quarter of this year, with applications as a service. Published applications, shared desktop sessions and full virtual desktops and applications can be delivered using Remote Desktop Services (RDS) infrastructure from Horizon DaaS.

VMware said Horizon DaaS will be the only platform to deliver cloud-hosted desktops and RDS-hosted shared desktops and apps from a multi-tenant public cloud desktop as a service (DaaS).

While VMware said it wants to host application delivery and provide it as a service to its customers, its competitor Citrix provides the underlying technology to service providers to get the job done, said David Johnson, an analyst at Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass.

"I wouldn't say that VMware is the only one that has the technology for [applications as a service]," Johnson said. "I would argue that Citrix's technology is actually more proven from an application delivery standpoint than where VMware's is."

Citrix provides delivery of published applications through XenApp and also has its own DaaS offering. Citrix long dominated the app delivery space, but VMware joined the app remoting scene earlier this year by adding Remote Desktop Session Hosting capabilities to Horizon 6.

Providing applications as a service is part of an effort to give customers more choices on how to deliver applications to end users, Kit Colbert, VMware's end user computing CTO, told in a video interview at VMworld.

The days of IT delivering full Windows virtual desktops to users on devices of their choice may be numbered thanks to the proliferation of mobility and bring your own device (BYOD).

Forrester's Johnson sees a lot of growth in app delivery as a result, especially now that VMware has joined the fray.

"There are a lot of people that can't use a Windows-based desktop," Johnson said. "But there are a lot of people that can use Windows-based apps that are hosted and support BYOD nicely and help with compliance nicely."

Desktop apps must be optimized for mobile

VMware's challenge isn't necessarily delivering the applications themselves, but what the user experience on those applications will be.

Needham Bank in Needham, Mass. is a VMware Horizon customer that delivers DaaS through its own private cloud. Employees can access desktops through their virtual private network (VPN) on any device of their choice.

No matter how many ways you skin the cat, it's still a desktop app running in a mobile world.
James Gordon, VP of IT operations, Needham Bank

Applications designed for desktops are delivered to smartphones or tablets and don't give users as good of an experience as on the desktop, said James Gordon, the bank's first vice president of IT operations.

"We've been doing this for four years now and the adoption rate for mobile is incredibly low," Gordon said. "The app is designed to be running on a desktop on a 22-inch monitor. No matter how many ways you skin the cat, it's still a desktop app running in a mobile world."

Needham Bank employees can access Adobe Dreamweaver on their smartphones through the VPN, but Gordon said none of them use it because it's not a productive application that way.

IT has the responsibility to go through the apps end users need and determine how best to provision the most important apps for the best user experience, so applications can be accessed from anywhere, anytime for productivity.

"IT can say they can do all these great things, but you can also cross-breed a Great Dane with a Chihuahua. What do you get?" Gordon said.

VMware doesn't currently have an app refactoring tool within Horizon, but third-party vendors such as  PowWow and Capriza can help.

In addition to apps as a service, VMware also said it plans to bring Horizon DaaS to organizations in the United Kingdom in the third quarter of 2014.

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Would your organization benefit from applications as a service?
1. What's the cost for VMware Horizon DaaS per user per month?

2. What if you wanted to deploy Sage 300c, for this DaaS, what's the cost?