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VMware DaaS goes hybrid with Horizon Cloud

VDI versus DaaS is no longer a one-or-the-other choice. VMware Horizon Cloud lets businesses manage on-premises VDI and cloud-hosted desktops from one control plane.

Businesses that don't want to choose between VDI and DaaS can get the best both worlds with a hybrid approach.

VMware's new hybrid offering, Horizon Cloud, allows IT to deploy and manage on-premises and cloud-hosted virtual desktops through one console. Citrix already offers this capability with Citrix Cloud. The hybrid concept allows businesses to take advantage of DaaS' benefits without their investments in on-premises virtual desktops.

Before the advent hybrid offerings, most businesses had to choose between DaaS or on-premises VDI. It's unlikely a company would do both because of the cost and complexity of using multiple software platforms, said Mehran Basiratmand, CTO of Florida Atlantic University, a VMware VDI customer in Boca Raton, Fla.  

Having both options in one console from the same vendor makes DaaS more appealing, but Basiratmand said he won't jump on board with the hybrid model right away.

"It is too soon to decide," he said. "There must be a period of wait-and-see to ensure the bugs are worked out."

Clearing up Horizon Cloud

Horizon Cloud uses IBM's SoftLayer cloud infrastructure through VMware's partnership with the company. To bolster the DaaS capabilities of Horizon Cloud, VMware also incorporated its new Just-in-time Management Platform (JMP) for scaling and managing Windows applications and SaaS apps. The platform includes VMware App Volumes, Instant Clone and User Environment Manager (UEM), all three of which can now run in the cloud.

[VMware] wants better control of [the remote display protocol] experience and are moving away from PCoIP.
David Johnsonprincipal analyst, Forrester Research

App Volumes delivers applications in layers that follow users across devices. Instant Clone duplicates desktops for multiple users, and UEM allows admins to set policies around what desktops and apps users can access.

VMware acquired Cloud Volumes, whose technology became App Volumes, in 2014. UEM comes from VMware's 2015 acquisition of Immidio.

"You were left wondering when the acquisitions would get integrated together," said Robert Young, research analyst at IDC.

VMware Horizon 7.1 updates

VMware will also add support for the JMP to the new version of its VDI product.

Horizon 7.1 will also include an upgrade to Blast Extreme, VMware's remote display protocol technology. The new Blast Extreme Adaptive Transport (BEAT) feature aims to improve access to virtual desktops from areas with low bandwidth and less-than-optimal networks. Blast Extreme's performance degrades in those situations, but BEAT will adjust to the strength of the network by using algorithms to predict and correct errors or lags in networks before they happen, VMware said.

Before developing Blast Extreme, VMware relied solely on Teradici's PCoIP for its remote display protocol. Now that VMware has its own technology, it is building upon and taking more control over the capabilities it offers, said David Johnson, principal analyst at Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass.

"The improvements in Blast are important," he said. "[VMware] wants better control of [the remote display protocol] experience and are moving away from PCoIP."

In addition, VMware will roll out a preview of Skype for Business support on virtual desktops in Horizon 7.1 -- another area where the company trailed Citrix, which already supports Skype for Business on XenApp and XenDesktop.

"[Skype for Business support] is one of the remaining product differentiators between VMware and Citrix," Young said. "Citrix has had it for a while, so they've had time to innovate on it. The sooner [VMware] can get feedback from the preview, the better for their business, because customers look at it as a key feature."

Horizon 7.1 and Horizon Cloud will be available in April, with the latter starting at $16 per user per month. VMware did not disclose a general availability date for Horizon's Skype for Business support.

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