With little fanfare, VMware rolled out View 5.1. The latest iteration of the VDI software is chock full of improvements, including new storage features, better integration and persona management enhancements, so perhaps some pomp and circumstance are justified.
View Storage Accelerator
The View Storage Accelerator reduces storage loads and traffic using an enhanced caching method: It caches the common blocks of desktop images into local host memory. The Accelerator also works hand in hand with the VMware vSphere (version 5.0 or later) feature called "content-based read cache" (CBRC). It functions by having the host hypervisor scan the storage disk blocks to create a digest of the block contents and caching those digests in the host-based CBRC. Future reads of blocks are served directly from the in-memory cache.
This VMware View 5.1 feature significantly improves virtual desktop performance, especially during boot storms or antivirus scanning storms when a large number of blocks with identical contents are read.
VMware View 5.1 also includes better integration with VMware's management products through VMware vCenter Operations Manager for View. VCenter Operations is optimized for virtual desktop deployments and provides end-to-end desktop and user monitoring. User-friendly dashboards make it simpler to identify, troubleshoot and trend potential issues.
Persona management, migrations
VMware View 5.1 includes improvements to View Persona Management and now supports physical desktops, making it much easier to perform Windows XP-to-Windows 7 migrations.
What's more, during a physical-to-virtual migration, an administrator can first install View Persona Management on the physical desktop. When the same user accesses a virtual desktop with Persona Management enabled, user data and settings are automatically synchronized. Persona Management is also now able to support a one-time Windows XP to Windows 7 migration.
View Administrator and Active Directory
Enhancements to the View Administrator include support for restrictive environments, especially those where write access to the Active Directory is prohibited. Administrators can now choose to reuse existing machine accounts in Active Directory during the provisioning process, which means you can create more secure, temporary-use systems.
View Administrator also now supports larger-scale VDI deployments and has increased performance in the management console. VMware View Composer Server in View 5.1 can be installed in a standalone server, which improves performance. Plus, VMware View Connection Server now logs events in syslog rather than a database, making it easier to use with unified management products.
Support: More endpoints, USB, multi-monitor
The new version adds support for additional endpoints. Users will now be able to connect to their VMware View desktop from a variety of mobile and fixed endpoints with updated clients for Mac, Windows and Linux desktops; thin or zero clients; and Apple iPad, Google Android and Amazon Kindle Fire tablets.
End users will also appreciate the enhanced USB support, which eliminates the need for specialized device drivers to be installed on the client device. With VMware View 5.1, a generic USB arbitrator is used on the client side, while a proper USB hub is implemented in the agent. That allows View to support a broader range of USB devices while supporting fine-grained remote device policy (for example, enable/disable mass storage file copy) even on multifunction USB devices.
VMware View 5.1 Local Mode now includes support for multi-monitor implementations as well as USB-based mass storage devices, allowing a virtual desktop to perform more like a physical one in situations where that's necessary.
With some minor rewrites to the PC over IP (PCoIP) code base and supporting software elements, protocol enhancements in VMware View 5.1 help speed up client-side responsiveness. PCoIP adapts to the end user's network connection to provide a high-quality, customized desktop experience over the LAN or WAN.
View 5.1 comes with support for Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service (RADIUS), which brings security authentication support in VMware View to other two-factor authentication vendors that use a RADIUS client in the View 5.1 Connection Server. That creates a multitude of options for administrators looking to implement single sign-on or security tokens in virtual desktops.
The improvements to VMware View 5.1 are meant to work in concert with other VMware technologies. It also makes it easier for admins to do large scale-outs of virtual desktops and supports the growing variety of endpoints demanded by today's end users.