VMware updates Horizon to simplify and extend VDI

VDI offers the promise of simplifying the lives of IT administrators while still addressing the needs of users of Windows desktops, though it hasn't always lived up to that promise. VMware just launched Horizon 6.0 to simplify the use of VDI.
Written by Dan Kusnetzky, Contributor

Sumit Dhawan, VMware's VP and General Manager of desktop products, End-User Computing, spoke with me recently to introduce me to Horizon 6. Horizon 6 is VMware's latest VDI offering that combines access virtualization, application virtualization, and processing virtualization technology to create, in Dhawan's words, "a secure virtual workspace."

Dhawan pointed out that Horizon 6 provides the necessary tools to produce, deliver, and consume a unified workspace. A unified workspace is VMware's marketing catch phrase for an environment that uses a combination of several virtualization technologies to encapsulate and deliver desktop operating systems and applications, then deliver them over the network to users' devices in a manageable, secure way.

What VMware has to say about Horizon 6.0

VMware Horizon 6 introduces new capabilities that are integrated into a single solution that empower IT with a streamlined approach for managing Windows applications and desktops. With Horizon 6, enterprise applications and Windows operating systems are centrally managed so updates can be made in an agile and predictable manner. In addition, Horizon 6 enables entire desktops or just applications to be delivered in a flexible manner to end-users:

  • Virtually for access from multiple locations and devices
  • Physically by syncing the entire desktop image to end-user laptops for online and offline access
  • Securely by delivering applications and content in a managed secure container to support Bring Your Own (BYO) PC scenarios.

New capabilities in VMware Horizon 6 include:

  • Published applications and virtual desktops delivered through a single platform – VMware Horizon 6 offers streamlined management, end-user entitlement, and quick delivery of published Windows applications, RDS-based desktops, and virtual desktops across devices and locations. The new capabilities are built on a single platform that is an extension of the market leading VDI solution, VMware Horizon View.
  • A unified workspace for simplified access – With VMware Horizon 6, end-users can access all applications and desktops from a single unified workspace. The unified workspace supports the delivery of virtualized applications hosted in the datacenter or local on the device, web and SaaS applications, RDS hosted applications, and published applications from third-party platforms, such as Citrix XenApp, with a single sign-on experience.
  • Storage optimization with VMware Virtual SAN and delivery from the software-defined data center – VMware Horizon 6 is optimized for the software-defined data center. The solution provides integrated management of VMware Virtual SAN that can significantly reduce the cost of storage for virtual desktops by using local storage. With this innovation, the capital cost of virtual desktops with Horizon 6 can be similar to physical desktops.
  • Closed-loop management and automation – VMware Horizon 6 offers new capabilities for end-to-end visibility and automation from datacenter-to-device. The new VMware vCenter Operations for View provides health and risk monitoring, proactive end-user experience monitoring, and deep diagnostics from datacenter-to-device all within a single console. Horizon 6 also supports automation and self-service, allowing IT to provide line-of-business users with the ability to request desktops and applications by using built-in workflows and automated infrastructure provisioning. This closed-loop management and automation is integrated with the vCloud Automation Center management console, making it easier for customers with vCloud® Suite to get started with Horizon 6.
  • Central image management of virtual, physical and employee-owned PCs –VMware offers centralized image management for virtual, physical, and employee-owned PCs from a single, integrated solution. Using the updated VMware Mirage, IT administrators can design a single desktop with the required operating system and applications, and deliver it to end-users in a department or entire organization based on end-user needs.
  • Hybrid cloud delivery – VMware Horizon 6 introduces a new client that seamlessly connects to virtual desktops and applications running in an on-premise cloud, a service provider partner cloud, or through VMware vCloud Hybrid Service with the same, high performance end-user experience. This flexibility gives customers the ability to deploy Horizon 6 via the hybrid cloud – balancing between business-owned and public cloud-based infrastructure to best satisfy their needs.

New Editions to Support Modern Deployment Models

VMware customers can adopt published applications and virtual desktops based on their needs and environment. Three new editions of VMware Horizon will be available to customers, including:

  • Horizon View Standard Edition: Delivers simple, high-performance, VDI-based virtual desktops with a great user experience.
  • Horizon Advanced Edition: Offers the lowest cost solution for published and virtual applications and desktops using optimized storage from VMware Virtual SAN, central image management and a unified workspace for managing and delivering all applications and desktops.
  • Horizon Enterprise Edition: Delivers a cloud-ready solution for desktops and applications with advanced cloud-like automation and management capabilities for hybrid cloud flexibility

Snapshot analysis

As I pointed out in my recent post, VDI reconsidered - is wishing for timesharing wrong?, VDI has held out the promise of getting back to the simplicity of of timeharing, that is having workloads either executed in a single location or easily managed as if they were centralized.

Competitors, such as VMware, Citrix, and Microsoft, have kept hammering away at hiding the complexity of VDI while offering increased levels of manageability, security, and efficiency while also reducing the overall cost of systems, software, storage and networking equipment. Industry watchers have often pointed out that Citrix's level of integration offered VDI in a way that most closely matched what Enterprises were trying to achieve.

My colleague, Larry Dignan, examined Dhawan's presentation in his post today (see VMware's Horizon 6 launches, targets Citrix for more information) so I won't go into the details of the announcement. I will point out that by refining and repackaging its Horizon Suite, Horizon View, and helping partners such as Google create and deliver Desktop as a Service offerings, VMware is doing its best to leap-frog over the competition.

Will VMware Horizon 6 be the best fit for your organization? That all depends on whether the company has selected VMware's virtualization, security, and management technology. If virtualization technology from Microsoft or Citrix is at the heart of your IT infrastructure, other offerings may be a better choice.

It is clear, however, that VMware is doing its best to create a simple, but effective, way to make VDI attractive and cost effective.

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