VMware's cloud identity broker appears on the Horizon

With the arrival of the Horizon App Manager identity brokerage portal, VMware continues to release products that do not fundamentally rely on its own hypervisor

VMware has released details of its VMware Horizon App Manager, which provides businesses with a central point for authenticating access to a range of cloud-based software services.

The identity brokerage application, announced on Tuesday, is the first product to arrive from the Project Horizon range teased by VMware at VMworld 2010 in August. Initially, it will support software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications from Salesforce.com, Google and Cisco, as well as VMware's Zimbra and SlideRocket, among other products.

In its initial incarnation, Horizon App Manager is "a freestanding product designed to access SaaS applications", Dave Wright, vice president for VMware technology services in Europe, told ZDNet UK.

As a stand-alone product, Horizon App Manager does not require the stack it runs on to be virtualised using VMware's ESX hypervisor, nor does it require VMware management services to function, according to Wright.

The software may eventually embrace the management of individual software licences as well as user identities, he added.

When ZDNet UK put it to Wright that the product seems a natural fit for dovetailing into features of vCloud Director — such as licensing administration — he indicated that the move would make sense.

User identities

The product uses the Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) and Open Authentication (OAuth) standards-based authentication mechanisms to securely broker user identities from company networks onto their SaaS products.

Its user portal changes according to the security of the connection method used by the person trying to gain access, Wright said. Administrators can use it to set application access policies for groups, individuals or by job title.

If someone's on a private network within an office, they'll get far more applications presented to them than if they were in a Starbucks in Afghanistan.

– Dave Wright, VMware

"This system is able to detect presence and connection methods, so if you logged on through a corporate network you might get one set of applications displayed, and if you logged on via a Starbucks unsecured network, you might get a different set of applications presented to you," Wright said. "If someone's on a private network within an office, they'll get far more applications presented to them than if they were in a Starbucks in Afghanistan."

The product will cost $30 (£18.50) per user per month, Wright said. A trial version of Horizon App Manager is available to certain customers in Europe, while a full version has been released to some customers in North America and Asia. VMware was unable to give a full release date for the UK.

At EMC World earlier in May, VMware's chief executive Paul Maritz said the virtualisation specialist is interested in creating a layer that removes the need for businesses to worry about the details of the underlying infrastructure. "We're moving from a hypervisor company to a datacentre automation company," he said.

As part of this, VMware is in the process of developing products that complement its bread and butter — the ESX and ESXi hypervisors and their vCloud Director management platform — and Horizon App Manager is a reflection of this trend.

"We want to be able to deal with all layers of the stack... to take the infrastructure, liquefy it so it's got a compute pool you can access, then let people optimise applications for both legacy applications [and for new platforms built upon the compute pool]", Wright said.

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