Last week prior to Partner Exchange in Las Vegas VMware announced the latest edition of its VDI product VMware View, albeit with a slightly modified name Horizon View alongside a new version of Mirage (now Horizon Mirage) the desktop imaging product and finally Horizon Workspace incorporating Horizon Application Manager and Horizon Data (Project Octopus). There is also a new bundle incorporating all these technologies which has been named Horizon Suite.
I have been lucky enough to have these products running in my lab for a while whilst taking part in the beta so let’s have a look at some of the features.
Horizon View 5.2
Although a minor update there has been some big changes and long awaited features making appearance in this version of View. The first I want to talk about is VMware Blast, announced at VMworld a couple of years ago as AppBlast the HTML5 remoting technology has now made its first appearance within View, for the time being it only support full screen desktop and not individual applications it is also only supposed to be used as an alternative to the full client when it is not possible to install the full View client or where the full client isn’t available.
VMware Blast is installed as two components at present, you install the client on your View Connection Servers, and the blast technology on your golden images. When connecting to the View Connection server you now get two choices.
When selecting the HTML access you are connected directly to your desktop from within your browser as can be seen in the photograph below on my Microsoft Surface
There are a number of limitations at present with this technology such as no audio or remote device support, but to use in an emergency when you can’t get to a device with the View Client installed it certainly does the trick and a hell of a lot better than the legacy java clients we have seen previously for this type of use case.
With View 5.2 we are also seeing Windows 8 support for the first time, an increase to 10,000 desktops per vCenter and clusters with up to 32 hosts per pool for VMFS volumes now as well as NFS volumes that have previously had this support.
Two of the more important inclusions in this release are support for Microsoft Lync 2013 when used with a Microsoft based thin clients or traditions PCs and support for space efficient disks to efficiently reclaim disk space from desktops to allow the available storage to be better used without the administrative overhead of having to recompose images.
Horizon Application Manager has been about some time now allowing you seamless access to your applications in an enterprise App store fashion, allowing you to consume ThinApps and SAAS applications seamlessly without the need for multiple logons. Whist that product is now end of life the functionality has now been rolled up into Horizon Workspace and it has now been enhanced with Horizon Data that has come from project octopus, allowing enterprise controlled cloud storage for end users and by integrating for VMware Blast access to your desktops.
For me Horizon Workspace is the glue that is bringing VMware’s vision for the next generation desktop to a reality, we still have a little way to go before we will be fully there but Horizon Workspace is becoming the central hub for the user allowing them to access their data and applications whether they be the more modern SAAS or App based applications or legacy applications running inside a View desktop, you can see when the app remoting technology is finalised you will have a seamless experience no matter what type of application you are loading.
Horizon Workspace is installed as a vApp containing 5 VMs
When booting the vApp for the first time only the configuration virtual appliance will start, you start the installation process by connecting to the console of this machine, you will need to answer a number of questions before it will go away and complete the base install of all the other VMs for you. Prior to doing this you will need to ensure you have setup the DNS entries and IPs for all the VMs above, the gateway VM will be the VM that the users will access Horizon Workspace from so be sure to name it appropriately.
Once the configuration has completed all the VMs in the vApp will be started and configured before you then login to the web interface of the configurator to carry on with the configuration.
Whilst it is very easy to configure and manage I do hope there is more of a combined management interface on the
cards at some point as you do find yourself having to switch between the management interface on each of the VMs in the vApp quite a bit whist doing the initial configuration however after this you will spend most of your time connected to the gateways management interface for your daily administrative tasks.
From a user perspective they will get a seamless view of their data and applications no matter which device they are using.
The above image shows the IOS client with Horizon Data and Applications which can launch either a web application or application from the App Store or your device
The image above shows the web client for Horizon Workspace allowing you to launch a desktop via the blast technology.
I am really excited by VMware’s end user computing vision at the moment and whilst I think it still has a little way to go we are really starting to see the combined products coming together to deliver on this vision. Over the next few weeks I will dig a little deeper into these technologies on my blog and also record some videos of their functionality. I haven’t covered Mirage yet and I intend to be covering its functionality in depth in the coming months.