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Transforming Windows Desktops Into a Centralized Service

By Robert Baesman, Director of Desktop Product Management, End-User Computing, VMware

How to View a Mirage on the Horizon…

Yes, the pun is intended <groan>.  Today, VMware is happy to announce the launch of the latest edition of our two most popular enterprise End-User Computing products: VMware Horizon View 5.2 and VMware Horizon Mirage 4.0.  You can look forward to further announcements regarding general availability of these product versions soon.

But wait!  Just yesterday we were referring to these products as “VMware View” and “VMware Mirage”.  What’s that “Horizon” name doing in there? Well, as our CTO, Scott Davis, observed in his blog, these two great products are now part of our Horizon Suite and our strategy and vision for the virtual workspace.

At the end of the day, we know the world of end-user computing is complex with many new work-styles, device types, application sources, security threats and business demands. Some solutions want IT to ignore this new reality and keep on managing Windows workloads the way they always have.  Others demand a wholesale revolution from our historical reliance on Windows to an instantly all SaaS world. VMware’s approach is different. By pulling together products like Horizon View, Horizon Mirage and Horizon Workspace under one Horizon Suite umbrella, we prescribe an evolutionary journey from device-centric to user-centric. With Horizon View and Horizon Mirage, existing Windows desktop workloads are abstracted away from traditional hardware dependencies and transformed into centralized services; administrators then centrally control how these services are brokered by policy, and they are ultimately delivered to end users across a wide variety of devices. Coupling these abilities with the Application and Data Services of Horizon Workspace brings the right blend of technologies to meet the needs of the modern, yet still evolving, enterprise workforce.

“Ok, that’s all great” you say, but “what’s going to be different for me and my Horizon View or Horizon Mirage deployment when I finally get to download and install all this stuff?” So glad you asked! It’s a pretty exciting set of releases…

What’s New in VMware Horizon View 5.2

First, a note on the version number, because in some ways it sends the right message, in others, it is misleading. Horizon View “5.2” is spot on when it comes to expectations of reliability – I’ve been involved in View releases for many years now and this is without a doubt the most solid, stable, high quality release I’ve had the pleasure to work on. So if you’re an existing View customer, you can look forward to a pretty clean upgrade. However, don’t be fooled by the “.2” implication that this release is light on functionality – I’ve seen dot-0s from all over the industry with a lot less going for them than this.  It all breaks down to 3 main categories of goodness: user experience, management ease, and total cost of ownership.

What’s New in Horizon View 5.2 for End-User Experience

  • Hardware Accelerated 3D Graphics
  • Support for Windows 8 based desktops
  • Improved video and VOIP communications with Microsoft Lync 2013 support
  • Streamlined access to Horizon View desktops from Horizon Workspace
  • Easily connect to desktops from any device with HTML Access
  • Enhanced productivity from mobile devices with new ‘Unity Touch’ functionality

What’s New in Horizon View 5.2 for Ease of Management

  • Large pool creation with elimination of 8 host limits, and multiple vLAN support
  • View Administrator performance improvements with large numbers of desktops
  • Accelerated provisioning and recompose operations
  • Tech Preview of a new Integrated Service Console in the vSphere Web Client
  • Support for vCenter Server Virtual Appliance based deployments

What’s New in Horizon View 5.2 for Total Cost of Ownership

  • Substantial storage capacity savings for persistent desktops with space-efficient disk technology

So all in all, a pretty rich and robust Horizon View release – especially if you’re managing large scale VDI deployments, have high end user experience needs, and you like saving money on your infrastructure.

For Horizon Mirage, there’s also a lot coming…

What’s New in VMware Horizon Mirage 4.0

First of all, because Horizon Mirage is still a relative newcomer to our VMware offerings, it’s worth a quick refresher on what it does. In a nutshell, Horizon Mirage abstracts a Windows desktop image away from its direct hardware dependencies, and moves management of that abstracted image to the datacenter. But unlike VDI solutions, Horizon Mirage keeps the runtime of the image on a native physical device – even one that is only occasionally WAN connected – like a roadwarrior’s laptop. The result is radically enhanced availability for end users, with substantial OPEX savings for administrators in operations like OS & device migrations, disaster recovery, break-fix operations, and patch & image management.

It’s the latter category of image management that takes the biggest leap forward in VMware Horizon Mirage 4.0. Up until now, if you were managing the image of a bunch of roadwarrior laptops with Mirage, you were already ahead in terms of the reliability of updates compared with traditional tools: Mirage works great over the WAN, and drops the cost of managing mobile and ROBO deployments through reduced failure rates and fewer helpdesk calls. However, we knew we could do better.  In particular, there wasn’t any granularity to the departmental applications on the image – if I had 20 different mixes of applications for the different user types in my organization, I had to maintain 20 distinct base images in Mirage – doable, but a bit of a pain. This held back the full OPEX savings potential of the technology.

Horizon Mirage 4.0 eliminates this barrier: now sets of applications can be managed and updated as distinct layers in a centralized “single image”. When patch Tuesday comes along and I need to push an update to my OS layer, I now only have to make one update, and it is applied universally to all endpoints. Horizon Mirage then takes care of seamlessly sliding that OS layer update underneath the distinct sets of applications for my different user profiles: account reps, sales engineers, professional services, R&D, executives, HR, etc. The full OPEX-savings potential for Horizon Mirage management of mobile and remote/branch-office endpoints is unlocked!

In addition to that groundbreaking technology advancement, there’s a bunch of smaller but useful enhancements in Horizon Mirage 4.0 that will make it work well for VMware’s many enterprise customers:

  • Microsoft Windows Server 2012 support for Mirage Servers
  • Streamlined Windows 7 migration User Interface
  • Optimized endpoint centralization process
  • Full use of MyVMware for Downloads, Licensing and Evals
  • VMware communities based Horizon Mirage community and blog for enhanced peer support

Pretty cool stuff!

So how again does all this fit with the broader Horizon Suite? You’ll of course still be able to purchase these things a la carte. But together, as one considers the balance one’s organization between physical laptops & desktops, virtual desktops, and multi-device workspaces, VMware has the right evolutionary technologies for IT and end users.  Check out the latest with Horizon View 5.2 and Horizon Mirage 4.0 and see for yourself!