By Peter Brown, Senior R&D Manager, VMware, London, UK
With this blog, we introduce a new series of occasional End-User-Computing blogs called Sneak Peeks, where we discuss features and functionality we are working on in the Development labs. This gives us a chance to share the kinds of things we are thinking about and, in turn, to hear your ideas. We hope you find this new series informative and thought-provoking.
Over the years, I have worked with many devices that were connected remotely to VDI desktops using USB redirection. Some of these devices can be troublesome when using USB with a remote connection—due either to bandwidth requirements (for example, webcams) or latency sensitivity (for example, serial ports).
I am delighted to announce that we have recently been working in the labs on adding serial port redirection to Horizon with View. Similar to webcam redirection, we can solve the problem for serial ports by capturing the serial data at the client side, packaging it and delivering it to the guest, and presenting it back by way of a virtual COM port.
We are progressing well, and the functionality is looking great. We would, however, like to engage with our users, who have real-world experience with serial devices, for their thoughts about this functionality. Some devices are simple (for example, GPS receivers) and periodically send a burst of data to a terminal, whereas others are much more complicated. Many serial devices are quite old, and were designed to be connected by way of a few meters of cable to the computer. They certainly were not designed to be used remotely over tens or hundreds of miles!
Therefore the devices or applications used are often sensitive to the timing of the messages received. Also, many of the applications need bespoke applications that are often tightly coupled with a company’s internal applications and processes (for example, banking systems or production lines), making testing with such devices difficult for VMware engineers. Such devices often also have “dip” switches to change the mode of the device, and, as a result, the VMware solution may also require a number of different configuration settings to enable specific features in certain environments. These would likely be enabled through either the registry or by way of the port properties UI (for example, see the tool tray pop-up UI in Figure 1 which allows the mapping of physical to virtual com ports).
Figure 1: Tool Tray Pop-Up User Interface
Therefore, we would like to hear from you about which serial devices and which applications you would like to use remotely with View desktops. To facilitate this, we have set up a community forum thread on Serial Port Redirection in Horizon with View, where we can discuss some of the devices and apps that you would expect to work with this functionality. We want to do as much pre-validation of such devices and apps as possible so that when the functionality is launched, “it just works”! So, do visit the forum and tell us what you think.
I will keep you updated with progress, and will let you know when we launch this new functionality.