The second phase of the journey to better end-user computing (EUC) can begin in 2012, after, and will also have multiple steps:
- The first step is for the organization to extend its enterprise policy into the cloud, to encompass a new services platform. Initially this platform will act as a hub for accessing SaaS applications, but its capabilities will steadily be extended as more EUC applications and services are moved from the desktop to the cloud.
- Having embraced the cloud with their policy, the organization should next review its desktop application portfolio to decide what can be moved to the cloud services platform and when.
- All new applications should now be deployed through the cloud services platform, and web-services should be adopted as the preferred architectural option for any in-house applications: the web-services approach will help maximize modularity plus ensure new capabilities are extensible and support scalable, collaborative workflows.
- The organization should extend the capabilities available from the cloud services platform to include settings, links to data and capabilities equivalent to those delivered through the desktop persona. They should plan to use virtualization capabilities on smartphones and tablets to synchronize this cloud-based persona securely with their mobile devices.
- The contents of desktop and cloud personas should now be synchronized, so the same capabilities can be accessed from any device. Virtual desktops should also be connected through the cloud services platform, enabling desktop-as-a-service to be delivered to mobile devices.
At the end of this phase, the organization will have radically simplified its deployment processes for new applications and will have achieved full device independence for all users and all EUC capabilities.
The Horizon Application Manager is VMWare’s cloud services platform – the only such available in the market today. Horizon is the key enabler for the second phase of journey, as organizations transition their EUC assets from the desktop to the cloud. The driver for this is compatibility with existing enterprise policy frameworks – which allows organizations to treat the Horizon Application Manager as an extension of the desktop domain.
Although we refer to the Horizon Application Manager as a platform (for ease of explanation) it is actually a cloud identity hub that provides a single point of access and management for federated and potentially disparate cloud based services. Initially, only SaaS applications are supported, but the range of EUC services that can be accessed through the Horizon hub will be gradually extended to cover the whole scope of user requirements. Project AppBlast, which we showed in a tech-preview at VMworld, will play a key role in this extension process, enabling a gradual (and managed) migration away from the traditional, tightly-coupled desktop environment.
Users log on to the Horizon Application Manager through a cloud broker, which provides secure, single sign-on to a portal that serves as an application catalog. The SaaS applications available through this catalog may be hosted by different providers and each require their own log in credentials, but the Horizon Application Manager hides this complexity from the user. Think of this as an enterprise application store, controlled through enterprise policy objects and where enterprise IT has full control over the content. An administration console is used to manage the allocation of user entitlements – helping organizations to allocate and revoke entitlements to individuals or groups of users as required.