VMware Horizon Suite brings virtual desktop into post-PC era

New offering addresses BYOD headaches by giving users secure, consistent access to apps and data from any device

At VMworld today, VMware offered a peek at its forthcoming VMware Horizon Suite, a technology bundle designed to provide mobile users secure, consistent, 24/7 access to their desktop, applications, and data from any device. Complementing the announcement, company execs talked up the fruits of the Wanova Mirage acquisition, which VMware said extends the VMware View VDI platform to cloud applications.

The Horizon Suite represents the second comprehensive bundle VMware has rolled out at VMworld; the first was the all-encompassing vCloud Suite 5.1 unveiled yesterday. VMware's Horizon vision is ambitious and a seeming panacea to BYOD-induced headaches. To the company's credit, it has been baking the components into the suite for some time now, and the company knows its way around a virtualized desktop.

Currently an alpha release, the VMware Horizon Suite aims to equip IT with the tools to customize a service catalog for all company data and applications. The suite can recognize user attributes and environment, such as what device type, location, and connectivity, and enforce appropriate policies across applications, data, and desktops, according to VMware, which posted a video of the suite in action.

"The dramatic influx of mobile devices and applications is quickly subverting existing IT policy and management," said Brett Waldman, a senior research analyst at IDC. "Modern solutions will need to have an integrated approach that holistically manages users, applications, and devices to satisfy radically changing requirements to be well accepted by today's IT organizations."

The suite unites five VMware-branded tools into an integrated management platform: Project Octopus, Project AppBlast, ThinApp, VMware Horizon Application Manager, and VMware Horizon Mobile.

Released in beta last May, Project Octopus lets end-users securely connect, share data, and collaborate with one another regardless of device. IT administrators, meanwhile, have the ability to govern usage and set policies for data access and sharing, both within the organization and with external contributors.

Project AppBlast, announced in September 2011, provides fully interactive, remote access to desktop apps such as Microsoft Office view a Web browser.

ThinApp (formerly known as Thinstall) lets organizations package applications into single executables that run in isolation of one another and from the OS. Application packages can be deployed to different Windows platforms for easy migration.

VMware Horizon Application Manager, first unveiled at last year's VMworld, is a cross-platform management solution designed to unify, secure, and control access to SaaS, Web, and Windows applications from end-user devices. The software provides a central location for applying application policies, including how, when, and to whom end-user apps are provided. It also provides a cloud identity service layer for securing managed access to Windows, SaaS, and Web-based applications.

Application Manager also includes an IAM (identity-and-access-management) technology that helps IT extend user profiles securely into the cloud.

Finally, VMware Horizon Mobile is based on the VMware MVP (Mobile Virtualization Platform), and it enables organizations to establish and securely manage an employee's connected mobile workspace in isolation from their personal mobile environment.

As for Wanova Mirage, the software is capable of cloning endpoint images in the data center and running them locally on physical devices. The goal here is to provide users with a consistent PC experience, regardless of device, while giving admins a centralized location to manage it all. VMworld execs demonstrated how a user's desktop OS could be upgraded within moments from Windows XP to Windows 7 while retaining the same desktop appearance and files. They went on to show how that desktop image could be quickly accessed from a MacBook.

This story, "VMware Horizon Suite brings virtual desktop into post-PC era ," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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