VMware ACE lags the pace
VMware's virtual desktop management system runs a step behind solutions from Kidaro and Sentillion
VMware’s ACE (Assured Computing Environment) is the virtualization leader’s own take on a virtual desktop management layer. Featuring a policy-based configuration model dubbed VRM (Virtual Rights Management), ACE allows IT administrators to lock down and control virtual machine access to devices and networks as well as encrypt VM images and apply various expiration and timeout rules.
With Version 2.0 of ACE (currently in beta testing and scheduled to launch along with VMware Workstation 6.0), IT shops will be able to distribute ACE-managed VMs via USB key, a feature VMware calls Pocket ACE. They’ll also be able to leverage the new VMware Workstation 6.0 image format and its support for larger, more sophisticated VM images. These are in addition to ACE staples such as rules-based network access (locking out systems by port or traffic type), host quarantine (to isolate the host system), and image snapshots (for restoring the VM to a known-good state). ACE also integrates seamlessly with Microsoft Active Directory to leverage existing organizational structures.
Compared to Kidaro’s Managed Workspace and Sentillion’s vThere, ACE looks positively spartan. For example, ACE provides no host integration functionality to match Kidaro's Published Applications feature, which lets you specify which applications within the VM should run seamlessly on the host desktop. Nor does VMware provide the kind of flexible distribution and VPN-awareness capabilities of the Sentillion vThere.net hosted solution. In short, ACE offers a basic level of management functionality but does nothing to mitigate the logistical hurdles associated with a VM-based deployment.
ACE is also not cheap. At $99 per seat plus $795 for the ACE Manager application, ACE comes in at the highend of the management agent scale, especially given its limited added value. IT shops will get a better return on their investment with either the Kidaro or Sentillion solutions, both of which deliver similar or better functionality while significantly extending the VM deployment model in new and innovative ways.