VMware one-ups Amazon for Windows desktops as a service

VMware Horizon DaaS claims to be the first hybrid desktop as a service, deliverable from both public and private clouds

If VMware teaming up with Google to deliver Windows desktops to Chromebooks via VMware Horizon View didn't hammer the final nails into conventional desktop's coffin, VMware has driven in a few more with VMware Horizon DaaS, a new desktop-as-a-service platform that can be delivered either from a conventional public cloud or the private variety.

VMware Horizon DaaS systems can work with a native iOS or Android client, or a late-model HTML5 client -- such as a Web browser or a Chromebook -- and include provisions for USB and multimedia direction. Each virtual machine is provisioned with one CPU, 2GB of RAM, 30GB of storage, and 20 IOPS, and it can run any of a slew of Windows OSes: Windows XP, Windows 7, 64-bit Windows 8, Windows Server 2008 R2, or Windows Server 2012.

Another version of the product, VMware Horizon DaaS Platform (previously known as Desktone, joining the product roster by way of an outside acquisition) packages VMware Horizon DaaS as a software stack that service providers, rather than enterprises, can deploy for their customers.

A major bragging point for VMware, the Horizon DaaS can be delivered either as a purely cloud product through a service provider, mainly VMware's partners for its hybrid solutions, or as an on-premises product in one's private or hybrid cloud by way of VMware Horizon View. The latter option is recommended for those who want the kind of fine-grained control and minimal latency that comes with having a local deployment; the former is the most convenient scenario. The two can be mixed and matched as needed.

The cost for the service is a flat $35 per user per month, with no need to have an existing VMware software license. Unfortunately, there's no discount if you're an existing VMware user.

It's clear from one glance at the VMware Horizon DaaS feature set that one of VMware's more visible targets with this offering is Amazon. Amazon's WorkSpaces delivers a similar proposition: Windows 7 systems on demand from the cloud, with a bit more variety of machine types than VMware Horizon DaaS, as well as better options overall in terms of CPU, memory, and storages. WorkSpaces is offered at the same price: $35 per month per user.

But VMware has dismissed WorkSpaces before as being less of a value. For one (VMware has claimed), Amazon's product didn't really deliver Windows 7 desktops, but rather a reskinned version of a recent edition of Windows Server. This, says, VMware, could cause compatibility problems with some software programs. Private cloud deployment also isn't available; it's Amazon's cloud or nothing.

It's likely to remain that way, given Amazon's general reluctance to embrace private or hybrid clouds. Why do so when its cloud is still top dog? But it's less clear that Amazon can deliver some of the more fine-grained cloud-based products coming into demand -- not just virtual desktops, but other applications that might benefit from hybrid deployments as well. In that respect, VMware continues to have an edge.

This article, "VMware one-ups Amazon for Windows desktops as a service," 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 business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

How to choose a low-code development platform