VDI shoot-out: VMware View 5

VMware View taps the world's best virtualization platform and PCoIP improvements for highly scalable desktop virtualization

An excellent platform for building an enterprise VDI solution, VMware View 5 takes advantage of all the features, services, and fault tolerance built into VMware's flagship vSphere hypervisor. View allows IT to manage pools of virtual desktops, assign them to users, and define policies for VDI behavior, all from a single browser-based UI. View supports connectivity from a wide variety of client devices, and its PCoIP remoting protocol, borrowed from Teradici, helps improve the user experience by reducing the latency between the server-hosted virtual machine and its user. As with the competing VDI heavyweight, Citrix XenDesktop, initial setup and configuration of VMware View can be daunting.

View is available in two editions, View Enterprise and View Premier, both of which include the core services needed to get a VDI deployment off the ground. Both editions bundle vSphere, vCenter, and View Manager. The View Premier package adds View Composer (image management), ThinApp (application virtualization), and Local Mode (VMware's offline VDI engine for mobile users). While both View Enterprise and View Premier can scale as large as your virtual infrastructure will allow, View Enterprise targets deployments of 100 VDI clients or less, while View Premier targets the larger deployments.

The test bed for my View 5 deployment was made up of vSphere 5 installed on a Fujitsu Primergy TX300 server, along with two Windows Server 2008 R2 64-bit virtual machines. I installed vCenter on one Windows Server VM and View Manager on the second. My guest operating systems were standard Windows XP and Windows 7 Professional. As with XenDesktop, I connected from inside and outside the network and had no trouble with any of the virtual desktops, including virtual desktops I had built on linked clones.

VMware View: Building blocks
Admins can think of VMware View in terms of three major components: the hypervisor, the connection broker (and management system), and the protocol. The vSphere hypervisor is the bedrock of any successful View installation, allowing virtual desktops to take advantage of its many fault tolerance and scalability features. Unlike Citrix XenDesktop, which supports third-party hypervisors, VMware View will run only on VMware's own.

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