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VDI 2.0 Vision Delivered

At VMworld 2013 in San Francisco, we started talking about the vision of VDI 2.0, the next generation VDI architecture comprising the confluence of a variety of new technologies from VMware and our partners, as well as VMware’s formal entrance into the DaaS or Desktop as a Service market. Here at VMworld EMEA, we’re going to talk about concrete product releases to actually back up this vision and how we are drastically accelerating our customer’s journey to VDI 2.0.

Windows as a Cloud Service

Let’s start with today’s announcement that VMware has acquired Desktone.

The explosion of mobile devices, mobile and web applications, and increased interest in the cloud is driving businesses to reevaluate their desktop strategy. Desktop virtualization has enabled many IT organizations to allow access to desktops, applications and data from multiple devices and locations, while ensuring compliance, manageability, security and disaster recovery. VMware Horizon View simplifies desktop management, security, and control while delivering an optimum end-user computing experience across all devices and networks. The addition of the Desktone platform further extends the benefits of desktop virtualization by offering an additional choice to organizations looking for predictable economics, flexibility of cloud deployment and simplified management due to contraints such as lack of resources or in-house VDI expertise.

The Desktone platform technology was purpose-built for service providers to deliver windows applications and desktops as a cloud service. As such, the design and architecture includes a scale-out grid design purpose built to span geographies and data centers. Multi-tenancy is built in from the beginning. Each customer gets a separate virtual environment to ensure security while cloud providers are able to manage multiple customers under one platform. The offering delivers simple, self-service provisioning from the cloud with role-based portals delivering full VDI, shared session remote desktop service (RDSH) desktops and applications without the need to procure hardware or software. And when you access your Horizon View desktop hosted on VMware vSphere and the Desktone platform in the cloud, you are able to use the Horizon View client and all of its rich user experience capabilities, including the PCoIP protocol, UC APIs and the patent pending Unity Touch User Interface Virtualization capability.

Which brings me to the VMware Horizon Suite. Today we launched updated versions of all products in the Horizon Suite, and there are some great new capabilities that support VDI 2.0. Announced today, VMware Horizon View 5.3 contains Horizon View Agent Direct Connect – an optional plugin that allows for secure remote connections to a virtual desktop without requiring Horizon View connection server, offering more flexibility for remote office, branch office and desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) deployments. Yes, VMware Horizon View 5.3 now supports the ability for any View Client (VMware or third-party) to connect directly to a View virtual desktop without going through a Connection Server. This will typically be used in deployments where it is either not practical, or not possible to deploy a full View Connection Server environment. Examples include:

  • Multi-tenant DaaS environments such as those using View with Desktone technology. This includes VMware’s own DaaS offering within vCloud Hybrid Service.
  • Branch office and retail store deployments where vSphere servers running virtual desktops are deployed into multiple locations. Several partner solutions announced at this year’s VMworld in Barcelona have been developed to use this technology in branch office type deployments.
  • Simple one-to-one deployments where a client can just connect directly to a specific virtual desktop, for example kiosk mode.

This new component is called “Horizon View Agent Direct-Connection Plugin” (VADC) and can be installed on any desktop running View Agent. Then instead of the View Client specifying a Connection Server or Security Server name/address, the name or address of the specific View desktop is specified instead. The user logs on as normal, either with a domain account or local machine account, and then accesses the desktop with all the same end-user functionality as they get if connecting normally. This includes PCoIP, RDP, USB redirect, RTAV, Unity Touch, sound, MMR, single sign-on etc. The end-user experience is identical. VADC was designed to extend the deployment options for View into these new areas.

Another new feature of direct relevance to DaaS is that VMware Horizon View 5.3 now supports Windows Server 2008 R2 as a desktop operating system in Horizon View for public and private cloud deployments. This reduces the costs and complexities related to Microsoft Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) subscription fees and enables DaaS service providers to share server hardware between tenants and directly offer Windows licensing choices.

VDI 2.0

But enough about Cloud deployment models. VMware Horizon View 5.3 also delivers on both the improved user experience and improved cost economics of VDI 2.0. With regards to user experience, Horizon View virtual desktops now offer a true workstation replacement option with workstation class 3D graphics using Virtual Dedicated Graphics Acceleration (vDGA) from NVIDIA to support high performance compute workloads such as those required by the design, manufacturing, and oil and gas industries. Bandwidth consumption has been lowered through the use of multimedia redirection of H.264 advanced video coding for high definition content and efficiency improvements to Horizon View client for Linux offer an enhanced experience for users. Improvements to remote desktops delivered through HTML5 capable web browsers offer higher quality video playback, faster typing response, and higher scalability with support for up to 250 concurrent connections. Additionally, support is available for the latest end-user technologies including Windows 8.1, Apple iOS 7 and Google Chromebooks.

New VMware Virtual SAN for Horizon View beta will deliver significantly lower upfront capital expense (CAPEX) and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). The bundling of VMware vCenter Operations Manager for View in Horizon Suite at no additional cost offers advanced VDI performance and operations management for large-scale virtual desktop production monitoring, advanced problem warning, faster time to resolution and complete infrastructure coverage.

VDI 2.0 also depends on fine-grained, modular image management and Horizon Mirage 4.3 (which also launched today) delivers the first phase of Mirage Image Management for View. With this release, Mirage-managed Full Clones are supported with VMware Horizon View 5.3. This solution aligns well with the VDI 2.0 storage advances and vSAN, where storage capex concerns are solved in the storage tier. Deliver the ability to restore/reset base OS and/or application layers while preserving the user specific customizations including user-installed apps. The base OS/App layer operations are driven/managed by Mirage. Mirage can manage layers, and enable base image enforce to assist with compliance and image drift. Mirage can also offer a recovery strategy for lost full clones, relevant for designs where array-to -array replication is lacking and for datacenter failures.

At VMworld EMEA, we also shared a technical preview of Mirage-managed Linked Clone images for persistent desktops (static assignment). This is a use case where linked clones are primarily used to shrink the storage cost on non-hardware deduplicated storage technologies. It requires operating in tandem with either composer-based restores/refreshes and/or the vSphere SE-Sparse capability in order to reclaim storage space. Mirage brings modular image management including line-of-business application layers and preservation of user installed apps after a recompose. It also protects UIA content across re-balance and selective recompose events.  Depending on the size of updates and storage consumption, it is expected that both composer refreshes and Mirage updates will be used during the lifetime of the VMs.

So, there you have it. VDI 2.0, delivered at VMworld EMEA 2013. For those of you in Barcelona, I encourage you to stop by the VMware booth and attend our EUC sessions to learn more about today’s VMware EUC announcements and check out our technologies.