VMware expands desktop virtualization capabilities

Offline access, reduced storage highlight VMware View overhaul

VMware has renamed and expanded upon its desktop virtualization software, with features that reduce storage requirements and allow offline access to desktops.

VMware View, formerly known as Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), gives IT managers an easier way to manage desktops while also providing end users more flexible access to personalized desktops from pretty much any thin client or PC, says Raj Mallempati, a VMware product marketing manager. VMware View is being bundled with ThinApp application virtualization software, simplifying the deployment of applications to virtual desktops.

"VMware View combines virtual desktop infrastructure running in the data center, client-hosted virtual desktops that can run on any laptop or desktop computer, and application virtualization that provides easily packaged and deployed applications to virtual desktop environments," VMware states.

While VMware has long dominated the server virtualization market, the vendor is one of many tackling the problems of virtualizing the desktop. Competitors include Citrix, Microsoft, MokaFive, Pano Logic and numerous others.

VMware View features new "Composer" software that lets IT managers create new virtual desktops from a master template, allowing faster deployment and a reduction in storage needs of up to 70%, according to VMware. Thousands of virtual desktops can be updated or patched simultaneously by applying changes to the master template.

Offline desktop access, another new feature, lets users download a virtual machine to their PC or laptop and work when not connected to the Internet. In addition to personal documents and applications, all security policies are transferred from the central desktop server to the individual device.

VMware announced general availability of VMware View Tuesday, having first previewed the product in September. It's all part of a more holistic approach VMware is taking with desktop virtualization, Mallempati says, noting a new partnership with Wyse Technology to use VMware software with Wyse thin clients.

Basic packages cost $150 per concurrent user, while premium packages including ThinApp and all new features cost $250 per concurrent user.

More new features include Unified Desktop Access, a single interface to connect to multiple types of desktop sessions (i.e. VMware, Windows Terminal Server or physical PCs); Virtual Printing, the ability to print to any local or network printer without installing specific printer drivers; and Multimedia Redirection, a new way of redirecting multimedia processing tasks from the server to end user device in order to improve user experience.

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