Last week, VMware announced a host of new updates for its virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution, Horizon 7 and Horizon Cloud. According to the company, the updates are designed to make it easier to manage, deliver, and secure virtual workspaces. Among the updates are the ability to extend operations to Amazon Web Services (AWS), new pricing, and a brand-new version of its Horizon VDI product. The company also announced plans to roll out its new Workspace One Intelligence capability to the platform, which comes as yet another development in artificial intelligence (AI)-infused business applications.
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What Is VDI?
Before we go into the things that VMware announced, it's important to understand exactly what VDI is. In basic terms, VDI lets companies operate fully functional, virtual machine (VM)-based desktops that users can access regardless of device or location. Rather than standard desktop virtualization, which usually refers to a computer hosting a single guest VM, VDI refers to the processes of running a desktop inside a VM that lives on a server, which means a single server or server farm can be architected to host dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of simultaneously operating desktops.
The most common VDI benefit is cost. Virtualized desktops cost less, whether it's because you're now using cheap thin clients on every desktop or because the VDI architecture lets users share desktops across multiple shifts. Some other VDI advantages come not only from the fact that each employee can have their own personalized desktop, but also because it lets your company's IT department centrally manage all of the VMs in a network. That means most troubleshooting and patching can happen faster and more securely in the data center because all updates and fixes are pushed from one location. By implementing VDI, businesses can save on maintenance costs and management resources. Horizon (which is the on-premises version) and Horizon cloud (which is cloud-based, of course) are VMware's offerings in this space, and we'll soon have a review of Horizon 7 here on PCMag so stay tuned for that.
Intelligence and AWS
Earlier this year, VMware announced the release of Workspace One Intelligence for Workspace One (its management platform). By implementing machine learning (ML), Workspace One Intelligence monitors and harvests data from the customer's network to help spot opportunities for improvement. The service combines aggregation and correlation of users, apps, networks, and endpoints data, and delivers all of those insights into a friendly, easy-to-understand visualization portal. If you have ever used a tool such as Google Analytics (GA), then Workspace One Intelligence isn't too different from it in either form or function. Last week, the company announced that they are extending Workspace One Intelligence into the Horizon platform. There's no release date yet but VMware says it will launch within the coming months.
According to Courtney Burry, Senior Director of Product Marketing for VMware End-User Computing (EUC), the company hopes that the new feature will help businesses improve their networks faster and easier. "Most importantly, it helps them from becoming reactive to more proactive. Being able to correlate data across multiple sources of telemetry is no easy task," Burry told PCMag. "We're excited that Workspace One Intelligence will be able to support IT shops with visibility into all of their apps and Win10 images. They will be able to take advantage of alerts and rules to simplify admin tasks and dashboards to help visualize what is happening."
Another new development that the company announced was that, starting now, Horizon 7 customers will be able to extend their on-premises operations into the cloud via AWS via the company's VMware Cloud platform. Being able to migrate your VDI platform to the cloud has a number of benefits. First, you can let AWS handle some of the resources that would otherwise need to be handled locally on your IT department's end. With zero additional infrastructure, having Horizon on VMware Cloud on AWS means you are better equipped to handle use cases such as disaster recovery (DR), cloud colocation, and on-demand capacity.
New Version, New Features
Last August, VMware took some time at its annual VMWorld conference to tease an advancement of their Just-in-Time Management Platform (JMP). In basic terms, this means that VMs can be reliably and securely cloned in seconds. Perhaps the biggest announcement that the company made was the impending release of version 7.5 of the Horizon platform and its inclusion of JMP technologies. According to the company, the JMP workflow engine will make setting up new VDI workspaces easier than ever. It remains to be seen how effective this will be in practice, but if it works as well as VMware says it will, it could bolster the company's reputation as an industry leader.
Also new to the platform is the addition of subscription licensing for Horizon. With the new Horizon Universal subscription pricing, you can subscribe to the platform starting at $8.26 for app deployment and $16.50 per user per month for desktops and apps. Previously, you had to purchase licenses that came with years-long commitments. Companies that were interested in the Horizon platform in the past but were scared of commitment may find that this is the chance to jump in for which they were looking.