For a couple of years now we’ve been hearing about the current year being the year that VDI really takes off. Believe it or not, I think we’re really starting to get there. I’ve written before that I see Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) challenges being easily solved by VDI. And that’s just one reason that organizations are beginning to take a closer look at this desktop centralization technology.
For years, VMware has offered a solution that involves leveraging the company’s existing server virtualization product assets and extending them to encompass desktop technologies. Although the company has very good products in this space, it’s still a bit like “the only tool we have is a hammer, so everything looks like a nail.” Of course, with that said, it’s quite obvious that VMware View has come a long, long way.
VMware's Davis discusses Wanova acquisition
The Chief Technology Officer of VMware's End User Computing Group, Scott Davis, joins SiliconANGLE's John Furrier and Wikibon's Dave Vellante to discuss the role of virtualization on the edge to improve the user experience and why VMware acquired Wanova.
Watch the full video here
So, what do I mean? Well, consider VMware View Local Mode. It’s a way to extend VDI benefits to devices that may not have an always-on Internet connection. But, the downside is that using Local Mode is basically like running two full operating systems on a single device. This will work for some devices, but a lot of devices out there simply won’t be able to support the workload or will do so poorly.
On the other hand, because it doesn’t take much in the way of modification to the host system, it’s a great technical solution for supporting employee’s personal computers that they may want to bring into the workplace.
Running all of the company’s virtualized desktops on a bank of servers in the data center is but one potential use case when it comes to deploying desktops in a non-traditional way. This single scenario is not for everyone. After all, this singular, centralized method would require users to run around in search of a high-speed connection to the Internet every time they wanted to use their desktop, unless they use the bloated Local Mode tool that might bring their machine to a crawl. Of course, some would say that BYOD works both ways—the users get to use any hardware they like, but there may be some consequences to doing so.
Basically, View doesn’t do a particularly good job of managing physical devices. Unfortunately, physical devices are here to stay for the foreseeable future, so there needs to be something that can manage things a bit more collectively.
Other companies are also getting into the virtual desktop game with different options. Virtual Computer—recently acquired by Citrix—has a bare metal hypervisor for client machines that can allow any workload to run on an endpoint, but this solution may not be that great for personally owned machines. Citrix itself is also a bit more mature than VMware when it comes to an ability to centrally manage devices and desktops.
Even VMware, however, realizes the limitations inherent in the current VDI scenarios, and the fact that the company needs to close the gap. This week, VMware announced its intention to acquire Wanova, the maker of a compelling solution that sometimes competes with and sometimes complements existing VMware View implementations. Wanova’s Mirage product is an advanced image management tool. Here is an excerpt from one of the company’s marketing pieces:
“Mirage conceptually splits the PC into six layers, divided into two categories: IT centrally managed, and user managed. The first category consists of a Base Image Layer, a Driver Library Layer, and a Departmental Application Layer. The second category consists of User-Application Layer, Machine Identity Layer, and User Data/Settings Layer. These layers form an individually managed, centrally-stored Centralized Virtual Desktop (CVD). CVDs are hardware-agnostic and can be easily migrated from one desktop (physical or virtual) to another, creating a wide range of use cases. The Wanova client runs a copy of this CVD directly on the end point, so users can work offline, use processor-intensive applications, and enjoy predictable, native PC performance regardless of network connectivity.”
VMware's Davis, in the video linked to earlier in this article, discussed how the Wanova product works, including its ability to bring Mac/Fusion-based devices into the mix. He goes on to say that the combination of the two technologies can cover a much broader swath of the market. The Wanova solution enables execution on the edge of the network and brings the benefits that organizations have enjoyed with VMware View to a broader range of devices. The solution, however, maintains centralized image management while enabling native-speed execution on the endpoint.
Action Item: I definitely see how the Wanova acquisition enables new endpoint usage scenarios. I expect that VMware will deeply integrate the Wanova capabilities into a future version of View. Doing so will certainly revolutionize the product’s offline credibility, since it will no longer have to rely on an endpoint type 2 hypervisor, which carries a performance penalty, nor will it have to rely on a client-side type 1 hypervisor, which carries a compatibility penalty. This will place VMware into a much more competitive position against Citrix. I hope to see VMware make quick work of this integration for the benefit of their customers that need to support additional deployment scenarios.