VMworld Report: IT will be able to quickly provision virtual instances to users, which are destroyed on logging out

SAN FRANCISCO — VMware Inc. released a new desktop/mobile management suite that will bring together cloud platforms it has recently acquired and its own cloud layer technology into a single console.

At its annual VMworld user conference the virtualization vendor demoed Workspace Suite during a general session. The software brings together the mobile management capabilities of its recent AirWatch acquisition with those of its own line of VMware Horizon solutions for delivering virtualized and remote desktops and applications. The software also interfaces with another recent acquisition made Aug. 20, Santa Clara, Calif.-based virtualization firm CloudVolumes.

In the demo VMware staff used Workspace Suite to provision a user with access to Microsoft Office, then gave the same user access to a bundle of more than 100 applications. In the polished arena of a live presentation to an audience of more than 20,000, the user’s virtual desktop was instantly littered with shortcuts giving them access to those applications.

“We need to simplify desktop delivery itself,” said Kit Colbert, chief technology officer of end-computng at VMware. “Today it’s quite a cumbersome and time-consuming process.”

Because the technology can provision applications to a virtual desktop so quickly, the desktops actually become disposable and are destroyed as soon as a user logs out. When they log in again, the same desktop experience is recreated with the latest patched versions of their software. From an end-user’s perspective, it looks as though the desktop is a permanent structure. But the IT department knows otherwise.

“It’s something we’re calling just-in-time desktops,” Colbert says.

The demo looked good to Holger Mueller, vice-president and principal analyst at Constellation Research – almost too good. “I don’t know how you could provision that so quickly,” he says.

While Workspace Suite is relevant to VMware’s future in bringing together its recent cloud platform acquisitions under one convenient management roof, VMware is in the position of playing catch-up with Citrix XenDesktop, which already offers similar capabilities of delivering virtual desktops to any device via a Web browser.

“What will be crucial is how much cost they can take out of running a virtual desktop,” Mueller says. “If you can get the same thing from two solutions, as a CIO, why go for the more expensive one?”

Bringing down the cost of that virtual desktop may be in the works. VMware is migrating AirWatch’s infrastructure from Amazon Web Services to its own cloud platform. The CloudVolumes solution also helps IT departments reduce costs by enabling a model where all users connect to a single “gold image” that is personalized upon delivery, removing the burden of storing multiple images.

VMware is also offering a solution to its clients that don’t want to install its proprietary PC-over-IP client to end points, says Mason Udeya, senior director of end-user computing at VMware. No client is necessary in this model, just a web browser on any connected device.

“From a user perspective, it’s lightening fast and you don’t even know the application isn’t installed,” he says. “IT loves the fact that it’s not installed because installation creates so much complexity.”

The announcement also fits into a VMworld theme in which VMware (NYSE: VMW) depicts hardware merely as a commodity made available to run its software stack, says Michelle Warren, the president of MW Research & Consulting.

“The devices become irrelevant, the users can do what they like and they don’t have to worry about extra passwords and what’s happening to their data,” she says. “And IT has control over that data.”

Workspace Suite is available now through VMware and its reseller partners.

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