VMware View 4.5 VDI gains Windows 7, Mac OS X and Local Mode.
VMware View 4.5 gained enterprise features including role-based administration, Local Mode (
known as Offline Desktop), full support for Windows 7 and a View client
for Mac OS X devices, making this version the pace setter for
virtual desktop infrastructure.
View 4.5 started shipping Sept. 13. View Premier, the version
that enables Local Mode and most other storage and customization
features, costs $250 per concurrent user. View Enterprise, which is more
suited for general mass deployment, costs $150 per concurrent use.
To test VMware View 4.5, I created a vSphere 4.1 test environment
that included a View Connection Server, a View Transfer Server and
several virtual machine templates. The View server components were
integrated with a vCenter 4.1 server along with a Microsoft Windows
Active Directory infrastructure to handle user rights and the new
role-based administration. Much of this infrastructure setup is similar
to what is
needed for View 4
Desktop administrators who are familiar with View 4
will have no
trouble using this newest version. Those new to virtual desktop
infrastructure should set aside at least one week to install and fine-tune a test setup to learn the in's and out's of View 4.5.
Desktop administrators will need to work with experts in systems, networks and
storage to take full advantage of the resource-saving
improvements in View 4.5. In particular, my work with this version of
View showed that IT managers who focus on virtual machine template
configuration and who are using the most current version of VMware's
vSphere infrastructure can push license and infrastructure costs down
to a level that makes virtual desktop deployment competitive with
traditional, physical systems.
While VMware View 4 played with a feature that was called "Offline
Desktop," View 4.5 fully embraces disconnected desktop operation
through what is now called Local Mode. I was able to install a VMware
View Client with Local Mode on a laptop, log on and check out a virtual
machine that I was then able to use while disconnected from the View
infrastructure. In my case, I was using a Lenovo ThinkPad Edge laptop
with an Intel Core i3 processor and 2GB of RAM that was running a
32-bit version of Windows 7 Enterprise. I installed the View Client,
which was already configured to use my View Connection Server, logged
on and selected a Windows 7 desktop and checked it out for use on my
laptop. Because the laptop was using a 32-bit operating system, I also
checked out a 32-bit desktop system.
The checked out system ran workloads without a hitch. When I
reconnected to the View infrastructure, I was able to check the desktop
back in and my test workload was safely back on my data center
infrastructure. As a View administrator I was able to control whether
the Local Mode desktop could use features such as USB redirection and
printers. The View Client, which makes all the Local Mode magic happen,
was easy to configure and provided me with ample control over the use
of the checked out desktop system.
I made a point of conducting most of my testing using Microsoft Windows
7 virtual and physical systems. New in this version of View is full
support for the Windows 7 operating system. For more on how testing
with View works using Windows XP systems, you can read my earlier review
of View 4. Working with Windows 7 32- and 64-bit versions worked
without any noticeable problems. For example, I created virtual
machines using Windows 7 that then served as the template systems for
my View test clients. Because of changes in Windows 7 (it now includes
Sysprep) along with improvements made in View 4.5 (the product
recognizes and uses the changes in Windows 7), creating desktop pools
was significantly easier than in View 4.
In addition to making Local Mode a full citizen, VMware also beefed up
role-based administration in View 4.5. For IT managers in medium- to
large-sized organizations, this additional administrative control is an
essential addition to View 4.5. I was able to assign administrative
rights such as entitling users to access desktops. I was also able to
use the privilege based access control system to restrict what
different View administrators could see, including usage reports and
the monitoring dashboards for various pools of virtual desktops. Roles
vary from full global configuration and policy administrators with
access to everything to read-only admins who can see only restricted
sets of virtual desktop inventory. Administrative roles are limited in
scope partially based on View folders.
As with Windows Vista, the desktop OS migration drums are sounding
throughout the land. View 4.5 can play a role in migrating users from
Windows XP to Windows 7 in that the product now fully supports Windows
7 systems. Aside from this, there were no other migration tools that
were apparent in my tests. IT managers can safely ignore the marketing
hype focused on migration and use that energy instead on evaluating the
other technical developments in View 4.5. Among these is support for
Mac OS X.
I was able to use the View Mac OS X client on a Mac Pro and access my
Windows desktop pools. The client worked well enough and Mac users who
occasionally need to use a Windows system will likely find the
encounter with a temporary Windows desktop palatable enough to use for
short periods of time.