VMware View 3 is a move to close the gap between what Citrix is offering with XenDesktop and XenApp. The VMware View suite offers existing products such as VMware ThinApp for application virtualization and VMware Infrastructure for managing the virtual environments in the data center.
View Composer, one of the new tools included in the suite, is supposed to better manage storage resources through linked clone technology. With linked clones, an IT department creates one desktop image and then the resources of the operating system are shared through other, individual cloned images, which saves data storage resources since each desktop images does not need its own operating system.
While linked clones share virtual disk resources, the individual desktop images are independent of the master images as well as of each other. The IT department can use the ThinApp tool to deliver different applications to individual desktops.
Another new tool, Offline Desktop, allows the user to work with his or her virtual desktop offline, and that information is then synchronized when the user plugs the PC back into the network. (VMware lists the Offline Desktop tool as only an experimental feature.)
In addition to these improvements, VMware is working with a number of other companies to improve the user interface and desktop experience for workers using virtual desktops. These partnerships include deals with Wyse Technology for use of its TCX software, which enhances the abilities of Microsoft's Remote Desktop Protocol, and Teradici, a Canadian startup that uses ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) microprocessor technology and has developed what it calls "PC over IP."
While VMware, Citrix and other virtualization vendors bring more and more VDI products into the market, the major obstacle for IT department continues to be cost. Natalie Lambert, an analyst with Forrester Research, wrote in an email that with View 3, VMware has tried to address some of the cost concerns related to creating a wide-scale virtual desktop infrastructure.
"Anything, from a technology perspective, that vendors can do to decrease the capital costs necessary to implement desktop virtualization will truly help drive the technology forward," Lambert wrote. "This release, from both a capital and operational cost perspective, lowers costs over VMware older VDI solution.
VMware is offering the VMware View 3 suite in two editions. The Premier Edition, which does not include the View Composer tool, sells for $150 per concurrent user. The Enterprise Edition, which includes View Composer, sells for $250 per concurrent user.
Editor's Note: This article was updated to include comments from an analyst.