VMware View 4 Leverages vSphere, Cisco-EMC Alliance

VMware is rolling out the latest version of its desktop virtualization product, View 4, which is built atop the vendor's vSphere 4 virtualization platform and benefits from VMware's partnership with Cisco and EMC. VMware officials say View 4 will improve the scalability and user experience in desktop virtualization environments while reducing costs.

VMware is taking advantage of its vSphere 4 platform and partnership with Cisco Systems, EMC and others to roll out its latest desktop virtualization offering designed to improve the user experience and drive down costs.

VMware officials Nov. 9 are unveiling View 4, which they said includes simplified management and provisioning, greater scalability that allows businesses to manage tens of thousands of virtualized desktops and a new communications protocol that optimizes both the hardware and software environments.

View 4 will help drive adoption of desktop virtualization by offering what enterprises are looking for most, according to Patrick Harr, vice president of enterprise desktop marketing for VMware: a better user experience with greater scalability and a reasonable price. VMware expects View 4 to cut TCO by 50 percent.

"We're delivering an end-to-end solution at a cost that makes sense," Harr said in an interview.

VMware's View 4 comes at a time when enterprises are turning their attention to desktop virtualization, hoping to cash in on the greater security and management capabilities and capital and operation savings the come with the environment. Analysts with IDC in December 2008 predicted that the global economic crisis would drive up demand for desktop virtualization among businesses, and Gartner analysts in October said the technology would be among the hottest in 2010.

The space is seeing increased competition from established vendors such as Microsoft, Citrix Systems and Wyse Technology as well as smaller companies such as MokaFive, Pano Logic, Wanova and RingCube.

Citrix in October made a significant push in the space with XenDesktop 4, which is coming with 170 or new features aimed at bringing together the disparate elements of desktop virtualization under one umbrella. A key to Citrix's new product, which will be available Nov. 16, was the integration of the vendor's XenApp application virtualization product into XenDesktop 4.

Charles King, an analyst with Pund-IT Research, said Citrix's desktop virtualization offering is solid, but that VMware is bringing a new level of sophistication to the space with View 4.

VMware also has the advantage of a high level of enterprise adoption of its server virtualization technology over the past few years, giving businesses a level of comfort with the vendor's technology, King said. The similar look and feel of VMware's desktop virtualization technology will help the company sell into the highly desirable enterprise space.

Citrix "is coming into it with a relatively unsophisticated and untested virtualization technology," he said. "The vast majority of the enterprises VMware is aiming at are already using VMware products, and people already have a comfort level with it."

Among the new features with View 4 is PCoIP (PC over IP)-licensed from Teradici-which Harr and Raj Mallempati, director of product marketing for desktop and application virtualization for VMware, said offers the capability of detecting device types, network connections and locations throughout the virtualized desktop environment, and renders such graphics apps like Flash in real time.

VMware also has gotten support for PCoIP from the likes of Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Cisco, Harr said.

View Direct offers intelligent mapping from the virtual desktop to end users' devices, and View Printing lets users automatically find and print to locally attached printers without the need for print drivers.

Building the product atop of the vSphere 4 virtualization platform allows for reduced expenses with centralized management, standardized desktop images and flexibility around upgrades and provisioning. Businesses now will be able to manage tens of thousands of virtualized desktops, rather than the 500 to 1,000 they could previously, Harr said.

VMware also said a host of partners-Cisco, EMC, HP and Dell-will offer reference architectures based on View 4. In addition, NetApp will bring reference architectures around storage.

In addition, in the first half of 2010, VMware will unveil a native hypervisor for desktop virtualization environments that will enable users to run their PCs offline on local resources. Whatever changes the user makes during that offline time will be synchronized with the network when the system is reconnected.

View 4 will address the key barriers that have kept enterprises from widely adopting desktop virtualization, in particular the poor user experience, acquisition costs and scalability, Harr said.

Pund-IT's King also said VMware's View 4 comes at an opportune time, with the arrival of Microsoft's new Windows 7 operating system, which industry observers believe will be a key driver not only behind an expected surge of PC sales but also an anticipated increase in desktop virtualization adoption.

"Any time a new [version] of Windows comes up, vendors see a new opportunity to start discussions with enterprises on how to provision their desktops and if the traditional way of provisioning them still works," he said. "VMware View 4 is coming along at a very good time."

The product also benefits from a broad ecosystem of support, not only from PC makers like Dell and HP but also from tight partnerships with Cisco and EMC. The reference architectures they will provide will touch on computing, networking, storage and management software, according to VMware officials.

View 4 also is the latest result of a burgeoning partnership between VMware, Cisco and EMC aimed at taking advantage of such growing technology trends as converged data centers, virtualization and cloud computing.

VMware and EMC were key partners when Cisco announced its Unified Computing System earlier this year, and the three on Nov. 3 unveiled their new vBlock cloud computing systems.

View 4 is scheduled for general availability Nov. 19, coming in Enterprise and Premium editions priced at $150 and $250 per concurrent user, respectively.