VMware still trails Citrix in the virtual desktop space, and is trying to make up ground by emphasizing some of the new and enhanced features that are unique to Horizon 6.
VMware has announced the latest release of its VMware Horizon 6 desktop and application virtualization solution, which has a number of what the company views as breakthrough innovations. These include 3D application support through high-performance virtual desktops, advanced capabilities for application publishing, enhanced Chromebook support, network virtualization benefits from VMware NSX, new features for U.S federal government customers, and an early access program for its VMware Horizon for Linux virtual desktop solution.
“We are driving innovation into the market,” said Courtney Burry, senior director, product marketing, desktop products, End-User Computing, VMware. “An important part of this is application support. We introduced hosted applications and RDS desktops in Q3 last year, and now have added five net-new capabilities there. This includes support for smart cards for session-based desktops, which is especially important for industries with security mandates. We also added support for USB flash drives, one tech preview for RDS-hosted applications through HTML, and another for Chromebook support through both a clientless HTML5 browser and a lightweight client. A client drive redirection that lets users map local drives to virtual desktops has also been introduced.”
VMware’s technology partnership with NVIDIA and its GRID vGPU technology now provides support for high end 3D graphics.
“This allows organizations to get the best graphics support and share that GPU across multiple virtual machines to cut costs,” Burry said. “It is optimized for power users. The early access program for this, which included Fortune 500 companies, was oversubscribed.”
This release also optimizes the joint deployment of VMware Horizon 6 and VMware NSX network virtualization software.
“The marriage of the two here optimizes virtual networking, taking the best of NSX and applying it to Horizon,” Burry said. “Virtual networking and security processing is cumbersome. This abstracts it and makes it easy and fast to set a networking security policy that stays with the end user regardless of changes in underlying hardware or physical networking infrastructure.” For the first time, it brings push-button simplicity for networking and security to VDI deployments.
Storage has been simplified and optimized. Virtual SAN, which is optimized for Horizon and designed for converged infrastructure and direct attached storage, has had its capacity doubled since it was introduced last April.
“We are now announcing that the number of desktops it supports is now 4000 per cluster, up from 2000,” Burry said. “In addition, Day Zero support for Virtual Volumes, which is designed for shared storage and optimized for distributed data, is entirely new in this release.”
One new feature likely to be of particular interest to VMware channel partners is Virtual SAN 6 hyper-converged storage’s out of the box integration with Horizon 6. Horizon 6 has been validated to support up to 4,000 desktops per cluster on a 20-node cluster.
“This takes the best of hyperconverged into a very channel-friendly offering,” Burry said.
New features have been added specifically for U.S. Federal Government customers. Support for the IPv6 network address protocol lets government agencies integrate Horizon 6 into an updated network or transition existing Horizon deployments from an IPv4 to IPv6 network. Common Access Card support offers simple and secure access to virtual desktops and applications for uniformed service personnel, and efforts to achieve Common Criteria certification are underway.
Finally, VMware also announced an early access program for its VMware Horizon for Linux virtual desktop solution with support for Red Hat and Ubuntu based Linux desktops.
“We are actively encouraging early access to this, and people can sign up now, Burry said.