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VMware Horizon Suite looks impressive but could be the mother of all lock-ins

21 Feb 2013
V3's Dan Robinson

VMware's Horizon Suite, announced this week, is the culmination of multiple projects the firm has had bubbling away in the background for several years, and extends beyond its traditional stronghold in the corporate datacentre to address client-side issues, providing access to applications and data from a broad variety of platforms.

In fact, when you look at the breadth of capabilities baked into the suite as a whole, Horizon can be seen as an ambitious attempt by VMware to position itself as an all-encompassing enterprise computing provider, with the potential for a monumental lock-in for users.

VMware is offering organisations the opportunity to not only consolidate all of their servers and back-end infrastructure into a private cloud, but to then use that platform to deliver end-user computing as a set of centralised services out to mobile devices and Windows PCs alike.

The suite's three components - View, Mirage and Workspace - provide virtual desktop, physical PC management and access to applications and data, respectively. Although available separately, the three work together to provide a wide-ranging feature set for handling end-user computing.

Horizon Workspace is the newest and possibly most significant piece, as it integrates the Dropbox-like Project Octopus technology for shared documents with Horizon Application Manager, which unifies management of Windows and SaaS applications into a central catalogue from which users can access them.

On non-Windows devices, access to Windows apps can be delivered by remotely accessing a virtual desktop, provided by Horizon View. This works even on devices without a View client, by delivering the virtual desktop inside a browser.

For firms that bought into VMware's platform some time ago, this must seem like a tempting proposition. For a relatively modest additional cost, they can utilise the infrastructure which they have already invested in to help them solve problems such as bring your own device (BYOD), ensuring that users can have access to the applications they need from anywhere, and securely sharing company documents.

However, that is also where the drawback lies. For all the attractiveness of being able to deliver end-user computing as a centrally provisioned service, you need VMware's underlying vSphere platform in order to support this, and that doesn't come cheap.

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Daniel Robinson

Daniel Robinson is technology editor at V3, and has been working as a technology journalist for over two decades. Dan has served on a number of publications including PC Direct and enterprise news publication IT Week. Areas of coverage include desktops, laptops, smartphones, enterprise mobility, storage, networks, servers, microprocessors, virtualisation and cloud computing.

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