VMworld 2012: New VMware Horizon Suite delivers apps, data to any device

VMWare Tuesday pulled the wraps off its mobility platform, Horizon Suite, showing how it can securely deliver workers the set of applications and data they need regardless of the devices they use including iPads and iPhones even those that are owned by employees.

SLIDESHOW:  Hot Products from VMworld

While its only in alpha release now, a demonstration of the software was the centerpiece of todays keynote at VMworld 2012 in San Francisco, where attendees witnessed an iPhone download an app from a Horizon catalog and run it in a secure container on the phone.

Businesses could use this capability to allow workers to bring their own devices to work and use business applications but also offer protection against data leaking into parts of the phone that might become compromised.

During a demonstration Horizon blocked an attempt to cut and paste data from an application running in a container to one that was also running on the iPhone but that came from outside the catalog. Similarly, it could prevent capture of screenshots and de-provision apps, says Vittorio Viarengo, VMwares vice president of marketing for its end user computing division.

Custom corporate applications can be added to Horizon catalogs simply, he says, by plugging them into the VMware framework where the can be encapsulated by Horizon. That is less intrusive than writing to VMware APIs, he says.

This encapsulation of apps is different from how Horizon deals with Android devices where it runs an entirely separate virtual machine from the native platform, says Viarengo.

When it ships sometime next year, Horizon will be a single virtual application that installs in VMwares virtualization platform, vSphere, and it will support Citrix XenApps in its catalogs, says Viarengo.

The suite makes applications available centrally and deployable to end-user devices via catalogs compiled either by VMware, third parties or corporate IT. Users pick which apps they want from the catalogs and they are deployed to the device.

In addition to supporting applications, Horizon enables access to and sharing of data and files. VMware s virtual desktop software View is integrated.

Horizon Suite consists of technology gleaned from VMwares cloud-storage effort called Project Octopus, its browser delivery system for applications called Project AppBlast, its encapsulated virtual application platform called ThinApp, and its VMware Horizon Application Manager and VMware Horizon Mobile products.

Viarengo says Horizon is similar to efforts by Citrix to address use of mobile and personal devices in the workplace. Were after the same thing, he says, but claims that VMware has a better track record of integrating its platforms.

He says the Project Octopus file synching capabilities could be a separate commercial product right now rather than a beta offering, but VMware wants to deliver it managed under an overarching platform rather than as a standalone product.


Also during the keynote, VMware demonstrated a way to upgrade PCs from Windows XP to Windows 7 as well as provide PC images to a variety of machines as backups using a blend of VMware View with Mirage software the company acquired when it bought Wanova earlier this year.

During the demo a laptop running Windows XP was upgraded to Windows 7, preserving applications, user data and preferences. Viarengo says he expects that since just 30% of enterprises still using Windows XP have upgraded to Windows 7, they may show interest in View with Mirage as a migration tool.

VMware also demoed the software downloading a virtual image of the PC to a tablet and then to a MacBook using Fusion Pro, VMwares virtualization software for running Windows on Macs.

(Tim Greene covers Microsoft for Network World and writes the  Mostly Microsoft blog. Reach him at  tgreene@nww.com and follow him on Twitter.)




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