VMware unveils new desktop virtualisation

VMware is looking to push virtualisation to the desktop with its latest release of View 3, which rebrands its previous VDI.

View 3 lets organisations virtualise their employees' desktops from the physical hardware meaning they can access their desktop from any computer or thin client device straight from the data centre or cloud.

VMware claims the system also makes administration of client estates easier, as updates and changes need to be rolled out to one master image rather than thousands of disparate machines.

"What virtualisation brings to the desktop is it makes IT people and information-centric, rather than device," said Jocelyn Goldfein, vice president and general manager of VMware's Desktop Business Unit, at a briefing in London yesterday.

She said the View 3 system helps balance IT departments' need to cut costs and centralise with end users' desire to use any device in a mobile way. "Virtualisation has the power to solve this dilemna in both directions," she claimed.

Essentially, IT managers create a main image consisting of an operating system and relevant apps, which is then cloned to create a desktop for users. This means any changes made to the main image can easily be sent down to the user level.

End users also have their own storage, which isn't affected when the main image is changed.

This latest virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) release has a few new user-friendly additions, the firm said. The technology features a virtual printing system, which essentially does away with the need for drivers, VMware claimed. And, it automatically redirects USBs, so memory sticks remain plug-and-play.

In addition, View 3 has an improved multimedia system, which makes it look like video, for example, is being played in the virtual machine when it's in fact being rendered locally.

Another addition is the still experimental offline mode. While everything is held in the datacentre, the desktop and stored files can be pushed to a device so people can work offline, be it on a flight with no internet access or if doing intensive work which requires a more powerful local machine. "It's running the desktop where it makes the most sense to run it," said Tommy Armstrong, VMware's senior marketing manager for enterprise desktops.

Two versions of the product are available. The Enterprise Edition costs $150 per connection and comes with Infrastructure Enterprise Edition and View Manager 3. The Premier Edition, which costs $250, adds ThinApp, which virtualises applications, and View Composer, a management tool.

This desktop release is one of three aspects in a roadmap announced by VMware at its annual user conference in Las Vegas in September.

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