VMware promises enterprise low-cost route to VDI

Smartphones and tablets sitting on top of a laptop

VMware claims the user experience problems and cost barriers that previously put business users off adopting virtual desktops have now been overcome.

The virtualisation giant made the declaration during a press briefing to discuss the imminent launch of its Horizon 6 desktop virtualisation offering.

The product's aim is to provide IT departments with a means of delivering and managing desktops and applications across a wide range of devices in the workplace with ease.

Horizon 6 presents the available applications to end users via an app store-like "unified workspace", so their datacentre-hosted, SaaS-based and locally stored programmes can all be found in one place.

We've got to a situation with the management of physical laptops and associated services where it is comparable or cheaper to run them virtually.

The system supports Windows software, as well as published applications from third-party platforms, including Citrix XenApp.

The storage costs associated with desktop virtualisation are often cited as a barrier to successful deployments, which is an area VMware is hoping to address with this release by bundling in management capabilities for its hypervisor-converged VirtualSAN storage technology.

The vendor agnostic product is designed to automate labour intensive storage tasks and create a centralised storage pool that can be scaled up or out according to user demands. This in turn can reportedly cut over provisioning costs.

Speaking to IT Pro, Alistair Wildman, head of VMware's end user computing unit in EMEA, said this is one of the reasons why demand for VDI is now on the up.

"We've got to a situation with the management of physical laptops and associated services where it is comparable or cheaper to run them virtually," he said.

"If we're going to put products into the market today, they have to be better in terms of functionality and have to give a better TCO to the end user or they're not going to buy them.

"Now we're leveraging the software datacentre, we believe we can provision VDI cheaper than customers can do physically," he added.

Wildman said the reductions in TCO, along with advances in user experience, have created a lot of buzz around the latest Horizon release.

This has been boosted, Wildman claims, by VMware's acquisitions of MDM player Airwatch for $1.54 billion in January and Desktop-as-a-Service vendor Desktone in October.

So much so, the company claims to have around 16,000 people registered to watch a webcast about the product's forthcoming launch later today.

"In terms of launch, this is probably the biggest one we've ever done, in terms of our desktop products," said Wildman.

"Those two acquisitions have really helped the portfolio, [and] there is a really big demand in the market right ow for VDI...because a lot of people are coming out of these big outsourcing contracts...and lots of enterprises have a lot of old technology...and need to do something different."

There will be three versions of Horizon 6 available to buy, including the standard, advanced and enterprise editions, with prices starting from $275.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.