VMware envisions IT and personal device coexistence with Horizon Suite

Horizon Suite is VMware's vision for anytime/anywhere end-user computing access, under the auspices of enterprise IT admins.

VMware is refining its end-user computing vision around VMware Horizon Suite, which integrates several products into a single unit. For IT admins still unclear on what Horizon is, let's break down the different components that make up the larger vision.

While View will continue to manage the virtual desktop experience, Horizon will be a new entry point to the desktop.

Horizon Application Manager is the only Horizon Suite product currently available. For end users, it offers a single interface to access applications and provides single sign-on capabilities across apps. The applications can be Software as a Service (SaaS) or Windows-based with VMware Inc.'s ThinApp tool, which allows you to virtualize applications. On the administrative side, Horizon Application Manager offers IT entitlement and policy features to manage user access to the proper applications.

Most applications rely on file-data access, which prompted another component of Horizon Suite -- Horizon Data. Described as "Dropbox for the enterprise," Horizon Data maintains applications' access to data. You may know it as its beta-testing name, Project Octopus. VMware's vision for Horizon Data extends beyond Dropbox status to a distributed, always available file system underpinning the entire end-user experience. Files will be synchronized locally through an agent within the desktop OS, accessed through the Horizon Web interface or will be available from within the Horizon-managed applications.

VMware sees a need for an application-delivery mechanism for the heterogeneity of devices found in a typical enterprise. Cue Project AppBlast, which will provide this function within the Horizon Suite. AppBlast is a remoting protocol that uses HTML5 as its end point, allowing any device that understands HTML5 to provide access to ThinApp-packaged Windows applications.

How can organizations securely provide smartphone-based services to end users? When installed on a personal smartphone, VMware's Horizon Mobile creates a virtual phone environment completely managed by an organization's IT resources. Since this virtual phone is encrypted and under IT's control, employers and employees can feel comfortable with the phone's access to internal systems and data.

Eventually, VMware Horizon Suite will include end-user access to a desktop managed by VMware View, the company's virtual desktop infrastructure software. While View will continue to manage the virtual desktop experience, Horizon will be a new entry point to the desktop, and could be provided through an AppBlast/HTML5 interface compatible with all devices.

If VMware executes on its vision, the Horizon suite will provide a single, IT-controlled point of entry for employees to access their entire work experience -- desktop, applications and data -- on any device.

This was first published in November 2012

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