After at least 2 years of anticipation and waiting we get to see the first release of VMware’s Project Horizon today. We still have to wait to get the application publishing that many of us hoped would be the first part of Horizon to go public but this new single sign on cloud connected enterprise tool can go along way to help enterprises give the flexibility back to the users. Horizon App Manager is delivered as a virtual appliance that sends secure tokens instead of full passwords between the corporate environment and cloud providers like SalesForce and Workday. This gives users the comfort of knowing that a seasoned IT pro had secured the connections and validated that the site they are visiting is in fact the proper place to go and not a hackers imitation. What Horizon also does is provides a app store in a sense that corporate users can request accounts on these third party services directly within the corporate environment. Check out the video below from VMwareTV for more details. I look forward to seeing the next few releases from the Horizon Team.
Google announced that they will be selling the Chromebook for Business for $28 a month per user starting in June. At first you probably wonder how a web based dumbed down notebook could help the likes of VMware, Citrix, and Microsoft sell VDI solutions. The answer is simple. As our data moves into the cloud we have less and less need for the large fast hard drives that have been populating notebooks for the past few years. Add that to always on connectivity of 3g and you have access to your data (for free up to 100 mb a month). The next question is now that I can get to my data how to I use it. You could follow the party line from Google and move everything to Google Docs but that does not work for most enterprises. However published applications from XenApp or single sign-on solutions like Project Horizon from VMware are moving enterprise applications into the cloud and onto the internet. So now you can have a notebook that can boot in less than 8 seconds with full web connectivity and a minimal security threat footprint that also has access to your documents that sit in DropBox or SugarSync, If you add that to the latest release from Ericom of a HTML5 client for VMware View and you can now have enterprise class desktops at your fingertips. There is of course the worry of what happens in someone hacks the ChromeOS that is on these machines do they now have access to all my data anyway? It is still possible that could happen but with a team of engineers and an auto-update feature on the Chromebook you would hope whatever vulnerability that may be found would be patched extremely quickly.
This is great now for your work computer but what if I want to use it at home? The applications that are loaded are already the ones that most uses want to use from their home PC, with full access to chrome, google docs, chat clients, twitter clients and of course angry birds who could want more?
VMware, like many other large corporations, announces new products at their large conferences. So far at Partner Exchange, I’ve seen VMware announce new competencies for its partners, new products to run the cloud, new certifications for technology professionals, and new email collaboration suites. The questions that come to mind are how all of these will impact the consumer, why it matters to the IT manager and how it will affect normal business user. In an effort to sum up the changes and the impacts, I will break each of these down along with why you should care.
New competencies include virtualization of business critical applications, cloud computing, security and management. The largest impact for consumers will be the cloud computing and tier one apps. Server virtualization has reached a point where most servers are being built virtually first, 2009 being the first year where more servers were virtual than physical. Competency in tier one applications (Exchange, SQL, and Oracle the major players) gives partners credentials to support essential applications. As an IT staff, the ability to call in a partner expert that knows how to do these large scale virtualization transitions is similar to calling in a plumber to fix a leak versus calling a handyman. The cloud competency certifies that the partner can help any company look strategically and determine how the cloud can be leveraged to help grow the enterprise.
Cloud Management Products
The vCloud Connector was announced yesterday and is a free plug-in for the traditional vCenter client that will allow a user to access the public clouds from within one console. When building out a development or testing environment, a user could leverage the low operating cost of public clouds versus more capital expenditures for underutilized equipment. Operations Manager is another product that was released that leverages public and private clouds and builds on the web based interfaces that VMware has built with the Service Director and View products.
The desktop certifications that I wrote about in earlier blog post touches on the need for IT staffs to know how to make a transition between the traditional desktop and the virtual desktops. The move into ‘bring your own computer and tablet’ driven business means that IT staff will need expertise around the products that allow the end user to use whatever device they want while still providing enterprise applications.
The new collaboration suite released this week give enterprises flexibility to look at new desktop applications for email and calendars. The norm has been Outlook but at a substantial Microsoft licensing cost.
The combination of these products, certifications, and competencies and knowing which works when is going to be the key to move IT into the next level and allow enterprise IT shops to become strategic thought leaders.
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Partner conferences are the latest way that large companies look to build relationships with resellers and users. Clearpath is a premier partner with VMware and I have the good fortune of making the trip to Partner Exchange 2011, one of VMware’s two annual conferences.
The term partnership is probably one of the more overused words in the IT industry, but there are a few companies that do a good job of making sure that the needs of the consumer, the reseller, and the vendor are all met. VMware has taken the concept of partner to heart. From the customer standpoint, a user can save on both operating and capital expenses and enhance their management by using VMware technologies. For resellers and solution providers, VMware provides resources to aid with both technical and sales solutions. The solution providers and customers build a relationship around the virtualization management that is unparalleled across the IT industry. All of this leads to VMware implementing a development process with customer and partner feedback; resulting in solutions that are easy to sell and helpful to use, a win-win in the IT world.
The Partner Exchange conference promises to provide the extra level of technical knowledge that all customers should expect from their reseller, along with a sneak peek into the future of virtualization and the enterprise. During the conference, I will being posting a series of short blogs that will cover the innovations and advancements released at Partner Exchange. As many of you know my focus is on the endpoint: desktop, mobile and anything else that involves end user interaction, and I will try to stay focused on that segment.
Stay tuned and feel free to post in the comments section of the blogs or on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/mletschin) any questions you would like answered about VMware or any of the exhibitors. I will do my best answer to them or pass them around to the vast technical community meeting here. I may even throw in a surprise video blog along the way if some of the VMware content or an exhibiting vendor looks especially interesting.
The newest trend being released for mobile devices looks to solve the single most annoying, and fashion unfriendly look that business people and IT staff alike have had to face in the last 15 years. The growth of mobile devices in the workforce has led to many people carrying multiple devices, often a personal phone, a smartphone for work, or a Blackberry. This directly led to the dreaded multiple belt holster, or “batman belt.” In the past two months both Android, in conjunction with VMware, and Blackberry have announced products to eliminate the use of multiple devices.
Blackberry Balance and the VMware Mobile Virtualization Platform both allow a consumer to bring their own smartphone into their corporate environment without an IT department worrying about security, compliance, or management challenges. This separation allows users to have personal applications like social media, gps, and games without compromising corporate email security.
The Blackberry app looks to run as just that, an app. This allows for corporate email to come from a Blackberry Enterprise Server and separates the email and calendar events from the rest of the personal blackberry.
By contrast, the VMware/Android platform will run what appears to be a complete smartphone for each use case, business and personal. Advantages to this platform will be the ability to turn off a business component or remove it remotely. Additionally, corporations will be able to publish corporate images regardless of phone type, minimizing the administrative tasks for IT departments. In theory, the VMware option will allow a user to move from company to company without making any changes to their personal device.
Both of these options may end up being cost savers for corporate IT shops in device acquisition, service plans, and staff hours. The ability to offload the device maintenance and service cost to the employee could be the hook that RIM needs to stay in the corporate environment. These same features and flexibility could bring Android to the forefront of enterprise mobile devices. Now the two real questions will be what Apple will do to stay competitive in the corporate/personal front, and what is going to happen to all those belt clips?