VMworld 2014: VMware beefs up desktop suite with help from AirWatch, Google, NVIDIA

VMworld 2014: VMware beefs up desktop suite with help from AirWatch, Google, NVIDIA

VMware tries to reimagine the Cloud desktop with VMware Workplace Suite, a way to deploy VDI and apps across platforms.

There's nothing Amazon can have that others can't try to take away, as today's VMworld event sees the introduction of the VMware Workplace Suite -- a combined platform to deploy and manage applications and desktops from the cloud to laptops, smartphones, tablets, or whatever.

Thanks to a partnership with Google and NVIDIA, VMware also previewed the ability for VMware Workplace Suite to stream even graphics-intensive Windows applications to Google Chromebooks. VMware is billing this as an initiative to bring data and applications closer to the places users actually want to access them, wherever that may be.

"We live in a heterogeneous world, and our job as a Switzerland kind of company is to close that gap," said VMware CTO Ben Fathi on stage.

The new VMware Workplace Suite takes advantage of three existing VMware products: Tools for application, device, and content management as well as secure cloud file storage that comes from the January acquisition of enterprise mobile management company AirWatch; VMware Horizon for desktop-as-a-service; and brand-new acquisition CloudVolumes for app delivery.

The result is something that VMware claims can deliver a consistent experience across platforms with a single sign-on for end-users across as many apps as IT wants to administrate.

"It's desktop reimagined, and inspired by mobility," said VMware CTO of End-User Computing Kit Colbert on stage at VMworld.

Unsurprisingly, since VMware is pushing the hybrid cloud model hard, the company is promising deployment across a company's internal data center and the vCloud Air platform. The net benefit of a hybrid deployment would be to keep your VMware Workplace Suite closer to any on-premises data silos like SharePoint or SAP while still getting cloud scalability.

That's a benefit for, say, the healthcare industry, where a doctor may have to move between offices and hospitals without access to their same application. The data has to have residency, for reasons of health law compliance if nothing else, but the doctor still needs access -- everywhere. Using this single application delivery platform theoretically means the doctor has everything, everywhere.

That Google and NVIDIA partnership, meanwhile, involves some serious cloud-powered wizardry. By taking advantage of a Chromebook's internal NVIDIA GPU and the NVIDIA GRID graphics cloud, VMware promises a graphically smooth, consistent experience, even on something as relatively hardware-light as Google's little cloud laptops.

Finally, VMware demonstrated Project Meteor, which the company claims is an industry first, "next generation" solution for delivering a full virtual desktop-as-a-service to any HTML5 browser, theoretically opening the door for having the same exact desktop across a Chromebook, tablet, and desktop.

Make no mistake, VMware's focus remains on the data center: All of these announcements are designed to help make an investment in VMware infrastructure seem like a better idea, given how nice all the parts of its ecosystem play.

Plus, while desktop and managed applications definitely seem like a good idea for organizations that can't or won't make the complete leap to cloud, taking an offering and wrapping it up in a cloudy metaphor for how computers and services used to work may not be viable long-term. People want to use the tools they want to use.

Then again, Amazon did spend a lot of money launching its Zocalo desktop-as-a-service, which has a similarly complete stack, though maybe not the same enterprise cachet. Maybe there really is a market for this stuff, at least for a while.

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