Today at VMworld North America, VMware announced the availability of VMware View 4.5. The View 4.5 Premier release represents a significant milestone as it places VMware in very select company with Citrix as the only two vendors that offer enterprise-ready server-hosted virtual desktop (SHVD) solutions.
For us to consider View 4.5 enterprise-ready, it had to meet all requirements in the Burton Group Server Hosted Virtual Desktop evaluation criteria.
The evaluation criteria was developed over a five month period. During that time, we worked with numerous early server-hosted virtual desktop (SHVD) adopters, as well as the key vendors in the space. In the end, vendors were supportive of the criteria in spite of the fact that not one met all of our requirements. The reason for the support was simple – customers were telling vendors they needed the same elements that we identified in the criteria.
We evaluate and score SHVD platforms across three stratifications:
- Required: absolute necessities
- Preferred: important features that result in better experience, operational management, and improved TCO
- Optional: use-case driven features needed in select deployment scenarios
The assessment is broken down across major areas of focus such as user experience, management, and security. I blogged about our criteria when it was first released in May. At that time, no platform had all 52 features we consider requirements for the typical enterprise.
Note that I’ll be presenting the criteria along with scorecards for VMware, Citrix, Quest Software, and Microsoft at VMworld North America this week. You can view my presentation schedule here. The View 4.5 Premier scorecard is shown below.
When we first assessed VMware View 4.0, there were several significant shortcomings that were deal-breakers for many large enterprises:
- Role-based access controls (RBACs) for delegation of administrative duties
- Administrative change logging capabilities to provide an audit trail for all administrative actions
- Official support for Windows 7 operating systems
- Enterprise management software integration
View 4.5 addressed all four of the above shortcomings, and the breadth of their feature improvements were deeply scrutinized with hands-on assessments in our lab. To VMware’s credit, they didn’t try to address customer management requirements with band aids. Instead, they literally scrapped their previous management console and replaced it with a far improved Adobe Flex-based console. In addition, they unveiled a Microsoft System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) management pack for View 4.5 management. That was another common request I’ve heard from early VMware View adopters. On the scalability side, View 4.5 is now capable of scaling to 10,000 managed desktops per management domain, which is currently double the maximum scalability supported by Citrix.
Of course, while View 4.5 is a major release, there is still room for improvement. For example, if you want to optimize PCoIP traffic through WAN accelerators such as Riverbed appliances, you’re out of luck. Out of the box, VMware will not support highly constrained WAN environments (i.e., 50 Kbps bandwidth and over 150 ms of latency). VMware’s current recommended solution is to combine the View 4.5 “local desktop” feature with an HTTP proxy server at the remote site.
While there is always room for improvement, View 4.5 meets all of the core requirements of the typical larger enterprise. Enterprise customers understand that any next generation desktop solution requires a long term (typically 5 year) commitment to yield significant ROI and TCO savings. So today many are looking for a platform that they can standardize on and grow with. With the release of View 4.5, VMware is making the case that it should be the enterprise desktop and application delivery platform of the future. Citrix and other VMware competitors will not take this news lying down. To see a full comparison of how View 4.5 stacks up against its competitors, I encourage you to attend my VMworld session on the topic. Also, next week we’ll publish our full 25 page assessment of View 4.5. The assessment, available to Burton Group research clients, takes a much deeper look at View 4.5 Premier, and exposes key strengths and shortcomings at a very low level. Once the report is available, I’ll update this post with a link.