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VMware View 4.5: Ready for the Large Enterprise

by Chris Wolf  |  August 31, 2010  |  17 Comments

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.

Category: client-virtualization  

Tags: vmware  vmworld  

Chris Wolf
Research VP
6 years at Gartner
19 years IT industry

Chris Wolf is a Research Vice President for the Gartner for Technical Professionals research team. He covers server and client virtualization and private cloud computing. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on VMware View 4.5: Ready for the Large Enterprise

  1. jabberwolf says:

    Great so VM is NOT ready for enterprise as they don’t have good wan ability and still cause heaps of traffic,

    Who cares if they can scale to 10,000 managed desktops per management domain, if they are bottle-necked ?!

  2. Chris Wolf says:

    Thanks for the feedback. Our required criteria is based on the minimum requirements of the typical large enterprise. I agree that PCoIP has deficiencies and point out additional issues in the report (e.g., smart card support and MMR for Windows 7 guests). When we created the criteria, our typical client was most interested in supporting SHVD in LAN enviornments; therefore the WAN performance characteristics were considered “preferred” features. Also, VMware View supports additional protocols beyond PCoIP. For example, Wyse TCX, RDP, and HP RGS are also supported. Wyse TCX on RDP has been sufficient in many WAN scenarios involving VMware View deployments. Hopefully that helps. While we agree that PCoIP is still a work-in-progress, other protocol alternatives are supported by VMware View that compensate for PCoIP shortcomings.

  3. Adam says:

    Not sure what you mean by “smart card support” as a deficiency in PCoIP; 4.5 supports shared smart card redirection with PCoIP. It is confirmed in this blog post:

  4. Glenn West says:

    Actually for PcOip, my users dont want to use RDP, we went thru a issue of disconnects that turned out to be a simple setting issue, during the interim there were on RDP. They begged to go back to PcOIP.
    Everyone’s WAN is not created “equal”. I’ve used RDP without any add over in a LongHaul WAN environment, PcOIP is so much better.

    Can it get better, welcome to IT. there always a new version.

    The User Interface is great. Anyone should either use Flash or Silverlight based UI’s. (I like silverlight, easier to program myself, and out of browser can give you apperance of a local app.

    The other issue is the bundling. VIew with out View composer really stinks. View/View Composer and VI should all be integrated to a common product. Also in workgroup/remote offices the number of “service” servers is to many. And the extra “copies” of windows add cost and overhead. (Not to mention of the different requirements the different products take).

    I just did a green field virtualization, and View 4 plus everything else 4 still feels kludge togeather. I want to be able to have a “Vcenter/View) blade or two in each of my remote offices.
    Think of it as a starter kit. I run a exchange, a file server, a app server, and 10 thin clients in a nice cost effective package with HQ management of multiple of these.

    The other thing I find agravating is not having a Iscsi redirector in esx itself. Just a thin layer, so local disk are not such “third” parties.

    And dont get me started on Esxi updates. (Getting caught with a wiped out disk is not nice with no recovery tools for vmfs).

  5. Chris Wolf says:

    Hi Adam – I’m double checking the Windows 7 support issues with PCoIP. Yes – smart cards are supported with PCoIP in View 4.5; however, it was my understanding that the support is not extended to Windows 7 guest OSs. I’ll post an update once I have confirmation. Thanks.

  6. Chris Wolf says:

    Adam – as a follow-up, I just heard back from VMware. Smart card authorization via PCoIP is supported on Win XP, Vista, and Win 7 (32 and 64-bit). MMR is not supported on Windows 7 guests using PCoIP. It is supported using the RDP 7 protocol.

  7. appdetective says:

    @Chris. Firstly I love your research and enjoy your sessions on the rare chance I get to attend them at any conference. That said I have to disagree with your assessment criteria. Firstly I think it’s a true fact that without persona mgmt, you can only implement persistent desktops. Gartner has been harping on about this requirement as “absolute necessary” 🙂 So I think Gartner and Burton are out of synch here and it would be nice to get a clarification about your position as I think it causes more confusion than anything else. You are one big family after all…..

    I also have to take issue on any notion that PCoIP is enterprise class. Granted you say but View can use other protocols. But they are not enterprise class either. RDP is 100% not WAN friendly at scale, ask anybody who does ent deployments. I also think your criteria does not really point out the risk of multiple protocols. For example RDP and the future RemoteFX will only support Hyper-V. Sure you can say nice to have but not absolute necessary, but again I think you are leading people down to enterprise implementation disaster. This is why VMware in their one session on how to scale at 3000 user deployment had to admit it was all RDP, which everybody knows in the real world is average at best, there I may give you the absolute minimum, but the real issue is that their strategy of PCoIP is not even close. Add to that, and I think you really to explain that PCoIP is UDP only which will cause tons of issues with security and networking in the enterprise. It’s very hard to do that in the enterprise and external access makes it even harder and limiting in how.

    So in summary, great work you do, I just respectfully disagree that View meets enterprise class criteria due to their protocol and lack of personal management which means you can only deploy persistent desktops, or simple deployments which is expensive vs. dynamic desktops from single images. All of this means it’s not ENTERPRISE ready, it’s SMB at best.

  8. Chris Wolf says:

    @appdetective – thanks for the great feedback and insight. Regarding persona management, I agree with you. In fact, we have integration with persona management listed in our “preferred” criteria. We don’t require a platform vendor implementation because a majority of our clients have not used the platform vendor products. Instead, they’ve used alternative solutions from vendors such as AppSense. That being said, we are comfortable recommending VMware even though they have not completed their implementation of RTO Virtual Profiles. Even with Citrix, I’m sure you’ve seen cases where the Citrix Profile Manager product is not used in favor of more complete solutions such as AppSense. This is especially the case in the large enterprise. So I agree on importance, but I don’t agree that we need to require a platform vendor to offer a native implementation of persona management to be an enterprise solution. That has not been consistent with how many early large enterprise adopters have deployed the technology IMO.

    I appreciate your points on WAN support, and agree that ICA has set a very high bar in that area. We also point out that WAN support remains a weakness in the current VMware solution. That all being said, our clients (not vendors) helped us to shape the criteria. Low-bandwidth WAN support wasn’t something that was a major factor in their impelementations through 2012. That is why we listed low-bandwidth WAN support as “preferred” and not “required.” That’s not to say that it isn’t required in several cases, because it is. However, for many of our clients, the minimal performance constraint of 200 Kbps was all they required for the foreeable future. For others, they need low-bandwidth WAN support today, and in those cases we recommend the Citrix solution. Our criteria is designed to provide facts for our clients to help them make product decisions. I always tell our clients that our criteria is a baseline and that they need “to set their own criteria.” It’s rare that a client takes our criteria verbatim. Instead they often use our included tables to begin drafting an RFP. So again, I don’t disagree with you on WAN performance being very important – it is. However, the majority of our enterprise clients that we worked with in forming the criteria didn’t feel it was an absolute necessity based on their short term (12-24 month) goals. That may change when we revisit the criteria in late 2011 or early 2012. For what it’s worth, all major vendors in the space reviewed our criteria 2-3x prior to publication. None of them had a major objection with our position on WAN support.

  9. Jim Nickel says:


    This is not directly related, but is a significant VMware View question:

    On page 3 of the VMware View Reference Architecture document, it says,

    “The overall design also included the infrastructure components needed to integrate five building blocks, to support a 5,000-user VMware View pod that can be managed as a single entity.”

    My question is how does it get managed as a single entity? There are 5 separate VMware View instances and 10 different ESX clusters (2 per building block).



  10. Mike says:

    When is View going to get DR capabilities, like the ability to work with SRM?

    I can’t bring this into my shop (400+ users), until I can test this in a DR scenario.

  11. Terry S says:

    Hi Chris –

    When do you anticipate posting the presentation files?

    Great write up, great topic.


  12. Mahesh N says:

    @Chris : Can you clarify “Wyse TCX, RDP, and HP RGS are also supported”. In our research and talking with VMware, they said that RGS was only supported in a one-to-one solution (i.e. thin client directly client to a dedicated workstation) rather than a thin client to a VM. Has this requirement been relaxed?

    Thanks for the great summary!

  13. Chris Wolf says:

    @Mahesh – RGS 5.4 broadened VMware View support. I’ve mainly seen it implemented with dedicated blade PCs, but there is also support for hosted virtual desktops (32-bit Windows XP, Vista, and 7). Note that aeroglass is not supported. The details are included in the spec sheet here – The newer HP thin clients also support software PCoIP, which as you know is VMware’s preferred protocol.

  14. Chris Wolf says:

    @Terry – The presentation files and an audio replay should be posted to by next week. The full report is now online and available to research clients –

  15. Chris Wolf says:

    @Mike – DR capabilities are built-in to the product. View 4.5 uses LDAP replication to synchronize management metadata among management servers. So you could place View servers in multiple data centers. You could also use SRM for VMs, but it may not be necessary depending on the virtual desktop configuration (e.g., non-persistent desktops). Granted, there are a lot of moving parts and DR architecture is complex, but it’s possible today.

  16. Chris Wolf says:

    @Jim – VMware View uses LDAP replication to synchronize management metadata. So you can deploy multiple replica servers (even in different physical clusters), and manage the virtual desktop environment from a single console.

  17. As always, great review.

    Cannot wait to see the review for Virtual Bridge

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