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VMware View 3: My View

Looking back over this week's blogs, it seems Tom and I have VDI on the brain. And it's only been made worse by today's announcement from VMware of VMware View 3. It's All VDI, All The Time!

Actually, this is an impressive start for VMware. I certainly didn't expect to see a functioning desktop virtualization product this soon after VMworld. Much of the focus there was on VDC-OS, and although View/vClient was part of that, I suspected that we would hear more about network virtualization and cloud-related stuff before the client side. Shows what I know.

There is stuff missing from View 3, as Brian Madden points out. The reason it was released less than three months after VMworld, according to Raj Mallempati, group product manager for desktop products, is that VMware wanted to take advantage of the momentum VDI has among the IT public. "No vendor is [currently] providing a complete, comprehensive [VDI] solution, Mallempati told me this afternoon. That's true -- but neither is VMware, even with this release.

(As an aside, Mellampati says that it's "View 3", as opposed to "View 1", because the previous version of Virtual Desktop Manager (VDM) was 2.0. He was careful to add, however, that View 3 isn't just an upgrade from VDM 2 -- rather, management is only part of the comprehensive suite of products that make up View.)

Two key features missing from this release are the bare-metal client hypervisor, and the final version of Offline Desktop. Mellampati says to expect both sometime in 2009, but would not get any more specific than that.

He emphasized that although Offline Desktop is being marketed as "experimental," that it isn't "beta" software in the traditional, buggy sense. "It's not because the product or feature is not production quality," Mellampati says. Rather, it's that VMware wants more customer feedback to determine how feature-rich to make it. "We want to make sure we understand the workflow of the use cases," Mellampati continues. For example, how would a salesperson use it -- are the check-in and check-out features critical? He says VMware wants lots of feedback before shipping the final version of Offline Desktop.

The difference between the "Enterprise" and "Premier" editions in terms of functionality is huge. Premier includes Composer, Offline Desktop and ThinApp, at $100 more per concurrent user. Given that difference, I don't see almost anyone opting for the Enterprise edition. Neither does Mellampati, who says "I expect most people to go for the Premier edition." The amount of storage savings that's possible through Composer and its use of a master image, storing only differential information, could be huge. I almost wonder why Enterprise edition is offered, since most of the cool stuff comes only with Premier. After all, why would you want a VDI solution without offline capability?

Mellampati sees a great amount of potential in VDI, and says customers are beginning to clamor for it. That may, or may not be -- there is growing evidence that although desktop virtualization is a buzz word, actual implementation is very complicated and can be quite expensive, perhaps keeping it from taking off as quickly as vendors hope. Still, Mellampati points out that the ratio of desktops to servers in the business world is about 10:1. That's a lot of potential revenue to tap.

What's your take on VMware View 3? Are you considering it? Will you consider it in the near, or far, future?

Posted by Keith Ward on 12/02/2008 at 12:48 PM


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