VMware has updated its desktop and application virtualization platform to make it easier for IT teams to support end users who need to regularly shift between working in the office and from home.
The latest version of VMware Horizon adds support for an instant clone capability that rapidly provisions personalized virtual desktops and applications enabled by the VMware vSphere platform.
VMware Horizon is also now available on the Google Cloud VMware Engine service as well as on-premises servers from Dell EMC, a sister company of VMware. It is also committing to adding support for Microsoft Azure in addition to existing support for Amazon Web Services (AWS).
VMware is also adding REST application programming interfaces (APIs) to make the platform more programmatically extensible.
The company has also optimized audio and video support for Microsoft Teams and is making it possible to publish Linux applications on the platform.
Finally, VMware has launched a beta of VMware Workspace ONE Proximity, which leverages Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons to give employees insight into how to better maintain social distancing in the workplace. A forthcoming Workspace ONE Campus will also enable employees to leverage that same beacon infrastructure to book meeting rooms and determine how best to optimally move about a larger work environment.
Jeff McGrath, senior director for VMware End User Computing, said interest in hybrid cloud implementations of VMware Horizon has risen sharply. IT teams want to be able to drive application traffic to on-premises servers to minimize latency whenever employees are in the office. When those same employees are at home, however, it may make more sense to drive that traffic to a cloud-based instance of VMware Horizon. As employees move between environments, McGrath said VMware Horizon makes it possible to maintain a consistent digital workspace experience for end users.
Interest in virtual desktops has been rising since Microsoft changed Windows licensing terms in advance of launching its own Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) service. The VMware Horizon platform is significantly more robust in terms of both the hybrid cloud computing scenarios it supports and the management tools provided to IT teams, said McGrath.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it remains to be seen how many desktops will shift into the cloud. Most IT organizations were simply content to provide access to desktops applications over a virtual private network (VPN) when the pandemic first hit. Now that it appears more employees will be working from home on a semi-permanent basis, many IT organizations are revisiting their entire IT strategies.
Of course, there is no shortage of options when it comes to desktop and application virtualization. VMware is betting a large installed base of IT organizations that have already standardized on VMware vSphere in both on-premises and now cloud computing platforms will result in more enterprise IT organizations embracing VMware Horizon. Regardless of the outcome, the one thing that is clear is virtual desktops in the age of COVID-19 are now well on their way to becoming the preferred default option for many organizations.