The three core messages here at VMworld are (1) Virtual Datacenter Operating System (comma, making VMware into one), (2) Cloud-based virtual something, and (3) DESKTOPS!
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Finally we're getting some respect. Seriously, all of the signs, the slides, the keynotes, etc., are focused on these three themes. With specific regards to the desktop, VMware made several announcements today. I have meetings tomorrow and Thursday to discuss this stuff in detail, and honestly at this point I don't know any more than what I've written here. (The good news is this means there's still time to post comments to this article as to what questions I should ask the various folks at VMware when we talk this week.)
Anyway, the announcements, in random order:
1. The term "VDI" is dead (at least in terms of a branded VMware product). The new name is "View." So VMware View instead of VMware VDI. View Manager instead of Virtual Desktop Manager. Etc. (I hope they make a VMware View Master.) In case you're wondering, it's about giving users a personal "view" of their data and apps. (You hear that Tim? VMware is talking about data too!)
30-second analysis: Great move. The problem with the actual product being called "VDI" was (1) the term VDI is used by a lot of vendors, and (2) most people think of VDI as a server-based computing version of desktop delivery. But the real solution of the future will have offline and local and all sorts of things, and it needed a new name. Even if you think the View name is stupid, so what? It's good that they're not calling it VDI. (Oh!! And get this: VMware is calling it View on a "go forward" basis. i.e. the current product will keep the current name, and the new product will take on the new name. Brilliant!)
2. VMware will release a client hypervisor. I don't have too many details yet, but I know for sure it is not "ESX for laptops." It will be something that could be deployed via a USB key (pop in your key and boot the machine), or via ROM, or via hard disk. The use case for this is the local / offline VDI. They talked about how this is actually really hard, because you have to expose things like the battery to the guest, and use the 3D graphics cards, and handle USB right, and all sorts of things. It's a completely different problem set than server hypervisors.
30-second analysis: Very cool. Very needed in the 2010 VDI vision. They claim to be the only vendor who can do this right. We'll see. Citrix is starting to talk about this too, although they've not announced anything yet.
3. Linked Clones for disk images. This is basically the idea that you can have a single master disk image, with multiple "diff" files, allowing many VMs to "share" the same disk image. Combine that with NFS and you have something that's pretty close (and least in concept) to Citrix Provisioning Server. This appears to be what they were calling SVI ("scalable virutal images") a year ago. Now they claim this technology is real and will be available soon.
30-second analysis: Also very cool and part of the 2010 vision. I don't know if they're providing any capability to make a bunch of clones that could be used immediately. i.e. When you create a linked clone, then do you have to go in an sysprep the clone, or do they handle that? Are they using their own script that looks like sysprep?
4. Offline VDI View. This is the ability to pull a VDI disk image down to a device, take it offline, and then sync up the disk deltas (the linked clones) when the user is back online. Again this is something VMware has talked about in the past, but now it seems to be closer to reality.
30-second analysis: And Again, this is needed in the 2010 vision. I don't know enough about it yet though.
5. The next [Correction] A future version of VMware's connection broker (View Manager) will broker conenctions to Terminal Server sessions, blades, and VMs.
30-second analysis: It's about goddamn time. Maybe this next version will be something that people actually want to buy, instead of VMware having to give it away for free.
6. VMware is licensing Teradici's PC-over-IP, and supporting the next version of hp's RGS protocol, and Wyse's RDP TCX multimedia extensions. They figure that this should allow them to cover all the bases and have a decent protocol for the best display performance over fast networks and a decent light protocol for basic performance over slower networks. They said that by giving customers a choice, they were better than their competitors (Citrix) who only have one protocol and try to use it regardless of the connection characteristics.
30-second analysis: Good point. It just better be seamless to the customer and easy to use. Also apparently they're going to develop (or co-develop) with Teradici a version of the PC-over-IP protocol that does not require any proprietary Teradici chipsets. At this point I have no idea how that would work. I think all this means that they've basically given up hope on Net2Display and they're just going to do their own thing.
So wow! Just like that VMware is looking really good on three of the five critical components we need for the 2010 VDI+ vision. This is actually fairly exciting stuff, and I'm really looking forward to digging into it more over the next few days.
By the way, there were also a ton of bullshit press releases and announcements today that I just don't care about. (New Wyse thin clients, VMware SunRay OEM something-or-other,... ) The six items profiled in this article were the six that I actually thought were worth reading about, but certainly not the ONLY six things going on here.
Oh! And check out Citrix's piece on virtual desktops, mobile VDI, and client hypervisors that just "happened" to be published an hour after VMware announced all this stuff. I'll dig into that later in the week too.