Box.net (actually now they're just called "Box") held a press event last week where they detailed the new version of their cloud-based collaboration suite they'll be rolling out over the next month. What's interesting about this is that VMware's Noah Wasmer was on stage as part of the event. (Remember that we shot a video interview with Noah from VMworld 2010 where he explained Project Horizon to us.)
So anyway, Box had their new release event when Noah comes out and talks about how Box will be partnering with VMware using Horizon to extend the Box platform into the enterprise.
(Apparently our YouTube embedding code doesn't allow me to specify a specific location in the video. Noah's part starts at 32:18, which you can jump to directly via this link.)
I think this is the first public mention of a specific Horizon use case?
I was able to catch up with Noah for a few minutes on the phone. He wouldn't go into detail about the specific timeframes and pricing models, but he did explain that VMware would release an Enterprise Connector in the form of a virtual appliance. You basically drop that into your in-house environment and hook it into your domain, and that's what exposes your internal users, groups, and organizational units to the SaaS vendor (Box, in this case) to let you do the provisioning and to facilitate the single sign-on. This solution will also enable single sign-on to the SaaS app without exposing your domain passwords to the SaaS vendor.
I asked Noah why they needed this and didn't use something like ADFS. Noah explained that ADFS--like many other SSO and identity federation solutions--are pretty complex. They require lots of specific configuration and tweaking and testing and they're just generally a huge pain. The VMware Horizon approach on the other hand will have this virtual appliance that's preconfigured and ready to go. If you want to start integrating Box with your current domain users, it's literally just a few steps that can be done in under ten minutes, and you have your enterprise extended to the cloud.
I still haven't put my hands on VMware Horizon. (I'm not sure whether anyone has yet.) But I can tell you that I'm really excited about it. I think it's a great concept, I like the simple implementation, and I actually want to use this in my everyday life. (I wonder if I can convince the TechTarget IT dudes that we should put it in place?)
Noah stressed that the Box announcement is just the first step for them. (Although still a small step since we don't yet know timing or pricing.) He wouldn't say exactly who else they were targeting other than to say it's all the "expected" providers, (which I assume will mean Google, Salesforce.. ?) Probably not Office365.
Bottom line is Horizon is their first step to get a secure enterprise user account policy mechanism out of the enterprise and into the cloud. From there they can take it to ThinApps, View desktops, and even Citrix apps.