Yesterday VMware accidentally posted the Release Notes for View 5.0, the latest version of their VDI product which they'll be announcing at VMworld 2011 in Las Vegas later this month. The leaked document was quickly deleted, but not before plenty of people downloaded and re-shared it via twitter.
The features included are pretty much exactly what Bridget predicted a few weeks ago on SearchVirtualDesktop.com, although she also mentioned a type of disk image streaming that's so far not included. (Could this be the much ballyhooed VMware "OnDemand" technology they talked up in 2007 that has since vanished? :)
So what's new in View 5.0? According to the document, the big things are:
Persona Management (a.k.a. the Virtual Profiles product from RTO Software)
Well it's about goddamned time! Originally purchased by VMware in February 2010 the RTO Software Virtual Profiles product has been conspicuously missing from the past few versions of View. VMware originally included "Persona" (as they call it) in the betas of View 4.5, but then in vanished before the final release. The official reason given alternated between "the code wasn't up to VMware's standards" and "RTO didn't support Windows 7," although a third (and more plausible) reason some have suggested is that VMware was just waiting out the clock so they didn't have to provide a new version of Virtual Profiles to Symantec. Either way, it looks like we'll finally get it in View 5.
What will be interesting is whether VMware supports using this Persona Management for non-View Windows desktops in addition to View desktops. While a more simple VDI-only profile management might have made sense when VMware first bought RTO, the world has sort of evolved since then. Now the user profile management vendors have moved on to support single user configurations that span both physical and virtual environments, and in fact a lot of AppSense and RES Software's biggest sales are coming from purely physical desktop environments.
So if VMware comes out with a VDI-only (or View-only) profile manager, that will definitely be lame and not usable. (I say "not usable" since it's unlikely that anyone will be able to move 100% to View, which means they'll also have users logging into non-View Windows workstations. And if that's the case, they need a product to manage the user environment of those, so why not just use that other product to manage both the physical and virtual desktops?)
I'm crossing my fingers that VMware View Persona will also work in non-View environments, but I'm not holding my breath. Same goes for the Browns winning the Super Bowl this year.
PC-over-IP WAN performance optimization
The second major feature of View 5.0 will be performance enhancements to the PC-over-IP protocol, especially for WAN environments. Attendees of BriForum 2011 in Chicago last month actually know quite a bit about this, as Teradici CTO Randy Groves spoke at length about it in Teradici's sponsored session. (Watch a video of his presentation.) Specific new PC-over-IP capabilities include an updated and more efficient lossless codec, client-side bitmap caching (for clients that are able to), and the ability to disable the "build to lossless" capability.
The other recent big news for PC-over-IP from Teradici, while not specifically View 5-related, is that they finally released their APEX 2800 server offload card. (Here's a video I recorded of the card in action earlier this year.) Each card can support up to 64 1900x1200 displays, and you can put as many cards as you can fit in a single server. All the hooks to make it work are already built into View 4.5 and of course it will also work with View 5.
By the way, in his blog post about the new capabilities of PC-over-IP, VMware's Warren Ponder wrote, "we believe that the protocol debate has distracted from what really matters. We think that it’s time for the industry to move on." Amen brother. After using both HDX and PCoIP exclusively for one month each earlier this year, I can emphatically say that they're both… fine. I wouldn't pick a product based solely on the remote protocol.
3D graphics support (with vSphere 5)
vSphere 5 introduces a new version of the virtual machine: Version 8. (The VM format gets updated every so often, and in general you can't boot an newer VM on an older platform without first converting it.) One of the new features of Version 8 VMs is that they'll support 3D graphics, including Aero and basic 3D apps. (And if I understand correctly, it can do this without a GPU, although I'm not 100% clear how that works. I'll find out more at VMworld.)
So if the VM can handle 3D and Aero, then VMware can remote it with PC-over-IP (and possibly RDP, again, I don't know for sure). But 3D graphics support when VMs are running on vSphere 5 is an official new feature, (which is nice, because VMware's sort of been implying that for over two years now).
So it seems that those are the only major new features. Honestly I don't know what I was expecting, but I'm not really blown away by this. In fact what has the core View team been up to? Persona was something they bought. The PC-over-IP stuff came from Vancouver. And the 3D graphics is more of a core platform feature. So what are the new features of View itself?
Still no client hypervisor. Still no Mac PC-over-IP client. Still no real Remote Desktop Session Host support. Still no real integration with other desktop products.
Maybe they'll surprise me and blow me away at VMworld.
Fingers crossed! (Go Browns!)