VMware to offer enterprise application portal for BYOD
 
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VMware will offer enterprise software that allows employees to access all their desktop Windows applications and online services from a single portal, the company announced today.

The company has also updated its View VDI (virtual desktop interface) software and will release new beta software for providing a central repository for storing and sharing files. Collectively, these programs should better allow employees to use their preferred devices to do their jobs - a practice known as BYOD (bring your own device) - while still giving IT administrators the ability to control the user environment, said Vittorio Viarengo, VMware vice president of end user computing.

By having their employees access all their applications from a portal, an organization can offer single sign on capability, keep track of employee application usage and allow employees to use multiple machines, such as home computers, when working.

The portal software is a new version of VMware's Horizon Application Manager. Version 1.5 will be the first that enterprises can run on their internal servers. Until now, VMware only offered Horizon as a hosted service.

The software provides a portal for users where they can access both cloud applications and Windows applications, which can be streamed through application virtualisation software. VMware has set up relationships with about 20 SaaS (software as a service) providers, which provide the icons and connectivity to their services. VMware also offers a toolkit for administrators to connect the portal to other application providers. As an organisation contracts with additional SaaS vendors, the administrator can add SaaS icons to the portals of the employees who will use the software. By tying in SAML (Security Access Markup Language) and OAuth with the organisation's own user directory, the software keeps track of the user's credentials and can log on the user to the requested software automatically.

The company is also updating VMware View VDI software. The newly released version 5.1 includes the ability to cache frequently accessed data in server memory. It also updates its migration service, called Personal Management, that allows users to move their data from their physical Windows machines to the virtual Windows machines. The service then will keep the data on the two desktops synchronised. The new version of View also improves the slow video performance that has hampered earlier versions of the software, and updated the USB interface so more USB devices will be recognised.

The company is also planning to release software that offers the file sharing capabilities of consumer services such as Dropbox, but is deployed inside an enterprise network. Project Octopus, as it is now known, gives employees a central location to store files that then can be accessed from all their devices. It keeps all the versions of a file, if the file is updated. Administrators can also get reports on which files have been downloaded or updated. The files can be accessed from Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and Linux.

VMware is offering Octopus as a free beta software to selected customers. It has not set a release date for the full production version.

VMware drives shift to personal clouds with Project Octopus

Advances in virtualization, cloud computing, and mobile technology have created a perfect storm for a new era in end-user computing, one in which users can revel in their own personal cloud, connecting to all their apps and data, anyplace and anytime from any device, be it a Wyse thin client at work, a company-issued Android phone on the road, a personal iPad at the airport, or a Windows XP machine at home.

Although the trend means greater productivity for users, it can be a pain for IT admins charged with the unenviable task of ensuring that those disparate services, apps, and data are delivered consistently and securely, regardless of device or platform. With the the unveiling of an enterprise-grade Dropbox-like file sharing solution called Project Octopus, VMware aims to make the personal cloud a practical reality for businesses.

Available for beta testing later this quarter, Project Octopus intends to let end-users securely connect, share data, and collaborate with one another regardless of device. IT administrators, meanwhile, will be able to govern usage and set policies for data access and sharing, both within the organization and with external contributors. If Project Octopus works as advertised, truly creating a seamless and secure cross-platform experience, it could give users the mobility and freedom they want while the business gets the control it needs.

Aside from Project Octopus, VMware revealed other product news aimed at keeping end-users connected to their desktops all day, every day. The company unveiled Version 5.1 of VMware View, a point release of the VDI platform that promises to lighten the load on shared storage through smarter caching; broadens support for peripherals through a new USB stack; and includes updated clients for Mac, Windows, and Linux desktops, for thin and zero clients, as well as iPad, Android, and Kindle Fire tablets.

In addition, VMware View Personal Management now extends to physical desktops, preserving user settings across all Windows devices while streamlining the migration from physical to stateless virtual desktops.

VMware also has injected more security and compliance features into View. Admins can centrally enforce endpoint security and policy configuration and streamline antivirus processes. Additionally, View 5.1 integrates with RADIUS two-factor authentication, giving organizations an extra layer of security.

On top of enhancements to VMware View itself, VMware unveiled VMware vCenter Operations for VMware View: Cloud Infrastructure Insight. This add-on for View is designed to give admins in VMware vSphere shops broader insight into desktop performance and the ability to troubleshoot problems and optimize resource utilization from within vSphere's vCenter console.

Also new is VMware Horizon Application Manager 1.5, an on-premise virtual appliance that acts as a centralized policy and entitlement engine for granting users access to applications, virtual desktops, and data resources. Included is the Horizon Application Catalog, which consolidates applications by type into a single, unified catalog. VMware Horizon Workspace aims to provide a consistent end-user experience over private and public clouds, regardless of end-user device.

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