The audacious vision of VMware Horizon: Manage access, not devices
When VMWare announced its Horizon product strategy, one component of the suite, Horizon Mobile, attracted the most attention because it was one of the first solutions announced for creating dual persona Android devices.
The concept of giving mobile devices users two completely separate workspaces, one personal and the other corporate, has gained a lot of traction since then. BlackBerry 10 includes a similar feature known as BlackBerry Balance, Samsung has made it signature feature of its KNOX enterprise device program, and several mobile management vendors have released containerization products that offer secure and managed environments on Android and iOS devices.
In all the hype about dual persona options (from VMWare and other companies), it's easy to overlook the broader concept that the Horizon Suite represents. Securing Android is just one feature of a single Horizon product. The complete line actually represents a series of solutions for mobile devices running Android or iOS, Windows PCs, Macs, and any device that supports HTML 5. It even allows companies to easily extend the BYOD concept from its traditional mobile device focus to include PCs and Macs that are employee-owned -- including hybrid PCs that can function as both a desktop and a tablet.
Horizon includes three branded products, all of which were introduced last month: View, Mirage, and Workspace.
Horizon View is the rebranded VMWare View product that's familiar to many enterprises. The latest version includes the desktop and mobile client apps for the major platforms (Windows, Ubuntu, Mac, Android, Kindle Fire, and iOS).
One of the most significant addition from a mobility perspective is the addition of an HTML 5 client. This opens support for virtually any device or platform without the need for a client app. It also makes a perfect solution for using a PC or device where you simply can't or don't want to install a client such as a public computer, another person's device, or a PC at a client's worksite.
View clients for Android and iOS also include VMWare's Unity Touch interface, which is designed to make working with a traditional Windows desktop easier on mobile devices by adding a bar containing shortcuts to Windows commands and features as well as to frequently used apps, folders/file shares, and documents. Having seen this feature in action, I have to say that it functions better than I expected. It doesn't make up for all of the awkwardness of accessing older releases of Windows on a tablet, but it does an admirable job and quite frankly Microsoft could take a few lessons from VMWare here.
Mirage delivers IT a broad range array of options in terms of managing desktops that users access. Mirage categorizes the typical Windows desktop experience into a series of layers that can be independently managed by IT policies. That makes granular desktop management much more streamlined for IT professionals. It also allows IT to backup and restore individual layers, which can make troubleshooting problems much simpler, and can be used as a migration solution. VMWare is actively pitching Mirage as tool for simplifying Windows XP to Windows 7 migrations - an upgrade that many organizations have yet to complete or, in some cases, begin.
Workspace is the most mobile-related product in the Horizon lineup. In fact, it includes Horizon Mobile. Although dual-persona or containerization functionality is one major aspect of Workspace, the product offers several key features beyond simply creating a secure container including these (all of which are supported under iOS as well as Android):
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