In the past we used to have a device that was given to us by the company we worked for; it was called the desktop. Literally, this device was on our desk and we would get the work done while at it. But as we all know a number of new devices and applications have entered organizations in the past few years.
It started with multiple different models of laptops, followed by an even larger number of mobile devices. Because of these changes we can no longer recognize this model, and the market designation for these changes are BYOD (Bring your own device) or Consumerization of IT.
To put things in context, according to InformationWeek, Gartner analyst Michael Silver, during the research firm’s Symposium/ITxpo said “said that as far back as 1996, 95% of the apps used by typical organizations required Windows. This figure had dropped to 50% in the last year (2011), and that today, fewer than half of the most common enterprise apps require a specific OS, he said” InformationWeek.com
The enterprise panorama is quickly changing and people want the same experience they have in their personal life while at work. People expect to be able to use any device for personal or business reasons, and be able get their applications and data anywhere, and also easily share content with their friends or co-workers. These increasing expectations are making its ways into the workplace.
A IDC, Goldman Sachs research from Dec, 2012 demonstrated that from 95% market domination in 2005 Microsoft market share has fallen to just 20% by 2012. The statistics also demonstrate how the technology tides are changing to an era of diversity; what many have been calling as “the Post-PC era”.
Often times when dealing with applications and devices we are applying policies and identity to devices. In this new and modern world policy and identity should follow a human not a device, and those policies should take place in whatever device the user happen to be using at the moment. A number of different technologies have emerged to try do solve part of the problem such as MDM, MIM, EMM, or MAM.
What is the Horizon Suite?
I am sure you can get an official explanation of what the Horizon Suite is from the VMware website. I like to say that VMware Horizon is a single stop shop for most of your enterprise needs. And VMware will build on top of this platform moving forward.
– It encompasses a powerful SAML authentication engine that tightly and securely integrate your corporate internal active directory with external SaaS providers, allowing your users to seamlessly navigate across systems and applications without having to remember and type any additional credentials. In my personal option, the biggest benefit of the SAML token authentication is the ability to automatically cancel all SaaS application accesses simply disabling or deleting the user’s active directory credentials.
The list below contains SaaS providers that already support Horizon Authentication natively. This will will drastically increase overtime.
- File Collaboration (Horizon Data): Provides full integration and file sync engine (previously known as Octopus) allowing users to securely share corporate content and collaborate with people within or external to the organization. Just like other file sync engines, it allows users to synchronize data across multiple devices and even download folders and files for secure offline viewing. Horizon Data includes a high-fidelity document preview engine with document versioning, commenting and auditing. One of the benefits for enterprises is that stored data can be kept inside the walls of datacenter, for compliance purposes, and where policies and SLAs can be applied.
- Independent of the device in use Horizon provides an easy-to-use single context-based catalog that allow access to applications and data from anywhere (Horizon App Manager). The dashboard access is provided via HTML5 for browser access or via native applications for Android and iOS (maybe a Windows 8 app to come?). The applications are entitled by the Administrator that also controls which applications users may manually add to the dashboard. The apps on the dashboard can be SaaS or ThinApp and utilize the same SAML token for authentication. In the ThinApp application use case, executables are streamed down to the users before execution.
- Remote wipe of corporate application and data is fully supported from a central web console.
Even thou there is a clear move to SaaS and mobile applications Windows is not going away, not yet. There is a long line of business applications that permeated organizations for the past 25 years that will stay with us for a long time. In fact, a research by TNW demonstrate that Windows XP still accounts for 39% of Windows deployments.
- The Horizon Suite also offers Horizon View virtual desktops integrated with SAML authentication for a seamless experience when a virtual desktop is required. Access to virtual desktops can be done using HTML5 protocol, eliminating the need for native clients.
For administrators the Horizon Suite represents unified management and policies. Horizon provide unified user and identity management with centralized entitlement management. Through the same dashboard administrators can efficiently entitle resources or manage provisioning across multiple endpoints.
(Click on the image to Enlarge)
In my a next blog post I will explain the enterprise-grade security features packed in Horizon, including endpoint registration and wipe, document sandboxing, encryption, application passcode and 2-factor authentication. The combination of these features deliver security for BYOD initiatives, providing control delivered through on-prem deployment along with strong security controls to support IT governance.
This is only the beginning, there are other add-on features to the platform that I am not exactly allowed to disclose at this point in time, but expect more to come in the near term.
Please note that this blog post is not reviewed in any way by my employer (VMware) and may not exactly reflect exactly how the product is being shipped. Please refer to the product Release Notes for official information from VMware.
This article was first published by Andre Leibovici (@andreleibovici) at myvirtualcloud.net.