Amazon vs VMware, how VMware empowers the UX!

If you are an avid reader of my blog you will know that for the most part I don’t publish competitive analysis or talk about VMware competitors. However I feel that I need to give some attention to this subject and make you aware of the major end-user experience differences between running pure PCoIP and PCoIP with the Horizon View stack.

As you are probably familiar by now, Amazon AWS has recently announced the availability of Desktop-as-Service through their cloud. Amazon licenses the same PCoIP display protocol from Teradici that VMware provide with Horizon View.

In this article I want to focus purely on the technical aspects of the optimized end-user experience Horizon View delivers on top of the standard PCoIP display protocol. Despite what many may think, there are multiple enhancements to the overall end-user experience provided by Horizon View that are NOT part of a naked PCoIP solution, such as provided by Amazon.




Let’s take one by one…


  • Real-Time Audio-Video (RTAV)

Real-Time Audio-Video does not forward audio and webcam devices using USB. Instead the devices are left local to the client, and audio/images are pulled from the local devices. The audio/images are then encoded, delivered to the guest virtual machine, and decoded. A virtual webcam and a virtual microphone are installed in the guest virtual machine, which then “play” the received audio/video, and 3rd-party apps (e.g., Skype, WebEx, Google Hangout) can use these virtual devices. Audio-out is performed from the standard View Agent audio-out functionality, which provides better audio quality than using USB redirection.

  • General support for microphones and webcams, broader application support for use with webcam video and microphone audio
  • Audio/video from microphone/webcam is encoded and compressed on client endpoint
  • Bandwidth reduction to as little as 300-600kbps



  • Unity Touch

Unity Touch is VMware’s design center for making Windows and Windows apps easier to use on your iPhone, iPad, or Android devices.


  • Multimedia Redirection

H.264/MPEG-4 is a standard for video compression, and is currently one of the most commonly used formats for the recording, compression, and distribution of high-definition video.

With the recently added Windows 7 support for multimedia redirection of H264 encoded Windows Media files, the Windows 7 client end-point receives the original compressed multimedia stream from the server and decode it locally for display.

This implementation decreases bandwidth usage since the data over the wire will be compressed video instead of a succession of bitmaps. The bandwidth usage remains the same when a video window is resized and even when it’s played in full-screen mode. This method also saves server resources, as the server no longer spends its CPU resources decoding the video content and sending it in bitmap form over PCoIP.

Multimedia Redirection data is sent across the network without application-based encryption and might contain sensitive data, depending on the content being redirected.


  • Unified Communications Integration

View Media Services for Unified Communications delivers integrated UC + virtual desktop experience. UC partners are being able to leverage Horizon View API’s and enable UC solutions to detect when they are running in a Horizon View remote session. Users are able to seamlessly interact with softphones and CTI enabled applications within the VDI session but the actual RTP media processing (audio encoding and decoding) happens on the client device and not within the virtual desktop.

By integrating the soft-phone control within the VM session, end users have a desktop and phone that follows them.

In a PCoIP centric deployment audio frames are encapsulated with video frames and then encrypted before sent to the client over the wire, and vice-versa from the client to the virtual desktop.

VMware’s approach enables the Unified Communication media engine from the vendors to do the media processing maintaining a direct point to point call connection to avoid hair-pinning and increasing CPU server load.

By separating out the VoIP frames from the desktop, it is possible to maintain the QoS for VoIP separately from the desktop. Once calls are initiated, they are delivered point to point versus cycling through the virtual desktop and the datacenter to preserve call quality and performance.


Here are couple integration examples:

  • Microsoft Lync 2013

Horizon View provides Microsoft Lync 2013 client support, including full support for UC VoIP and Video on both RDP and PCoIP. This new feature enables a tighter integration between Microsoft Lync and Office applications with full collaboration capabilities. Some of the features are:

  • Cisco UC Jabber

The integration of Horizon View with Cisco UC Jabber allows customers to fully communicate and collaborate in a virtualized collaborative workspace, without any compromises. The special sauce that enables the Horizon View and Cisco UC Jabber integration is a Unified Communications (UC) SDK from VMware and the Cisco Virtual Experience Media Engine (VXME) from Cisco.

Through the use of the Cisco VXME, customers can communicate using rich VoIP and Videoconferencing without negatively impacting your server and network infrastructure.



  • Flash URL redirection for Live webcast (unicast/multicast)

Flash URL Redirection enable users to stream live Flash video optimally through VDI and DaaS sessions. When using the Flash redirection the URL is redirected to the client endpoint when a user clicks on a live webcast URL link.

When using Flash URL Redirection the live media stream is sent from the media server directly to the client endpoints, bypassing datacenter servers where VDI sessions are hosted. This method allows Horizon View to effectively eliminate redundant video streams to a large-scale audience by leveraging multicast video technology.



  • USB filtering

Horizon View provides broader device support with a VMware owned filtering mechanism for better management of devices on client devices with multi-platform support.

This filtering mechanism provides better management of devices allowing Blocking of unwanted devices and blocking of devices that are forwarded by other means (e.g. keyboards/smart-cards).



  • Presentation mode

Presentation Mode allows users to display their virtual desktop on a big screen and use your tablet devices as a keyboard or trackpad. This is great for presentations where you do not want to carry confidential material around or leave them behind.


…There are more features that are not necessarily listed in this article, but the key takeaway is that VMware has built numerous features into the stack, allowing organizations to provide the best end-user experience to customer and end-users.


Disclaimer: Any views or opinions expressed in this article are my own, not my employer’s. The content published here is not read, reviewed, or approved by VMware and does not necessarily represent or reflect the views or opinions of VMware or any of its divisions, subsidiaries, or business partners.

This article was first published by Andre Leibovici (@andreleibovici) at


  1. This is great! Thanks for providing the differences in the PCoIP implementations. My company doesn’t need any of VMware’s additions so AWS becomes possible (although many other factors will probably keep our VDI in house).

  2. It is true that in today’s highly advanced world, businesses need to implement unified communication solutions, for e.g. deploying on premise RHUB web conferencing appliances in order to cut down travel costs, solving problems, expanding business by interacting with multiple clients at same time etc.

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