VMware puts VDI in the woodchipper

Project Fargo and CloudVolumes shred VDI storage requirements

Woodchipper scene from Fargo

VMWorld 2014 VMware has outlined a new way to do desktop virtualisation (VDI) that aims to greatly reduce the amount of storage required to deliver desktops from the data centre.

Many current VDI arrangements require each virtual desktop to be stored as a discrete virtual disk. By the time organisations get to hundreds or thousands of such disks, that adds up to a hefty storage requirement and all sorts of network fun around 9:00 AM when everyone arrives at work and logs on. The cost and complexity of all that kit makes VDI too pricey for many and too hard for others.

VMware's new plans take that complexity away with two tools.

The first is called “Project Fargo” and allows a live VM to be copied, spawned and booted in what VMware today claimed will be seconds. If that sounds improbable, VMware silences the doubters by saying that the new VM uses the very same memory and storage as the first, a weird kind of meta-virtualisation.

The second tool is last week's acquisition CloudVolumes, which will be used to inject apps into the newly-spawned virtual desktop. Virtzilla's plan is for apps to be delivered according to profiles managed by the single sign-on bits of Workspaces Suite, the new bundle of its end-user computing goodies.

Each new virtual desktop will therefore be spawned by Fargo, probably from a single master, sign-on to Horizon to figure out what apps and data it is allowed to access, grab those apps from CloudVolumes and use the permissions it has been assigned to access whatever networked data its allowed to see.

There's never a unique virtual disk image for each user: a desktop spawns itself whenever a user wants one. The apps and data live wherever and/or on whatever a user decides they belong.

VMware's not explaining exactly where the data that represents a desktop session will live, but it seems sensible to suppose that flash array and server-side flash cache vendors are going to enjoy this version of VDI. Or perhaps a VSAN will do the job: such rigs' combination of compute and storage power look a fine place to run desktops of this sort.

Expect a few months before VMware turns these ideas into a product: we've been told the first half of 2015 is the aim.

If you need a VMware end-user computing fix now, the company delivered one of those today too in the form of the Workspace Suite, the company's first stab at AirWatch integration.

The new suite bundles Horizon, AirWatch Mobility Management, and AirWatch Secure Content Locker. Creating the suite means VMware can now sell all of the above at once, in varying cuts, to make it easier to adopt its mobility-and-VDI-management stack.

Another new end-user computing offering is an applications-as-a-service add-on to VMware's desktop-as-a-service product. That product has also splashed down in vCloud Air's (formerly VMware vCloud Hybrid Service's) European bit barns, with the Japan-based bit barns expected to follow before year's end. ®

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