Things I Learned at VMworld in Las Vegas

I had the opportunity to attend VMworld in Las Vegas the last couple of days. Here’s a summary of what I have learned. In the Day 1 keynote, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger used “Digital Transformation” as the #1 buzzword. He also said that all business is digital business today and 80% of compute is virtualized by now. But 50% of all enterprise applications are still traditional client/server applications – in other words, there is still a majority of conventional Windows applications out there. Neither mobile apps nor native web apps are dominating, yet. According to a VMware survey, there is an average of 188 internally created (Windows) applications in enterprises which may need to be maintained for quite a while. This means that remoting into Windows applications hosted in on-premises datacenters, private clouds and public clouds will continue to be an important aspect of VMware’s strategy. This is great news for End-User Computing (EUC). I still wonder if this also applies to Pat’s announcement to extend their hybrid cloud approach not only to VMware-based clouds (now including IBM/Softlayer), but also to non-VMware-based clouds like Amazon, Azure and Google.

The Day 2 keynote started with some interesting EUC content, following up on what was briefly mentioned during the Day 1 keynote. I must say that I’ve never heard VMware use the word “Windows” so many times before, looks like they wanted to show some Microsoft love. In a WorkSpace One demo Sanjay Poonen, the general manager for VMware’s EUC business unit, showed the unified management of Windows 10. The demo included conditional access and blocking cutting and paste – which technically uses a new built-in Windows 10 Anniversary Edition feature called “Windows Information Protection”.

In the EUC Super Session, Sumit Dhawan and Shawn Bass presented more details on remote Windows desktop and application delivery. Sumit started with identity and access management as a service. This goes beyond simple ID federation and adds smart authentication policy management, contextual access and entitlements as central aspects. The service allows you to securely add unmanaged endpoints to an enterprise environment. Shawn continued the session with some Horizon time. He highlighted the Blast Extreme protocol (which was also covered in a separate session) and the outstanding performance of instant clones for desktop deployment. It only takes like four seconds from initiating the desktop creation until it is ready for user login. This means you can provision 1000 desktops in three hours. Wow! In addition, VMware Horizon has now better support of USB devices, printing and graphics. Desktop management and application deployment can be done without imaging, using technologies called TrustPoint and App Stack Delivery (AppVolume). Step by step, Horizon is turning into a complete EUC solution.

But what would EUC be without graphics acceleration these days. Not only CAD/CAM applications, but also Windows 10, Microsoft Office and browsers massively benefit from GPUs. This is why NVIDIA GRID combined with VMware Horizon was highlighted again and again. In addition, NVIDIA allowed attendees to experience a nice Virtual Reality on vSphere demo. They won the Best of VMworld 2016 award – Virtualization and Cloud Infrastructure for their latest GRID software release. This shows that there are GPU-focused use cases that go beyond the traditional Windows desktop. In the future hardware-accelerated remoting will be combined with virtual reality, high performance computing (HPC), rendering farms and deep learning.

My personal highlight of the show was Ask SysTrack, a new feature of Lakeside SysTrack to analyze end-user experience with natural language queries. This is based on EUC monitoring data collected with SysTrack agents and stored in the SysTrack database. Ask SysTrack allows you to ask questions that get analyzed by cognitive computing powered by IBM Watson. The result is mapped to SysTrack visualizers, dashboards or reports containing the answer. This saves time and lets users discover the most appropriate data more efficiently than searching manually. Ask SysTrack won the Best of VMworld 2016 award – Judges Choice for Disruptive Technology.

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