Application and Desktop Virtualization
The virtualized data center’s ultimate goal is to provide access to virtual machines running applications needed by users. One of the problems that businesses face is that not all applications work on standard virtual machines. This is largely the case when older applications that are still crucial for businesses are not compatible with the current operating system or internet browsers, for example. These applications still need to be hosted somehow.
A virtualized data center can solve this problem by virtualizing the applications themselves and allowing them to be accessed remotely by a user.
VMware uses a technology called ThinApp to deliver virtualized applications compatible with any machine. ThinApp analyzes the machine that needs the app and decides what underlying software it needs in order to be compatible with that machine. For example, if the user’s OS is running Windows Internet Explorer 10 but the app requires Explorer 7 or below, a compatible version of the browser will be packaged into the virtualized application. The app is then delivered as a remote package that can be uploaded and used without it actually running on the original physical or virtualized hardware. This is called application isolation. It enables software delivery without changes to the file system or the database of the host computer.
There is another virtualization technology that can be used along with application virtualization, called desktop virtualization, to deliver computer functions in software form to an end-user. Application virtualization products like ThinApp deliver just the applications to a remote machine. However, with desktop virtualization, the entire desktop environment, meaning all the programs that usually run on top of an OS, can be delivered to an end-user on a remote machine.
VMware's desktop virtualization technology is called Horizon. Horizon delivers software-defined (virtual) desktop environments to customers. It was designed to solve computing resource issues faced by what is called the "mobile workforce". People today work on more than one device and from more than one location. Think of remote workers and of businesses that have multiple locations that need access to their company's computing resources such as programs, communication tools, and licensed software (Windows/Linux). Delivering computing services using physical computing technology to all these end-users has become time-consuming and costly.
Horizon takes the resources needed to create a desktop environment from data centers and virtual data centers and then delivers them to the end users' devices (laptops, thin clients, and mobile devices). Once connected to the virtual desktop, all an end-user needs to begin interacting with the desktop is a keyboard and a mouse. Note
A virtualized desktop is different from a virtual machine. With a virtualized desktop, the end-user does not have access to an entire operating system, only the programs that run on top of it.
To learn more about virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and watch an overview of how Horizon enables a mobile workforce, visit the VMware Horizon product page.