VMware Project Meteor could corral skyrocketing VDI needs

VMware is looking to change the VDI equation by combining its CloudVolumes buy and new VM cloning technology into Project Meteor, plus other additions to compete with Citrix in the EUC market.

SAN FRANCISCO -- IT has grappled with infrastructure requirements for VDI, but upcoming features from VMware may change that.

With the tech preview of Project Meteor, VMware will integrate  CloudVolumes, the application layering vendor it purchased last week with  Project Fargo, which was unveiled here at VMworld 2014 and allows admins to rapidly clone virtual machines (VM) that are already running.

Under Project Meteor, administrators can clone a base Windows VM to create a new virtual desktop with applications and a user's personal data added through CloudVolumes. When the user logs out, the cloned virtual desktop can be destroyed.

It's been a slow adoption [for VDI]. What VMware is doing…is going to change that.
Todd KnappCTO, Envision Technology Advisors

VMware hasn't said when Project Meteor -- which was also called "just-in-time desktops" here this week -- will be made available, but a VMware spokesperson said it would be soon.

These moves take VMware to the cusp of bringing VDI into the mainstream, said Todd Knapp, CTO and founder of Envision Technology Advisors LLC in Pawtucket, R.I.

"It's been a slow adoption [for VDI]," he said. "What VMware is doing, particularly with CloudVolumes, is going to change that. It's an incredibly powerful technology."

The ability to spin up a virtual desktop more quickly isn't as significant as the potential infrastructure savings if Project Meteor succeeds at making a non-persistent desktop look like it's both persistent and always on, said David Johnson, an analyst with Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass.

"You can save on infrastructure because you wouldn't have to have an instant blade dedicated to a fixed set of virtual desktops or a fixed number of users," Johnson said. "It's clever, but we don’t know what the scalability of that will be yet."

CloudVolumes brings mobile experience to desktops

With CloudVolumes, VMware aims to offer real-time delivery of applications as well as user and data settings to virtual desktops for a mobile-like experience for VDI.

VMworld attendees saw what VMware expects CloudVolumes to do in action. An admin can entitle a virtual desktop application to a user so it immediately shows up on that user's desktop through a few clicks in the CloudVolumes dashboard, according to a presentation by Kit Colbert, VMware’s end user computing (EUC) CTO.

The benefits of CloudVolumes won't just be limited to VMware customers even after the acquisition. CloudVolumes will continue to be supported in Citrix environments, Sanjay Poonen, VMware's EUC executive vice president and general manager, confirmed on Twitter.

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