While the day one keynote at VMworld 2012 focused on the infrastructure required to build cloud environments, the day 2 keynote from CTO Steve Herrod was all about the end user side of the equation.

Herrod talked up VMware products that seek to make it easy for users to get consistent access to applications and data from the device of their choice, while at the same time enabling IT to more easily manage this new environment centrally, using “integrated and extensible” tools from VMware and others.

In many ways, as Herrod pointed out, this year VMware is delivering on the promises it made at last year’s event – while adding a few extras along the way.

One of them is Mirage, the product VMware acquired when it bought Wanova, Inc. in May. Mirage provides a solution to a problem VMware has been trying to tackle for some time when it comes to desktop virtualization: dealing with disconnected users.

Mirage is core technology for decomposing a desktop into distinct layers, such as the hardware, operating system, profiles, documents and applications. It allows users to change out the hardware layer but consistently access the same applications and data, which are all stored centrally. It also includes synchronization technology so that any changes made while a user is offline are reflected in the central image once the user connects again.

Mirage is a good complement to VMware View, the company’s existing desktop virtualization software, which only works when users are connected to the network.

With help from an engineer, Herrod demonstrated how Mirage can be used to conduct a quick upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7. In the demo, a user gets his laptop upgraded from XP to Windows 7 with a few clicks and a reboot. After his laptop breaks, the same Windows 7 image is then downloaded to his Samsung Galaxy tablet and then to his MacBook.

Simplifying the OS upgrade process is a core benefit of desktop virtualization, of course. But the idea that the same image can be viewed on three different devices is a significant step in the right direction in terms of dealing with the BYOD trend.

So is the new Horizon Suite that Herrod announced. VMware is big on suites this year, having heard from its customers that they don’t want to deal with point solutions any more, Herrod said. Horizon Suite is intended to address all aspects of workforce mobility, including managing and delivering applications to end users and enabling IT to centrally manage policy and provide security on a per-person basis, as opposed to per-device.

With Horizon Suite end users get a single workspace and set of applications that follow them no matter what device they use. It will enable management of Android and iOS device as well as XenApp applications, which is a new wrinkle.  What’s more, users will be able to install applications without involving IT, should IT choose to enable the capability.

Herrod also showed off the container technology that was first discussed at last year’s event, now known as Horizon Mobile. Horizon Mobile is essentially a virtual machine for Android and iOS devices that houses all corporate applications and data, keeping it separate from a user’s personal data. IT can apply policies to anything in the container, to help keep corporate data safe.  So, for example, while a user may not need to enter a password to use personal areas of the phone, he will in order to read corporate email. Similarly, IT may opt to disable cut and paste capabilities for corporate data, to prevent the data from leaving the device.

All in all, VMware seems to have made decent progress in the year since the last VMworld event and is delivering tools that IT should find useful in delivering on the vision of virtual desktops and BYOD.

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