Cisco Delivering the Best Computing Platform for VMware Horizon 6

VMware Guest Blog by Jim McHugh, Vice President, Marketing, Cisco Unified Computing System

Last week’s announcement at VMware highlights the continued innovation seen in the end-user computing space, and how important our virtualized or remoted desktop and application solutions are to delivering enterprise workspace mobility, security and business agility.

Industry-Leading Desktop Virtualization

Delivering virtualized or remoted desktops and applications with an exceptional user experience that scales, is central to what

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Cisco and VMware have a long, distinguished history of collaboration in delivering a complete solution for virtual desktop implementers and their end users.

The Results Speak for Themselves

I’m especially pleased with how our joint solution has delivered industry-leading results. If you check out the infographic shown here, you’ll see just a couple proof points of how Cisco UCS with VMware Horizon (with View) has dramatically moved the needle in terms of TCO, performance and end-user experience.

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Our joint customers are using this industry-leading solution to:

  • Realize greater employee mobility
  • Deliver greater flexibility and choice through BYOD
  • Optimize business workflow and increase agility
  • Help ensure business continuity and data security
  • Reduce client computing costs

Why is Cisco UCS the Best Compute Platform for Desktop Virtualization?

The roster of testimonials in support of the Cisco Desktop Virtualization Solution is growing at a rapid clip. Some great proof points of this success can be found in the case studies we’ve published, across a wide array of industry verticals and deployment scenarios.

Core to the success of these deployments is Cisco UCS. Why? If you’ve followed our journey that started five years ago, you already know that we created a compute platform purpose-built for scalable, high-performance virtualization, free of the limitations and encumbrances of traditional compute architectures. For VDI and app delivery, Cisco UCS offers the perfect balance of:

  • Industry-leading processing power
  • Low-latency, high performance unified fabric
  • Stateless provisioning model that streamlines and simplifies operations

Congratulations to VMware on the release of Horizon 6. Our companies have jointly set our sights on driving success for our customers with desktop and app virtualization. Our joint solution founded on Cisco UCS and VMware Horizon is enabling our customers to embrace the transformation of their desktops and applications into mobile workspaces, and we look forward to continued joint innovation in this space.

For more information, please visit www.cisco.com/go/vdivmware

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VMware results for Q1 2014

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On April 22, VMware released the results about its growth for Q1 2014.

VMware, announced a total revenue growth of $1.36 billion, for an increase of 14 percent compared to Q1 2013.

Operating income for the first quarter was $241 million, an increase of 51% from the first quarter of 2013.

Operating Marginregistered an increase of 51%, as reported in the official news.

The non-GAAP Operating Margin registered an increment of 9% from Q1 2013, with an income of $423 million.

Operating cash flows had an increase of 11% from Q1 2013.

Pat Gelsinger, chief executive officer, VMware, declared:

Our strong financial results reflect VMware’s unique position in helping customers transform their IT infrastructure, as the industry shifts from client server computing to the mobile-cloud era, customers are choosing our solutions because we have the most complete vision and offering for navigating this evolving world.

Jonathan Chadwick, chief financial officer, VMware, said:

We are pleased with our first quarter comparable revenue growth of 18% as customer adoption across our solutions and services continues to grow, our integration of AirWatch and our new product line-up provides customers with the strongest portfolio of products and services in the industry.

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Delivering a Better User Experience for Horizon 6 with GPU Technology

VMware Guest Blog by Nick Pandher, Professional Graphics Business Development, AMD

AMD is improving user experiences across a wide variety of platforms including VMware Horizon 6. AMD designs and integrates technology for the new era of computing. AMD technology powers all the leading consumer gaming console solutions ensuring our GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) technology leadership. In the professional graphics market we deliver high performance GPU-based compute solutions using open standards like OpenCL while also delivering industry-leading SPECviewperf 12 performance for workstation graphics solutions. At AMD we want to deliver enterprise-ready GPU technologies not just to standalone workstations and servers but also to users of Horizon 6.

AMD GPU products drive a better user experience for desktop and application delivery. Horizon 6 perfectly blends the needs of the enterprise with a great end-user experience, enhancing that user experience In Horizon 6 with GPU technology is a key area AMD is focusing on.

You may not have heard of AMD GPUs being used in VMware Horizon products. Let’s clarify that right now. AMD has a fully certified vSphere 5.5 solution with vSGA (virtual shared graphics acceleration) graphics delivery. Plus we are investing further to bring even more capabilities to Horizon 6 and current VMware View users.

AMD offers products to address the needs of Horizon 6 users. Our FirePro S Series products provide data center-ready GPUs and when combined with our Sky Technology software we deliver a solution that is ready for vSphere and Horizon. Our workstation AMD FirePro product range will also be enabled to support workstation use cases in Horizon 6 environments.

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vSGA: Shared Graphics for Knowledge Worker Users
Using an AMD FirePro S series GPU for servers brings exceptional GPU performance to knowledge worker users when used with our Sky Technology vSGA VIB driver. This brings DirectX capabilities to mainstream VDI knowledge worker users in a cost effective manner using VMware’s vSGA technology with VDI desktops. Knowledge worker users are coming from platforms that had either an integrated or enterprise GPU, it’s therefore essential to have the option to bring better GPU capabilities to users who will need it. You have users who on occasion use imaging and desktop publishing and you also have power users who build presentations or other business collateral where graphics performance helps deliver results. Putting a more cost effective AMD FirePro S series GPU allows those select users to access a GPU that is virtualized by VMware’s vSGA technology across all servers. This allows for technologies like vMotion to be used to ensure better uptime and support for DR scenarios.

With AMD FirePro S series you can afford to deploy our entry level AMD FirePro S7000 on ALL VDI servers ensuring user satisfaction on Horizon deployments.

Beyond vSGA
AMD is working with VMware on new technologies, including vDGA (virtual dedicated graphics acceleration), to deliver workstation-class GPU performance to Horizon platforms. AMD is also developing solutions for multi-user support from a single GPU. Stay tuned! Like the choices you have on storage and networking in your deployments, AMD is here to bring choice to GPUs. This helps your Horizon 6 deployments exceed your users expectations.

For more information please visit AMD FirePro: VDI and Virtualized Workstations. AMD vSGA VIB drivers for AMD FirePro based GPU products running on vSphere with View 5.3 are also now available.

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VMware vSphere App-HA 1.1 Released

VMware vSphere App-HA 1.1 has just been released, with backward capability with vSphere 5.1. A full list of features can be reviewed below –
or URL (http://blogs.vmware.com/vsphere/2014/04/app-ha-1-1-ga-now-available-download.html) :

App HA overview

The latest version of App HA, 1.1, was released last week and is now available for download. This release has a number of cool new features that will greatly increase the usability of App HA. I will do additional post(s) on these in the next few weeks.

  • More applications: Oracle (10g & 11g) and PostgreSQL (8.x & 9.x)
  • Support for custom services: Any service Hyperic agents are currently able to start/stop
  • Increased interoperability with vSphere: now supporting both vSphere 5.5 and 5.1
  • More flexibility: ability to edit App HA policies
  • International support: 6 additional languages now supported

Here are some links for getting started with App HA 1.1

AppHA Interop

One important note about upgrading to App HA 1.1 is that there is not an upgrade path from App HA 1.0 to 1.1. To move from App HA 1.0 to 1.1 requires that you document your current policies, uninstall App HA 1.0, upgrade Hyperic to 5.8.1, and vCenter and ESX to 5.5 U1, then install App HA 1.1 and reconfigure/reassign policies.

Announcing VMware Mirage 5.0

Along with our major announcement of VMware Horizon 6 Wednesday, VMware have announced VMware Mirage 5.0!

We’ve been working hard to support various new and exciting features. With Mirage 5.0 we continue with our unified image management support for the latest Windows operating system – Windows 8.1. IT can use VMware Mirage to migrate their end user’s existing Windows 7 devices onto Windows 8.1 The dynamic layering flexibility that Mirage customers are used to with Windows XP, Vista, and 7 has now been extended to support Windows 8.1. And with our previous Mirage 4.4 release, Windows 8 and 8.1 devices could be protected with automated backup and full system recovery options. We also introduced the Mirage Gateway in 4.4. We’ve been enhancing the Mirage Gateway for higher scalability and performance across distributed environments. Let’s take a look at these Mirage 5.0 features more in-depth:

  • Windows 8.1 Migration Support – Windows 7 devices can be migrated to Windows 8.1 in Mirage 5.0. Customers will realize the same great benefits with using Mirage for migration of Windows 7 to Windows 8.1 as they did for migration of Windows XP to Windows 7. A snapshot is taken before the migration even begins, so a safety-net is in place in case anything goes wrong during the migration. The end-user downtime is still a minimum amount, usually 30 minutes to an hour. And migrations from Windows 7 to 8.1 can be performed at grand scale. IT can mass migrate dozens to hundreds of devices per day.
  • Windows 8.1 Image Management Support – One of the key differentiators between Mirage and other image management solutions is the dynamic layering technology available in Mirage. As part of these layers that IT manages, IT can now distribute base and application layers to Windows 8.1 devices. This means IT can provision OS images, applications, and patches across distributed LAN or WAN environments. The flexibility in layering allows IT to easily manage which applications are removed or preserved during layer updates on Windows 8.1 devices. This fast type of provisioning even complements and extends IT shops that already have PCLM tools they may be using, and helps lower helpdesk support costs.
  • Windows 8 and 8.1 Disaster Recovery – Automated backup and full system recovery were features that were added to Mirage 4.4, which is already GA. However, we thought we’d highlight this feature to reiterate the benefits received with disaster recovery support for Windows 8 and 8.1. Several quick restore options are available, such as self-service restore, restoring entire devices from one piece of hardware to another, or just restoring applications and user data.
  • Mirage Gateway Enhancements – The Mirage Gateway was also introduced in Mirage 4.4. It essentially gives end-users an automatic way to connect from remote or branch locations, without the need to VPN back into the Mirage infrastructure in the datacenter. For distributed environments, the Mirage Gateway helps simplify endpoint management of distributed users across the WAN. In Mirage 5.0, we’ve tuned up the performance and scalability so that less infrastructure is required to support the Mirage Gateway. This greatly simplifies manageability of not only the backend infrastructure, but also the managed endpoints.

Mirage 5.0 will be generally available soon. If you have a next-generation environment that supports Windows 8.1, you’ll definitely want to give Mirage 5.0 a try! For more updates, please visit us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or discuss in our Communities.

By Sachin Sharma, Product Marketing Manager, End-User Computing, VMware

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Horizon 6.0 – Cloud Pod Architecture Details

Cloud Pod Architecture and Multi-Data-Center View in Horizon 6

One of the key features of the Horizon Cloud Pod Architecture is the high availability and scale-out of virtual desktops in VMware Horizon 6. Many of you may have heard about this feature referred to as Linked-Mode View or Multi-Data-Center View or Federated View Pods. All of these mean the same thing.

Today, virtual desktops provided by Horizon can be deployed using a block and pod architecture, or design. (Refer to sections titled View Building Blocks and View Pods in the View Architecture Planning Guide.) A single View pod can contain up to five View blocks, can scale up to 10,000 (10K) desktops, and can be deployed in a single data center. Customers looking to scale beyond 10K desktops can deploy multiple View pods. However, each View pod is an independent entity that has its own user entitlements and is managed separately. With the new Horizon 6 Cloud Pod Architecture, customers can aggregate multiple View pods in either the same data center or different data centers and entitle users to a desktop in any location.

Now, let’s look at an example that describes this feature in its entirety. Figure 1 below shows two View pods—Pod 1 and Pod 2. Pod 1 is located in a data center in the United States, and Pod 2 is located in a data center in India. Each pod has two connection brokers—VCS1 and VCS2 in Pod 1, VCS3 and VCS4 in Pod 2. Both Pod 1 and Pod 2 maintain their own user entitlements, which provide a mapping of an end user to a virtual desktop in the respective pod. The new architecture in Horizon 6 introduces two new elements:

  • A global entitlement layer which spans multiple pods (shown as a single layer spanning Pod 1 and Pod 2 in the diagram)
  • An inter-pod communication layer (shown with a bi-directional arrow between Pod 1 and Pod 2 in the diagram)

This new architecture provides three major benefits:

  • Support for active-active deployments – Customers who have multiple data centers can now leverage all the data-center assets efficiently. They can entitle users to desktops either in one or in multiple data centers.
  • Consolidation of multiple pods within a single data center – Multiple pods of desktops within the same data center can be consolidated and managed centrally through a single global user-entitlement layer.
  • Disaster recovery – The global user-entitlement layer can be used to assign a user to desktops in both Pod 1 and Pod 2. If Pod 1 were to become unavailable either due to a data-center failure or to another form of failure, the user could always get to a desktop in Pod 2. It is important to note that this feature assumes that the desktops in Pod 1 and Pod 2 are replicated using some form of data-replication technology.
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Figure 1: Cloud Pod Architecture with Pod 1 in U.S. and Pod 2 in India

Brokering a Desktop in a Cloud Pod Architecture

Figure 1 conceptually illustrates how two View pods can be used to entitle users to desktops in different data centers. Brokering a desktop to a user who logs in from any location follows the simple workflow below:

1. The end user enters the URL or IP address for their View environment, which can be an address of a View Connection Server (broker) or a load balancer, and enters their credentials.

2. The broker looks up both local and global entitlements for the user.

3. The broker gets the current desktop state via inter-pod protocol and returns a list of desktops to the client.

4. The user selects a desktop.

5. If the desktop is remote, the broker launches the remote desktop via inter-pod protocol.

6. The client connects to the remote desktop directly or via a local tunnel.

The top use cases for end-user desktop access are as follows:

  • Global roaming desktop – This is a use case where the end user needs access to a desktop only to access their Windows-based applications. An end user can be located either in India or the U.S. with an entitlement to a nonpersistent desktop pool. The end user gets a desktop in their connected pod (that is, close to their client location—If they connect from India, they get a desktop in India).
  • Global home desktop – This is the typical case where the end user wants to get the same persistent desktop every time they request access, irrespective of their location. To accomplish this, persistent desktop pools in all pods need to be set up. The FromHome policy can be used to direct the user back to their home site. The end user gets the same desktop machine irrespective of which pod they are connected to.
  • Local scale desktop – In this use case, each site has multiple pods, each offering a standard nonpersistent desktop pool. A global entitlement layer provided by Cloud Pod Architecture joins all these pools together. Using the site’s Scope policy, one can control and limit access to a desktop that is available within the site.

Global Entitlement

The global entitlement layer controls the mapping of end users to desktops in a Cloud Pod Architecture. Global entitlement consists of a set of parameters as shown in Figure 2:

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Figure 2: Global Entitlement in the Cloud Pod Architecture

Following are the various parameters of global entitlement:

  • Name – Name of the global entitlement
  • Members – The users and/or groups that share the global entitlement
  • Desktops – Desktops that the members of the global entitlement are entitled to
  • Scope – Controls the scope of search when placing a new desktop session. This allows the administrator to control the amount of cross-data-center traffic.
  • FromHome (true/false) – This controls where the desktop search is started. When false, it starts from the current pod; when true, it starts from the user’s home site.

The scope can be one of:

  • Local – Look only in the local pod for available desktops
  • Site – Look in all pods in the local site (typically in the same data center)
  • All – Look across all pods for an available desktop to service the request

The search order favors local resources, starting in the same pod that the user connected to, then extending to the same site, and then across the entire linked environment. In addition to this default search order, administrators can nominate a home site for a single user or for a group of users. When a global entitlement has the FromHome policy set, the search for a new desktop is started in the user’s home site and not the current connected pod. This ensures that, where needed, the desktop session remains close to any backend resources it needs.

Scale Limits and Maximums

The Cloud Pod Architecture was developed with the goal of scaling View desktop deployments to hundreds of data centers and tens of thousands of desktops. To deliver this capability in time for product launch, the VMware team has done a phenomenal job of validating this feature by focusing the testing efforts on the following scale-out parameters:

  • Number of pods – 4
  • Number of sites – 2
  • Number of desktops – 20,000

This scale is just the beginning, and the team at VMware is committed to increasing these numbers over the next few releases.

Architectural Assumptions

A number of architectural assumptions have been made in delivering this feature:

  • The deployment can have both persistent (stateful) and nonpersistent (stateless) desktops
  • A third-party load balancer such as Geographic DNS or a similar product provides the single-URL capability
  • Replication of desktops or end-user data is provided by a third-party data replication technology
  • WAN links between data centers are sufficiently provisioned and have good latency characteristics—however, the feature works on low-bandwidth, high-latency connections and does not impose either a latency drag or additional bandwidth. It is important to note that user experience varies with both the latency and the bandwidth between data centers.
  • All pods are accessible to each other across the corporate network

As you can see, the Horizon Cloud Pod Architecture further advances end-user mobility by delivering desktops from any data center in any geographic location. This is just the beginning of the journey to the hybrid DaaS era!

By Narasimha Krishnakumar, Director, Product Management, End-User Computing, VMware

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VMware Horizon 6 – A Closer Look At Application Remoting

By Warren Ponder, Director of Product Management, End-User Computing, VMware and Pat Lee, Director of End-User Clients, End-User Computing, VMwareToday, I am really excited to share another exciting project I was to be asked to support our team in delivering, with the announcement of Horizon 6. One of the many new capabilities that will be available is application remoting of RDS hosted apps and extended capabilities for RDS based desktops.

There’s been some speculation and many experts have had some really good questions about how, what and why we are doing this so I wanted to provide some color to many of the questions I know people have.

Why Application Remoting now?

Several factors came into play in our decision but the primary factor was customer demand. We spent a lot of time with customers across the globe that included all sizes, levels of expertise, and stages of their journey toward a mobile-cloud vision. We didn’t focus on what we already knew about application remoting, but how customers were actually using app remoting today – what they like, don’t like, and the role they see it playing in the future. We wanted to make sure we understood how their needs around app remoting had evolved so we could introduce the appropriate improvements.

With the increase of mobile devices and cloud services, the mobile-cloud era is upon us. It’s changing the landscape. More than ever customers are looking for simplicity and converged infrastructure. They look to VMware as a strategic partner to deliver SDDC and EUC capabilities supporting their Hybrid Cloud efforts. Working closely with customers it was made clear to us that delivering a single platform that converges virtual desktops, RDS hosted apps, SaaS apps, virtualized ThinApps and even third party solutions such as Citrix XenApp is what customers needed to be successful. This all needs to be possible though a unified workspace that gives their users one place to go for access and consumption.

Building upon what we already have

Some have speculated it would take years for us to build anything serious but that was not the case when adding this capability into VMware Horizon 6 because we had most of what was needed to support App Remoting for some time. Let’s take a look at some of the key components for on-prem or hybrid cloud deployments supporting app remoting:

  • Session Brokering, Load Balancing and Cloud Pods
  • Orchestration
  • Resource bursting, VM migration and Elasticity
  • Image management and provisioning
  • Blast and Blast with PCoIP remoting protocol
  • Broad set of clients for different access devices
  • Monitoring and Management

Integration with RDSH (Remote Desktop Session Host)

Support for RDS or Terminal Server based desktops has always existed in Horizon View. Expanding upon our existing support, we worked closely with Microsoft to build our own protocol provider for RDS. With our own protocol provider we are able to integrate our graphics and protocol stacks such as Blast with PCoIP. This also allows us to eventually enable other remoting capabilities we provide with the Blast user experience on virtual desktops

This is the only proper, supported, way to integrate with Microsoft RDS. Although it’s not an easy undertaking, it provides several benefits. Windows OS and other capabilities unique to RDSH like fair share CPU scheduling, or IP virtualization are all supported. Applications that need session level information, leveraging WTS API’s all work without ISV’s having to do anything special or unfamiliar. Administrators familiar with managing or designing RDSH based desktop or app remoting solutions will feel right at home.

Providing a seamless remoted app experience

A key component of remoting apps is seamless windows. This is the ability to remote one or more applications to the user. Applications should have the behavior and experience of running locally. Two of our personal desktop products, Fusion and Workstation have provided a similar feature for years called Unity. Unity seamlessly integrates applications running in a local VM with the host operating system. Building upon this, we extended it to remotely display applications across networks.

Today, we bring all of our experience making Windows apps run well on multiple platforms with Horizon 6 and deliver an amazing Windows remote application experience for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android users.

From Windows XP SP3 to Windows 8.1 Update 1, the Windows client delivers a great remote application experience for Windows users. With individual applications that have seamless windows in the task bar, jumplist integration and favorites, and the ability to save desktop shortcuts for apps and desktops, the Windows client makes it’s easy to get to your apps and desktops when you want them.

Diagram 1

Mac users get the most seamless way to run remote Windows applications. Use common Mac keyboard shortcuts for cut, copy, and paste. Windows applications show up as individual applications on the dock and you can quit individual Windows applications or open windows using standard Mac keyboard shortcuts. Finally, you can leverage Mission Control to switch to any open Windows application or

window and much more.

Diagram 2

On iOS and Android, swipe to bring up the intuitive sidebar to switch between open application windows, close a specific open window or application, or easily open a new application.

Diagram 3

Integration across Horizon 6

Integration with VMware View is seamless and strait forward. Customers can upgrade existing environments and instantly have the ability to remote RDSH hosted desktops or apps. The only thing needed is the RDSH servers.

View provides ability to create farms, which are groups of RDSH servers hosting apps or desktops. Within View, app pools are created and used to organize application entitlement for users or groups. App Pools can be created automatically using applications discovered across farms. Unique apps that are not registered or started using scripts can also be created manually. Apps can mixed with hosts serving RDSH desktops. Apps can come from multiple farms and a user can also access multiple apps simultaneously.

Users will be able to access their RDS hosted apps or desktops using devices from our broad ecosystem of device partners and the Horizon Client for Windows, Mac, iOS or Android. A client for Linux will also be available soon.

A unified workspace is possible though Horizon Workspace integration. Users can access their SaaS, ThinApps, RDS hosted apps, even apps from Citrix XenApp from one, unified workspace that provides a consistent experience across any device.

Enhanced Management

Need some management? The vCenter Operations team has expanded vCenter operations to include support for RDSH hosts, including integration with PCoIP stats monitoring on a per session basis from RDSH.

Diagram 4

In support of our hybrid cloud delivery, all components of Horizon 6 have been built with a focus on flexibility to ensure that customers can choose on-premise or off-premise or both to deliver a common and consistent experience to their end users from a single Horizon client.

As you can see, a lot of work went into adding this capability to Horizon 6 but we truly believe customers will find that our unified approach and support for all types of applications and desktops can save them time, money and spare them a lot of headaches.

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Facebook In $2bn Oculus Virtual Reality Deal

Facebook is making a $2bn bet that virtual reality headsets will be the next big social platform after computers and smartphones, with the sudden acquisition of Oculus VR.

The deal marks an unexpected move by the world’s largest social network into the hardware business, at a time when arch-rival Google is investing in robots, its own Google Glass headset and other long-term ventures.

Founded by 21-year-old Palmer Luckey in 2012, Oculus has not yet released a final version of its virtual-reality headset to consumers but has sold 75,000 devices to games developers.

While donning a VR headset is largely a solitary experience today, Facebook hopes to make it a more social experience, extending its applications beyond its current niche in gaming to replacing real-life visits to the doctors, sports games and retail stores.

“Virtual reality definitely sounds like something out of science fiction but science fiction has a habit of becoming fact,” said Oculus’ chief executive, Brendan Iribe.

Only last week, Oculus showcased its latest prototype as Sony unveiled a competing virtual reality device, Project Morpheus, for its PlayStation 4 console.

However, some games developers reacted angrily to Oculus’ sale, with several protesting on the company’s blog. Markus Persson, the creator of Minecraft, said he had cancelled plans to bring the wildly popular virtual world game to Oculus. “Facebook creeps me out,” he said in a tweet.

Nonetheless, Facebook believes that virtual reality’s applications could extend beyond gaming into entertainment and education.

“Mobile is the platform of today, and now we’re also getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow,” said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, in a statement. “Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play and communicate.”

The acquisition marks an early payday for Oculus’ venture-capital backers, including Andreessen Horowitz, which led a $75m investment as recently as December.

The deal is comprised of $400m in cash and 23.1m Facebook shares, plus a further $300m if certain performance criteria are met.

Oculus got its start through the crowdfunding site Kickstarter, where it raised $2.4m in September 2012.

“I don’t think anyone saw this coming,” said one person close to Oculus. “It was done very, very quickly.” Several companies had expressed interest in buying the company, this person added.

The move is Facebook’s second unexpected acquisition this year, after it spent $19bn on chat app WhatsApp. The company is using its shares – which have risen by more than 150 per cent in 12 months – to acquire companies it thinks will help it maintain its dominance as the world’s largest social network.

As with Instagram and WhatsApp, Facebook plans to operate Oculus as an independent entity. It will remain based in Irvine, California.

Mr Zuckerberg said the recent rate of acquisitions “will certainly not continue”.

With more than 1.2bn users, Facebook has the potential to popularise virtual reality which has until now been seen as too clunky and geeky for the general user.

Mr Zuckerberg said he felt Facebook was ready to move on from its focus in mobile to the next platforms which will enable “even more useful, entertaining and personal experiences”.

In a call with analysts, he played down Facebook’s entry into consumer devices. “We are clearly not a hardware company. We do this as a software and services thing,” he said, suggesting that Facebook could show advertising in Oculus’ virtual worlds.

Oculus complements Facebook’s long-term plan to build out the “knowledge economy” into new technology platforms, he said, putting it alongside other 10-year ventures such as Internet.org, for bringing connectivity to remote parts of the world, and its research into artificial intelligence.

James McQuivey, analyst at Forrester, said virtual reality was destined to remain a niche technology. “Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus seems motivated more by fear than by good business alignment,” he said. “Facebook missed the shift to mobile and has played catch-up ever since.”

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Financial Times: Tim Bradshaw and Hannah Kuchler: Facebook bets $2bn on virtual reality March 26th 2014

Pivot3 Announces Graphics Acceleration Options for VDI Environments

Pivot3, a leading supplier of video surveillance and virtual desktop (VDI) converged storage appliances, announced a set of graphics acceleration offerings for its vSTAC R2S desktop virtualization (VDI) solutions suite. The three-tier offerings, designed for the complexities of virtualized environments, deliver a richer graphics experience for desktops running on vSTAC R2S and vSTAC R2S P Cubed appliances.

These partner-certified and tested graphics acceleration offerings deliver a streamlined user experience by maximizing graphics operations and display times. By incorporating powerful performance and graphics processing offload cards, users with advanced multimedia, workstation, or graphics-intensive application needs are assured maximum desktop density.

“Desktop administrators need to provide a PC-equivalent or better desktop experience to users, especially Power Users, to gain the most benefit from VDI environments,” said Olivier Thierry, CMO, Pivot3. “With additional offload graphics computing power and performance, Pivot3 vSTAC R2S appliances can now support users in need of graphics intensive application support. In addition, the ability for us to offer this feature set on the same appliance allows customers maximum flexibility and affordability, allowing users to add what they need to their existing configurations without moving to a different family of products.”

NVIDIA GRID technology delivers the ability to offload graphics processing from the central processing unit (CPU) to the graphics processing unit (GPU) in virtualized environments, allowing the data center manager to deliver graphics-rich experiences to users.

“NVIDIA GRID enables graphics-rich applications to have workstation-class performance and reliability from any location on almost any device,” said Justin Boitano, GM NVIDIA GRID Business. “When combined with our GRID solution, the VDI infrastructure delivered by Pivot3 allows organizations to take their VDI deployments to an entirely new level, and deliver rich media and graphic applications with exceptional performance.”

The Teradici® PCoIP® Hardware Accelerator (APEX 2800) reduces CPU overhead by offloading the most active 100 virtual displays to ensure its capabilities are used where most needed. In the process, the server consolidation ratio increases up to 2x.

“One of our primary goals is to deliver the same rich graphics experience in virtualized environments that today’s users are accustomed to with physical workstations,” said Olivier Favre, Director of Product Management, Teradici. “When paired with a GPU in VMware® Horizon View™ environments, the Teradici PCoIP Hardware Accelerator offloads screen compression cycles from the CPU to ensure uncompromised visual computing performance, dynamically across all users. We’re excited to extend our partnership with Pivot3, to improve scalability and drive more benefits to customers around the globe.”

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New Products Available in the VMware Service Provider Program

New Products Available in the VMware Service Provider Program

During VMware’s Partner Exchange in early February, we announced new program enhancements and products for the VMware Service Provider Program (VSPP) within the VMware Partner Network (VPN). The goal of these changes is to create a simplified, predictable program that increases a Service Provider partner’s profitability and allows you to earn more rewards for your strategic and technical alignment to VMware.

We also introduced several new products to the VSPP program. These products simplify and automate operations across multiple platforms, both physical and cloud based, in effort to create a predictable and cost effective program that enables you to ‘Master the New Reality’ of IT in 2014 and beyond.

Here’s what’s new:

  • vCloud Automation Center — vCloud Automation Center gives your business the agility it needs with the control your IT requires thanks to a flexible solution automating the delivery of IT services.
  • vCenter Operations Management Suite — vCenter Operations Management Suite automates operations management with its patented analytics, working alongside an integrated approach to performance, capacity and configuration management.
  • vCenter Log Insight — vCenter Log Insight delivers automated log management through aggregation, analytics and search while providing operational intelligence and enterprise-wide visibility in dynamic hybrid cloud environments.
  • IT Business Management — IT Business Management Suite gives CIOs the transparency they need to make the right decisions when transforming, and aligning, IT with the business.
  • vSphere Data Protection Advanced — vSphere Data Protection Advanced is a fast, reliable backup and recovery solution featuring built-in backup data replication for virtual machines and mission-critical applications within a simple, integrated management system.
  • Horizon DaaS Platform — Designed for Service Providers, the new Horizon DaaS Platform delivers Windows desktops and applications as a cloud service to any user, anywhere on any device.

Log onto Partner Central to learn more about these products and other program enhancements. Be sure to check out the new VSPP requirements and benefits and download the VSPP Product Usage Guide for more product details.

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