In May 2011 VMware announced the release of VMware Horizon App Manager. It is VMware’s first solution which fits into VMware’s vision (called Project Horizon) of the next generation computing. This posting will explain what it does.
Horizon App Manager helps organizations to embrace using applications delivered from the cloud. Applications which are owned/managed by the user and are not running on premises is called Software as a Service(SaaS). SaaS has many advantages for organizations. It can be accessed from any place, any time with a lot of devices like laptops or iPads and has attractive pricing models. Examples of cloud applications are Office 365, Google Apps and Salesforce.com
The current generation of employees expect to be able to use applications any time, any place and any device. However this has some challenges for corporate usage. Each cloud application has it’s own authentication database having a useraccount & password used for accessing the application. If companies are using more than a few SaasS applications there is a big chance users will write down passwords on sticky notes. Also an employee needs to fill in a unique useraccount and password for each cloud application. The growth of usage of SaaS applications is big. At VMware 6 months ago there were 15 SaaS applications in use. Currently there are 29. Some of the Fortune100 companies are using over 400 SaaS apps.
Think about the amount of administration when a new employee needs access to a series of applications or when access needs to be de-activated. Think about when employees move to another department and the authorization of application usage needs to be changed as well. How can this be managed and controled? Horizon App Manager is the answer.
Horizon App Manager is a sort of hub between the on premises directory services of a organization and the cloud based applications. It offers single sign on (SSO) for cloud applications. It does not store directory user accounts and passwords in a VMware owned database. The service is running in the cloud. App Manager is a connector between the directory services (most likely Microsoft Actice Directory Services) on premises and cloud applications. It uses Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) to exchange authentication between on premises directory services and the cloud application. Passwords are not sent over the wire. Horizon App Manager is designed such that it is very simple to configure and easy to use. It uses open standards like OpenID.
Examples of Horizon supported cloud apps are LinkedIn, Mozy, Google Apps, Zimbra, Sliderocket, Box.net. Application can easily be added. The cost of using Horizon App Manager are $30 per user per year. Other solutions available on the market are Microsoft Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS), Google Apps Marketplace and Citrix Reciever.
The VMware website of Horizon is here.
At building43.com an interview with Noah Wasmer, Director of Product Management and Advanced Development at VMware can be seen. He explains what Horizon App Manager does.
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