Well about a month has passed since VMworld US and I think it's safe to say that a lot of buzz around the product announcements has started to die down and I feel like I’m left with the kind of feeling where I need to 'hurry up and wait'. Hurry up and wait for VMworld Europe announcements, hurry up and wait for VMworld 2012, hurry up and wait for third party vendors to support vSphere 5, but the most painful, anticipating wait for me is the hurry up and wait for AppBlast and Octopus to make it to GA, or even beta for that matter.
Working in education I get the pleasure (???) to work with many different types of applications. By work with, I really mean support, and by support I mean our IT department needs to ensure that every one of these applications work on almost every one of our desktops (and more recently tablets) I've always had the idea in the back of my head that some sort of VDI solution would be the answer to this crazy barrage of applications that we need to support, but the cost of pumping virtual desktops across our wan to 50 locations would be through the roof, not just in VMware licensing, but most of our links are T1s and infrastructure upgrades are not the cheapest undertaking. Thus enters VMware AppBlast. From the moment I saw Steve Herrod on that stage talking about this I could see the perfect fit for education.
I can't even begin to describe the number of applications that a school districts IT department is required to support on a daily basis but I can tell you that it is a nightmare trying to do so. One application may require an updated version of flash and another a legacy version, one may require a specific version of QuickTime, and installing that version of QuickTime may break 6 other applications. It is a losing battle trying to support all of these apps, but in reality, if the application is providing some educational value, helping just one student learn, or enabling one educator to better engage their students in class then we not only have to, but want to make it work, and make it work well.
Sound familiar? Again we heard this phrase throughout the conference. It should just work, and it should just work well!! Well, from what I've seen of AppBlast, coupled with the functionality of Project Octopus and Project Horizon, VMware is right in line with providing education markets the ability to do just that. By taking these applications, using ThinApp to bundle them up, and then push them out through nothing but an HTML5 browser and some java we can eliminate the headaches that come along with trying to make a hundred applications play nice together. But can we eliminate more? Do we need a full desktop image on all of our end points? In some cases we would! Supporting things like video editing or autocad situations, but for the majority of our deployments we really just need to provide access to these low flying applications, a word processor, and Internet access. Essentially i can see AppBlast giving us the ability to deploy an endpoint with just a browser to accomplish just that, thus falling more in line with the ever shrinking budgets for school districts!
The fact that the applications can run on any device is obviously the big seller for AppBlast, and with the recent explosion of iPads and Android tablets making there way into our schools it will definitely provide us with the 'windows apps on the Ipad' solutions, but there have been enough blog posts and demos showing that off and I wanted to take a different angle on AppBlast and show how it can help with simple application management.
Only time will tell if AppBlast will deliver the expectations that I have in mind for it, but for now, from what I've seen I'm very excited! All I can really do now is hurry up and wait.