Following in the footsteps of Citrix Workspace Cloud, VMware is readying a cloud-based platform of its own, which aims to make workspace design, delivery and management easier than ever.
VMware’s Project Enzo is a cloud-based platform designed to make it faster and less complex to implement and manage virtual desktops and applications on hyper-converged appliances.
Project Enzo works with VMware Horizon Air, Horizon 6 and partner cloud platforms to deploy, control, move, and scale desktops and apps. As of this writing, Enzo is still in beta, but it provides a control center that orchestrates operations across cloud-based and on-premises data centers.
VMware Project Enzo is aimed squarely at hyper-converged appliances, with the company’s EVO:RAIL hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) product as its primary target. Appliances such as EVO:RAIL and EVO SDDC combine compute, storage and networking resources into a unified infrastructure to help ease the burden of deploying and managing virtual desktops and apps.
Using Enzo with VMware’s HCI appliances streamlines desktop and application management to plug-and-play simplicity, removing much of the complexity that is often associated with deployment and maintenance operations. According to VMware, virtual desktop deployments that historically took days to implement will be possible in less than an hour with Enzo.
Smart Node unites Project Enzo with HCI
A key component of the Project Enzo platform is VMware’s Smart Node technology, which is an orchestration layer installed on the appliance that communicates with the Enzo control center. Smart Node is tightly integrated with the company’s hyper-converged infrastructure, and is responsible for delivering and managing the appliance workloads. It is the Smart Node technology that makes it possible to deliver just-in-time provisioning for virtual desktops and their applications through an intuitive, easy-to-use interface.
Smart Node will be available to use with VMware Horizon Air services and other desktop as a service providers, enabling organizations to manage virtual desktops and applications in an assortment of environments. In addition, VMware is also planning to release an adapter for Horizon 6 that will allow customers to use Project Enzo with their existing systems.
Project Enzo Cloud-Control Plane
After an organization has implemented the necessary Enzo-enabled infrastructures, administrators can use the Project Enzo Cloud-Control Plane to deploy and manage their virtual desktops and applications on those infrastructures. The Cloud-Control Plane runs on VMware’s vCloud Air and provides a single platform to configure desktops, applications and policies, without needing to install additional software or manage each component separately.
The Cloud-Control Plane should make implementing virtual desktops easier and faster. According VMware, you can deploy 100 virtual desktops on your hyper-converged appliance in less than a minute, or scale up to 2,000 virtual desktops in less than 20 minutes. To get started, you only need to name the pool, specify the number of desktops and select a Windows image.
Project Enzo also provides what VMware refers to as hybrid cloud flexibility — letting you deploy virtual desktops and apps to the public cloud or to on-premises data centers, with the ability to move them back and forth between the two. You can use one platform as your production environment and another platform for seasonal workloads, desktop bursting, disaster recovery or other secondary use cases.
With VMware Project Enzo, you can also apply updates to applications and desktop images with zero downtime, eliminating the maintenance Windows traditionally required to apply updates. In addition, the Enzo platform itself is made up of a set of microservices that you can update individually, allowing VMware to introduce new technologies and fixes, with little impact on the overall system.
Technologies that integrate with Project Enzo
The Project Enzo platform uses three VMware technologies to support its deployment and management capabilities: Instant Clone, App Volumes and User Environment Management (UEM).
First introduced in VMware vSphere 6, Instant Clone — formerly Project Fargo — is now also integrated into Project Enzo and allows you to provision virtual desktops within seconds. Instant Clone uses a rapid in-memory technique to generate child clones from a running parent virtual machine. The child clones uses the parent’s disk and memory resources, with writes saved to delta disks. The parent is then placed in an inactive state and the child clones are put into production.
Project Enzo has the potential to decrease the complexity of deploying VMware virtual desktops and their applications.
To handle the application side of the virtual environment, Project Enzo uses App Volumes, a scalable, real-time delivery technology for deploying virtual applications and data in seconds. App Volumes lets you manage an application’s entire lifecycle, providing the tools necessary to provision, deliver, maintain and retire the application. Through the Enzo Cloud-Control Plane, you can make applications available immediately upon login or at system boot-up. The applications are stored in read-only virtual disks, and can follow users from one virtual desktop to another.
The final piece of the Enzo puzzle is User Environment Manager, a service that makes application settings available to a user on any type of device. With UEM, you can configure contextual user policies that map policy settings to the user’s device and location. When the user logs into a virtual desktop or other environment, UEM automatically applies policy settings to that environment, providing a personalized and consistent experience across devices, with the ability to support over 100,000 users.
Question marks over Project Enzo
Project Enzo has the potential to decrease the complexity of deploying VMware virtual desktops and applications. Enzo aims to help organizations maximize their resources, without over-provisioning virtual desktops and applications.
That said, VMware hasn’t disclosed what the final product will cost, only saying that the service will cost less than a cup of coffee per day, per user. The only people to test out Enzo are qualified customers and partners that signed a nondisclosure agreement. VMware recently announced that it plans to accept customer nominations for beta participants, and they will be able provide a better sense of how well the platform is put together. Project Enzo could prove a promising technology on the virtualization front, as long as VMware can live up to all its promises.