VMware ACEs Secure Desktop Provisioning For Remote Workers

Assured Computing Environment (ACE), which VMware shipped late last month, allows IT administrators to easily provision secure, preconfigured, standard PC desktops to remote workers, telecommuters, offshore developers and contractors, according to the Palo Alto, Calif.-based software company.

As opposed to other thin-client approaches, ACE lets customers apply corporate policies to a virtual machine containing an operating system, enterprise applications and data, creating an isolated, secure environment, VMware said. The product enables centralized, secure management of desktops, allowing IT managers, for example, to use its virtual rights management technology to control and secure the entire ACE desktop life cycle, including security settings, network settings, system configuration and user-interface capabilities.

VMware currently offers namesake offerings for creating and running virtual machines on individual workstations and servers to enable, for instance, application testing and server consolidation needs.

ACE version 1.0, which has been in beta testing with 1,000 partners and customers since the product was announced in September, is available directly from VMware and its resellers, as well as from Hewlett-Packard and Dell, a VMware spokesman said.

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The increasing number of remote workers, telecommuters and contractors has challenged IT departments that need to provision standardized, secure desktops. One VMware solution provider already deploying ACE for an enterprise customer said it's the right product at the right time because it allows a company to deploy a VM-based desktop to a contractor's laptop quickly, while maintaining management and security controls.

"It fills a gap because a lot of large enterprises have offshore consultants and developers. They're trying to fill a niche right now that a lot of companies have struggled with for a while," said Ron Oglesby, senior technical architect at RapidApp, a VMware partner in Chicago. "It gives customers an option to give those workers a desktop on the network without having to provision a machine."

The ACE Starter Kit, which includes ACE Manager and a four-pack of ACE licenses for end-user PCs, is priced at $995, according to VMware. Licenses for end-user PCs cost $99 apiece and require a license for ACE Manager in order to be purchased.