Monday, April 2, 2012

Comparing Ericom AccessNow and VMware WSX

I don’t think it's fair to compare tech previews to released products. For this reason I've been hesitant to conduct a comparison between VMware WSX - an experimental feature within VMware Workstation 8 Tech Preview - and Ericom AccessNow, which is a mature and robust product, available for over a year. However, after receiving many requests for such a comparison and witnessing many misunderstandings regarding the different purposes of these products, I decided that such a comparison is warranted after all.

First and foremost, it's important to understand that these two products have different purposes. While both Ericom AccessNow and VMware WSX use HTML5 to provide browser-based remote access to desktops and applications, their intended use is different. In his blog post about WSX, Christian Hammond, WSX's developer wrote: "WSX ... brings your VMs to your tablets, smart phones, and any PC or device with a modern browser. ... You can power your VMs on, off, suspend them, and interact with them" and "WSX is a remote console built using the same underlying technologies as Workstation and Player. It's also not a front-end for [VMware] View." In other words, the purpose of WSX is to be a browser-based console for managing and accessing VMware VMs.

On the other hand, Ericom AccessNow is an enterprise remote access solution. Ericom AccessNow does integrate with VMware View, as well as Quest vWorkspace and Ericom PowerTerm WebConnect. Administrators can use these Connection Brokers to specify which desktops and applications are available to different users and user groups, as well as centrally configure and manage user sessions. Also, AccessNow is not restricted to one type of virtualization platform: it can connect to VMs hosted on VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V, Xen or any other hypervisor. It can also connect to RDS (Terminal Server) sessions and physical machines.

We've recently released Ericom AccessNow version 2.0, which provides the features that organizations expect to find in an enterprise remote access solution. These features are not available in WSX. They include:

  1. Publish specific applications instead of complete desktops.
  2. Printing - print from the remote host to the end-point device.
  3. File Transfer - upload and download files between the remote host and the local, end-user device.
  4. Audio redirection to the end-point device.
  5. HTTPS communication - AccessNow automatically switches to HTTPS communication if WebSockets are unavailable or cannot be used:
    1. Enables support for most SSL VPNs, such as Juniper and Cisco.
    2. Supports browsers that don't implement WebSockets, such as Android native browser and Microsoft IE9 (previously IE9 required installation of Google Chrome Frame).
  6. Support for multiple keyboard locales.
  7. Clipboard - copy and paste between remote host and the end-point device.
  8. URL redirection – clicking a web link in the remote session optionally opens it in a tab in the local browser.
  9. Ericom Secure Gateway for secure remote access from outside the network.
  10. API for integrating AccessNow into web frameworks and portals, including SSO.

VMware WSX may eventually provide some of these capabilities, but I doubt it will ever integrate with a Connection Broker and become a general purpose enterprise remote access solution. It's very clear from reading Christian Hammond's blog that that is not WSX's intended purpose.

To learn more about Ericom AccesNow, click here.

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