It has been touted by many that Virtual Desktop Infrastructure or VDI is finally going to see the year of mass adoption. Advancements in VDI technology either directly or indirectly have certainly had a positive impact on its adoption and feasibility of adoption for various use cases. These advancements have really pushed VDI technology forward from both a capabilities and cost savings standpoint.

VMware Horizon View is one of the leaders in desktop virtualization and is arguably one of the top platforms that organizations are running their VDI platforms on top of. VMware Horizon touts many great features and capabilities that allow organizations to meet their business needs for VDI using Horizon. Recently, VMware Horizon 7.7 was released and introduces new functionality and capabilities for those running on top of the VMware Horizon platform.

Let’s take a look at VMware Horizon in general and then look at VMware Horizon 7.7 new features and see how these advance the world of virtual desktop infrastructure running on top of the VMware Horizon platform.

What is VMware Horizon?

Back in the early days, remote desktop services were provided by a remote desktop services server. Remote desktop services allow pooling user resources onto a single server and have those users share the server resources aggregately. With Virtual Desktop Infrastructure or VDI, each user can be allocated their own desktop resource that is fully dedicated to the incoming user rather than sharing the target server resources with multiple users. Each user has their own “server” so to speak.

VMware Horizon is VMware’s product to implement a platform for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure or VDI that allows allocating “dedicated” desktop resources to multiple users based on the VMware vSphere virtual infrastructure. The VMware Horizon infrastructure ties in directly to vSphere so that virtual machines can be provisioned automatically either in a dedicated fashion or in a temporary cloned virtual machine environment.

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VMware Horizon utilizes various types of cloning technologies that allow quickly provisioning new virtual machines in the VMware vSphere environment. This is all orchestrated from within VMware Horizon by way of “desktop pools” which allow creating groups of desktops for users that have been entitled to access those resources within the VMware Horizon environment.

VMware Horizon 7.7 New Features

With each new version of VMware Horizon, VMware has added extremely powerful new features to the platform. Throughout the platform releases, new features such as the introduction of the Cloud Pod architecture as well as other improvements that have come with the Blast Extreme connection protocol have greatly improved scale, performance and other factors for utilizing VMware Horizon.

Two of the biggest virtualization improvements that have positively affected both the cost and adoption of VMware Horizon have been VMware vSAN software-defined storage and the App Volumes. Both of these technologies has reduced the barriers to entry for VMware Horizon. VMware vSAN has drastically reduced one of the more expensive components of VMware Horizon from a storage perspective since organizations can now make use of commodity storage instead of expensive storage arrays. Additionally, App Volumes allow effectively delivering applications to the desktops as virtual disks which helps to reduce the operational expense of VMware Horizon from a software delivery perspective.

Let’s now take a look at the specific improvements brought about by VMware Horizon 7.7.

New HTML 5 Console and Horizon Administrator Enhancements

As many knows, VMware has been making a massive effort to leave the flash web client (Flex client) behind. From a vSphere perspective, VMware was able to fully implement the HTML 5 vSphere client in vSphere 6.7 Update 1. With VMware Horizon 7.7, there is now a new Horizon Console (HTML5-based web interface). While it is not a full featured replacement as of yet, you can manage view composer linked-clone desktop pools, manual desktop pools, and persistent disks for linked-clone desktop pools.

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VMware Horizon Console in Horizon 7.7

The older Horizon Administrator has also been enhanced to include helpful and relevant information about VMware Unified Access Gateway or UAG appliances version 3.4 and later as well as Connection Server pod information is included in the title bar of the browser tab. The Help Desk Tool can be used to end processes for an end user with details of the event included in the event database.

VMware Cloud on AWS

One of the areas that VMware is drastically improving with the Horizon infrastructure is the support, features, and new capabilities with VMware Cloud on AWS environments. VMware Cloud on AWS allows creating vSphere environments on Amazon Web Services infrastructure. With Horizon 7 environments on VMware Cloud on AWS, Horizon environments benefit from the elasticity of the AWS cloud platform.

New enhancements to the VMware Cloud on AWS Horizon environments include:

  • Enhancements to the vsphere cluster size – the minimum number of nodes has been reduced to (3)
  • VMware NSX-T integration has been added
  • VMware vSAN encryption is now supported
  • The enterprise features of Horizon 7 are now supported in the VMware Cloud on AWS environments

New OS Compatibility Enhancements

New platforms as you would expect, are supported in VMware Horizon 7.7.

These new enhancements to supported platforms include the following:

  • RDSH server VMs now support Windows Server 2019
  • Newest VMware vSphere versions are supported – VMware vSphere 6.7 Update 1
  • VMware vSAN 6.7 Update 1 is supported
  • VMware Cloud on AWS 1.5 SDDC version
  • Horizon 7 Cloud Connector virtual appliance can now be upgraded
  • IPv6 support has been added for VMware Virtualization Pack
  • Horizon Clients include support for macOS Mojave and Android 9.1

Scalability Improvements

There have been various scalability improvements with the Horizon 7.7 release including:

  • The RDSH server farm can now contain 500 servers as opposed to 200 previously
  • A single vCenter Server can manage multiple pods in the Cloud Pod Architecture
  • VMware vMotion support has been added for vGPU-enabled full-clone, instant-clone, and linked-clone virtual machines
  • vTPM is now supported

User Experience Improvements

Blast Extreme has been improved to include:

  • Can be used to access physical PCs and workstations with a few limitations
  • Blast Extreme HEVC video coding support doubles the compression ratio for the same quality setting

Windows client improvements:

  • Client redirection allows dragging and dropping files and folders between the end user client and the remote desktop
  • VMware Virtual Print feature allows users to print to any printer available on their Windows client computer

RDSH improvements:

  • Administrators have control to specify whether users can open multiple sessions of the same application
  • Multiple monitors are supported with RDSH-published applications
  • Hybrid logon feature can be used with unauthenticated user access to allow accessing apps without logging in

Concluding Thoughts

Many have speculated each year, whether or not it will be the “year of VDI”. Each new advancement in VDI technology has made this possibility stronger with each successive year that has passed. With powerful new features that have been introduced into the VMware Horizon platform such as VMware vSAN and App Volumes, that have drastically reduced the total cost of ownership of the VMware Horizon platform. This, by extension, has lowered the barriers to entry that existed with many businesses who had a hard time justifying the cost of VDI infrastructure. Each iteration of VMware Horizon has continued to build on new features and capabilities.

With VMware Horizon 7.7, VMware has introduced great new features that take the platform to new heights in regards to features and capabilities. VMware Cloud on AWS support has gotten much stronger with the new features that are now available. The new administration enhancements such as the new HTML 5 console allow more effective and efficient management. Support for the latest vSphere platforms allows continuing to use the newest features in the vSphere platform such as those included with vSphere 6.7 Update 1. VMware Horizon is a powerful VDI platform that allows organizations to take advantage of and efficiently use the power of VDI in their respective environments. With Horizon 7.7, this trend continues. It will be exciting to see where Horizon technology capabilities take the platform next.

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VMware Horizon 7.7 Released : What’s New
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