VMware announces Horizon 6 suite and my thoughts
Yesterday VMware introduced Horizon Suite 6 to the world. This was a surprise to many and a long time coming for others. For myself personally I am pretty excited about the news, I’ve been a critic of VMware for a long time now on their weak spots in the EUC space. You can read more about them in this post, I was candid and ruffled more than a few feathers. The good news is I am looking forward to being able to revisit that comparison this summer once the new features are out and I’ve had some time to work with them.
The number of updates are pretty long in this release and I will attempt to cover them all and add some color around many of the topics.
New Horizon Suite licensing
With the release of Horizon 6 VMware also announced some updates to the licensing options. There is the familiar Horizon View Standard option which is basically the old View Premier edition. It is a concurrent user (CCU) licensing model by default. There is now two Horizon Suite editions the Advanced and Enterprise.
The Horizon Advanced is very similar to the previous version of Horizon Suite licensing except for the following items. First the price has been lowed by $50 per named user which is nice. The second is a subtraction in that vCOPs for View is not included in this level. But the biggest addition is the availability to Application Virtualization, in this new license you are getting the new RDSH application presentation as part of View and Workspace. Oh and don’t forget the addition of VSAN as a storage option for desktops. I think this is a compelling package but will likely lean towards the Enterprise level with adds the Monitoring and automation features.
This is probably the biggest news of the announcement of Horizon 6. The ability to publish and present applications to almost any endpoint. What does this mean? With Horizon View 6 working as the presentation layer and Microsoft RDS on the back end, VMware can now publish applications without ThinApp directly to Windows, Mac, IOS and Android endpoints. This is a direct competitor to Citrix XenApp which was the big reasons that Citrix won a lot of business in the EUC space.
VMware customers will now have a lot of new features and flexibility for managing and presenting their applications. This will open up more customers to VMware and use cases that they could not provide in the past. This feature is integrated into the new Horizon View 6 and will be able to present applications to virtual desktops or to end points with the new Horizon client installed. It will also work closely with Horizon Workspace to allow a single portal for presenting the most complete selection of applications in the industry at this point.
Horizon Workspace updates
The Horizon updates brings some new functionality to Horizon Workspace also. The updates now allows workspace to present applications from a number of sources. You can now present SaaS apps, Citrix XenApps, Office 365, ThinApps and RDS hosted apps. In my opinion this makes Workspace probably the most complete offering right now. This type of flexibility will be attractive in customers eyes.
RDS session desktops
This one does not excite me as much as other news but I am happy to see the feature added. Since it was something that Citrix could offer and makes sense in some customer use cases. Along with the ability to present applications via RDS Horizon can now present shared session desktops via RDS. This will allow pools of desktops to be created that will share Windows Servers for their desktop resources. This is a cost saving feature in many ways due to licensing and resource reductions.
Horizon Client update
With this update the older View client is now renamed to the Horizon Client because it no longer just presents virtual desktops. The new client will still present View desktops but is now also the client used for presenting applications. This will behave similar to Citrix receiver in my view that I will see my desktop pools and applications that are presented to the user ID that is logged in.
It did not sound like you will be able to have icon presentation directly to the desktop or start menu in this first version. I think that you will need to use the client or the workspace portal for launching them. It did sound like the ability to control icon presentation would be coming in an update. I will be testing this when I get access.
vCOPS for View updates
There are a couple of new things in the operations management for Horizon 6. The first being that along with the release of vCOPs 6 the View version will no longer require a separate install of vCOPS. Customers will now be able to use a single deployment of vCOPS 6 to manage both server and desktop environments. The Horizon metrics will be represented as a dashboard now rather than the older custom interface.
Along with the combine management experience VMware is introducing application in guest metrics. Customers will be able to more intelligently manage and troubleshoot the performance of desktop guest operating systems by having visibility into windows and application processes and the resources they are consuming.
vCO Plugin for Horizon
I’m pretty glad to see this come, I think its taken too long. The plugin will start with a base set of features that is focused around the entitlement and provisioning of users to start and will expand out. By releasing the vCO plugin for Horizon VMware is laying the foundation for customers to build automation around the on boarding of new users into an EUC environment. This is something that I’ve been talking with customers on a more regular basis but the options were to build something adhoc at the time.
vCAC and Horizon 6
What this really is bringing us the ability to use the workflows from vCO mentioned in the previous section to a self-service portal in vCAC. So customers are going to be able to build catalog items to create a new desktop, add a user to a pool or allow a user to request access to an application. The video below shows some of these examples.
Its all about the Blast
Along with the product updates VMware is going to be referring to many of the features within the EUC suite as Blast. You can see from the image below that some of these features have been around but are now updated with Blast branding. Not to be confused with the Blast protocol that allows HTML5 presentation of a desktop.
So when can I get Horizon 6
The current time frame for Horizon 6 to be released to the public is late is Q2 of 2014. The products are still in Beta phase and hopefully are nearing their final features and stability.
Mirage 5.0 updates
As part of the Horizon 6 announcement VMware is also doing an upgrade for Mirage to 5.0. The updates will include full support for Windows 8.1. This will bring Migration support, image management support and disaster recovery to Windows 8.1. These are features that previous version of Windows have enjoyed in Mirage for several versions.
The Mirage gateway that was released just a short time ago in Mirage 4.4 is also being updated. The new version will require less back end resources to support clients. This was accomplished by tuning the performance and scalability of the gateway product. I have been waiting for this feature and a big fan of Mirage and thought that the lack of public facing clients being able to sync was an issue.
Cloud Pod Architecture
With this new architecture customers can now aggregate more than one View install or pod into a single offering. This allows for the consolidation of management and access of desktops. I like this and need to know more about this quickly. This will also allow you to use View installs in separate data centers or physical locations into a Cloud Pod which was not possible in the past.
Virtual desktops can now be deployed across multiple sites or multiple data centers and managed globally through a single entitlement layer. The Cloud Pod Architecture lays the foundation for delivering Horizon virtual desktops from different locations across the globe and centralizing the operations and management of the associated infrastructure.
This new architecture provides three major benefits:
- Support for active-active deployments – Customers who have multiple data centers can now leverage all the data-center assets efficiently. They can entitle users to desktops either in one or in multiple data centers.
- Consolidation of multiple pods within a single data center – Multiple pods of desktops within the same data center can be consolidated and managed centrally through a single global user-entitlement layer.
- Disaster recovery – The global user-entitlement layer can be used to assign a user to desktops in both Pod 1 and Pod 2. If Pod 1 were to become unavailable either due to a data-center failure or to another form of failure, the user could always get to a desktop in Pod 2. It is important to note that this feature assumes that the desktops in Pod 1 and Pod 2 are replicated using some form of data-replication technology.
About Brian Suhr
Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design