VMware have released the latest version of their desktop virtualization product, Horizon View 7. The product has evolved over the years and is capable of catering for pretty much every desktop use case these days.The previous release 6.2 was pretty huge, especially for a point release so I was intrigued as to what was in the next major release. On the surface of it there’s not so much in 7.0 but what there is, is pretty cool, and there is more to it when you dig under the surface of the release highlights.
So, here are the high level features:
Just-In Time delivery with instant clone technology – You now have two options when it comes to deploying linked clone desktops. Either the view composer way that’s been around for a while now, or you can use the new instant clone technology. Instant clone does away with the view composer infrastructure and instead, does the cloning inside the vSphere hypervisor. This functionality was actually released with vSphere 6 about a year ago. It’s only now some products are making use of it. The other major benefit to instant clone as its name suggests is that its fast. A desktop is forked from its parent gold image and boots up already in the domain and fully configured. vCenter can provision a machine in around a second with documentation stating 2000 in under 20 mins. Keep in mind that linked clones had to create the machine, boot it up, configure it, join it to the domain, reboot it and only then after the second boot was it ready. So instant clone results in less calls to vCenter too which has to be a good thing right? Before you rush off to start using it though, remember its the first release and there are some caveats with the first release. Expect these to be addressed in future releases. They include things like no 3D graphics and no RDS desktops or Applications.
Blast Extreme – Blast Extreme is Horizon’s new access protocol. Blast can be used either via the Horizon Client or via an HTML5 browser. It uses the common H.264 codec used in lots of video encoding technologies like Blurays. It can support both TCP and UDP (html is tcp only) so is much better suited to high latency or slow network connections and is able to adjust quality similar to the PCOIP protocol, only it doesn’t rely on needing a PCOIP device. PCOIP is not going anywhere though, VMware are simply giving you another option should you not have PCOIP capable devices.
Smart Policies – New integration with User Environment Manager allows you to define policies for users to control things like printing, usb devices, cut and paste and drive redirection. This means that you can set conditions on Horizon access that affects the users experience. A real world example of this could be that i log in at work and i can print, plug in USB devices, use cut and paste and my drives are redirected, but if i log in from outside the organisations network, some or all of these things can be disabled. Another condition that can be used is device, so if a user logs in with a corporate device they get different behavior than if they use a personal device to access. With the cut and paste feature you can even allow it one way and not the other rather than just on or off. All these things should improve remove desktop security and guard against data leakage from your organistion.
I will write an article shortly on the installation and configuration of Horizon 7.0