After a long period without blogging, I’m back. In the next weeks I will start a new blog series on Horizon 7.
Before starting with planning and installation posts I will start an overview on what’s new in this version.
Cloud Pod Architecture
Cloud Pod Architecture has been expanded to support 10 Horizon pods in four sites. This enables up to 50,000 user sessions.
Entitlement support has also been expanded – home site assignment can be set for nested AD security groups.
Other enhancements include improved failover support to automatically redirect users to available resources in other sites if they are not available in the preferred site and full integration with vIDM.
Instant Clones were debutted during the Day 2 Keynote at VMworld 2014. Horizon 7 will feature Instant Clones as a new desktop provisioning method.
Instant Clones utilize VMware’s vmFork technology to rapidly provision desktop virtual machines from a running and quiesced parent virtual desktop. Instant clones share both the memory and the disk of the parent virtual machine, and this technology can provide customized and domain joined desktops quickly as they are needed. These desktops are destroyed when the user logs off, and if a new desktop is needed, it will be cloned from the parent when requested by a user. Instant clones also enable administrators to create elastic pools that can expand or shrink the number of available desktops based on demand.
Although they might not be suited for all use cases, there are a couple of benefits to using instant clones over linked clones. These are:
- Faster provisioning – Instant Clones provision in seconds compared to minutes for linked clones
- No Boot Storms – The parent desktop is powered on, and all instant clones are created in a powered-on state
- Simplified Administration – No need to perform refresh or recompose operations to maintain desktops.
- No need to use View Composer
There are some limitations to instant clones in this release. These limitations may preclude them from being used in some environments today. These limitations are:
- RDSH servers are not currently supported
- Floating desktop pools only.
- 2000 desktops maximum
- Single vCenter and single vLAN only
- Limited 3D support – no support for vGPU or vDGA, limited support for sVGA.
- VSAN or VMFS datastores only. NFS is not supported.
Desktop personalization for instant clones is handled using App Volumes User Writable drives and UEM.
What if your use case calls for disabling copy and paste or local printing when user log in from home? Or what if you want to apply a different PCoIP profile based on the branch office users are connecting to? In previous versions of Horizon, this would require a different pool for each use case with configurations handled either in the base image or Group Policy. This could be difficult to set up and administer.
Horizon 7 introduces Smart Policies. Smart policies utilize the UEM console to create a set of policies to control the desktop behavior based on a number of factors including the groups that the user is a member of and location, and they are evaluated and applied whenever a user logs in or reconnects. Smart policies can control a number of capabilities of the desktop including client drive redirection, Clipboard redirection, and printing, and they can also control or restrict which applications can be run.
Enhanced 3D Support
vGPU was introduced with Horizon 6.1 and improved the support for workloads that require 3D acceleration. vGPU is limited, however, to NVIDIA GRID GPUs.
Horizon 7 includes expanded support for 3D graphics acceleration, and customers are no longer restricted to NVIDIA. AMD S7150 series cards are supported in a multi-user vDGA configuration that appears to be very similar to vGPU. Intel Iris Pro GPUs are also supported for vDGA on a 1:1 basis.
VMware introduced HTML5 desktop access using the Blast protocol in Horizon 5.2. This provided another method for accessing virtual desktops but it had a few deficiencies as well – it used port 8443, was feature limited compared to PCoIP, and was not very bandwidth efficient.
The latest version of Horizon adds a new protocol for desktop access – Blast Extreme. Blast Extreme is a new protocol that is built to provide better multimedia experiences while using less bandwidth to deliver the content. It is optimized for mobile devices and can provide better battery life compared to the existing Horizon protocols.
Blast Extreme has same features of PCoIP. It supports all of the options and features available today including client drive redirection, USB, unified communications, and local printing.
It is not strictly a web-only protocol and it can be used with the new Windows, MacOS, Linux and mobile device clients, and it works over the standard HTTPS port. This simplifies access and allows users to access it in many locations where ports 8443 and 8172 are blocked.
Blast Extreme is a dual-stack protocol so it will work over both TCP and UDP. UDP is the preferred communications method, but if that is not available, it will fall back to TCP-based connections.
Other enhancements in Horizon 7 include:
- Unified Management Console for App Volumes, UEM, and monitoring. The new management console also includes a REST API to support automating management tasks.
- A new SSO service that integrates vIDM, Horizon, Active Directory, and a certificate authority.
- Improvements to the Access Point appliance.
- Improved printer performance
- Scanner and Serial redirection support for Windows 10
- URL Content redirection
- Flash Redirection (Tech Preview)
- Scaled Resolution for Windows Clients with high DPI displays
- HTML Access 4.0 – Supports Linux, Safari on IOS, and F5 APM
In the upcoming posts I will start planning and installing a new Horizon 7 environment.