VMware Horizon View 6


VMware Horizon View 6

VMware has released Horizon View 6 as announced in the beginning of May. Horizon View 6 is the successor of VMware Horizon View 5.3 and has a number of new interesting features. In this blog I will tell you about these features. This is one of many blogs about Horizon 6, the others will be about upgrading the components to show you the ease of it. The other blogs will be released after the GA of the product.
I’ve played with the product and went on a training in the UK to learn more and more, my first impression is that is simple to setup and it just works.

Features

Let’s first take a look at the new features Horizon 6 introduces;
  • Published applications
  • Cloud pod architecture
  • Central image management by Mirage
  • VSAN support
  • Management and automation

Things that stayed

A lot of things stayed the same or was rebranded for marketing reason.
  • Terminal services pool was rebranded to RDS farm.
  • Terminal services hosts are rebranded to RDS host

Things they dropped

With new releases vendors have time to think things over and decide to drop certain features, VMware has done the same;
  • Local mode is gone and is no longer supported.
  • Transfer server is also gone from the management console of course
Local mode functionality is covered with Mirage and Fusion Pro. FAT clients can be managed with Mirage and if you own a MAC you need Fusion Pro with that (included in the license I thought) to run a managed Windows instance.

Licenses

Let’s take a quick look at the licensing for VMware Horizon 6, there are a few things that are important there. There will be three licenses available;
  • Standard
  • Advanced
  • Enterprise
The licenses are available in named user and concurrent use, The standard license is only available in concurrent license.
Refrence: VMware

Looking at the licenses you notice that the standard license is the old VDI license you all know as Premier.
When you want to be able to use an RDS farm to publish applications you will need to Advanced license.
for vCops and vCAC you will have to go to the Enterprise license.
So to keep it simple:
VDI = Standard
VDI+RDS = Advanced
VDI+RDS+vCAC = Enterprise

when we look at the Microsoft protocol provider table we will see that pretty soon VMware will have it’s own entry on it for PCoIP, that’s pretty awesome for that means they really built something new to work with RDS hosts and didn’t lift on RDP. PcoIP will be listed as 3, Citrix is listed as 1 VMware says, don’t know about that but that could be true (find legacy the wrong term in this case).

Cloud pod

With larger and larger environment VMware was facing a bigger problem because the current version of VMware View didn’t support spanning across multiple datacenter. the ADAM database could get corrupt if you did due to latency. We had lengthy discussions at VMworld concerning this and I’m glad VMware has come with a solution. VMware horizon View 6 supports multi datacenters to build large enterprise ready environments.
In a next blog I’ll go into the way you can setup a cloud pod and the entitlements around it. for This post that’s way to much information.

VSAN

Let’s keep this one simple, VMware Horizon 6 will support VSAN. What is the benefit of VSAN? you can use local storage for your desktops like FusionIO and still also use persistent desktops in a pool. The VSAN will integrate the local storage as central storage. The benefits are obvious I think.
If you want to read more, VMware wrote a blog about it, read it here.

Naming

With new products new names arise, some vendors change their product names almost every six months. VMware hasn’t been doing that that much but with VMware View we’ve a change View became Horizon View since 5.2.

I was wondering what I could show in the blog without breaking NDA but as VMware has posted screenshots themselves I guess we are also entitled to do so. I removed some content that was not mentioned anywhere else before, that I will post in due time…

Farms

A collection of RDS hosts is called a farm in Horizon view 6. When you look in the management console under Inventory you will find Farms and Machines. So remember a collection of RDS hosts is called a Farm and you create a farm by adding one or more RDS hosts to it. An RDS host can’t be in more than one farm like Citrix, they are on the same track there.
As you can see in the screenshot there is a difference between Farms and machines. A farm is a collection of RDS hosts, that’s obvious I guess. When you look at the machines option in the menu you will see that they made an option to look at the VDI desktops and at the RDS hosts.

Application pools

With Horizon View 6 VMware enters the competition for the SBC consumer, they now also offer the ability to start remote applications without the need of a full desktop. I think that’s great and in another blogpost I’ll show you how to set it up and how it works. Applications are called application pools, for they are pooled among many RDS hosts.
When you look at adding applications you are presented with the screen seen above. By default it shows you the applications it found on the RDS server.  You have the option to add a Application pool manually, you would do that if the application is not in any regular folder on that server. After you add an application pool you see the application in the list. 

Desktop and Applications

With Horizon View 6 VMware enabled the option to publish remote applications like Citrix has been offering of many years. Many blogs have been written about this with opinions both ways, I’m not gonna go either way for both a solutions are workable depending on the scenario.
When we look at the desktop pool option we have three options, the default automated desktop pool, manual desktop pool and the RDS Desktop pool.
When you create an RDS Desktop pool you will get the option to select a RDS Farm or create a new one. 
There are more roads to Rome and so there are more roads to create a Farm. Under Inventory/Resources with Farms you can also create a farm. There’s nothing different in both ways, just two ways to do the same.
With Applications it’s like shown already earlier in the post, you create Application pools, one per application. When you want to add a not specified application you can manually add an application. With this option you can also start applications that are published with App-v or any UEM solution.

Local mode

VMware announced that Local mode will not be supported anymore, the transfer server handling this is gone in Horizon 6. I don’t think that all four customers using that will really miss it. As mentioned before local mode is replaced with Mirage which I think is a great product. Mirage is a central management solution for physical desktops, virtual desktop and BYOD, it does deployment, backup and restoring and offers application layers. With mirage VMware really has a powerful product in hand to manage devices.

What’s missing?

Of course with a new version and all the added features some features are not there in the 1.0 version (I know it 6.0 but App remoting is new and so we call it 1.0 for that one). 
Application publishing is lacking some features which are on the list to be added, the features missing are not a show stopper, I’m sure some of my customers would be happy to tell their users so can’t do this or can’t do that. the features that are missing right now for application publishing are better for security so work on them slowly.

I think it’s important to say that the missing features are missing at application publishing not at the VDI part of Horizon View 6. It’s a first release and for a first release it runs smoothly with no issues at all, the goal was to make a stable first release and add features afterward one by one. I think that should be the way to go and not drop a beta product on the market as we see to often.

Citrix killer?

I’ve read so many tweets and blogs about this being the Citrix killer or VMware being too late or delivering a bad product. I’ve played with the product (I come from year of working with Citrix and still do) and I have to say it offers easy application publishing, RDS desktops and VDI desktops from one console.
Application publishing and RDS desktops are offered at a very basic way, there is (as far as I can see) no advanced configuration option. For large enterprises this might be a problem and especially the lack of load balancing the RDS hosts worries me (Still tracking this with VMware).
If we look at the current Citrix product (XenApp / Desktop 7.5) I have to say that Citrix also cut away most of the application publishing features and made it easier for VMware to come into play. Depending on the customer and their requirements both products qualify. 

Conclusion

I hope this blog will help you understand what Horizon 6 is and how it’s changed from when it was only about VDI. In the next blog I will show you how to upgrade your current VMware View environment to Horizon 6 and I can tell you already, it’s a breeze.

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