VMware Horizon

What is VMware Horizon?

VMware Horizon (formerly called VMware View) is a leading technology for secure delivery of virtual desktop and applications across private, public, and hybrid cloud environments. Using the Horizon Client application installed on client devices, users can connect to the Horizon infrastructure. Users can also use a web browser as an HTML client when accessing the Horizon infrastructure from devices on which installing client software is not possible. With the PCoIP and Blast Extreme protocols available, VMware Horizon facilitates the delivery of high-end graphics and video content. Instant Clones and App Volumes technologies in Horizon enable fast and on-demand delivery of desktops.

Horizon allows administrators to create and broker connections to Windows and Linux virtual desktops, Remote Desktop Server (RDS)–hosted applications and desktops, Linux-hosted applications, and Windows physical machines.

VMware Horizon features and capabilities

VMware Horizon is a feature-laden solution designed to make life easier for IT admins while enhancing the end-user experience. Outlining the features and capabilities of this solution will more thoroughly answer the question, “What is VMware Horizon?”

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the IT admin and end user-centric features of VMware Horizon.

  • VMware Horizon features that benefit IT admins
  • VMware Horizon supports IT administrators by providing them with a wide range of time and cost-reduction tools, including:
  • Streamlined image management capabilities
  • Application management tools
  • Centralized monitoring
  • Multi-OS support for the deployment of virtual desktops and hosted apps
  • Flexible multi-cloud or hybrid deployment options
  • User-specific settings
  • Unified collaboration and communication

VMware Horizon offers IT admins a centralized hub to manage user accounts, virtual desktops, and applications. It delivers the necessary visibility to simplify IT admin tasks and decrease the costs of maintaining virtual desktops.

VMware Horizon features that benefit end users

Traditionally, remote workers have been forced to slog through round after round of two-factor authentication. They’ve also had to adapt to several different user interfaces when transitioning from one device to another.

With VMware Horizon, these hurdles have become a thing of the past. VMware Horizon enhances end-user productivity and efficiency by providing:

  • Streamlined access
  • Multi-device access
  • Multi-operating system support for virtual desktops and hosted apps
  • Improved UX
  • Graphically intensive display options
  • Optimized experience with unified communication and collaboration

VMware Horizon empowers end users by providing consistent, high-quality experiences across applications, devices, and OSs. They have the freedom to focus on the task at hand and not waste precious time contending with tedious authentication processes and inconsistent user experiences.

The VMware Horizon architecture

Next, we will discuss the architecture of VMware Horizon architecture. The VMware Unified Access Gateway™ is used to provide secure edge services to remote users. The Horizon Client authenticates to a Connection Server through the Unified Access Gateway. The Horizon Client then forms a protocol session connection through the gateway service, on the Unified Access Gateway, to a Horizon Agent running on a virtual desktop or RDSH server.

In looking at the interactions between the different VMware Horizon components, the Horizon Connection Server is responsible for securely brokering and connecting users to the Horizon Agent that is installed on the desktops and RDS Hosts. Horizon Agents are installed on guest operating systems (desktops/RDS hosts) and allow these machines to be managed by Connection Servers and allow Horizon Clients to establish remote access sessions to the machines.

Like many leading applications, VMware Horizon can accommodate several deployment methods, including on-premises, cloud, hybrid, and multi-cloud architecture. This flexibility gives you the freedom to implement VMware Horizon in a manner that’s compatible with your existing IT infrastructure.

Now that we’ve explored the question “What is VMware Horizon?” and outlined key VMware Horizon features, you hopefully have the knowledge you need to begin identifying ways to integrate this leading technology into your workflows.

In summary, VMware Horizon facilitates the secure delivery of applications and virtual desktops across a variety of cloud computing environments, including public, private, and hybrid environments. By strategically integrating it into your workflows, you can achieve faster, more secure sharing while maximizing the efficiency of your staff.

How does VMware Horizon compare to other VDI solutions?

VMware Horizon is a digital workspace technology and as such customers often evaluate it against other VDI and DaaS offerings. Common alternative vendors and technologies considered often include Citrix CVAD, Microsoft RDP / AVD / Windows 365 Cloud PC, Amazon Workspaces and Parallels. Some information on comparing some of the alternatives is provided, here: Best VDI Technology: Citrix, VMware, AWS, AVD.

Common VMware Horizon issues

Remote access technologies, such as VMware Horizon are extremely performance sensitive. A lag of even a few seconds between a key being typed by a user and the character being seen on the screen can be extremely discomforting to the user. Likewise, if a session gets disconnected abruptly, a user may lose his work completely. Hence, poor user experience can result in user dissatisfaction, loss of productivity, and direct loss of business revenue.

VMware administrators need to ensure that user experience remains within acceptable limits. There are many facets to user experience. The first impression of the user is based on the speed of the logon process. Hence, logon processing must be fast. Once the user logs in and when they click on an application (e.g., Microsoft Outlook, Google Chrome, etc.) to launch it, the application should launch within a few seconds. When the user interacts with the application, the keystroke lag or screen refresh latency should not be very high. If audio/video applications (e.g., Microsoft Teams) are being used, sufficient bandwidth should be available for the user’s session. VMware administrators must have ways to measure all of the different facets of a user’s experience. As users may be accessing from different remote locations, it is important to track performance by location as well.

Logon times are extremely important to the user experience in VMware Horizon environments and many continually test logon performance with synthetic monitoring tools such as logon simulators, see: Free Logon Simulator for VMware Horizon | eG Innovations.

What monitoring tools are available for VMware Horizon?

Faced with user complaints, the VMware Horizon administrator must determine which of the several VMware Horizon tiers is not working as expected. This requires in-depth analysis of the availability, performance, and usage of all of the different tiers involved in supporting the virtual app/desktop service. VMware vROPs (vRealize Operations), renamed in recent years as VMware Aria Operations, the built-in tool in the VMware virtualization platform can help.

VMware withdrew support for vRealize Operations for Horizon vROPs in 2022. VMware currently recommends upgrading to the VMware Aria Operations Management Pack for Horizon.

Third-party solutions, such as eG Enterprise also help by providing additional insights into the performance of all the different VMware Horizon tiers including VMware App Volumes and ESXi / vSphere, as well as the other infrastructure tiers, such as storage, network, Active Directory, profile servers, etc.

When considering your VMware Horizon monitoring and troubleshooting requirements you may like to consider some of the capabilities listed in: VMware Horizon Monitoring Tool: Top 5 Key Capabilities.