Why and how should I update the Horizon Cloud Connector?

February 23, 2022

As a Solutions Engineer in End User Computing at VMware, I’ve worked with many customers who are looking to adopt Horizon Universal and better understand their transition to SaaS for VDI. With the Horizon Cloud Connector being a new requirement to consume these SaaS licenses, I wanted to do my part in making your life as a Horizon administrator easier.

If you’re taking advantage of the benefits of VMware Horizon Universal, you’re probably already utilizing the Horizon Cloud Connector. With Horizon Universal Licensing, the Cloud Connector is one of the biggest changes for administrators who are used to managing a perpetual Horizon environment. In this post, I’m going to help you understand the process of updating the Horizon Cloud Connector, and why keeping it up to date should be a priority for your enterprise.

Why It Matters to You

As a Horizon administrator, you have many different things on your plate. Maintaining security for remote access, ensuring a positive end-user experience for your employees utilizing virtual desktops, and much more. So why should you be paying extra attention to maintaining the Horizon Cloud Connector?

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Most importantly, the Cloud Connector, like any other IT component, needs to be kept up to date to maintain the security of the appliance. With recent zero-day vulnerabilities being identified in the wild by threat hunters and researchers, the importance of this cannot be understated. VMware strongly recommends you upgrade to Cloud Connector 2.1.2 (the latest version at the time of writing) to address a critical vulnerability in Apache Log4j identified by CVE-2021-44228. Please review VMSA-2021-0028 for more details.

Additionally, the Cloud Connector interacts with many different components of Horizon Universal. Namely: Horizon Connection server, Horizon Universal Broker, and many different cloud services hosted in the Horizon Cloud Control Plane. To maintain proper interoperability between components and services, it is a best practice to keep the Cloud Connector updated to the latest version.

How Does the Update Process Work?

The update process follows a model widely used in the software industry known at the blue-green deployment. In this model, you have an appliance that is already actively being utilized in your environment (blue). You will then deploy a new appliance of the version you are intending to upgrade to (green). After choosing to update the appliance in the Horizon Cloud Connector user interface, the configurations on your existing (blue) connector will be migrated to the updated (green) connector, maintaining the existing pod record in the Horizon Cloud Control Plane. After a successful update, the blue appliance will be in an idle state, and can be powered off and removed from your environment. This update model allows you to minimize downtime and maintain connectivity to your Horizon Cloud Control Plane.

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How to Update the Horizon Cloud Connector Appliance

When manually updating the Horizon Cloud Connector, there are a variety of prerequisites and known considerations to review prior to beginning the update process.

Deploying the Horizon Cloud Connector for the sake of completing a blue-green upgrade is similar to the process of deploying a net-new connector, with a few exceptions. Below, we will outline the steps of the process that are unique to updating the appliance.

After reviewing the prerequisites and known considerations, proceed to deploying the latest version of the Horizon Cloud Connector Virtual Appliance by completing steps 1 through 6 in Manually Update the Horizon Cloud Connector Virtual Appliance. Then, follow along below.

  1. With an existing active cloud connector in place, you will see a dialogue box open, prompting you to choose Upgrade or New Install. Choose Upgrade.

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  1. At this point, you will proceed to Setup Step 2. In the Old Cloud Connector address text box, enter the IP address of the earlier Horizon Cloud Connector virtual appliance and then click Connect.

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  1. Click the check box to verify the thumbprint for the SSH connection. Then click Upgrade in the bottom right-hand corner of the Cloud Connector setup screen.Graphical user interface, text, application
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  2. After clicking Upgrade, you should be taken to the final Cloud Connector upgrade screen. At this point, the new Horizon Cloud Connector is now managing the cloud connection between the Horizon pod and the cloud control plane.

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You’ve made it! You have updated your Horizon Cloud Connector. I hope you now have a better understanding of why it is important to keep the Horizon Cloud Connector up to date. Both for the sake of maintaining the security of the appliance, as well as interoperability with different Horizon components that the Cloud Connector interacts with. I hope you found this outline of the Cloud Connector update process useful!

For more information about the Horizon Cloud Connector, check out What is the Horizon Cloud Connector and why is it so important? by Darren Hirons, Manager, Solution Engineering – Digital Workspace at VMware.

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