Why haven't you upgraded from Horizon 7 to Horizon 8 yet?

July 14, 2022

VMware launched Horizon 8 (2006) in the summer of 2020, and while many of you have upgraded your Horizon 7 environments to Horizon 8, we are hearing that some of you have not. We want to make sure you have the resources you need to plan, complete, and upgrade. At the time of launch, we released the Modernizing VDI for a New Horizon guide to help you move from legacy technologies, such as Linked Clones, Profile Disks, and View Persona, to more modern technologies such as Instant Clones and DEM. This work needs to be done before upgrading to Horizon 8, as the technologies that were used in Horizon 7 listed above are not available in Horizon 8.

Now, two years later, we have provided a few updates to the guide, and we want to encourage you again to move from Horizon 7 to Horizon 8 for two major reasons: new capabilities and support.

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Figure 1: There have been 6 releases of Horizon 8 at the time of this blog

Horizon 8 has some great new capabilities

If you are still on Horizon 7, you can’t take advantage of many improvements and fixes that you could be using to improve your administrative and user experience. There are no new features being added to versions prior to Horizon 8. So, if you want to take advantage of anything new over the last two years, you need to upgrade. Even if you don’t want or need to use anything available right now, you might in the future, and upgrading now puts you in a position to take advantage much more quickly. You can get all the feature details by reading Release Notes from Horizon 8 (2006) onwards. This is not an exhaustive list of the many enhancements we have delivered in Horizon 8 over the last 2 years, but here are a few highlights:

  • Instant clone enhancements include multiple NIC, standard network support and Sysprep support.
  • Horizon supports 20,000 desktops and sessions per pod.
  • 5K and 8K client display resolutions are now supported (Blast only).
  • Users belonging to untrusted domains can use SAML authentication, True SSO, and smart card authentication.
  • When adding a vCenter Server instance, you can now select a deployment type. Deployment type allows you to specify whether your vCenter is in a private data center or in a specific public cloud data center.
  • You can now deploy Horizon Connection Servers and Horizon Agents in different data centers across WAN, as long as the Horizon Agents are located within 120ms of the Connection Servers. This feature effectively extends a single Horizon pod across multiple locations and enables a single pod to manage virtual desktops and RDS hosts located in data centers that are different from where the Horizon Connection Servers are deployed, and applies to Horizon virtual desktops and RDSH deployed in private data centers as well as in public clouds. For more details on the Remote Agent feature, see VMware Knowledge Base (KB) article 86304.

Horizon 7 end of general support

All versions of Horizon 7 (except 7.13 at the time this blog was published), have reached the end of general support. You can get all the dates and details by using https://lifecycle.vmware.com and filtering on Horizon.

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Figure 2: Use the VMware Product Lifecycle Matrix to get up-to-date support information

This means that if you are running a version of Horizon older than 7.13, and you run into an issue and need support, the Technical Guidance policy is in effect. For that definition, as well as the definitions for all support phases, see VMware Lifecycle Policies. It is important to be aware of what support you will be able to leverage if you run into an issue with a production environment.

Can I upgrade if I have Linked Clones I have never recomposed?

One scenario we did not cover in this guide is that of customers who have linked clones that have never been recomposed. While this is a use case never intended for linked clones, we recognize we have customers who have used them this way. This usage has made these linked clones functionally equivalent to full clones. Some customers have used Horizon and vSphere functions to convert the linked clones to full clones and maintain the user assignments. The high-level process outlined below is not an exhaustive guide. This process is not automated and should be undertaken carefully by someone who is familiar with the underlying Horizon and vSphere functions. This process requires a maintenance window to complete, during which users would not be able to access the linked clone pools being converted to full clones.

  1. Export both the entitlements and assignments from the Horizon linked clone pool(s). This can be manually copied from the Horizon UI or export form ADAM using LDAP.
  2. Disable the linked clone pools, then shut down the VMs to be converted.
  3. Use the sviconfig tool to remove the vSphere protection for the linked clones to allow manual cloning.
  4. In vSphere, create a destination folder and clone each VM into the new folder.
  5. Create a new Horizon full clone pool and import the full clones into it.
  6. Entitle users to the newly imported VMs using the entitlement and assignment information you previously exported.

Other Options

There are certainly other ways of handling an upgrade to Horizon 8 if you are using older technologies such as linked clones, without going through a technical migration process. Some customers have taken a more manual approach to moving users. You can certainly build a new Horizon 8 environment side-by-side with your current Horizon 7 environment, and move users into new desktop pools that are built with more modern tools such as Instant Clones and DEM. Whether you offer to migrate their user and profile using automation tools or simply give them a window to do it themselves, you can move to Horizon 8 over time.

Another option is to work with a professional service team that has done this type of work before such as VMware Professional services or a partner to leverage their expertise.

Whatever method you choose to move to Horizon 8, there are compelling reasons to do so as soon as you can. Start planning your upgrade now to take advantage of new capabilities and avoid issues related to support.

More Resources for Horizon Administrators

Whether you are considering a Horizon 8 migration, or looking to optimize using cloud resources for your Horizon environment, there are some upcoming sessions at VMware Explore that may also be of interest to Horizon Administrators. Here are a couple of suggested sessions from this year’s US content catalog:

-          EUSB2095USD – What’s New with Horizon 8

-          EUSB2079USD - Can't Take Your Virtual Desktop to the Cloud?  Bring Cloud to it!

-          EUSB2087US – Architecting Horizon: The Official Reference Architecture

-          EUSB2150US – 5 Ways to Optimize Your Horizon Environment with SaaS

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