What Is VMware Horizon?

Virtualization made easy

VMware Horizon is a virtualization software product for delivering desktops and apps on Windows, Linux, and MacOS systems. It is especially relevant today because so many of us are working remotely. Whether you’re a system administrator or a pizza deliverer, you need easy access to the apps and desktops that help you do your job. And you need that access to be secure.

This video introduces you to VMware Horizon and how it can help you maintain quick and secure access when you work remotely.

 

What are the key features?

So, how does VMware Horizon make your life easier? You will find features that benefit both IT administrators and end users.

Features that benefit IT admins

As an IT admin, you will find these features save time and costs, while supporting security and ease of management:

VMware Horizon offers virtual desktop and application management and monitoring for on-prem, hybrid, and multi-cloud environments.

  • Streamlined image management
    You can cut both time and costs of creating and maintaining virtual desktop and application images by centrally managing and distributing desktop images across Horizon environments, on-premises and in the cloud. Easily orchestrate updates or image roll-backs, track changes of images, and automate the replication of an image to multiple locations.
  • Application management
    You can simplify application delivery by packaging each app once and deploying it across multiple Horizon environments, both on-premises and in the cloud. You can reduce image count, maintenance and complexity of application packaging by managing applications separately from the image.
  • Centralized monitoring
    You can use a single user interface to reduce downtime with real-time health monitoring of the user session, virtual desktops, and apps across multiple Horizon environments, both on-premises and in the cloud. You can leverage a help desk service to quickly troubleshoot user sessions with detailed metrics.
  • Flexible hybrid and multi-cloud deployment options
    You can deploy and manage desktops and apps on-premises or in the public cloud, such as Microsoft Azure, VMware Cloud™ on AWS, Google Cloud, and IBM, and other partner clouds.
  • Multi-OS support for deployment of virtual desktops and hosted apps
    With Horizon, you can quickly deliver Windows and Linux resources at scale across multiple data centers. You can publish apps from Windows and Linux servers, or Windows desktops.
  • Optimizing experience with unified communication and collaboration
    You can achieve a better user experience and increase productivity with optimized audio and video support for Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Cisco WebEx, and other communication and collaboration tools. Session collaboration allows multiple users to view and modify the same desktop in real time.
  • User-specific settings and smart policy options
    You can set policies to control what each user group can access, based on the user’s role, device, or location. With VMware Dynamic Environment Manager™, you can configure user-specific Windows desktop and application settings that are applied in the context of the client device, location, or other conditions. Policies are enforced when a triggering event occurs, such as logging in, launching an app, reconnecting, and so on. You can also configure options such as folder redirection for storing personal user data, including documents, pictures, and more.

Features that benefit end users

When end users work remotely, they need to continually slog through two-factor authentication. They have to adjust to different UIs when switching devices. And when their device is damaged, they have to haul it to IT. Horizon changes that experience. For end users, Horizon improves the experience, provides consistency, and supports ease of use:

  • Streamlined access
    The login process is simplified with the Single-Sign-On option. End users log in only once, and get access to all the desktops and apps they need to do their jobs. No need to log in separately to each virtual desktop or app.
  • Easy access from any device
    The software client app—VMware Horizon Client™—is available on your device of choice. To access your virtual desktops and applications, you can connect to your VM from a Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Chromebook, or Android device. Or you can use a web browser as an HTML client. Horizon Clients can be downloaded from my.vmware.com.
    VMware Horizon supports delivery of virtual desktops and apps on a variety of browsers and platforms. 
  • Multi-OS support for deployment of virtual desktops and hosted apps
    With Horizon, you can quickly access Windows and Linux resources at scale across multiple data centers. You can publish apps from Windows and Linux servers, or Windows desktops.
  • Improved user experience
    When you deliver Windows as a service, and automate the delivery of resources, desktops, and apps each user gets, end users get a smooth, consistent experience. No matter what device they log in from, each user sees only what is assigned to them and nothing else. They have everything at their fingertips, all of the virtual desktops and apps they need to do their job.
  • Optimized experience with unified communication and collaboration
    You can achieve a better user experience and increase productivity with optimized audio and video support for Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Cisco WebEx, and other communication and collaboration tools. Session collaboration allows multiple users to view and modify the same desktop in real time.
  • High-definition, graphically intensive display options
    You can deliver an immersive, feature-rich user experience with the Blast Extreme display protocol, a key component of Horizon. The Blast display protocol allows you to deliver rich 2D and 3D graphics and responsive, high-fidelity displays. You can integrate Horizon with NVIDIA, Intel, and AMD for even more high-end graphics and multimedia.

Horizon Experts discuss their favorite features

Watch this video to hear our Horizon Experts talk about the features they find the most useful, including simplify device redirection, optimize unified communications, provide seamless access to applications and easy access from any device, and deploy virtual desktops anywhere.

 

What is the architecture?

So, what’s under the hood?

First of all, Horizon comes in a variety of flavors: on-premises, in the cloud, or as combination hybrid and multi-cloud architectures. The cloud version, Horizon Cloud, delivers the same services as the on-premises Horizon, but uses a slightly different architecture.

What are the key architectural components?

Let’s take a look at a hybrid or multi-cloud architecture. This it is a combination of both cloud and on-premises deployments, so you can easily see both.

VMware Horizon uses a number of interactive components to deliver virtual desktops and apps across multiple platforms.

The Horizon architecture is made up of the following components:

  • VMware Horizon Console
    The UI that puts you in the driver’s seat, where you can configure the server, deploy and manage desktops, control user authentication, initiate and examine system and user events, deliver support to end users, and perform analytic activities.
  • VMware Horizon Client
    The software client app that allows your end users to connect to their VM from a device of choice, including Windows, macOS, iOS, Linux, Chrome, and Android. Horizon Clients can be downloaded from my.vmware.com. Alternatively, you can use a web browser as an HTML client.
  • VMware Horizon Control Plane
    Unifies and simplifies management across pods (multiple instances of Horizon configured for the cloud), providing monitoring and management of images, applications, and lifecycles.
  • VMware Unified Access Gateway
    Provides secure remote access to Horizon for users who are outside the corporate network to access their virtual desktops and published applications, without using a VPN. For more information, see Introduction to Unified Access Gateway.
  • Horizon Connection Servers
    Authenticates end users through Active Directory and securely connects them to the Horizon Agent, which has been installed in the desktops and RDS Hosts. Manages sessions between users and their virtual desktops or published applications. These published applications are hosted on Microsoft Windows Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH) virtual machines (VMs). The Connection Server also includes the instant-clone engine, which provides single-image management with automation capabilities.
  • Horizon Cloud Connector
    The Horizon Cloud Connector is an appliance that connects your Horizon 7 or Horizon 8 implementations to the Horizon Cloud Service. VMware Horizon can be delivered on-premises, or on a variety of public clouds built on both VMware vCloud Foundation and cloud-native platforms. For high availability and disaster recovery purposes, you can also take a hybrid approach and deploy on both on-premises and public cloud, and join the two.
  • VMware Horizon Agent
    Allows the VM to be managed by Connection Servers, and allows a Horizon Client to form a protocol session to the VM. VMs can be virtual desktops, Remote Desktop Session Hosts (RDS Host), physical desktops, or PCs.
  • VMware Workspace ONE® Access
    An identity and access management solution that is included with Horizon, and provides your end users with an app catalog to access Horizon desktops and apps, web apps, and SaaS apps through a browser. It is included with all versions of Horizon as either a VMware-managed SaaS solution or a user-managed, on-premises deployment.
  • RDSH servers
    Remote Desktop Session Host server farms and virtual desktop pools that are created from the golden image to provide published applications and session-based remote desktops to your end users.
  • VMware vSphere®
    The hypervisor that hosts the components of your Horizon architecture, including the server VMs, desktop VMs, RDSH server VMs, and so on.

Conclusion

VMware Horizon is a software solution that makes delivery of virtualized desktops and apps easy and secure. You can use Horizon for device redirection, unified communications, access to applications and desktops, and more. VMware Horizon provides easy Single Sign-On access on any device, and deploys virtual desktops to any location. End users are free to work anywhere.

Find out more

One of the fastest ways to learn about Horizon is to check out the following activity path:

You’ll also find a wealth of Horizon-related information on Tech Zone and VMware Docs, including:

Learn more about other VMware projects

If you are interested in other VMware projects, see the following introductions:

 

 

 

 

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