VMware Upgrades Horizon, Debuts Cloud Management Suite

VMware Inc. upgraded its Horizon product, for managing virtual desktops and apps, and unveiled a new solution, "Horizon Air."

Part of the company's focus on cloud computing and end-user computing, Horizon 7 adds three new capabilities focused around speedier creation of desktops, and faster delivery of those desktops and their associated apps.

Virtual Machines Delivered in Seconds
Now called "Just in Time Delivery," Horizon 7 leverages Instant Clone Technology to create "full-featured, personalized digital workspaces" (i.e., desktops) in seconds, or even faster. Formerly known as "Project Fargo," it creates a new virtual machine (VM) from an existing one (the "Parent"), and uses that VM's disk and memory, allowing the near-instantaneous creation.

Tom Fenton, a columnist for Virtualization Review, has said that Just in Time Delivery can create VMs 10 times faster than vSphere can at present.

Dell executive Jeff McNaught blogged about a Horizon beta testing program run by Dell, on Dell hardware. He claimed that Just in Time Delivery allowed for the creation and deployment of 2,000 virtual desktops in less than 20 minutes.

It's a Blast
Another feature of Horizon 7 is a new display protocol specifically made for use in cloud environments, that VMware has called "Blast Extreme." VMware says that Blast Extreme provides GPU offloading to increase scale; it also has built-in H.264, an industry-standard video protocol. Long-time VMware partner NVIDIA touted the benefits of Blast Extreme in a blog entry by Will Wade:

"Using VMware Horizon 7 with NVIDIA Blast Extreme Acceleration, organizations can now increase the number of graphical workloads per server while delivering a superior user experience to the most remote networks.

Testing has shown latency improvements of up to 50 milliseconds, and reduced bandwidth requirements ranging from 19 to 89 percent. This increases network tolerance for graphical workloads and allows more use cases to take advantage of accelerated virtual desktops and applications."

The last major improvement to Horizon 7 was the inclusion of VMware App Volumes 3.0. App Volumes 3.0, which was announced last week, is a management tool for groups of applications delivered to users. The new version allows more granular control of what apps are delivered, and how the groups of apps (called "AppStacks") are configured and maintained.

Cloud Management
Horizon Air with Hybrid-Mode (some VMware blogs use the name without the "with," calling it simply "Horizon Air Hybrid-Mode") is a management plane offering a fully cloud-hosted service or hybrid service (note that there is no on-premises-only version).

VMware touts its Just in Time Delivery here as well, and the benefits of creating thousands of cloud-based virtual desktops in minutes. A "Cloud Control Plane" is the orchestrator of all this, and allows application and desktop workloads to be seamlessly moved back and forth from the cloud to the local datacenter.

VMware says Horizon 7 and Horizon Air with Hybrid-Mode will be available "this quarter." Horizon 7 pricing starts at $250 per user for on-premises perpetual licenses.

VMware Horizon Air Hybrid-Mode cloud subscription pricing starts at $16 per user per month for named users and $26 per user per month for concurrent connections. Horizon will also be available in combination with Workspace ONE, a desktop and app delivery technology that VMware announced at the same time.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.