VMware Horizon FLEX and View Local Mode: Similar Features, But Definitely Not the Same

Dec 17, 2014
Gina Daly

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Gina is a technical marketing manager for VMware End-User Computing (EUC) Technical Marketing.

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VMware View Client with Local Mode has been removed from Horizon 6 with View. But did you know that VMware Horizon FLEX offers a similar offline desktop solution? In this blog, we compare and contrast Horizon FLEX and View Local Mode features.

Contrasting Features

User feedback informed us that the Local Mode offline desktop was a great asset, however the implementation needed refinement. VMware Horizon FLEX was developed as an enhanced BYO solution using our other End-User Computing products: VMware Mirage, VMware Fusion Pro, and VMware Player Pro.

VMware_Horizon_FLEX_EUC
Figure 1: Horizon FLEX Is a Combination of VMware End-User Computing Products

The most notable contrast between Horizon FLEX and View Local Mode is that Horizon with View and VMware vSphere are not prerequisites for Horizon FLEX.

Because View Local Mode is integrated with VDI deployments, vSphere and View are required. The desktop must be managed by View in order to enable the Local Mode feature. This is not the case with Horizon FLEX, which does not require View or vSphere. Horizon FLEX is a standalone package and independent of a View environment.

A View Transfer Server is also needed for Local Mode. One Transfer Server supports only 20 concurrent client connections. To support hundreds of Local Mode users, you will need many more Transfer Servers in your environment. Horizon FLEX has improved scalability and can support more than 20 concurrent connections per server.

To clarify, Horizon FLEX is not a replacement for Local Mode. It is not part of a VDI setup, and Horizon FLEX desktops cannot be deployed from View. Horizon FLEX can complement your VDI setup by offering an alternative desktop option to users who want to be disconnected.

VMware_Horizon_FLEX_setup
Figure 2: Horizon FLEX Setup Example

Figure 2 depicts a Horizon-FLEX-only installation. You can see that the Horizon FLEX Server is composed of the Mirage Console and the Mirage Management Server. Notice that there is no vSphere or View installed.

If you are using View Local Mode in your environment, support is still available for you. Local Mode is being phased out, but we will make the transition as smooth as possible. Finer details are discussed in the Comparison of Horizon FLEX and View Local Mode Knowledge Base article.

What Are the Similarities?

Now, let us look at the similarities between Horizon FLEX and View Local Mode.

  • Both Horizon FLEX and Local Mode offer a solution for BYO and offline use cases.
  • Virtual desktops, either with Horizon FLEX or View Local Mode, can run locally on the user’s endpoint, and a network connection is not required to access the desktop. However, with View Local Mode, you also have the option of logging in to the VDI desktop in the data center if you have network connectivity.
  • In both solutions, the administrator can deploy local virtual desktops with installed applications, and entitle end users to access these applications.
  • Policies governing the desktops are controlled from a central location—using the View Administrator console for Local Mode and the Horizon FLEX Server via the Web Management interface for Horizon FLEX.
  • Both the View Local Mode desktop and the Horizon FLEX virtual machine are downloaded only once to the user’s endpoint.
  • If Horizon FLEX is used with Mirage image management, user documents and data can be synced back to the Mirage Management server. With View Local Mode, user documents and data are automatically synced with the data center, as replication is enabled by default.
  • For View Local Mode, a major guest OS update (such as upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 7) requires the entire desktop to be checked in (uploaded) to the data center. The desktop must be checked out again when the update is completed. The best practice is to use either full clones or a dedicated linked clone pool for Local Mode, and then there is no need to check in or check out desktops. In this case, administrators can use a third-party update tool such as Windows Update for guest OS updates, and SCCM for application updates. Users experience minimal disruption during guest OS updates.

Policy updates for a View Local Mode desktop are received from the View Connection Server when the user has a network connection.

To update the guest OS on a Horizon FLEX desktop, the Mirage Client must be installed on the endpoint. Then the user’s endpoint must be connected to an internal network until Mirage completes downloading and installing updates. It would be wise to connect to the LAN for major updates, to reduce time. The user can continue to work without interruption during these updates. Of course, using Mirage as an image management tool is optional, and you can continue to use your existing Windows management tools with Horizon FLEX desktops if you wish.

Policy updates for a Horizon FLEX desktop are received from the Horizon FLEX Server when the user connects to the network.

Horizon FLEX Enhanced Features

A great feature of Horizon FLEX is the enhanced restrictions and policies beyond those of View Local Mode. These settings allow for granular control of the Horizon FLEX desktop. You can read more in this Horizon FLEX introductory blog.

Following is a sample of the Horizon FLEX policies. You can

  • Encrypt the virtual machine and require the user to enter a password to power on the virtual machine
  • Prevent users from tampering with virtual machine settings
  • Apply numerous restrictions such as no file copy or drag and drop
  • Set virtual machines to expire at a predetermined date and time. (With Local Mode you can specify only the number of days before a desktop expires.)
  • Lock out or “kill” the virtual machine at any time with the remote-lock feature

VMware_Horizon_FLEX_Server_add_policy_window
Figure 3: Add Policy Window in the Horizon FLEX Server

Of course, we should not neglect to mention that Horizon FLEX Windows desktops can be accessed from Windows or Mac endpoints. View Local Mode desktops run on Windows endpoints only. I am sure many of you Mac advocates would sign up for Horizon FLEX based on this reason alone!

Although both solutions use a Type 2 client hypervisor, you cannot install both VMware Workstation and the View Client with Local Mode on the same endpoint. This is not the case with Horizon FLEX. Fusion Pro or Workstation is the Horizon FLEX Client and is used to host the Horizon FLEX virtual machine. Because you are using Fusion Pro or Workstation, you can also run other “regular” virtual machines on your endpoint, should you need to do so. This may be helpful for someone like a contract software developer, who uses a Horizon FLEX desktop to access corporate apps and can also set up a test environment with a number of other Fusion or Workstation virtual machines, on the same laptop.

This combination of VMware Mirage, Fusion Pro, Player Pro, and the new Horizon FLEX Server results in a high-caliber offline desktop solution. View Local Mode may be leaving, but the offline desktop is here to stay. And the Horizon FLEX solution will serve all your local desktop needs.

For more information, see the Knowledge Base article Comparison of Horizon FLEX and View Local Mode.

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