VMware Horizon

Enhanced Windows Media Redirection in VMware Horizon with View

By Tony Huynh, Product Line Manager, End-User Computing, VMware

It has been a great year for the VMware Horizon team, and we are closing out the year strong! You may have seen the recent blog post announcing the Horizon 6.0.2 with View release and the Horizon Client 3.2 release. There were many exciting features announced in these releases, but I want to do a deeper dive on the Windows Media redirection feature, which requires these new agent and client releases.

IT administrators who need to deliver rich multimedia workloads within their virtual desktops will find that multimedia redirection (MMR) technology helps improve performance. The core idea behind MMR is to use the client endpoint to perform media processing locally instead of on the host server. Because the host server does not perform any processing on the media stream, CPU utilization is reduced. MMR also reduces the bandwidth requirements for multimedia streaming and provides a smooth playback experience.

Why Is This Important?

Reduced CPU utilization on the host server allows you to host more virtual desktops on the server infrastructure and therefore makes it more cost-effective. Additionally, reduced bandwidth usage means improved network utilization for you.

How Does MMR Work?

On the host server, MMR intercepts the media stream in its native compressed format and redirects the stream to the client endpoint. On the client endpoint, the media stream is recreated, decompressed, and rendered using local resources.

So What Is Required for MMR to Work?

The client endpoint must have the codecs to decode and play back the redirected media stream. Windows client endpoints are supported with MMR because they have the multimedia framework, Windows Media Foundation, to reconstruct the original media stream.


Enhanced Multimedia Redirection

In earlier versions of VMware Horizon with View, we supported MMR on Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 desktops. In this release, we are extending MMR support to the latest operating systems, including Windows 8 and 8.1 virtual machines in the data center, and client endpoints. In addition to supporting media playback in Windows Media Player (WMP), Horizon with View now also supports MMR playback in Internet Explorer through the use of a WMP plug-in. Finally, we have expanded the list of supported media formats to include

  • MPEG-1, MPEG-2, and MPEG-4 Part 2
  • WMV 7, 8, and 9
  • WMA, AVI, ACE, MP3, and WAV

To recap, MMR technology improves network utilization and server scalability for administrators running multimedia workloads within their virtual infrastructure. We have received feedback from many administrators who have extolled the benefits of MMR for their virtual desktop deployments.

Some administrators have even provided data on unexpected benefits. For example, several of our large enterprise customers that deploy wide area network (WAN) optimization for their branch offices have found that they can leverage the deduplication capabilities to further reduce network utilization across their WAN links. Because MMR traffic is sent using a separate TCP channel, the WAN optimization appliances can inspect and cache the stream locally at the branch office. When the WAN optimization appliance detects subsequent requests for the same media stream, the file is served locally and no additional data is sent over the WAN!

We hope you enjoy our new MMR technology and look forward to hearing back from you.

Happy holidays!