By Anthony Rizzo – Staff End-User-Computing Technologist, VMware
As a VMware End-User-Computing Specialist, I encounter many people who still have not been exposed to the basic concepts of desktop virtualization and desktop as a service (DaaS). After these concepts are explained, the majority of organizational and IT leaders easily grasp the enormous value of these technologies to their businesses.
This blog describes desktop virtualization, desktop as a service, the VMware offering for desktop as a service (VMware Horizon Air Desktops), and five great reasons organizations use Horizon Air.
What Is Desktop Virtualization?
Virtualized desktops run in the data center, on the same vSphere technology as virtualized servers (though typically on a dedicated vSphere architecture separated from the virtual servers). Users access desktops remotely using client software or an HTML5-compatible browser.
Server virtualization and desktop virtualization differ in that virtualized desktops use a brokering architecture. The brokering architecture secures the virtualized desktops and makes them easy for users to access without having to know the desktop IP address or host name.
Desktop as a Service (DaaS) – Service-Oriented VDI
VDI is traditionally hosted out of an organization’s data center. Because best practices for VDI recommend a dedicated vSphere infrastructure and brokering components, VDI also implies capital investments. DaaS offers organizations dedicated and very secure VDI from the cloud without the need to invest in the architecture. Fees are applied only for the compute resources consumed and are collected on a periodic basis (for example, month to month).
Introducing VMware Horizon Air
As of this writing, VMware has three main offerings within Horizon Air:
- Horizon Air Desktops – Horizon Air Desktops is the DaaS service hosted by VMware on the VMware vCloud Air platform. Horizon Air virtual desktops are built, controlled, and managed by the organization through a self-service enterprise Web portal. These enterprise-class desktops can be connected back to the organization’s data center using IPsec VPN, MPLS tunnels, or dedicated network uplinks. Horizon Air Desktops allows for the integration of organization-owned technologies such as Active Directory, DNS, firewalls, desktop-management tools, monitoring systems, and others.
- Horizon Air Applications – VMware cloud-hosted Microsoft Remote Desktop Session Hosts for deploying, streaming, and managing Windows-based applications without the need to build related infrastructure. Integration with the organization’s technologies applies just as it does with Horizon Air Desktops.
- Horizon Air Disaster Recovery – Many organizations maintain both physical and virtualized desktops on their premises, often with a plan to back up desktop images. Organizations often underestimate the effort, costs, and time associated with standing up an alternative place for backup images to run. You would need to invest in additional hardware and infrastructure that you might rarely need. Horizon Air Disaster Recovery offers a standby, cloud-hosted VDI architecture so that backups of physical or virtualized desktops can be quickly restored in the event of catastrophic outages.
Five Great Reasons for Using Horizon Air
Following are five main reasons to use VMware Horizon Air.
- Virtual elimination of the need for end-user-computing architectures and related investments
A popular and often obvious reason for using one of the three Horizon Air offerings is to eliminate—or reduce—the data center footprint required by VDI. This footprint includes architectural components such as brokers, security services, linked-clone managers, application virtualization servers, and others. Horizon Air helps dissolve concerns about deciding who manages desktops residing in the data center.
- Better, faster nonproduction desktop projects
I often hear that IT engineering efforts to test software patches, mirror production environments, or build high-quality learning environments and labs are restricted by capital-budget limitations. Horizon Air Desktops offers easily deployed, powerful, and reliable virtualized desktops to these projects using operational funding (usually more abundant and flexible than capital funds). When a project is complete, the desktop can be archived or decommissioned by the organization—stopping fees for related desktop compute, storage, and network resources.
- Closer proximity to end users, and lower network costs
Why have end users in Asia—such as call center staff—connect to desktops in your only data center half a world away (in California, for example)? With Horizon Air Desktops and Apps you can easily offer desktops and applications to users from a more regional data center in Asia. Dedicated network connections are shorter and less complicated, and suffer less latency.
- Branch-office simplification
It is common for branch offices to be equipped with server hardware without local IT staff. These offices typically have local infrastructure to enhance application performance and to reduce network load. With Horizon Air Desktops and Apps, your desktops and applications can run in the cloud alongside servers that reside in VMware vCloud Air or with centralized high-speed uplinks to servers in your data center. Branch offices perform exceptionally well, are free of local compute infrastructure, are less taxing on centralized IT organizations, and can securely leverage existing Internet uplinks. Local IT staff is not required.
- Periodic demand for desktops and applications
Traditional mainframe and client-server architectures conditioned us to make long-term investments in infrastructures we needed only once in a while. Organizations find themselves paying for capacity they hardly ever use. Horizon Air enables you to quickly and easily deploy desktops and applications on demand. This is perfect for short-term projects and temporary employees or contractors. It avoids long-term investments when you have only periodic demand. Another longer-term example is where you have a small population of users who require 3D-graphics rendering. Rather than retrofit your entire VDI architecture, you can economically serve these users with Horizon Air Desktops.
This blog explained the fundamentals of virtual desktop infrastructure, desktop as a service, Horizon Air Desktops—the VMware offering for DaaS—and five great reasons that organizations of all sizes adopt Horizon Air. Having read this primer on the value that Horizon Air brings to business, I encourage you to have a look at the VMware Horizon Air Desktops and Horizon Air Apps website for more detailed information about these services. You can even try it for free or experiment with the Horizon Air hands-on lab.
White Papers on the Horizon Air Website
Top 5 Reasons to Deploy Desktops as a Service – Get insights into why IT organizations are deploying desktops as a service.
Debunking the Top 10 Cloud-Hosted Desktop Myths – Get the real facts about cost, security issues, integration limitations, and more.
A Case Study for Cutting Costs – See how one business achieves enterprise-level functionality without the IT overhead.
New eBook on the mobile-inspired desktop – Real-world stories explore desktop transformation across the globe, and the businesses that are embracing it.