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Technical Insights about Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure

After much anticipation, VMware Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure is finally released. Horizon Cloud now offers three different options providing capacity for desktops and hosted applications. With Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure, you gain all of the benefits of a cloud-managed service, including the ability to manage RD Session Hosted desktops and applications on Microsoft Azure infrastructure. For more details on this release, see the Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure Release Notes.

Integration with Workspace ONE

Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure integrates with VMware Workspace ONE. End users can access their VMware Horizon Cloud virtual desktops from the Workspace One application catalog and utilize single sign-on for authentication.

Managing via a Cloud Control Plane

With Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure, all administrative functions and policy management are done on our cloud-based control plane. This means that you can manage your Horizon Cloud environment, including your RD Session Hosted farms, and assign desktops and applications to users and groups from any browser on any machine that has an Internet connection.

The cloud control plane allows you to access and manage all your Horizon Cloud nodes deployed into your Azure infrastructure, regardless of which regional data center you deploy to, in one user interface. The service runs as a microservice suite of lightweight modular services built from the ground up on a modern cloud architecture. This provides the resiliency that you expect from a cloud-based service, as well as allowing for continuous delivery of new features and improvements.

Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure Deployment Overview

The cloud control plane is currently deployed in the US and Germany, giving you a choice of where to manage your tenant, in case data sovereignty is a concern.

Deployment of Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure

Easily deploy Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure to your own Azure instance in less than an hour. After your tenant has been created in the Horizon Cloud control plane, leverage the web-based user interface to add cloud capacity on Microsoft Azure to your environment. This process deploys the appliances necessary to manage Azure infrastructure components from the Horizon Cloud control plane.

Basic Architecture

Inside your Azure configuration, Horizon Cloud deploys four appliances to manage:

  • SmartNode – Manages all infrastructure resources. While all of the policy definition and management happens in the cloud, all of the real work—creating resources on Azure infrastructure and making it available to users—happens in the SmartNode.
  • Unified Access Gateway appliances – Provide secure Internet access to RD Session Hosted desktops and applications. Each deployment contains two Unified Access Gateways.
  • Jumpbox – A temporary Linux-based VM used during environment buildout, and subsequent environment updates and upgrades.


Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure Basic Architecture

Optionally deploy a Workspace ONE connector appliance (separately) to provide users with a unified workspace to access applications hosted on Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure and other SaaS applications.

Deploying Capacity and Entitling Users

Once you have your Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure instance deployed, it is easily deploy RD Session hosts.  You can leverage VM’s from the Microsoft Azure Marketplace to build your RD Session Host VM’s on.  We have also added features to make deploying these farms easy.

Session Desktops and Applications

Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure allows you to deploy RD Session Host VMs directly from the Azure Marketplace to build out your application and session desktop farms.

We currently support four VM types with Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure including:

  • Standard_D2_v2
  • Standard_D3_v2
  • Standard_D4_v2
  • Standard_NV6 (GPU VM)

Farm Setup Screen

As a part of the deployment process, you may choose to automatically deploy a Horizon Agent into the VM. Then all you need to do is install applications and make it available for deployment to farms.

For more information on session-based desktops, see Use Personal Session Desktops with Remote Desktop Services.

For more information on Microsoft Azure VM types, see Sizes for Windows Virtual Machines in Azure.

RD Session Host Power Management Features

We have built features into Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure to help you minimize spending on cloud-based infrastructure. When you create an RD Session Hosted farm,  select the minimum and maximum number of servers for RDSH farm to be powered on at any given time, and select the threshold at which new capacity is powered up or down within limits that you define.

When end users connect, sessions are load balanced across available servers to maximize user experience.

To meet desired power management thresholds, servers in the farm automatically scale up to the maximum size needed. During slow times, servers in the farm automatically shut down and are deleted so you do not pay compute costs for unused capacity. There are three power management options:

  • Optimized Performance – Keeps more servers running and available.
  • Balanced – Attempts to keep approximately half of the farm running at any given time.
  • Optimized Power – Keep the minimum number of servers running and available to save money.


Power Management Options


Power management configurations can be different for each RD session host farm you provision, to allow you the most flexibility to choose which applications.

Simple Upgrades

Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure infrastructure is easy to upgrade from one version to the next. After a platform upgrade is available, you will be notified through the console UI.  After that, you begin your update whenever you want. Core infrastructure appliances are automatically upgraded using a blue/green methodology like this:

  1. New SmartNodes and Unified Access Gateways are deployed from the Horizon Cloud Service.
  2. Configuration information and system state is copied from the running SmartNode and Unified Access Gateways to the new ones.
  3. After the configuration information is copied and checks completed, the new SmartNode and Unified Access Gateways become active.
  4. The old infrastructure is automatically removed from the environment.


VMware Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure now provides the best of both worlds: the application and desktop delivery capabilities of Horizon Cloud, combined with the application management services and increased flexibility of Microsoft Azure. The resulting benefits include multi-cloud deployment, extended geographical datacenter options, simplified VDI, consumption-based pricing, and much more. To find out more: