VMware Horizon Cloud Service on Microsoft Azure Just Makes Dollars & Sense
Like most IT organizations, you’re trying to save a few dollars these days, as well as trying to make sense of the opportunities of utilizing cloud-based services.
VMware Horizon Cloud is a software service from VMware that allows customers to easily and cost-effectively deploy cloud-hosted and on-premises virtual desktops and apps to any device, anywhere. Now, as more and more organizations adopt a multi-cloud strategy to leverage “best-fit” cloud capabilities, avoid cloud vulnerability and optimize cost, they face new challenges of moving between clouds and inefficiencies of operating multiple solutions.
Microsoft Azure is a very flexible and scalable cloud platform offering high reliability across its more than 40 global data centers. It allows customers to easily deploy and manage infrastructure across a global footprint.
Together, Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure provides a single platform for delivering virtualized Windows applications and shared desktop sessions from Windows Server instances using Microsoft Remote Desktop Services (RDS) running in Microsoft Azure. With Horizon Cloud, you can publish business-critical Windows apps alongside Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and mobile apps and desktops in a single, digital workspace. Users can easily access the digital workspace with single sign-on from any authenticated device or operating system (OS).
Before you ask, let’s answer some of the first questions you might have about how this new solution works, where this saves you money and why this makes sense for your organization.
So now I know about the two major components: Horizon Cloud and Microsoft Azure. What do I do now?
Take advantage of Horizon Cloud and Microsoft Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH) features? That makes sense to me.
Horizon Cloud provides a simple way, from any browser, to create and manage a RDSH environment running on Microsoft Azure. The published applications feature supports a wealth of remote experience features. These include everything from the HTML Access web client to client-driven redirection:
- Access to locally connected USB devices,
- File type association,
- Windows Media redirection,
- Content redirection
- Printer redirection,
- Location-based printing,
- 3D rendering,
- Smart card authentication,
- And more.
The published applications feature can leverage the Blast Extreme Adaptive Transport (BEAT) and PC over IP (PCoIP) display protocols from VMware, providing a rich user experience using zero, thin, laptop, PC or mobile clients over LAN, WAN or bandwidth-limited connections.
The Horizon Cloud administration console provides a single, administrative, graphical user interface where all management operations are performed. Start with the initial buildout and configuration of the environment and then move on to image creation and farm configuration and entitlements.
Create and manage RDSH desktop farms and virtual machines (VMs). These farms provide session based desktops where several users share the same server to deliver a rich desktop experience.
OK. That makes sense to have one administration console to manage a RDSH environment in Azure. It also makes sense to have several users sharing the same RDSH server.
But, how many users can I get on a RDSH server? How big is the RDSH server? How many RDSH servers do I need?
That is one of the major challenges facing system architects when designing an environment: How to identify how many users can share a single RDSH server in a farm. But that’s not all. A good system architect will also want to ensure their end users have a good user experience, in addition to maximizing the number of users on a RDSH server to help minimize costs.
Azure has a wide selection (i.e. types and sizes) of VM instances. This includes the Microsoft Azure Dv2 Series, a family of VMs for use with RDS servers, due to the CPU-to-memory ratios.
OK. That makes sense. I need to understand my end users and group them accordingly. I also need to figure out if I need a few big servers or several small servers and how much that is going to cost.
So how do I save money and control ongoing costs?
With cloud delivery of infrastructure, there is no longer the upfront cost of buying expensive servers or the ongoing costs of maintaining the servers, including the cost of housing, cooling and administration.
In Microsoft Azure, a VM that is powered off (and deallocated) does not incur compute charges. Even though such a VM still incurs storage costs, the cost of compute is far greater than storage. As a result, if the farm’s servers can be powered off and deallocated, that will significantly reduce the monthly bill.
That makes sense that I want to be able to control my costs. So how do I manage all of this?
Horizon Cloud provides power management capabilities for the Microsoft Azure servers. Farms can be configured to have a minimum number of servers and a maximum number of servers, along with a sessions per server value.
The maximum number of servers multiplied by the sessions per server determines the maximum user population that can be served. The minimum number of servers determines the minimum servers that will be powered on.
That makes sense that if a server is not in use is powered off and deallocated, I’ll be saving compute charges.
I’ve done my homework and have a good understanding of my user community and their computing needs. Now I want to get an idea of what my cloud environment might look like in Microsoft Azure, but I’m not sure which servers I’ll need and how many sessions I can get on them. What do I do now?
Glad you asked the question. See the new Horizon Cloud Service on Microsoft Azure whitepaper. This is a RDS desktop and scalability study that was done on four different Microsoft Azure server instances with both task and knowledge worker workloads.
This paper includes cost analysis and examples that are very informative. As always, no two users and no two enterprises are the same, but I think you’ll find this whitepaper very informative.