Word is quickly spreading about the new VMware Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure offering. We are excited about the integration with VMware Workspace ONE, a streamlined deployment model and the rich set of client features that VMware Horizon solutions are known for. (See Technical Insights about Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure for more details.)
Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure has a lot to offer, including bundled licenses for VMware User Environment Manager. This powerful end-user profile management tool provides a wide range of capabilities, such as personalization of Windows and apps, contextual policies for enhanced user experience and privilege elevation to aid in your privilege management strategy. Using Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure and User Environment Manager together helps you create a consistent Windows experience for all of your users.
User Environment Manager is flexible enough to run on physical, virtual and cloud-hosted machines. If you are already using User Environment Manager on physical or virtual desktops or Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH) servers, your knowledge transfers immediately to Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure.
You just bring your own Microsoft Azure infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) capacity, on which Horizon Cloud and User Environment Manager are deployed.
Install User Environment Manager with Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure
The process of deploying Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure is simple. The initial deployment automates a download of the Horizon Cloud Node and the VMware Unified Access Gateway appliances to your Azure environment. It also implements the required subnets, and other networking configurations. You can optionally use the included User Environment Manager licenses by installing a new instance or by leveraging an existing instance.
Infrastructure requirements are minimal, comprised primarily of Server Message Block (SMB) file shares. User Environment Manager uses one share for configuration data and another for profile archive data. You can deploy one or more Windows Server Virtual Machines (VMs) on Microsoft Azure and configure file sharing. For comprehensive share requirements, see Installing and Configuring VMware User Environment Manager.
There are many server models available in the Microsoft Azure Marketplace that would work with User Environment Manager. Consider using Dv2, Dv3 or Ev3 series VMs to create file servers for the requisite SMB file shares. Add additional disks to accommodate increased performance demand (input/output operations per second, or IOPS) as needed.
Customers may use Microsoft Azure to extend their existing data centers in a hybrid-cloud model, or treat it as standalone, public-cloud capacity. Horizon Cloud and User Environment Manager accommodate both configurations.
For standalone, or single-site deployments, Installing and Configuring VMware User Environment Manager contains everything you need to know to deploy. Install and configure User Environment Manager in a public cloud the same way as on premises.
With the hybrid-cloud or multi-site model, Microsoft Azure capacity is essentially a remote customer data center. The VMware Horizon 7 Enterprise Edition Multi-Site Reference Architecture whitepaper provides detailed information to configure User Environment Manager for a consistent user experience as end users roam from site to site.
Optimizing Performance of User Environment Manager for Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure VMs
A common question for multi-site User Environment Manager deployments is whether users from multiple sites can access a single SMB file share instance at the primary data center. While this is possible, there are design considerations to ensure the best user experience.
DirectFlex is a feature of User Environment Manager that reads and writes personalization data as users open and close applications. This feature fetches configuration data only as it is needed instead of reading it completely during logon. This improves the efficiency of the User Environment Manager agent.
DirectFlex will make frequent requests to the SMB file servers hosting the User Environment Manager configuration and user shares. The latency of these requests directly affects the end-user experience. Typically, anything less than 20 milliseconds has no noticeable impact. As latency gets worse, the chance and severity of impact to the user experience increases.
Even a high-performing ExpressRoute may have latency greater than 20 milliseconds, so it is recommended to deploy User Environment Manager in the same Microsoft Azure region as your Horizon Cloud Node.
If the design goal is to have a single User Environment Manager deployment for both on-premises and cloud-hosted VMs, Distributed File System (DFS) replication is recommended. This model provides IT with a single point of administration, while keeping configuration and user data geographically near the VMs accessing the data.
The0 VMware Horizon 7 Enterprise Edition Multi-Site Reference Architecture guide provides more detail on configuring DFS for multi-site User Environment Manager deployments.
User Environment Manager is typically configured and enabled using ADMX templates with Group Policy, and Logon or Logoff Scripts. Version 9.1 introduced an alternative, XML-based option called NoAD Mode. NoAD Mode simplifies administration by eliminating the need to create and manage GPOs. You may use it for on-premises, hybrid-cloud and public-cloud deployments of User Environment Manager.
NoAD Mode benefits you because it is not dependent on Domain Controllers and GPO replication. This makes it ideal for hybrid-cloud or multi-site configurations. While not a requirement, we recommend looking at the NoAD Mode option, especially for hybrid-cloud and public-cloud deployments.
- Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure is the newest offering in the Horizon Cloud Services suite. We have several new videos to help acquaint you with Deploying and Using VMware Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure.
- User Environment Manager seamlessly integrates with Horizon Cloud for a consistent user experience across physical, virtual and cloud-hosted PCs and RDSH servers.
- If you are not yet familiar with User Environment Manager, but interested in trying it, VMware User Environment Manager Deployed in 60 Minutes or Less will show you how quickly you can get value from this product. In fact, we have an entire YouTube playlist dedicated to helping you get the most from User Environment Manager.