One year ago, Microsoft announced Windows Virtual Desktop, a platform that combines cloud-native resources with specific product entitlements to deliver a virtual desktop and application experience that resides only in Microsoft Azure.
Windows Virtual Desktop announced worldwide general availability today, and we’re very excited because VMware has partnered with Microsoft to extend the features of Windows Virtual Desktop to Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure. When the new Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure solution is generally available, this partnership will enable VMware customers to enjoy the benefits of Horizon Cloud with the features of Windows Virtual Desktop, including Windows 10 Enterprise multi-session and free Extended Security Updates for Windows 7 for up to three years. We believe the combined functionality of Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure and Windows Virtual Desktop will provide the best of an enterprise-class feature set and flexibility of a cloud native offering that our customers can leverage.
What is VMware Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure?
As the name suggests, VMware Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure is a cloud-native desktop and application virtualization service built to run specifically on Microsoft Azure. As part of the overall VMware Horizon portfolio of desktop and application virtualization services, Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure gives organizations the ability to connect their own instance of Microsoft Azure to the simple, intuitive Horizon Cloud control plane, creating a secure, comprehensive, and enterprise-class cloud-hosted solution for delivering virtualized Windows applications and desktops.
Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure exists today, and you can even sign up for a free 45-day trial.
How will Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure extend Windows Virtual Desktop?
VMware is currently adding support for Windows Virtual Desktop in Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure. We will have a Tech Preview later in 2019, which you can register for right now. Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure will add industry-leading functionality to the benefits that you can only receive on Azure with Windows Virtual Desktop, in particular Windows 10 Enterprise multi-session and up to three years of free Extended Security Updates for Windows 7.
In addition to the benefits of Windows Virtual Desktop, Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure customers will enjoy a robust set of features, like:
• Broad endpoint support
• Enhanced remote experience
• Cloud-optimized brokering and architecture
• Flexible desktop options and configurations
• User environment management
• Support for hybrid environments
Let’s take a quick look at each of these.
Broad endpoint support
Horizon Cloud has clients for every mainstream OS, including Windows (both Win32 and UWP), HTML5, macOS, iOS, Android, and Linux. Additionally, VMware has a large third-party thin client ecosystem, featuring partners like Dell, IGEL, 10zig, HP, and more. With these clients, users can expect broad peripheral support that includes USB support as well as camera, smart card, and printer redirection.
Enhanced remote experience
Horizon Cloud uses the Blast Extreme and PCoIP protocols to deliver enterprise-class features such as Network Intelligent Transport, which uses TCP and UDP to adapt and optimize the end user experience in real time based on network conditions. This, combined with support for multiple codecs, delivers a superior user experience regardless of client, connection, geographic location, workload, or endpoint.
Cloud-optimized brokering and architecture
Our current approach to brokering separates the broker from the gateway so that gateways can be placed near the workloads, resulting in the shortest path between endpoints and desktops/applications. This approach eliminates hairpinning, increases performance, elevates the user experience, and eliminates common problems that arise when hosting resources in the cloud. When released for Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure, VMware’s next-generation Universal Broker will move the broker to the cloud and add intelligence that automatically routes end users to the most appropriate virtual workspace based on criteria like endpoint or location.
Support for hybrid environments
Horizon Cloud leverages a control plane that allows customers to deploy virtual desktops and applications in hybrid and multi-cloud locations. In fact, the cloud-based intelligent broker gives you the ability to deploy, manage, maintain, and monitor desktops running in multiple locations, including on-premises. This model supports bring-your-own-cloud, hybrid environments, disaster recovery, multi-cloud, and cloud bursting scenarios, and it enables you to route your users to the most appropriate environment based on each individual use case.
For example, a user that requires an application that only runs on Windows 7 might be routed to virtual machines on Azure with Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure, while other users might be connected to applications or desktops running on-premises in Horizon 7. For customers connecting to Windows 10 Enterprise multi-session, exclusive to Azure and Windows Virtual Desktop, your virtual machines will always route to Microsoft Azure.
Flexible desktop options and configurations
Horizon Cloud leverages a control plane that allows customers to manage desktop deployments in any location, including on-premises and Microsoft Azure, from a single pane of glass. This, combined with support for persistent and non-persistent desktops, published applications, and support for a broad range of Azure VM instances, means that customers have the ability to deploy virtual desktops and applications in the ways that make the most sense for their use case.
User Environment Management
Microsoft’s acquisition of FSLogix solves many problems around profile management, and we expect the containerization technology from FSLogix to become the de facto standard across the industry. Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure will build upon those features with VMware Dynamic Environment Manager (formerly VMware User Environment Manager). Dynamic Environment Manager will work alongside FSLogix Profile Containers and Office 365 Containers to provide user personalization and policy configuration capabilities.
This is an exciting time in desktop virtualization, and we are happy to be ushering in the new era of desktops and applications in the cloud with our partnership with Microsoft. VMware Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure is available today, and existing customers with the proper entitlements will automatically receive the benefits of Windows Virtual Desktop when VMware’s support becomes generally available.
In the meantime, you can register now for a Tech Preview of our support for the extended features of Windows Virtual Desktop, which will be available in 2019. If you’re not already a Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure customer, we invite you to learn more by signing up for a free 45-day trial.