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App Volumes 4 for Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure is Available Now

Part of the challenge of maintaining an efficient desktop virtualization environment is managing applications, especially as environments scale up and, increasingly, out beyond on-premises data centers and into the cloud. App Volumes is a key product that streamlines application management in virtualized desktop environments.

App Volumes allows customers to drastically reduce the number of gold images that must be maintained by moving the applications into manageable packages. Organizations can standardize on a relatively small number of gold images while apps are assigned to users and delivered in real time at logon. The latest version of App Volumes was released in January 2020 for vSphere-based workloads. This new version introduced a new capability called Simplified Application Management (SAM), which optimizes the process of managing the entire application lifecycle, from packaging and updating to retirement, all from the Horizon control plane.

Today, App Volumes 4 and its next generation capabilities such as Simplified Application Management are now available for Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure! With this latest release, customers leveraging Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure can reduce the size and quantity of their gold images in Azure, which directly results in reduced storage costs in and less time spent managing and updating images. Additionally, you can then drastically reduce the time spent in managing applications with SAM.

App Volumes for Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure has been designed keeping the customer journey in mind. The following 3 guiding principles shaped this offering:

• First, we have made it very easy for our existing Horizon Cloud on Azure customers to adopt App Volumes. Customers no longer need to deploy and manage servers, databases or storage. All of this is auto provisioned and managed by VMware on the customer’s behalf.

• Second, we have ensured that our on-premises App Volumes customers can easily expand their footprint into Horizon Cloud on Azure. We have built capabilities and tooling to allow migrating of app packages from on-premises to cloud without repackaging.

• Finally, we’ve maintained feature consistency between the on-premises and Azure versions of the product. App Volumes is now truly a multi-cloud, hybrid cloud solution that will work with your deployment no matter where you are in your digital transformation.

Now let’s talk about some specific capabilities:

Cloud Native Packaging

Customers can now build packages using all the resources such as desktops and images available within Horizon Cloud. No need for command line tools to build app packages on local machines and then upload them to the cloud.

Realtime Application Delivery via Azure File Shares

App Volumes leverages the strengths of Azure storage to manage and deliver App packages to virtual desktop users. Azure storage is auto provisioned for the customer during setup. Since Azure has a consumption-based pricing model, there is no upfront storage costs. As customers build packages and delivers them via Azure file shares, the storage usage is directly billed to the customer’s Azure subscription. While in the on-prem flavor of the product, applications are packaged in the VMDK format, in Azure they are packaged and delivered in Microsoft’s native VHD format, for optimal performance in Azure. For customers transitioning from on-prem to the cloud, tooling is provided to convert from VMDK to VHD format.

User Interface Seamlessly Integrated into the Horizon Cloud Console

With this release, the App Volumes User interface has been rebuilt to seamlessly integrate into Horizon Cloud’s management console. By moving it into the Horizon Control Plane, App Volumes is now well positioned to manage deployments, app inventory and assignments across clouds and on-prem soon. A true multi-cloud, hybrid-cloud solution.

What’s next?

We’re very excited about this release, but we’re not stopping there. In this release, we’re offering a preview of MSIX app attach management from the App Volumes console, as well as using app packages with Windows 10 Enterprise multi session.

MSIX App Attach

MSIX app attach is a new application management technique developed by Microsoft that delivers MSIX-packaged applications in virtual disks. This approach effectively pre-expands the MSIX package so that it’s available to the user when the virtual disk is attached. VMware has been working with Microsoft to bring the MSIX format to App Volumes, which allows admins to assign both App Volumes and MSIX packages from the same interface.

More information on this capability is available from the following locations:

• VMware Blogs: Sneak a peek at what VMware is doing with Microsoft MSIX app attach in App Volumes 4

• Microsoft Tech Community: MSIX app attach in Windows 10 multi-session update

Windows 10 Enterprise Multi-Session

One of the most attractive benefits of Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure and its support for the features of Windows Virtual Desktop is the ability to leverage Windows 10 Enterprise multi-session – a session hosted desktop virtualization environment that leverages Windows 10 instead of Windows Server. This OS is exclusive to customers that are eligible to use Windows Virtual Desktop, and we have included a preview of our support for it as part of this release.

Next steps

The savings of Simplified Application Management are hard to exaggerate. Admins save countless hours by building and assigning applications one time rather than maintaining separate packages\for each platform. Updates, rollbacks and retirements also apply, and every app an environment has makes Simplified Application Management that much more valuable.

Hopefully you’re as excited about the value of VMware App Volumes and Simplified Application Management as we are! If you’re ready to check it out and are already a Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure customer with an Azure-based control plane, upgrade to the latest version of the smart node and log a request to turn it on for your tenant. If you aren’t yet a customer and want to kick the tires to learn more about our modern hybrid and multi-cloud desktop virtualization platform, you can sign up for a 90-day free trial.

For more information, check out these resources:

VMware TechZone – technical blogs and best practices

Master Path for Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure – learn everything you need to know to get started with Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure

App Volumes Applications – Overview and Prerequisites