How VMware Horizon Made my Onboarding Experience Delightful

Jul 17, 2020
Phoebe He

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Phoebe He is a product marketer for VMware Horizon, a VDI platform that helps companies simplify the delivery and management of virtual desktops and applications.

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After an amazing summer internship as a product marketing intern last year, I was extremely excited to start my full-time role at VMware upon my graduation from MBA this June. Given the current challenging situation where almost everyone has to work from home and business has to be conducted remotely, I was nervous that not having an in-person onboarding experience would hinder my ability to successfully and smoothly transition into my new role.

Thankfully, my remote onboarding experience with VMware as a new employee could not have been more efficient and delightful! There were three facets of onboarding that really jumped out at me.

First, I was surprised how quickly I had access to my corporate applications to be productive starting on Day 1, especially considering I moved my start date up a couple of weeks, giving VMware IT even less time to prepare for my onboarding. VMware IT provided me with a virtual desktop powered by VMware Horizon. Right before onboarding, I was given easy instructions on how to leverage a virtual desktop from my personal laptop for temporary use before my corporate laptop arrived. All I needed to do was log into my Horizon virtual desktop from my web browser with my VMware employee credentials. The whole process took me less than 20 seconds with no IT intervention!

Onboarding Experience

Screenshot 1, My VMware Horizon Desktop with all the apps I need after logged in with my VMware employee credentials.

 

Second, I was amazed by the quality of the Windows 10 desktop experience Horizon provided. With a 7-year-old personal MacBook laptop on hand, I was just as productive as if I had a fully provisioned corporate laptop on Day 1. After accessing my virtual desktop from our Workspace ONE Intelligent Hub login page, I was instantly presented with a beautiful and high-performing Windows 10 desktop delivered straight to my laptop. I was able to access all the applications I needed for my job immediately, whether it be Slack, Microsoft Office Suite, or Chrome. Having the native Excel spreadsheet experience delivered from a webpage to an old MacBook was exactly what I needed to get started.

Onboarding Experience

Screenshot 2, Native Excel spreadsheet experience accessed from my VMware Horizon webpage.

 

Last but not least, my favorite part of my experience was that I didn’t need to log into every corporate application separately. My credentials used to log into the Horizon desktop was passed through SSO, so all my apps, such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, were already signed into with my corporate account. On top of that, I didn’t need to download a single thing onto my laptop, so my laptop stayed, well, personal after I exited the Horizon webpage. How cool is that!

Onboarding Experience

Screenshot 3, Zoom was already signed in with my corporate account through SSO.

Behind the scenes with VMware IT

Immediately after onboarding, my curiosity drove me straight to VMware’s IT team to find out how they enabled such a fast and smooth virtual desktop experience for VMware’s fully remote workforce. The Information Systems team gave me a walkthrough of the architecture and administration of VMware’s Horizon VDI setup. After the conversation, I began to deeply appreciate what it took to keep a company of VMware’s size running completely normal when the WFH mandate suddenly hit tens of thousands of employees at VMware. Digital workspace has been a hot topic before the pandemic, and now it’s truly under the spotlight in every IT organization. Thankfully, VMware’s hybrid cloud Horizon setup was designed to take on time-sensitive challenges like this without compromising IT management capabilities and end-user experience.

The IT team has deployed Horizon VMware Cloud™ (VMC) on AWS internally for our staff, built for scalability, security, and user experience. Several thoughtfully developed technical features enabled my seamless onboarding experience:

• Scalability: Horizon on VMC on AWS provides IT the ability to deploy a scalable and secure hybrid cloud for virtual desktops and apps by extending on-premises vSphere environment to the AWS Cloud. IT can elastically increase its Horizon capacity in a short period of time without investing more hardware on premise. This is especially important for situations like this when a sudden influx of employees who don’t necessarily have their current corporate laptops configured to the optimal remote working settings need to work remotely.

• Security: Although I didn’t feel any burden of getting through layers of security while connecting to my work resources from my personal laptop, it doesn’t mean security wasn’t taken into consideration. In fact, Horizon VMC on AWS provides end-to-end security from the data center to end-user devices. Especially when integrated with NSX-T, IT can expect seamless connectivity and security services for all types of endpoints, including my virtual desktop – regardless of where those endpoints are. While I am provided a great end-user experience with only needing to input my credentials once at the beginning, IT can rest assured that the data and information on my virtual desktop and applications throughout my entire session is safely managed from a central location.v

• User experience: Thanks to Dynamic Environment Manager (DEM), I can receive a personalized and persistent desktop with a selection of apps and policies tailored to me. Blast Extreme display protocol enables a fast and high-quality connection between my Horizon desktop and my endpoint device, so I enjoy lossless image quality and smooth Zoom calls without any lagging. NSX Advanced Load Balancer (fromerly Avi Networks) provides session-based load-balancing and automated deployment capability in any data center or cloud from a single point of control. I was provided a consistently high-performance virtual desktop and applications experience, even when hundreds of other remote employees were signing into their virtual desktops at the same time.

It’s not as hard as you think

You must be thinking that deploying an infrastructure like this for instant delivery of virtual desktops to thousands of employees must be highly complicated and time consuming. It’s not! It took the VMware IT team 15 business days to set up our Horizon VMware Cloud™ on AWS instance, which enabled thousands of colleagues to access work resources from anywhere on any device.

Managing a virtual desktop deployment in a hybrid environment is also made easy through a universal control plane. Among the thousands of floating desktops IT currently manages, some of them are deployed on-premises with the rest in the cloud. CET can now control capabilities distributed in private data centers and public clouds through a single admin console and management services that span multiple hosts, significantly increasing real-time visibility and reducing management complexity.

Closing thoughts

As you can imagine, I was blown away by how quickly Horizon can deploy robust remote working capabilities and deliver fantastic end-user experience. As a new employee who had to start remotely, I was fully onboarded and productive on Day 1, before I even received my corporate laptop.

The story of an impressed new employee’s onboarding journey didn’t just end there. A couple of days later, I received my corporate laptop, a brand-new MacBook Pro. In my past work experiences, IT would need to enroll and configure my laptop to make it “work-ready” by either working on it in-person or taking control remotely. This time, I simply followed 5-step setup instructions upon powering on my machine, and VMware Workspace ONE automatically enrolled my device and configured all the necessary apps and security policies.

Using Workspace ONE Intelligent Hub, I was able to securely access all corporate apps and resources from a unified catalog. I can find every application ranging from productivity tools such as Microsoft Teams to employee benefits apps. If I ever want to access to the virtual desktop I used a few days ago, guess what, I can find Horizon in the app catalog and get access right away! With Workspace ONE single sign-on (SSO) capabilities, I don’t need to input login credentials for each application every time I need them. It greatly helps me streamline access to the multiple apps I may need in a workday.

Onboarding Experience

Screenshot 4, Instant access to my Horizon desktop and virtual apps through Workspace ONE Intelligent Hub app catalog

 

I couldn’t have asked for a better remote onboarding experience as a new employee. The IT and HR departments at VMware had envisioned the future state of work and put in place a future-ready digital workspace solution that has clearly paid off during this unprecedented time. Learn more about you can quickly onboard and keep your remote workforce engaged, secure, and productive.

 

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