I spend a lot of time talking about why VMware Horizon is great, and why anyone struggling with outdated or legacy environments should take a look. We’ve actually covered a few of those topics recently, but today I wanted to take a different approach. Rather than writing about Horizon through the lens of VMware marketing, I decided to reach out to folks in the field that work on Horizon projects every day to find out what they think – and hear from our customers – are the most beneficial features of Horizon.
As expected, I got a significant amount of feedback, and I wanted to share that here. So, without further ado, let’s jump into the top 10 things that are awesome about VMware Horizon!
1. Tightly integrated components
A desktop virtualization platform that’s a mishmash of acquired products often behaves like one, resulting in management headaches and multiple support calls. With Horizon, VMware has taken great care to integrate the various components into a cohesive platform in support of a common EUC vision. The best examples of this are with App Volumes and Dynamic Environment Manager, and you can see how we’re continuing down that path with the addition of Workspace ONE UEM management of virtual desktops.
2. Simplified management across the board
As you read on, you’ll note a common thread of simplified management, but it’s worth calling it out as a standalone benefit, too. Horizon and its supporting components have been built to make your life easier and your environment less complex. Universal Broker removes the need for inter-site communications and GSLB; Dynamic Environment Manager requires no server infrastructure – relying only on CIFS shares and a GPO-configurable agent. And App Volumes can be implemented without having to fundamentally alter the way desktops are created and deployed.
Simply put, Horizon is built to satisfy all your use cases without all the complexity.
3. Advanced User Configuration Management
VMware Dynamic Environment Manager (DEM) is a critical piece to successful Horizon environments in large part because, as one person put it, it’s the Swiss Army Knife of Windows settings management. Without DEM, you’d have to assemble multiple other tools and scripts to accomplish all the things DEM can do. If you find yourself in this situation, consider this:
With DEM, which is part of VMware Horizon, you can configure user environment and application settings that can be applied to a user on physical or virtual machines without the use of GPOs. DEM eliminates the problems of legacy profile management by removing the need for roaming profiles — speeding up login times and increasing stability — plus it works with the FSLogix technology that’s built into Windows, which means you get the best of both worlds.
4. User Self-Service
While we’re on the subject of simplifying management, DEM has an important feature called User Self-Service that allows users to roll back their environment to an earlier state without having to call the help desk. Fewer calls to the help desk means more bandwidth for dealing with other things… or more sleep at night.
5. App Volumes
Perhaps the single most beneficial feature of Horizon is App Volumes. One of many features that leverages unique integration with VMware SDDC, App Volumes is the key to simplified application management. With App Volumes, you can package an application one time and deploy it to any platform, on-premises or in the cloud, physical or virtual. This approach makes it easy for you to separate image and application management by reducing the number (and size) of base images and compartmentalizing applications for easy updates and rollbacks.
Perhaps the best part is that you don’t have the change the way you manage your images or other applications to use it! App Volumes works seamlessly with other technologies, and even supports assigning VMware ThinApp and Microsoft MSIX packages from the same interface you’d use to assign App Volumes AppStacks. Plus, App Volumes is responsible for the next benefit…
6. User Writeable Volumes
User Writeable Volumes is a feature of App Volumes that admins can use to allow users to install and configure their own applications so that they follow the user between desktop sessions. A User Writeable Volume is essentially a VMDK or VHD virtual disk that is specific to each user. This virtual disk is attached at logon and allows the user’s self-installed applications and data to follow them between VDI sessions–even to non-persistent desktops.
More information is available in the product documentation.
7. Deep integration with VMware SDDC
I’ve written about this recently, but included it here since it was something that everyone called out as a huge benefit. VMware Horizon runs exclusively on VMware Software-Defined Data Center infrastructure, and that gives it several unique benefits, including:
- The ability to use App Volumes with VMDK files that effectively separate images from applications without incurring all the management overhead of more cumbersome approaches.
- Intrinsic security built into the entire platform, from vSphere, through VMware NSX and SASE, all the way to Carbon Black in the virtual desktops themselves.
- Hybrid capabilities that let you run your exact on-premises environment in the public cloud.
8. The Horizon Control Plane
It’s hard to believe this item is this far down the list, but that’s a testament to how many amazing things are in Horizon! The Horizon Control Plane is a cloud-native service from VMware that allows you to manage Horizon environments wherever they may be, on-premises or in the cloud. The multi-tenant control plane is operated by VMware and evolving to provide a single pane of glass to manage all your environments. Here are some of the most notable features:
Universal Broker (mentioned briefly above) lives in the control plane and serves as a single URL for users to access all desktops and applications assigned to them. Admins can assign resources one time instead of on a per-environment (or per-pod) basis, and they no longer need to maintain inter-site networking or GSLB.
Image Management Service is a feature of the control plane that creates a centralized image catalog that streamlines image tracking and selection. Automated image publishing accelerates replication to all connected vCenters and pods across multiple environments, on-premises and in VMware Cloud-certified public cloud providers.
The Cloud Monitoring Service (CMS) provides real-time monitoring and alerts across all Horizon environments from a single interface. Data collected includes client connection statistics, Blast protocol information, and resource utilization. CMS also includes a help desk tool that has basic troubleshooting and remote user assistance capabilities.
For more information, check out our blog series where the product managers explain the features of the Horizon Control Plane.
9. ControlUp Integration
Last year, VMware established a partnership with ControlUp that established a new monitoring capability called VMware Advanced Monitoring for Horizon. With this add-on to Horizon, customers get access to both ControlUp’s comprehensive real-time monitoring product and their powerful automation framework that can proactively avoid or reactively fix issues across the desktop virtualization spectrum, including issues with App Volumes, Unified Access Gateway, the Blast protocol and even thin clients.
For a deeper dive on the awesome things you can do with ControlUp and Horizon, check out our featured technical guide.
10. Anywhere Workspace and our overall EUC vision
If you’re not aware of VMware Anywhere Workspace, it’s a set of technologies that VMware has assembled to meet the demands of an increasingly distributed workforce. The goals of Anywhere Workspace are to deliver a consistent, secure and easy-to-use employee experience regardless of where the user is or what device they’re using. As you can imagine, Horizon is a huge part of this, as is VMware Workspace ONE.
Leaning on the tight integration mentioned earlier, customers can use Workspace ONE Access to deliver a consistent interface to end-users so that their Horizon desktops and applications are available from the same interface as all their other applications. Workspace ONE Intelligence provides operational intelligence that you can use to further secure your environment and ensure device compliance in Workspace ONE UEM.
There you have it — 10 reasons why VMware Horizon is awesome! We barely scratched the surface, but there is a lot more content available on each of these topics. If you want to learn more, head over to our “Top Reasons to Leave Your Legacy Environment Behind” page.
Don’t forget to check out our other blog posts and VMware Tech Zone, where you’ll find resources like these:
- Why VMware Horizon is the clear choice to replace your legacy desktop virtualization environment
- Three ways VMware App Volumes improves your app management experience
- Mastering VMware Horizon
- Mastering Dynamic Environment Manager
- Horizon Control Plane Services
- What is VMware Horizon and how does it work?
- Best Practices for Published Applications and Desktops in VMware Horizon Apps