Arraya Insights | October 23, 2020
Last month, VMware released Horizon 8, the newest iteration of its application and desktop virtualization platform. As updates do, this one brought plenty of changes, adding new features and capabilities for admins to deploy and subtracting others that, while familiar, have grown replaceable. Horizon, by its nature, is an almost essential tool for the remote-first, dispersed workforce era that we find ourselves in right now. These latest revisions seem set to only amplify that fact.
Since the solution’s release in early August, the members of the data center team here at Arraya have dug in to the most noteworthy additions (and subtractions) coming as part of Horizon 8. Here’s what they found.
Addition: Expanded Instant Clones availability and functionality
When the Instant Clones feature officially debuted in Horizon 7, it was limited to only the upper, enterprise edition. That’s no longer the case as of Horizon 8. Organizations at both the standard and advanced product tiers will also now have access to Instant Clones, on top of ongoing access at the enterprise level.
For those new to Instant Clones, this feature involves splitting, or forking, a running VM into a newly spun-up child VM. This allows for rapid, just-in-time VDI deployments. Once created, the clone can be customized (MAC address, etc.) while still sharing characteristics with its parent VM (memory, disk). Any modifications are saved separately, however, preserving space as well as keeping a secure gap between the two machines.
The very presence of Instant Clones across all Horizon 8 tiers isn’t the only change on tap for this feature. Smart Provisioning lets Horizon decide the best and most efficient way to spin up a clone. When speed is of the essence, Horizon can provision a clone tied to a parent VM. When speed is less of a concern, a clone can be created independent of a parent. Also new to Instant Clones in Horizon 8 is Dynamic Pool Expansion and Elastic Distributed Resource Scheduler. This lets Horizon leverage host public or private cloud resources to pivot dynamically in the event of a spike in demand.
Subtraction: Linked Clones
As a direct result of Instant Clones’ expansion, another Horizon feature has been rendered somewhat superfluous. Horizon 8 marks the end of the line for Linked Clones, which formerly served as the standard and advanced tiers’ less speedy answer to Instant Clones. It’s worth noting, Linked Clones will still be available for those organizations not yet ready to leave Horizon 7 behind. Those who do choose to upgrade, will be able to switch to Instant Clones-only.
Addition: Cloud capabilities
Horizon 8 will include expanded support for VMware’s cloud portfolio. Organizations can use one (or more) of these solutions to scale and provision workloads as needed. Right now, this includes support for VMware Horizon on Google Cloud VMware Engine and VMware Horizon on VMware Cloud on Dell EMC. Support for VMware Horizon on Azure VMware Solution will be possible upon the release of that particular solution. All three of these technologies are built on a base of VMware Cloud Foundation.
Subtractions: Entitlement support
A trio of entitlements have been removed from Horizon: vSAN Advanced for Desktop, vRealize Operations for Horizon and, lastly, Fusion. Note: Organizations with existing Support and Subscription Services (SnS) contracts for any of these solutions will retain access to them and these contracts can be renewed. Furthermore, ongoing vSAN Advanced for Desktop and Fusion licenses can both be purchased as necessary. The solutions will just no longer be built in to (and bundled with) Horizon.
Addition: Support for ControlUp
Horizon 8 has added support for ControlUp. Admins will be able to use this utility to perform the various advanced monitoring, reporting, troubleshooting and root cause analysis they used to do via vRealize for Operations. ControlUp can be run either in the cloud or on prem and will need to be purchased as an add-on to Horizon.
Addition and Subtraction: Revised profile management
Horizon users at the standard and advanced levels will no longer need to rely on Persona Management to oversee profiles. Instead, they’ll now have access to VMware’s Dynamic Environment Manager (Standard Edition) utility for that purpose. Dynamic Environment Manager offers a simplified end-user profile management experience. It gives admins a single spot from which they can manage profiles and policies from all corners of their on prem and cloud-based environments. They can do so while also getting end users access to the desktop or app they need faster by streamlining profiles and logons.
Addition: Support for RESTful APIs
Full support for new RESTful APIs is standard in Horizon 8. RESTful APIs deliver some much-needed consistency across products as well as data formats. RESTful APIs can be interacted with in the same way, no matter the product and they traffic data in a consistent, JSON format. By way of these abilities, admins can automate and orchestrate formerly manual environment monitoring duties as well as user and machine management services.
Addition: Linux application hosting
Good news for Linux shops: Horizon 8 plays nicely with the operating system. As a result, organizations can publish their Linux apps directly from a server hosted on Horizon. This, again, contributes both to management simplification and reduced costs.
Next Steps: Tallying up the pros and cons of Horizon 8
One other feature worth noting? Horizon 8’s scalability. VMware boasts that the platform can support up to one million users in a cloud pod architecture. When you weigh this (and the above) new additions against the subtractions, to our team, it seems like those who make the move to Horizon 8 should have no trouble seeing a return on their investment and coming out ahead.
If you’d like to learn more about Horizon 8, or would like to have a conversation about the present and future of your data center, reach out to our team of experts today!
Visit https://www.arrayasolutions.com/contact-us/ to connect with our team now.
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