Look at the Horizon! VMware’s Horizon Suite is finally here

vmware_horizon_suite logoFor years VMware has been busy creating a range of Horizon-like products. At VMworld 2009 there was already a preview of what the folks in Palo Alto were working on.
Since then a lot has changed, AppBlast was shown, Octopus came (and went again).

30 minutes ago VMware finally launched their new range of end user computing products called the VMware Horizon Suite.

So, what does Horizon consist of? Well, actually Horizon is the new name for the collection of ALL End User Computing (EUC) products VMware has to offer, some of which you already know and love, like VMware View and ThinApp. But now the new cool products are finally here!

So, what is VMware Horizon Suite? It consists of these products:

Horizon Suite

VMware Horizon View

View box

VMware View is now as part of the new Horizon Suite and it got a new name VMware Horizon View 5.2. It is just a minor .2 release but VMware put a lot of effort in this new View version and added

significant number of features to improve View performance, scalability and user experience.

  • Improved storage efficiency with SEsparse Disks
    Horizon View 5.2 uses a new vSphere capability that implements a new disk format for virtual machines on VMFS that allows for reduction in size and utilization allocated blocks more efficiently by filling it with real data. Unused space is reclaimed and View Composer desktops stay small.
  • Unified Client with View Desktops in Horizon
    When co-installed with Horizon Suite the View Desktop pools are connected into Horizon Suite after they are provisioned. The Horizon Suite provides a single point of access for end users to their desktops, data and applications. Horizon Suite supports SSO brokering user to the available desktops based on entitlement policy.
  • Clientless HTML5 Access to View Desktops & Apps
    Access to View desktops and applications via Horizon is possible from any modern device using a remote protocol delivered through any HTML5 capable web-browser.This is the technology previously code-named AppBlast. It will direct users to existing View desktops leveraging Horizon View Security Server for network routing when available. This is a true install-free access to virtual Desktops.
  • Hardware Accelerated 3D Graphics
    Horizon View 5.2 uses a new vSphere capability that enables shared access to physical GPU hardware for 3D and high performance graphical workloads. Virtual desktops still see abstracted VMware SVGA device for maximum compatibility & portability, but use Accelerated 3D Graphics , enabling truly high performance graphics in a cot effective manner with multiple VMs sharing a single GPU resource. The solution is fully compatible with hosts lacking physical GPUs (for vMotion, DRS, etc).
  • Improved Video Chat with MSFT Lync Support
    Horizon View 5.2 provides Microsoft Lync 2013 client support, including full support for UC VoIP and Video on both RDP and PCoIP. This new feature enable a tighter integration between Microsoft Lync and Office applications with full collaboration capabilities. Some of the features are compresses USB webcam traffic upstream for reduced bandwidth usage,leverages UDP based channel for improved WAN performance, enabling improved performance of USB media devices.
  • Windows 8 Desktop Support
    Horizon View 5.2 now fully supports Windows 8 virtual desktops as guest OS. It also comes aligned with the Windows 8 Client Support.
  • PCoIP New Features
    • Support for MITM (Man-In-The-Middle) network devices
    • PCoIP GPO settings take effect immediately when changed (host side only).
    • Relative Mouse enablement (supported by latest Windows View client)
    • Multi Touch enablement (supported by latest Windows View client)
  •  PCoIP Security Improvements.
    • Port scanners that scan PCoIP Security Gateway now pass successfully.
    • OpenSLL upgraded to a more secure version.
    • Weak SSL ciphers removed.
  •  PCoIP Performance Improvements
    • Image caching supported on Teradici APEX card and Tera2 Zero Clients
    • Improved image cache management and compression
    • Bandwidth reductions in both the LAN and WAN environment
    • Support for vertical offset caching
    • Improved responsiveness and fluidity during scrolling
  • Horizon Based ThinApp Entitlement for View
    Horizon View 5.2 provides a tight linkage of View ThinApp Entitlement to the Horizon Workspace and includes a migration tool to help admins to import the current pool-based entitlements to the Horizon Workspace user/group entitlements. This approach unifies application entitlement across all end user devices & virtual desktops.
  • Large Pools with more than 8 hosts
    The 8 host cluster limit for Linked Clone pools using VMFS has been removed. The new limit is 32 hosts per cluster across the board for all pool types, Linked Clone or not. The added feature may completely change how VMware View deployments are designed and deployed for many customer.
  • Support for 10,000 virtual desktops per vCenter Server
    Horizon View now supports 10,000 virtual desktops per View pod with a single vCenter Server instance. In previous versions VMware had only validated 2,000 virtual desktops per vCenter Server.
  • Multi-VLAN support
    Multiple Network Label Assignment is being introduced with Horizon View 5.2. This is a powerful feature that allow administrators to utilize a single base image and assign it to multiple different VLANS or PortGroups. This first release comes only with PowerShell support; no Admin UI integration.
  • Provisioning, Rebalance, Recompose performance increase
    • More than 2X improvement on end to end provisioning time
    • Significant improvement on pool re-balance time
    • Availability of Rolling Refit Maintain allowing for a configurable minimum number of READY desktops during refit operations that support both automatic and semi-automatic linked clone pools

VMware Horizon Mirage

Mirage is VMware’s way to manage the physical world. These are the features that come with Mirage:

Simplified Desktop Management

Layered PC Image Management

Manage your PC image as a set of logical layers owned by either IT or the end-user. Update IT managed layers while maintaining end-user files and personalization. Then, if a PC is simply malfunctioning, IT can restore the system layers on an end point to fix an issue without overwriting user layers. Or, quickly migrate a user from an old PC to a new PC without losing any of their user data, profile, or user-installed applications during a hardware refresh cycle.


Desktop Recovery

Full PC snapshots and synchronizations of any IT or end-user initiated changes to the datacenter ensure quick desktop recovery. Minimize end-user downtime when an end user’s PC has been lost, stolen or damaged and quickly restore the end-user system to a new device.

Application Layering *NEW in 4.0*

Easily deploy applications or VMware ThinApp packages to any collection of end users by leveraging Horizon Mirage’s app layering technology.

Scalability with Low Infrastructure Footprint

Designed to support up to 1,500 end users per Mirage Server and can easily scale up to 20,000 end-users per server cluster.

Branch Office Optimization

Enable any Mirage Client endpoint into a Branch Reflector to optimize branch office management. Mirage Branch Reflector allows you to download any updates once from the Mirage Server and allow peer to peer updates to other Mirage Clients in the branch office. Advanced algorithms ensure that only required data is ever sent between the Mirage Server and Mirage Clients in a remote location or office.

Empowering End User Productivity Across Boundaries

Optimized and Adaptive Experience

The VMware Horizon Mirage client monitors the resources being used on an end user’s PC to make sure that the backup and synchronization processes never interferes with their productivity. Horizon Mirage will automatically throttle CPU, RAM and network usage up and down as needed to guarantee a seamless end user experience.

Personalized Performance

Allow end-users to leverage the local computing resources of their desktops and laptops and maintain offline productivity. VMware Horizon Mirage managed images can install natively onto the Windows PCs, or as virtual desktops on Mac or Linux desktops and laptops with Fusion Pro. Image layering gives end-users the flexibility to personalize and customize their systems.

Self-Service File Access & Recovery

The Mirage File Portal allows end users to access any file on their endpoint from any web browser. An end user can also restore any file or any directory on their own with just a few clicks on their PC.

VMware Horizon Workspace

Horizon Workspace is designed to bring everyone and everything together. It is designed to accomodate people with iPhones, Android phones, Windows laptops, Mac laptops and even Linux users, to sync data, access applications and desktopsand In itself, Workspace consists of three main modules:

  • Data Synchronization (formaly known as Project Octopus)
  • Web applications and Thinapp Packages (formaly known as Project AppBlast)
  • View desktop access from mobile devices


Combined with a single sign-on engine, Workspace offers a single webbased portal. From here your users can shared files, web based applications like Google Docs, SalesForce or Gmail, access your thinapped programs and connect to their View based desktop. The portal supports users with Windows, IOS, Android, Mac OS X and Linux. The next paragraphs describe the features of Workspace.

Simplified Workspace Management

Combine applications and data into a single aggregated workspace

  • Manage files, devices, applications and data through a single management console
  • Add, update and delete users via active directory. Manage internal and external users
  • Entitle and provision web applications through single sign on (SSO). Entitle and manage ThinApps
  • Quickly deploy new applications with data-as-a-service to stay competitive and build future growth opportunities
  • Offer user self-service application provisioning through an application catalogue

Complete Security and Control

Enterprise-grade security to meet industry compliance and security requirements

  • Fully on-premise solution gives total control to IT (security, SLAs, backups, upgrades, etc.)
  • Individual and group-based management to set policies and govern usage over files and data accessed and shared by and between end users — Prevents a security breach or compliance violation
  • Policies for data quota, allowed file types, max size, domains, expiration, external, version, hierarchical storage management
  • Ensure compliance with privacy regulatory and governmental policies
  • Inspect and audit file access, sharing and all other aspects of the service

Empower Employees with Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

Seamless access to enterprise applications and data, anywhere, anytime

  • Everywhere data access – in the office, at home or on the road
  • Full collaboration (folder/file sharing with anyone, external user access, versions, comments)
  • Improve end user productivity by providing end users with secure access to applications and files on any device from anywhere: iOS, Windows, Android, Mac, and all major browsers (including high-fidelity preview capability)
  • Reduce end-user downtime and service interruptions
  • Access to files each time users login (stateless desktop)

VMware Horizon – Suite

So, how does this fold into a suite? Take a look at this table:

Horizon Suite Products Overview

Now, there’s a point to pay attention to. VMware Horizon View is still licensed on a concurrend user basis. Mirage, Workspace and the whole suite, however, are per NAMED user.

More info can be found at VMware’s website.

VMware View 5.2 specs courtesy of Andre Leibovici of MyVirtualCloud.net

How to license Microsoft Windows 7 for VMware View deployments

I often get questions about how to license Microsoft Windows 7 in a VMware View VDI deployment, I will try to elaborate what is needed in general and for specific scenarios. By understanding how they apply to common VMware View scenarios you can calculate and try to get the most out of existing and new licenses needed.

Every device you want to use to access the VMware View environment, with Windows 7 Desktops, needs to be licensed. It does not matter if it is a PC, a Thin or Zero client, an iPad or similar devices, every device accessing Windows 7 via VDI needs to be licensed.

You have two ways to license the environment, you can utilize the Software Assurance Windows Virtual Desktop Access Use Rights benefit at no additional cost; or you purchase Windows VDA subscription. Windows VDA is licensed per access device. There is currently no option to license Windows VDA per user.

VDA through SA or VDA subscription?

Certain devices, such as thin or zero clients, do not qualify for Software Assurance coverage for Windows. To license these devices for use with VDI you will need Windows VDA subscription. The rule of thumb is that if it isn’t a full blown Windows Desktop Operating System with Software Assurance (SA) you will need VDA subscription licenses to access the VMware View vDesktops.


VMware ready for the Enterprise Hybrid Cloud

Yesterday VMware announced that it is ready to deliver the enterprise hybrid cloud with the availability of VMware vCloud Datacenter services.

For now this is only available from BlueLock and Colt and through beta services from Verizon.

VMware also introduced VMware vCloud Connector, a free plug-in that will allow deployment and management of virtual machines across VMware vCloud powered cloud services from within the VMware vSphere Client.

The vCloud Connector will be available for download in Q1 2011.


vSphere Licensing and Options Overview

Last week we got a question concerning the licensing options around vSphere and how to choose the correct edition and options from all the flavors and options offered by VMware. So while answering the questions concerning the licensing I thought back to a nice overview picture we had available a few years back from VMware. So that’s why I compiled two overview pictures where there is one for the SMB market and one for the Enterprise market. In the overview the current situation and options are summarized per edition.









Virtualize your remote offices using VMware Essentials RoBo

Some of you might already have been there. I know I have:

You have a large organization with more than 10 remote or branch offices. You have virtualized your entire back-end but those nasty site servers still remain a physical nuisance. Some regional offices have a complete data center with more than 20 servers just to make sure everyone can work locally. You want to virtualize it but you can’t convince your management to purchase 10 or more sets of Advanced of Enterprise (plus) licenses for those sites as that is far to expensive.

Now, what do you do? What I’ve done in the past is use a ‘free’ ESXi license and manage it as a standalone server. It is a possibility, but you lack a lot of enterprise features you really want to have. And what if the site is too big for just one host. And what about fail-over? One is None, we always say. So what’s the solution? (more…)

The VMware Infrastructure 3 Support Life Cycle

If you haven’t upgraded to VMware vSphere 4 by now, you should consider it and rethink your strategy. VMware has removed all but the most recent versions of their Virtual Infrastructure product binaries from their download page on June 17th. As of May 2010, the following Virtual infrastructure products have all reached end of general support according to the published support policy:

  • ESX 3.5 versions 3.5 GA, Update 1, Update 2, Update 3, Update 4
  • ESX 3.0 versions 3.0 GA, 3.01, 3.02, 3.03
  • ESX 2.x versions 2.5.0 GA, 2.5.1, 2.5.2, 2.1.3, 2.5.3, 2.1.2, 2.5.4
  • Virtual Center 2.5 GA, Update 1, Update 2, Update 3, Update 4, Update 5
  • Virtual Center 2.0


Updated: Determining VMware Build Numbers for several VMware Products

While I was updating the Determining VMware vCenter and ESX Build Numbers post I thought I would semi-automate the updating of the post with new build numbers for new releases, while working on it I started too fill an excel sheet and ended up with an excel sheet with the following products and build numbers for easy reference:

VMware vSphere 4 Suite (combines several products)
VMware Infrastructure 3 Suite (combines several products)
Cisco Nexus v1000 (1.0)
VMware ESXi (4.0, 3.5, 3.0)BuildNumbersExcelSheet
VMware ESX  (4.0, 3.5, 3.0, 2.5, 2.0, 1.5, 1.0)
VMware Server (2.0, 1.0)
VMware vCenter Server (4.0, 2.5, 2.0)
VMware vCenter Converter Standalone (4.0, 3.0)
VMware vCenter Lab Manager (4.0, 3.0, 2.5, 2.4)
VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager (4.0, 1.0)
VMware vCenter Server Heartbeat (5.5)
VMware vCenter Lifecycle Manager (1.0)
VMware vCenter CapacityIQ (1.0)
VMware vCenter AppSpeed (1.0)
VMware vCenter Chargeback (1.0)

Hyper-V R2 vs vSphere: A feature comparison

At the end of May of this year we wrote a article concerning Hypervisor comparisons and we got a lot of positive feedback on it. The downside to that is that people want an update as soon as one of the companies launches a new version of its product, and who can blame them. However the issue is that this takes a lot of research and because of that, a lot of time. And because two of us are ill and in bed wearing a sombrero ;-) and the other two are extremely busy, we simply don’t have that time right now.

However, Scott Lowe has written an excellent article on the feature comparison between VMware vSphere 4 and Microsoft’s Hyper-V R2 which is a must read for everybody who’s advising customers on hypervisors.

It’s not as extensive as the Enterprise hypervisor comparison we did earlier but it gives you a good image how both products relate to each other. To extend the picture I added a list of supported operating systems.


Virtual Infrastructure best practices

[Updated: 8-11-2009 10:00]

Lately I keep receiving questions from colleagues regarding virtual infrastructure design using VMware products. So I decided to sum up the best practices I use when designing a new virtual infrastructure. Some of the best practices are based on numbers and calculations but others are pretty obvious. Nevertheless you would be surprised how many environments I’ve encounter were the most basic best practices have NOT been met.

So hereby my list of best practices on:

  • ESX(i);
  • vCenter;
  • Licensing;
  • Storage;
  • Networking;
  • Virtual machines.

If you have additions or new insights please reply.


Want to play truth or dare with the Oracle Sales force?

OracleDiceswithoutOracleLogoAfter some hard pushing and nudging with Oracle sales the last couple of months I almost became a Oracle licensing guru. Not what I had in mind and was aiming for to be honest. While completing some business cases about virtualization for several customers, Oracle products became a hot issue again.

The Oracle Soap

I advised the customer to be careful about mentioning that they were striving for virtualizing the Oracle servers on VMware. The Oracle account manager could smell blood and would jump on the band wagon to let them pay for their attempt to make the infrastructure flexible and ready and supportive for a fast changing business. So the first thing what happened when the Oracle account manager heard the word virtualization was that he mentioned to the customer that it would cost at least 200K Oracle licensing costs even without knowing what the customer was pursuing.


Red Hat subscriptions on a VMware infrastructure

The world of licenses and subscription models is a complex whole, by adding a virtual component it even got more complex. Virtual machines aren’t bound to one physical server and can move freely across several physical servers or even in and out of a cloud. Fortunately more and more software vendors are changing their license and/or subscription models in favour of virtualization. Giving companies back their freedom of choice how they would like to arrange their infrastructure to support their business.

RHEL_logoAlso Red Hat changed their subscription plans in favour of virtualization. Red Hat Enterprise Linux often abbreviated to RHEL doesn’t have a license model because it’s based on open source Linux and has a GPL license. What you will not get if you do not pay a subscription fee to Red Hat is any updates and support. As a professional business you would like some insurance so I would advise to get a valid subscription on Red Hat products.

To save money on RHEL subscriptions on a VMware infrastructure there are three options to subscribe a virtual machine running RHEL. You can:

  1. Subscribe 1 virtual machine running RHEL, also called 1 on 1 subscription;
  2. Use Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server with 2 Socket – 4 Guest for VMware subscription to subscribe 4 virtual machines with 1 special subscription.
  3. Use Red Hat Enterprise Linux Advanced Platform with Unlimited Socket – 10 Guest for VMware subscription to subscribe 10 virtual machines running RHEL.


Enterprise Hypervisor comparison

The last few weeks many blogs and forums have spend time on hypervisor comparisons and I have read tons of articles on the subject. Many only compare hypervisors based on performance, features or cost. I think it’s a bit more complicated then that. After Citrix announced that their XenServer product is available for free I spend a fair deal of my time explaining to colleagues and clients that this is a hoax and that cost is not the only reason to base their decision on. Especially in the case of XenServer the choice and the long term effects make it a little bit more complicated.

When I read Chris Wolfe’s article on ‘Production-class Hypervisor Evaluation criteria‘ and saw his VMworld Europe 2009 presentation (DC15) I found someone who read my mind. Chris knows what he is talking about and uses the right criteria to select the right hypervisor for the job. Now you probably think ‘These VMGuru.nl guys are VMware fans so here we go again‘ but the opposite is true.

Like Chris I think every situation has its own ideal solution and you should select the hypervisor based on well-considered selection criteria and because my employer, Centric, focuses on clients with 500+ workstations/employees these criteria are Enterprise-class hypervisor selection criteria.


VMware View advanced networking

The last few months I have been busy designing, building and testing a new VMware View solution for our own Support Center. In this Support Center we do support and system administration for some of our biggest clients. One of the challenges is the use of desktop hardware and the limited space of a call agent’s or administrator’s desk. Many of my colleagues support  multiple client sites and need different PCs for each client. So in 2008 one of my respected colleagues thought of a great solution and advised to implement a VMware VDI solution.

The idea was to create a pool of virtual desktops for each client site and supply the call agents and system administrators with a standard physical desktop with which they can access one or more virtual desktops and do the standard office work (Word, Outlook, etc) at the same time. Saving space needed for all those desktops and minimizing heat, power, etc and improving the working conditions in the process.

We bought four DELL PowerEdge 2950 II’s with two quad core CPUs and 64GB of memory each and a DELL EqualLogic 5000E iSCSI SAN to build this all virtual VDI solution.

One of the biggest challenges was to separate all client networks, so we assigned VLANs to all of them. But this raised a new challenge as I discovered during the implementation. Because we assigned all client their own VLAN and there was no routing between them, how can we connect to the virtual desktops.


Virtualisation: it isn’t an app, it’s an infrastructure

Now most of our loyal followers know, I usually do not post any content on this blog other than things related to the hosting of website. It’s my “job” to keep this part of the infrastructure running (well, that’s not quite how it is, but that’s another subject for another post :) ). In my day-to-day job I see a lot of infrastructures pass by and recently I started to notice that some of my colleagues look at virtualisation as an application. They think in boxes.. “we need a DC, and a filer, and blahblahblah”…So I thought, let’s post an entry here and see if you all have something to say about it.


Software Vendors with Support Policies for Customers Running in VMware Environments

I get more and more the question does vendor x with application y support their software running in a VMware environment.

There are several questions to ask:

  1. Can the application be virtualized? or in other words does the application run without problems in a VMware environment?
  2. Does the vendor support running in a VMware environment?
  3. Does the vendor give full and/or unconditional  support when running the application virtual?


There is no such thing as a free lunch

XenServer Enterprise for free?

Anne Jan and I were asked last week ,while doing work at our companies  Headquarters, how we thought about Citrix giving away XenServer Enterprise for free and positions it as “XenServer a complete free Enterprise Virtual Infrastructure solution”. So I asked them what is considered “free” and what are the needs of the customer with a complete data center/enterprise virtual infrastructure?

The question arose because they wanted to know if they made the right choice for a very big company to choose VMware Infrastructure 3.5 Enterprise above  Citrix XenServer.

So looking at what customers answer me when I ask what their requirements are, are for me the best route to go, because customers are the only one who know their organization’s virtualization requirements.

Most given answers I get when I ask for the requirements are: