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Find the right home for each of the four VMware Horizon editions

There are four editions of VMware Horizon IT admins should know about: Horizon for Linux, Standard, Advanced and Enterprise. Each one addresses different needs.

Outside Horizon for Linux, which is obviously the best option for organizations that run Linux virtual desktops, it can be hard to know which edition VMware Horizon is right for a particular organization.

VMware offers four editions of Horizon 7 -- Horizon for Linux, Horizon Standard, Horizon Advanced and Horizon Enterprise. There is considerable overlap between Horizon Standard, Advanced and Enterprise. All three VMware Horizon editions for example, support Windows virtual desktops, session-based virtual desktops and the use of packaged applications. All VMware Horizon editions are designed to work with VMware's vSphere Desktop, a version of vSphere for organizations that only need to purchase desktop virtualization licenses, and vCenter Server. They all support Blast, VMware's proprietary remote display protocol designed to improve graphics rendering performance, while also providing a better overall end-user experience. Still, significant differences exist between the VMware Horizon editions.

Horizon Standard and Horizon for Linux

It can be hard to know which version of Horizon is right for a particular organization.

VMware Horizon Standard is VMware's lightweight VDI product. VMware describes Horizon Standard as, "simple powerful VDI with great user experience." Although Horizon Standard has the basic features the other editions have, including packaged application and Blast support, it is best suited for smaller organizations with modest VDI requirements because it lacks the more advanced features and capabilities large organizations require.

Horizon for Linux is designed for organizations that run Linux operating systems on virtual desktops. The most important thing admins must know about Horizon for Linux is it shares a common feature set with Horizon Standard, except in cases in which differences between the Windows and Linux operating systems come into play. For example, Horizon for Linux does not support packaged Windows applications.

Horizon Advanced and Horizon Enterprise

If Horizon Standard is best suited for smaller organizations and Horizon for Linux contains roughly the same feature set as Standard, it stands to reason that Horizon for Linux is also best suited for smaller organizations. What do large organizations that want to run Linux on virtual desktops do? The best option is to use Horizon Enterprise. That's the only edition of Horizon that supports both Windows and Linux virtual desktops.

Horizon Enterprise allows for real-time application delivery and just-in-time virtual desktop cloning. It also includes management tools related to user profiles, policy management, capacity management, planning and optimization. In addition, the Enterprise edition comes with an operations dashboard admins can use to monitor VDI health and analyze performance.

Horizon Advanced, for comparison, is VMware's mid-grade option. It includes all the same features as Horizon Standard as well as some additional features, including support for unified workspace -- extended architecture, Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH), software as a service and ThinApp -- and RDSH hosted applications. It also allows for both concurrent user and named-user licensing.

In terms of desktop and application support, Horizon Advanced is more on par with Enterprise than Standard. Like Horizon Enterprise, the Advanced edition supports application and desktop access with single sign-on.

Given the differences between Advanced and Enterprise, the Advanced edition is best suited for midsize organizations or in large organizations that won't virtualize all their desktops. The Enterprise edition's additional management capabilities can certainly be useful to midsize organizations, but are essential for large VDI deployments.

Determining the differences between VMware's Horizon editions is relatively straightforward if admins know what they're looking at. VMware even provides a guide. For organizations that need help determining the most appropriate product, VMware provides an online purchasing advisor.

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