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VMware Horizon 6 with View boasts more than just a new name -- the software offers a number of new features, too.
In Horizon 6 with View, VMware has finally added an application remoting feature, plus two kinds of hardware-based graphics acceleration, improvements to Virtual SAN and a new Cloud Pod Architecture.
Things in the 6.0 version of Horizon aren't perfect, however. There are no built-in profile management tools to speak of, and VMware got rid of View Client with Local Mode. Read on to learn all about what's new in Horizon 6.
The new VMware Horizon 6 feature that has probably received the most attention is application remoting, which builds on existing Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH) and RemoteApp technology in Windows Server. RemoteApp was introduced in Windows Server 2008 as a way to let clients work with applications running remotely on a Windows Server.
Incidentally, Horizon 6 isn't limited to Windows Server 2008; one of the new features that VMware has introduced is compatibility with Windows Server 2012 R2.
To provide RemoteApp functionality through Horizon 6, you must have a Windows Server (2008 or higher) that runs Remote Desktop Services. The application that you want to make available to end users must be installed on the Windows Server.
There are two main advantages of making remote applications available through Horizon 6 as opposed to using native Windows functionality. The first is that VMware Horizon 6 allows you to build application pools, which ease application management. The other advantage is that authorized users can access and use the application from any device running a Horizon View 6.0 client. This means workers can use Windows applications from otherwise incompatible devices, such as an Apple iPad.
Hardware-based graphics acceleration
Another new feature that VMware has introduced in VMware Horizon 6 is hardware-based graphics acceleration. This capability works by allowing virtual desktops to use a physical video adapter within an ESXi host. While this might not seem like anything remarkable in and of itself, VMware has made the feature a little bit more interesting by offering two different video acceleration models.
The first option is called Virtual Dedicated Graphics Acceleration (vDGA). This option is for virtual desktops that run graphically demanding applications, such as CAD software. With vDGA, there's direct mapping between the virtual desktop and a graphics processing unit (GPU), so the virtual desktop has exclusive use of the assigned GPU. The other mode is called Virtual Shared Graphics Acceleration (vSGA). As the name implies, this mode provides hardware-based video acceleration, but the GPU is shared among multiple virtual desktops.
Another Horizon 6 feature that has gotten quite a bit of attention is VMware Virtual SAN.
View 5.3.1 supported VSAN 5.5, but VMware has made significant improvements to support in Horizon 6. Specifically, Horizon 6 automates storage policy association based on virtual desktop pool type. For example, you can create a policy that says OS disks on linked clones should use thin provisioning, but full clone desktop pools should use thick provisioning. The storage policies specify the number of data stripes to use, the number of ESXi host failures to tolerate, the storage provisioning type (thin or thick), and the cache reservation.
Cloud Pod Architecture
One more improvement worth mentioning is the new Cloud Pod Architecture. Prior to Horizon 6, a View pod was considered a completely independent entity. In Horizon 6, you can still manage pods independently, but there is now a global entitlement layer -- and a corresponding communications channel -- that makes it possible for you to manage pods through a single interface.
This new architecture also provides an additional layer of fault tolerance. You can allow workers to use virtual desktops in multiple pods, which means that if a pod-level failure were to occur, employees could use a virtual desktop located in another pod.
Although VMware Horizon 6 has many new features, it's not without holes. For one thing, View Persona management won't support the RDSH app remoting feature, which means there will be no built-in profile management. If you use linked clones, the RDSH publishing feature won't remember users' settings. Considering that Horizon 6 has the first version of the application publishing feature, customers can expect improvement in future versions, although VMware has not said when those improvements might come.
And there is one older utility that VMware has removed. Previously, View Client with Local Mode functionality allowed users to check out a virtual desktop. Upon doing so, the users were able to run that virtual desktop locally on their Windows laptop while working offline.
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