This content is part of the Essential Guide: A complete guide to XenApp and XenDesktop vs. Horizon

What makes VMware Horizon Air Hybrid-Mode tick?

With VMware Horizon Air Hybrid-Mode, you get the control of on-premises virtual desktops with the simplified management of desktop as a service.

VMware Horizon Air Hybrid-Mode takes advantage of two trends -- hyper-converged infrastructure and software as a service -- to help IT better manage cloud-based desktops.

Bringing a cloud-based management plane together with on-premises hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) delivers a best-of-both-worlds scenario to virtual desktop management. An on-premises VDI deployment is undoubtedly complex, but gives you complete control. Desktop as a service (DaaS) is simpler to deploy, but it does not fit every customer's requirements because it puts the entire deployment in the cloud. That scenario leaves IT at the mercy of the service provider's performance and security capabilities.

With VMware Horizon Air Hybrid-Mode, management is in the cloud and you can run virtual desktops on premises or via the cloud through vCloud Air, the company's infrastructure as a service offering.

How VMware Horizon Air Hybrid-Mode works

Hybrid-Mode, built from the technology behind Project Enzo, consists of two main components: A cloud-based management plane and an on-premises hyper-converged appliance.

Horizon Cloud Manager and its associated Horizon Cloud Services carry all the administrative functions for Horizon Air Hybrid-Mode.

The management plane, called Horizon Cloud Manager, is a software as a service component. VMware is responsible for managing and maintaining the entire management plane. Horizon Cloud Manager and its associated Horizon Cloud Services carry all the administrative functions for Horizon Air Hybrid-Mode. These services drive the on-premises infrastructure for VM deployment and management.

The control plane can integrate into other systems because all its functions are available as API calls. VMware licenses the Horizon Cloud Manager on a per user per month basis. Optionally, it can include vSphere and VSAN licensing.

VMware's Horizon Air platform already has multi-tenant support and an administrative portal. To make Horizon Air Hybrid-Mode, VMware separated VM provisioning and brokering and delivered them on premises. The on-premises HCI looks like an extension of the old EVO:RAIL product with an additional VDI platform. The on-premises part is called Horizon Air Node. The node uses VSAN Ready Nodes or other HCI nodes to support the scalable infrastructure.

To link the on-premises infrastructure with the cloud management plane, the Horizon Air virtual appliance establishes connectivity to Horizon Cloud Manager. Then, it downloads and deploys the on-premises software components that Hybrid-Mode requires. The appliance also automates on-premises VDI infrastructure deployment. The download and deployment process should take less than an hour depending on your internet connection. Once you deploy it, a cloud gateway component contacts the Horizon Cloud Manager for further configuration.

Getting to know VMware products

So, you think you know your VMware products, but what about the new tools or the old products with new names? See if you have what it takes to crush this quiz.

With VMware Horizon Air Hybrid-Mode, user access is not dependent on any cloud components. VMware's Instant Clone desktops, App Volumes and User Identity Management components help deliver a consistent and personal user experience without using dedicated desktop VMs.

The first release of Hybrid-Mode only works with some VSAN Ready Nodes and HCI because hardware support is limited. Later releases will likely support any vSphere implementation. These future releases should also support Horizon Air network partners. In the future, VMware Horizon Air Hybrid-Mode may also integrate with existing View deployments.

Next Steps

Complete guide to cloud desktops and DaaS providers

A look at DaaS for disaster recovery

The truth about cloud-hosted virtual desktops

Dig Deeper on Virtual desktop software and vendors