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News from VMworld 2016: VMware Extends Horizon

Servers, Storage and Networking | Posted on September 1, 2016

Some of the most exciting news to come out of VMworld in Las Vegas this week are the changes announced around VMware Horizon.

New changes in Horizon 7, the company’s desktop and application virtualization solution, will feature support for multiple new clients and devices—including Raspberry Pi —plus a few other significant improvements.

For many, Horizon has been the go-to for companies wanting to extend the benefits of virtualization out from the data center to devices. Today’s announcement will make that prospect even more attainable and, with the addition of support for one of the thinnest clients around, more cost-effective.

There are 4 main changes announced with Horizon and Horizon Air:

  1. Expanded scope and scale for Horizon Air Hybrid-Mode with new choices like cloud managed services with on-prem infrastructure appliances and a focus on smaller size implementations
  2. A new multi-cloud architecture with a tech preview for supporting multiple cloud platforms
  3. A refreshed user experience for Blast Extreme featuring flash redirection, improved printing and clipboarding and support for new devices
  4. A new EPIC enabled healthcare platform for apps and desktops with support for Horizon 7

A quick bit of history

In February, with Horizon 7, VMware launched their internally developed Blast Extreme protocol—Blast for short— an optimized protocol for connecting clients to virtualized desktops. Blast is designed to work equally as well via remote connections over the WAN. Just as well as via local connections on the LAN, to desktops hosted in cloud-hosted datacenters, or via private on-premise datacenters. In short, Blast Extreme Protocol keeps an eye on the needs of mobile devices so they to consume less battery power and network bandwidth than PCoIP.

Unlike PCoIP, Blast can use TCP as well as UDP to stream data to the user. Blast connects over TCP, and performs just as well (and in some cases better) than UDP; as long as network quality is maintained and packet loss is minimized.

Blast is also designed to offload decoding and rendering to hardware engines contained in most modern hardware platforms. This is a change that should double device battery life when using Blast versus PCoIP.

VDI for Pi

The recent news builds on February’s news by extending Blast to what is effectively one of the most inexpensive clients on the market: Raspberry Pi. This is among the support for multiple new thin or ultra-thin virtual desktop clients (and other “beefier” ones), including those from Dell and HP.

Some IT people love to geek out on Raspberry Pi, and have found creative use cases for these low-cost Linux-based computers. They start at only about $35 each). Still, Raspberry Pi hasn’t typically broken into the enterprise yet in a big way. The announced Horizon support may change that, as the little bare-bones device will become an even more suitable choice of thin clients for VMware users.

Don’t get too excited about the savings. Once one adds what will be required for a true thin client, the ticket price of a Raspberry Pi system will likely ring in at closer to $200 or $300. Still, that’s a whole lot less than other clients. It’s easy to see how that kind of savings could positively impact the bottom line.

Gaining points through Swiftpoint support

Another exciting Horizon announcement out of VMware is its added support for the Swiftpoint mouse.

When using an iOS device, such as an iPad, as a client connected to a virtual desktop hosted on Horizon, this mouse can interface directly with the virtual desktop. This means users will enjoy touch gestures with natural wrist and finger action, increased productivity, reduced fatigue, and better mobility. Finally!

Beyond being a cool mouse, Swiftpoint support is just another example of how VMware is aiming to extend Horizon to any device, anywhere.

Improved mouse support for iOS has been something some Horizon users have been requesting for some time. Before, users would need to jailbreak the mice to operate virtual Windows desktops and applications. Native mouse support for iOS is a major step forward for end users and the enterprise alike.

And more!

VMware also announced extended graphic support for Horizon and an enhanced partnership with Riverbed Technology for WAN acceleration of Horizon connections.

The WAN poses natural challenges when deploying virtual desktops due to bandwidth constraints, latency and packet loss, that lag the user experience and create a dip in productivity. New developments announced around WAN acceleration promise to help further solve that dilemma.

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Were you unable to attend VMworld 2016? Or maybe you just missed a few sessions? Have no fear we were all over the event. To learn more about these and other important announcements, join our VMware experts in the recorded webinar above. We’ll look at all the most disruptive announcements and how they’ll affect you.

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