Introducing Horizon 6

Today we announced Horizon 6, a major step forward in VMware’s EUC strategy. As part of today’s news, we announced a huge number of new features and capabilities in this solution. I’d like to tell you more about this milestone and drill into a few awesome features including:

  • Hybrid cloud, enabled by our acquisition of Desktone last year and now our Horizon DaaS offering, allows you to easily deploy virtual desktops on-prem, off-prem, or whatever combination suits your fancy.
  • Combining Horizon View, Horizon Mirage, and VMware Fusion, we can offer integrated and centralized desktop management across virtual, physical, and bring-your-own devices.
  • We’ve upped the ante for enterprise management with enhanced image management features in Horizon Mirage and integrations into vCenter Operations Manager, vCenter Orchestrator, and vCloud Automation Center.
  • Virtual SAN is now integrated and supported, helping to drive down storage costs while maintaining performance and SLA.
  • The biggest and, in my opinion, most exciting part of the announcement is that Horizon View now supports application publishing.  This has been a feature request long-requested and long in the making.

As you know, Horizon View has been focused on desktop virtualization, exposing complete Windows desktops to end-users.  This is valuable for many different types of users and use cases, but in some situations you don’t want to expose a whole Windows desktop, but just a specific Windows app or set of apps.  For instance, when logging on from a tablet, a user may just want to get access to PowerPoint to make a quick edit to a slide deck.  They don’t want to deal with a desktop, but just need one app to make an edit that they can’t do in any app that runs natively on that device.  Similarly, IT admins may prefer app publishing because it reduces the surface area of Windows exposed to end-users and thus is easier to lock down.  Regardless of the use case or reason, application publishing is a popular feature that’s been vocally demanded by users.

Horizon Workspace Application Publishing Support

Before I dive into how cool the app publishing implementation is in View, I want to take a step back and describe our philosophy application and service support.  First and foremost, we want our customers to be successful.  That means supporting any systems they may already have in their environment.  As we’ve talked about with our AirWatch acquisition, we see ourselves as the “Switzerland” of the EUC space.  This means our value is enabling support for all types of apps and services.  For instance, many customers today run XenApp for app publishing.  We want to help simplify that experience for them, so we now support XenApp applications in the Horizon Workspace app catalog.  Here you can see the Horizon Workspace admin UI managed XenApp published applications:

Similarly these published applications appear seamlessly in the Workspace end-user app portal, as you can see here:

XenApp published apps look just like any other app.  The only difference is found when you hover over the icon, where you can then see it’s actually XenApp.  Just like all other apps, XenApps are accessed with a simple click of a button.  There’s no need to log in again, as Workspace supports single sign-on through XenApp.  This means that end-users have one place to go for all their apps, whether they’re SaaS apps, ThinApps, mobile apps, or now even XenApps.

Horizon View Application Publishing

However, as we’ve heard from many customers and followers of the industry, the XenApp upgrade to 7.5 is anything but seamless.  So when designing Horizon 6, we focused on simplicity and ease of use.  To that end, all you need to do to get app publishing in View is upgrade your View 5.x deployment to 6.0.  By virtue of that upgrade, you’ve now enabled app publishing.  There’s no separate system to install, configure, or manage – it’s all tightly integrated in one system and through one admin UI:


But the simplicity doesn’t just end there.  We’ve also made it easy to on-board existing Remote Desktop Service (RDS) hosts already managed by XenApp.  You can just point View at those hosts, and it will automatically find all the installed apps on that host and let you select which ones you want to publish:

From there, you set the entitlements for which users get access to which apps and you’re good to go.  And just like with XenApps, Horizon Workspace will support View published applications.  The entitlements you set in View are automatically picked up by Workspace, so there’s no extra configuration.  Once you set your entitlements in View, they appear directly in Workspace:

The amazing part is that just like both XenApps and View published apps can appear in the Horizon Workspace launcher simultaneously, the RDS hosts publishing these applications can be managed by both XenApp and View simultaneously too!  This means there’s no fork lift upgrade.  You have full control of how you migrate from XenApp to View for app publishing.  You can migrate one app at a time, one group at a time, or however else you want.

So how might this work for you?  First, you connect Workspace to XenApp, so that Workspace will see all the XenApp published apps, like we saw in the first screenshot above.  Second, you upgrade View and import apps you want to publish from all your existing RDS hosts.  Third, for each app or set of apps, you can de-entitle users on XenApp and entitle them on View.  This controls which apps end-users see in the Workspace launcher.  Workspace will automatically update as you change the entitlements, which enables you to seamlessly migrate between XenApp and View.  And again, this is a process that’s totally controlled by you.  You can move as aggressively or as conservatively as you see fit.  It’s as easy as 1-2-3.

In the end, we’ve made the upgrade process as simple and easy as you can.  As a matter of fact, we think it’s even easier to upgrade from XenApp 6.5 to View 6 than it is to upgrade to XenApp 7.5!

Doing it Right

While this all very exciting, I want to end on one final note.  We didn’t just make it easy, we also implemented it right.  There are many ways to create remote desktops and publish applications in Windows, but the Microsoft-preferred way is through a Windows Remote Desktop Services protocol provider.  This is not an easy undertaking.  It requires a significant amount of work to fit into the protocol provider architecture.  We worked closely with Microsoft and are happy to see ourselves soon added to the very short list of protocol providers:


Once Horizon 6 ships, VMware will be listed as 3.  (Know what 1 (“retained for legacy purposes”) is?  Citrix’s ICA protocol!  I couldn’t have said it better Microsoft!!)

It’s important to note that this was organically developed – we didn’t buy or license anything.  It took a herculean effort by our engineering team to research and prototype various approaches with much trial and error.  In the end, we were able to produce a cleanly implemented protocol provider, which fits perfectly into Windows’ architecture.  Of course the protocol provider is only half the battle, we also need to make many changes to devtap (for display and audio) and to the display driver to make it compatible with RDSH so that it can feed pixels to PCoIP.

The point is that we’ve implemented this for the long-term.  Not only do we have clean application publishing support, we can also leverage all our protocol provider work for our traditional View virtual desktops!  Hats off to our engineering team for a phenomenal effort!

In summary, this is a huge release for us.  In fact, it’s our biggest launch ever, by far.  We’ve very excited to be releasing so many exciting features.  I’ve focused on application publishing in this blog, but which of the new features are you most excited about?


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