Last week VMware released the latest version of their Horizon 6 desktop virtualization product.
It's been about a year since they first released Horizon 6—their product which combines VDI desktops with RDSH sessions and seamless application publishing. At that time there was a lot of rejoicing (mostly by me) because it finally meant that Citrix XenApp had some real competition for RDSH and published apps. (Prior solutions from VMware were VDI-only.)
Unfortunately while Horizon 6 was a good start, it lacked a lot of features that Citrix customers had grown accustomed to in XenApp, and it didn't look like Horizon 6 was really going to displace XenApp in any significant numbers in the enterprise based on the features that were there at the time.
Undaunted, VMware continued to update Horizon 6 (sometimes even under the radar?) throughout the year, culminating with a fairly massive update last week.
Strangely the new version of Horizon 6 is called... Horizon 6! Seriously! Major product update, but no new name or version. My personal theory on this is because the first release of Horizon 6 lacked so many critical enterprise features that they figured they could just slip them in within revving the product name and people might think they had them in there all the time:
"Oh hey, did you know Horizon 6 has printing for RDSH sessions now?"
"Oh yeah? Since when?
"Since Horizon 6!"
This is doubly awesome when you're trying to search for white papers or technical documentation about Horizon 6 and you don't realize that the paper you're reading is not about the version of the software you're using even though the paper is for Horizon 6 and you're using Horizon 6.
To that end, I'm launching a one-person campaign to call the newest release of Horizon 6 "Horizon 6.1."
So, what's new in Horizon 6.1? (In random order):
- vGPU support for NVIDIA GRID cards (when using vSphere 6)
- Smart card authentication to RDSH desktops & published apps. (Previous was VDI only)
- File system-based client USB drive access for RDSH 2012 / 2012 R2 hosts with Windows clients (Previous used generic USB redirection)
- HTML5 access for RDSH desktops (previous was just for VDI). This includes vGPU and vDGA applications.
- Location-based printing
- Single-user Server 2012 R2 "desktop" support. (i.e. use a Server OS as your "VDI" desktop instead of a client OS). This is important for service provider license compliance.
- Increased scalability to allow 2,000 simultaneous sessions through their connection gateway
- Double the capacity of vSAN with vSphere 6
- VVOL support
- True IPv6 end-to-end (not just a proxy)
- CAC support
- A combination of NSX with Horizon 6 to create network micro-segmentation, integrated with Horizon's desktop and app publishing. (Map specific published applications to specific networking resources, so an attacker who exploits your published instance of MS Paint can't get to your customer database. The network connection simply wouldn't allow that route to exist.)
VMware also announced several future features, some of which are available in tech preview form as part of 6.1, and others which will be forthcoming:
- Horizon for Linux (publish Ubuntu and Red Hat apps to non Linux clients)
- Client drive redirection for RDSH sessions.
- A Chromebook client based on their Android client which will allow a more rich and tightly integrated client experience. (Proper cut/copy/paste clipboard integration, for example.)
- HTML5 access to published apps
- Common Criteria certification. (If you've never heard of this then you don't need it.)
I'm still as excited about Horizon 6 as I was a year ago, though I haven't seen as much of it in the wild as I would have expected by now.
What are you finding? Are you using Horizon 6? Has anyone replaced XenApp with Horizon 6? If not, what would it take to switch? (Or are you currently happy with Citrix?) What's Horizon 6 still missing?