What’s new with VMware Horizon 8 (Or 2006 as it prefers to be called)
Is it VMware Horizon 8 or Horizon 2006? Confusing times call for confusing naming standards. Horizon 2006 is the next version of VMware’s End-User Computing platform. In my opinion, this could also have been called Horizon 7.5 but VMware instead chose to start using the Microsoft practice of using the year (20) and the release month (06) for its new versioning. This gives us Horizon 2006. Here’s what I think you need to know about it.
Web Meeting Improvements
Blast Extreme got some love in the new release and there is now support for up to two 8K monitors with it. There have also been some optimizations of the RTAV (RealTime Audio Video) to help improve user experience in Zoom, Teams, Webex, etc.. Better experiences with Webcam usage and video conferencing. You will need to install it correctly though.
There is also a specific optimization pack for Microsoft Teams. It is configured on Client (2006+ only) during the install and then activated with the agent via Group Policy. This feature does require advanced licensing though.
Smart Provisioning for Automated Pools
This is a pretty big change under the covers but might not be noticed or utilized by a lot of my clients. The way Smart Provisioning works is that it will fundamentally change how a provisioned VM gets pushed out. Typically, if the machine is an RDS server (with a lot of RAM), it will create a ‘parent-less clone’. The machines will be cloned directly from the replica without a ParentVM being created resulting in much less memory needed to host the VMs but at the expense of a slower provisioning process. Desktop pools with VMs leveraging HIGH memory requirements will automatically be provisioned with this method for runtime efficiency. You can of course, force the traditional method of parent cloning but it would seem to be a waste of resources to me.
Instant Clones for Everyone
This leads us to the biggest change that I see in this release. Previously, clients would need to have Horizon Enterprise licensing to be entitled to use Instant Clones. With 2006, all versions of Horizon have access to this feature. This is primarily because Composer is being deprecated. With Composer going away, Instant Clones had to be enabled for everyone to continue to allow standard licensed clients to have non-persistent pools. I’m super excited for this since I have grown to hate dealing with Composer. If you don’t know, Instant Clones is MUCH faster and does not require any additional infrastructure such as the Windows Server or database required by the now legacy composer. One less break point in the VDI chain with a lot less vCenter calls.
Deprecated or Removed Features
As mentioned above, Composer will be removed soon as well as Persistent Disks. I would recommend you look into FSLogix if you haven’t already as the recommended replacement for Persistent Disks and overall profile management.
The JMP server has been removed. JMP was touted as a way to automate and unify a lot of the provisioning processes across App Volumes and Horizon. If you have a JMP server in your environment, you can retire it now.
Persona Management is also being replaced with Dynamic Environment Manager. This was previously licensed to just enterprise users but like Instant Clones, will be available to all licensed versions of Horizon 2006.
Horizon vRealize Operations (vROPS) has been removed. VMware has partnered with Control Up for advanced Monitoring, reporting and deep inguest troubleshooting. Be on the look out for a write up on the Help Desk tool currently available and some best practices on using it in the Horizon Environment.
If you are still using the Windows-based Security Server, you need to move to the Unified Access Gateway before upgrading to Horizon 2006. There is no upgrade path for the Windows Based servers. If you need help with UAG deployments, I have written a ton of posts on the subject to get you started. Just Search UAG on the site.
There are a lot of new REST APIs in this new version. I won’t get into all of them but these will help to make scripting and automating a lot easier. The other thing I’m excited about is the swagger-ui endpoint explorer. You will be able to point your browser at https://broker_FQDN/resst/swagger-ui.html and explore all of the APIs available. This makes scripting and automating much easier in my opinion.
Flash is Gone
Great. Good riddance! I hate you Flash.
There are tons of other little minor updates throughout the version but I think these are the ones that will make the most impact on my clients when upgrading. You can find the full release notes here to see everything.