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How does VMware Horizon 6 differ from previous versions?

VMware attempts to address today's more mobile workforce with management and performance enhancements to its desktop and application virtualization product.

VMware's Horizon 6 features more than 100 new functions. It's not possible to describe each one here, but we can review important feature groups that emphasize mobility and cost control for the business.

First, Horizon 6 centralizes image management; administrators can configure and maintain physical and virtual machine images under Windows XP, 7, 8 and 8.1 from a single library. The idea is to simplify image management, reduce manual errors, maintain image compliance with corporate standards, and keep administration costs under control. In addition, IT managers can employ vApp to modify applications from a library of components and create VMDK images on demand without changing the underlying VM or application components. It's a feature VMware calls just-in-time application delivery.

Next, Horizon 6 emphasizes unification through a single platform. The idea is to provide a single tool that can deliver desktop images and applications to any connected desktop, laptop or mobile device. VMware wants one tool that can support most delivery types, and Horizon 6 can support Windows remote desktop services (RDS), desktop instances using virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), applications packaged with ThinApp 5.0 and later or Citrix XenApp 5.0 and later, and SaaS applications.

Network performance is essential to ensuring a smooth and responsive interaction with desktop images or virtual applications, and Horizon 6 includes a series of performance enhancements -- collectively called Blast -- to enhance data exchanges for streaming or real-time audio and video, to improve graphics tasks, to support local devices from centralized desktops, and offer better interface performance for Windows and mobile endpoints.

Finally, Horizon 6 deals with image management and automation in the cloud, allowing IT managers to migrate virtual resources between data centers, access analytics that can help IT track availability, performance and reliability of endpoint services. VMware includes vRealize Orchestrator -- formerly vCenter Orchestrator -- to allow a direct connection to vCloud Automation Center for automatic desktop, application and storage provisioning.

The best way to become familiar with Horizon's newest capabilities is to obtain a trial or evaluation version and explore Horizon 6 in a lab setting.

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