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Boost VDI network connectivity with VMware Horizon View 7

VMware's Horizon View 7 introduces network connectivity to local view desktops, enhancing security and allowing virtual desktops to consume local resources, among other improvements.

Virtual desktop infrastructure environments are useful in many scenarios, including call centers, high security environments and other setups. Horizon View 7 desktops, and most virtual desktop environments, can be locked down to help prevent data theft -- for example, copy and paste between the desktop and the virtual desktop infrastructure can be disabled.

Virtual desktop infrastructures (VDI) can also be employed to provide a standard desktop environment to users, irrespective of local hardware and varying system configurations, including low power remote desktop terminals designed to provide a good VDI experience. In short, using a well-configured VDI environment makes the administrator's life a lot less stressful; that is, until something breaks.

One of the biggest problems with "classic VDI" is that all of the users rely on access to the desktop server farm being available. Downtime on the server farm or network could take out hundreds of users for the duration of the incident and have significant cost in terms of downtime, lost customers and lost productivity. The easy answer would be to run these farm VDIs locally where it makes sense to do so.

"Go anywhere" with Horizon View 7

The ability to download and run VDIs locally has existed in previous versions of VMware Horizon View, but the functionality was never really utilized due to one major flaw: Local view desktops didn't have network connectivity. When a user's virtual desktop existed on their local laptop, for example, they were limited to what could be done in the isolation of that local machine. This meant that a critical email could sit waiting to be synchronized for a long time.

Users had to wait until they got a fast network connection to synchronize all the VDI changes -- including their work -- to the main farm, effectively uploading their data. In reality, this limited the effectiveness of localized virtual desktops. This was one of the main reasons why few people ever used this functionality. Local VDI desktop management and its overhead also left a lot to be desired.

The latest edition of Horizon View 7, however, takes a slightly different approach to the virtual desktop experience that opens up a local VDI into a "go anywhere, work anywhere" experience.

This "go anywhere" experience is a paradigm shift in how VDI environments work and are consumed. No longer is it all about centralized compute and resource, which can be very expensive when you scale into the thousands of desktops with N+1 redundancy at every step.

Horizon now allows approved users to download their VDI desktop as a self-contained, executable desktop that can utilize network connections so they can use Internet Explorer and other network applications. Local VDIs have effectively become a desktop within a desktop.

The benefits of network connectivity

The network connectivity aspect essentially changed the game. The new connectivity options mean a number of things. First, they allow virtual desktops to consume local resources. In this situation, most of the computation is done locally. The VDI can essentially be "classic" farm orientated or de-centralized and live on local machines. Reduced farm load means reduced compute resources, therefore creating potential cost saving scenarios in terms of hardware, power and cooling.

These connectivity options also allow you to be platform agnostic. The underlying Horizon View clients exist for Windows, iOS, Linux and Android. That means you can run the same VDI desktop on a wide variety of hardware. Users can check in and check out their desktop on demand and move between devices at will. Extremely fine-grained security profiles can also be applied to different hardware and locations depending on security and administration requirements.

Finally, network connectivity updates to Horizon View 7 have created enhanced security. It should go without saying that security needs to be tight when giving users the ability to download VMs that potentially contain confidential information. To aid with the security -- especially if users are using the bring-your-own-device policy on devices that may not otherwise be encrypted -- the Horizon desktop image can be encrypted so that, in the case of theft, the VDI machine and its data will be secure.

If the machine is lost or stolen, Horizon View 7 allows you to download the latest synchronized copy of the user desktop to a new device and minimize disruption. The user can retrieve the desktop that they customized quickly and simply and resume work.

In addition to this, there are many options that the administrator can enable, including the ability to allow or disallow local device connectivity, such as USB thumb drives and printers.

This newfound connectivity has also enabled a new class of remote users. A company could, for example, provide temporary or contract workers who own their own devices with a self-contained corporate desktop that has a desktop environment ready to go. The fact that Instant Clone technology allows for near instantaneous provisioning of a new VDI desktop complements this. For agile companies that employ workers on a per project basis, such a setup is ideal. Done properly, it can seriously cut the administrative overhead.

A user can, if allowed, download the VM/VDI machine to any approved device and get the same environment. It is, in essence, providing downloadable images that consume local compute; it's almost compute agnostic.

Setting up the infrastructure for remote desktop functionality does come with additional overhead in terms of additional server infrastructure and network capacity, but it is a small price to pay to be able to manage what VMware is calling cloud desktops.

This "go anywhere" on any hardware VDI is going to be useful for a lot of people. However, it isn't necessarily for everyone -- who it benefits is for businesses to decide.

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