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Compare VMware Horizon cloud vs. on-premises

VMware Horizon runs in on-premises, public cloud and hybrid cloud environments. Each scenario presents different drawbacks, benefits and costs for customers.

Horizon is VMware's virtual desktop software. It functions by establishing a connection between endpoint devices -- such as desktops and mobile phones -- and Horizon View virtual desktops and applications. It works both on premises and in the cloud, but proper implementation requires you to understand the platform in both technical and financial terms.

Horizon provides highly flexible virtual desktop environments. You can consume Horizon in a handful of ways: in a public cloud environment, an on-premises environment or a hybrid cloud with VMware Cloud on AWS.

Each deployment method comes with benefits and drawbacks that you should weigh before committing to one. When you think about your specific requirements, consider the number of desktops you require, your security requirements, your region and data locality laws, data center support costs -- such as power and cooling -- and day-to-day administration and management costs.

Managing Horizon costs

You can use your cloud provider subscription with Horizon, which minimizes management complexity. In this scenario, you don't have to worry about different licensing, because the monthly cost and billing use the same metrics as your underlying provider. When you use , you can create desktops as required and then dispose of them once you finish using them. This practice incurs almost no additional charges once you power off the environment in question, because virtual desktops pull very little data from the cloud.

Organizations with seasonal or varying desktop requirements -- those that participate in Christmas and Black Friday sales or enrollment weeks, for example -- might find this useful. You can book the cost of running additional desktops directly to operational expenditure or capital expenditure, which means that you essentially rent the infrastructure for a monthly fee. This makes it easy to opt in and out of a specific scale as your needs change.

The public cloud model

Using a hybrid environment can come at a greater cost than either an on-premises or public cloud one, because you must invest in both on-premises hardware and a cloud subscription, but it does grant you more flexibility.

Both IBM Cloud and Microsoft Azure are certified VMware Horizon providers, and you can stand up these offerings without any on-premises dependencies.

No matter which certified vendor you use, you can see and manage your entire environment -- including all your VMware-hosted programs -- from a single pane of glass. You can even manage environments in multiple zones across the world from the same window. You can set up VMware Horizon in the cloud with a simple, guided step-by-step process, and you don't require any prior in-depth cloud management knowledge to do it.

With Horizon virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), you can choose from several size offerings for each platform. If you use Azure or IBM Cloud, you should be familiar with the available VM template range, because Horizon uses the same VM sizes for the VDI guest. You can also use GPU-assisted VDI desktops.

However, Horizon doesn't enable custom VM sizes in the cloud like it does with an on-premises infrastructure. The specific offerings might limit your options in this regard.

On-premises and hybrid cloud

On-premises Horizon infrastructure works a little differently than VMware Horizon cloud. With on-premises Horizon, you must book your seasonal capacity to capital expenditure. Your extra hardware, power, cooling systems and licenses sit idle when you're not using them, but you pay for them anyway.

As a result, many organizations use a hybrid structure. These organizations keep the basic infrastructure on premises but rent additional resources when needed. With a hybrid method, you can maximize your hardware usage without leaving resources idle and burst into the cloud during peak times.

Using a hybrid environment can come at a greater cost than either an on-premises or public cloud one, because you must invest in both on-premises hardware and a cloud subscription, but it does grant you more flexibility.

Using Horizon with VMware Cloud on AWS

You can use VMware Cloud on AWS with Horizon, which enables you to use and monitor a cloud environment from the same pane of glass as your on-premises infrastructure.

VMware Cloud on AWS functions virtually the same as an on-premises environment. You deploy it as a new cluster, but it comes with a greater capacity, which makes it ideal for setting up a hybrid cloud.

There is a simple wizard that you can use to create the environment you require. You can use cloud pod architecture to connect Horizon pods across on-premises and VMware Cloud on AWS environments. You can upload your own virtual images to VMware Cloud on AWS for use in Horizon. You can also use vSphere resource pools from within VMware Cloud on AWS to set up your desktops.

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