It’s that time again! VMware just announced VMware Horizon View 5.3 and has also lifted the NDA. Despite being only a ‘dot’ release the Horizon View team added a significant number of features that provide improvements in the areas of performance, user experience and management.
Following the format of my previous articles “What’s New (Beyond Marketing)” I am going to also introduce new features that don’t necessarily make to the marketing press releases but also represent major product improvements.
I also would like to highlight the enormous number of issues that have been resolved in this release. For information please refer to the release notes here.
Please refer to the product Release Notes for official information from VMware.
Let’s start with the New Features…
- VSAN for Horizon View desktops (Tech Preview)
VSAN reduces CAPEX for Horizon View deployments by leveraging inexpensive server disks for shared storage, avoiding the capital expense of specialized hardware. VSAN helps to reduce OPEX by greatly simplifying, and in most cases eliminating, day-to-day storage configuration and provisioning activities, yet allowing administrators to scale Horizon View deployments on-demand by adding hosts on the fly or hot-adding disks to existing server nodes.
VSAN can be thought of as both a scale-out converged platform (of both compute and storage) as well as hybrid storage solution (since it leverages both Solid State Drives and traditional spinning disks). Built into the vSphere kernel for lowest latency, Virtual SAN uses read/write SSD caching in each host and provides intelligent data placement within the cluster.
Horizon View 5.3 allows administrators to select VSAN enabled datastores to store persistent and non-persistent (linked clone) desktop virtual desktops. For more information about Horizon View integration with VSAN please read my articles How does VMware VSAN help Horizon View? and How is Horizon View configured for VMware VSAN?
Because VSAN is in beta release, this feature is being released as a Tech Preview, which means that it is available for you to try, but it is not recommended for production use and no technical support is provided.
End User Experience
- Support for vDGA Direct Pass-through Graphics
vDGA (Virtual Dedicated Graphics Acceleration) is now fully supported. vDGA is a graphics acceleration capability that is offered by VMware with NVIDIA GPUs and is enabled by Horizon View 5.3 for delivering high-end Workstation Class 3D Graphics for use cases where a discrete GPU is needed.
The vDGA graphics adapters are installed in the underlying vSphere host and are then assigned to virtual desktops using VMware DirectPath I/O. Assigning a discrete NVIDIA GPU to the virtual Machine dedicates the entire GPU to that desktop and enables for CUDA and OpenCL compute.
For more information on 3D and Accelerated Graphics read my article How to improve VDI with Hardware Accelerated 3D Graphics.
- Windows 8.1 Support
Horizon View now fully supports Windows 8 and 8.1 virtual desktops. It also comes aligned with the Windows 8.1 client support. Please note that currently Local Mode and View Persona Management features are not supported with Windows 8.1 desktops.
- MMR of H264 Encoded Windows Media files to Windows 7 clients
H.264/MPEG-4 is a standard for video compression, and is currently one of the most commonly used formats for the recording, compression, and distribution of high-definition video.
With the recently added Windows 7 support for multimedia redirection of H264 encoded Windows Media files, the Windows 7 client end-point will receive the original compressed multimedia stream from the server and decode it locally for display.. This decrease bandwidth usage since the data over the wire will be compressed video instead of a succession of bitmaps. The bandwidth usage remains the same when a video window is resized and even when it’s played in full-screen mode. This method also saves server resources, as the server no longer spends its CPU resources decoding the video content and sending it in bitmap form over PCoIP.
Multimedia Redirection data is sent across the network without application-based encryption and might contain sensitive data, depending on the content being redirected. To control access to MMR, administrators can enable or disable MMR policy in View Administrator console.
- Next generation HTML5 access improvements
Horizon View 5.2 enabled install-free access to virtual desktops and applications using a remote protocol delivered through HTML5 capable web-browsers. Now, with Horizon View 5.3 users can enjoy sound, copy/paste clipboard and a much improved graphics performance with leading browsers.
- Real-time audio-video (webcam/audio redirection) for Linux clients
Horizon View 5.2 introduced Real-time audio-video for Windows clients and now 5.3 is introduces support also for Linux clients.
Real-Time Audio-Video does not forward audio and webcam devices using USB. Instead the devices are left local to the client, and audio/images are pulled from the local devices. The audio/images are then encoded, delivered to the guest virtual machine, and decoded.
A virtual webcam and a virtual microphone are installed in the guest virtual machine, which then “play” the received audio/video, and 3rd-party apps (e.g., Skype, WebEx, Google Hangout) can use these virtual devices.
Audio-out is performed from the standard View Agent audio-out functionality, which provides better audio quality than using USB redirection
- First release of newly rewritten Windows client
New Windows client has been rewritten from the ground up. It has the features you expect today, but with the look and feel of the other View clients and with the unified architecture of our other View clients.
- iOS 7 support in iPhone/iPad client
New iOS client has all new look and feel to match iOS 7!
- 16-bit color depth support on Windows 7 with virtual hardware v7 or earlier
- USB 3.0 port support
Horizon View 5.3 offers USB port redirection support for USB 3.0 client ports. Please note that at current release Horizon View supports only USB 1.0 and 2.0 devices.
- Support for Windows Server 2008 VM based desktops
Windows Server 2008 R2 is now supported as desktop operating system. As most of you probably know Microsoft does not provide SPLA licensing model for the Windows desktop operating system to allow customers and service providers to create Desktop-as-a-Service offerings using enterprise grade VDI solutions such as Horizon View.
Conversely Windows Server 2008 does provide SPLA licensing model and enable customers and service providers to be in alignment with Microsoft licensing terms.
Please note that certain features are not currently supported with Windows Server 2008 R2 desktops and administrators must perform certain steps to make the View Agent and the View Administrator treat Windows Server 2008 R2 as a supported operating system.
- VMware Horizon Mirage Support
Administrators may now utilize VMware Horizon Mirage 4.3 to manage Horizon View virtual desktops. Finally!
Mirage keeps a centralized and de-duplicated copy of virtual desktops, including user’s applications and data, and is able to re-instantiate them should you have a host or site failure. Mirage can also distribute individual and departmental application layers.
With Horizon Mirage IT is effectively able to eliminate the need for complex namespace or application virtualization solutions.
- View Agent Direct Connection Plugin General Availability
You can use VMware Horizon View Agent Direct Connection Plugin to connect directly to a virtual desktop. This feature was previously available only via the VMware Service Provider Partner program, but it is now open to all customers.
View Agent Direct-Connection Plugin (VADC-Plugin) is an installable extension to VMware Horizon View environments enabling support for direct connections from any View client without requirement to go through a View Connection Server or View Security Server. I previously wrote about VADC:
- VMware View Agent Direct-Connection Plugin Explained
- VMware View Agent Direct-Connection Plugin NAT/PNAT
- Removal of Tech Preview for VCAI
View Composer Array Integration is now a fully supported feature.
VCAI allow administrators to take advantage of the storage native snapshot feature within the normal administrative workflow of Horizon View and View Composer. VCAI integrate with NAS storage partner’s native cloning capabilities using vSphere vStorage APIs for Array Integration (VAAI).
VCAI speeds up provisioning of virtual desktops while offloads CPU consumption and network bandwidth. Narasimha Krishnakumar, Group Product Line Manager for Horizon View previously wrote a nice article explaining View Composer Array Integration.
- Linked-Clone Desktop Pool Storage Overcommit Feature Enhancements
The linked-clone desktop pool storage overcommit feature includes a new storage overcommit level called Unbounded. When you select Unbounded, View Manager does not limit the number of linked-clone desktops that it creates based on the physical capacity of the datastore.
Please note that Unbounded should only be selected if you are certain that the datastore in use has enough storage capacity to accommodate all of the desktops and their future growth.
- View Persona Management Supportability Improvements
The View Persona Management feature includes several supportability improvements, including additional log messages, profile size and file and folder count tracking, and a new group policy setting called Add the Administrators group to redirected folders. View Manager uses the file and folder counts to suggest folders for folder redirection.
For example, if a non-redirected folder has more than 10,000 files, View Manager writes the message Folders To Redirect along with the folder name and reason for suggesting redirection in the View Persona Management log file (VMWVvp.txt).
• Oracle 126.96.36.199 database support
In addition to the supported databases listed in the installation documentation, VMware Horizon View 5.3 supports Oracle 188.8.131.52 databases.
……more to come!!!!
This article was first published by Andre Leibovici (@andreleibovici) at myvirtualcloud.net.