VMware has just announced VMware Horizon View 5.2 and has also lifted the NDA. Despite being a .2 release the VMware View and Horizon Suite teams added a significant number of features that improve View performance, scalability and user experience.
Following the format of my previous articles What’s New in VMware View 5.0 (beyond Marketing) and What’s New in VMware View 5.1 (beyond Marketing) I am going to introduce some of the new features that don’t necessarily make to the marketing press releases but also represent major product improvements.
Please note that this blog post is not reviewed in any way by my employer (VMware) and may not exactly reflect exactly how the product is being shipped. Please refer to the product Release Notes for official information from VMware.
Let’s start with the New Features…
- Efficient Use of Storage Capacity with SEsparse Disks
Horizon View 5.2 leverages a new vSphere capability that implements a new disk format for VMs on VMFS that allow for grain reduction size & more efficiently utilization of allocated blocks by filling it with real data. Unused space is reclaimed and View Composer desktops stay small. For a deep-dive on the technology read Space-Efficient Sparse Virtual Disks and VMware View. SEsparse reduces storage capacity requirements (lower CAPEX) for Persistent Desktops, even on lower-tier hardware.
End User Experience
- Unified Client with View Desktops in Horizon
When co-installed with Horizon Suite the View Desktop pools are connected into Horizon Suite after they are provisioned. The Horizon Suite provides a single point of access for end users to their desktops, data and applications. Horizon Suite supports SSO brokering user to the available desktops based on entitlement policy.
- Clientless HTML5 Access to View Desktops & Apps
Access to View desktops and applications via Horizon is possible from any modern device using a remote protocol delivered through any HTML5 capable web-browser.This is the technology previously code-named AppBlast. It will direct users to existing View desktops leveraging Horizon View Security Server for network routing when available. This is a true install-free access to virtual Desktops.
- Hardware Accelerated 3D Graphics
Horizon View 5.2 leverages a new vSphere capability that enables shared access to physical GPU hardware for 3D and high performance graphical workloads. Virtual desktops still see abstracted VMware SVGA device for maximum compatibility & portability, but use Accelerated 3D Graphics , enabling truly high performance graphics in a cot effective manner with multiple VMs sharing a single GPU resource. The solution is fully compatible with hosts lacking physical GPUs (for vMotion, DRS, etc).
There are 2 modes supported:
- vSGA (Shared Graphics Acceleration)
- Software 3D renderer
I’ll talk more about the 2 different acceleration modes on another post.
- Improved Video Chat with MSFT Lync Support
Horizon View 5.2 provides Microsoft Lync 2013 client support, including full support for UC VoIP and Video on both RDP and PCoIP. This new feature enable a tighter integration between Microsoft Lync and Office applications with full collaboration capabilities. Some of the features are:
- Compresses USB webcam traffic upstream for reduced bandwidth usage
- Leverages UDP based channel for improved WAN performance
- Enabling improved performance of USB media devices
- Windows 8 Desktop Support
Horizon View 5.2 now fully supports Windows 8 virtual desktops as guest OS. It also comes aligned with the Windows 8 Client Support. If you are running Windows 8 tech-preview mode with VMware View 5.1 you will be glad to know that a number of bug have been resolved. Here is a short list:
- Support for running Windows 8 on 2D desktops
- A new Print Redirection codebase has been introduced that supports Windows 8, and also fixes a number of outstanding issues.
- PCoIP New Features
- Support for MITM (Man-In-The-Middle) network devices
- PCoIP GPO settings take effect immediately when changed (host side only).
- Relative Mouse enablement (supported by latest Windows View client)
- Some 3D applications (certain CAD applications and most games) read the mouse in a “relative mode”. At the same time, to minimize roundtrip latency VMware View normally remotes mouse in an “absolute mode”. The engineering team added the ability for the user to activate “relative mouse mode”.
- Multi Touch enablement (supported by latest Windows View client)
- Windows 8 supports Multi-touch events on compatible hardware (i.e. can recognize multiple simultaneous fingers on a touch screen). When running in Metro mode, Metro Applications are designed ground-up for multi-touch interaction. When connecting to a Windows 8 desktop in “Metro mode” from a touch screen enabled Windows 7 and Windows 8 end-points, multi-touch remoting can generate a better user experience.
- PCoIP Security Improvements
- Port scanners that scan PCoIP Security Gateway now pass successfully
- OpenSLL upgraded to a more secure version
- Weak SSL ciphers removed
- PCoIP Performance Improvements
- Image caching supported on Teradici APEX card and Tera2 Zero Clients
- Improved image cache management and compression
- Bandwidth reductions in both the LAN and WAN environment
- Support for vertical offset caching
- Improved responsiveness and fluidity during scrolling
- Horizon Based ThinApp Entitlement for View
Horizon View 5.2 provides a tight linkage of View ThinApp Entitlement to the Horizon Workspace and includes a migration tool to help admins to import the current pool-based entitlements to the Horizon Workspace user/group entitlements. This approach unifies application entitlement across all end user devices & virtual desktops.
- Large Pools with more than 8 hosts
The 8 host cluster limit for Linked Clone pools using VMFS has been removed. The new limit is 32 hosts per cluster across the board for all pool types, Linked Clone or not. The added feature may completely change how VMware View deployments are designed and deployed for many customer.
- Support for 10,000 virtual desktops per vCenter Server
Horizon View now supports 10,000 virtual desktops per View pod with a single vCenter Server instance. In previous versions VMware had only validated 2,000 virtual desktops per vCenter Server.
- Multi-VLAN support
Multiple Network Label Assignment is is being introduced with Horizon View 5.2. This is a powerful feature that allow administrators to utilize a single base image and assign it to multiple different VLANS or PortGroups. This first release comes only with PowerShell support; no Admin UI integration. I’ll talk more about this feature in an upcoming post.
- Data caching for fast Admin-UI response with large lists of desktops and sessions
- Provisioning, Rebalance, Recompose performance increase
- More than 2X improvement on end to end provisioning time
- Significant improvement on pool rebalance time
- Availability of Rolling Refit Maintain allowing for a configurable minimum number of READY desktops during refit operations that support both automatic and semi-automatic linked clone pools
- Integrated Service Console in VC Web Client
This is a Tech-Preview feature. This new feature is a View plugin for the vSphere Web Client making vCenter Web Client “aware” of Horizon View objects like Users, Desktops & Pools. Having a single pane of glass enable administrators to easier provide desktop support & troubleshooting, increasing Admin efficiency and reducing View-Admin to VC-Admin “whiplash”.
- VC Virtual Appliance Support
Horizon View 5.2 fully supports virtual appliance based vCernter deployments, eliminating vCenter dependencies on Windows, enhancing View Deployment Flexibility, making it easier to install and upgrade, and potentially providing Windows license cost reduction. If you want to deep-dive a little bit more on the subject I recommend reading Reduce Windows Server License count in VMware View.
- New Admin Dashboard Look & Feel
The new Admin dashboard UI has the same look and feel as vSphere 5.1 Web UI.
- SSL Protocols and Ciphers
- Horizon View 5.2 Raises the security bar by excluding weak protocols and ciphers
- SSL protocols and cipher suites have been adjusted
- PCT and SSLv2 eliminated
- SSLv3 and Triple-DES disabled by default
- Allows customers to adopt stronger ciphers
- Connection servers and security servers configurable through LDAP
- PCoIP components can be configured to use 256-bit AES
- SSL Certificates and Port Numbers
- PCoIP Server and Security Gateway can be configured to use a different certificate
- Service Framework port number is now configurable on agents and transfer servers
- Service Framework no longer listens on connection servers or security servers
This article was first published by Andre Leibovici (@andreleibovici) at myvirtualcloud.net.