Decoding Virtual Desktop Infrastructure with VMware Horizon®

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Thanks to the coronavirus work-from-home boom, Virtual Desktop Infrastructures (VDIs) have become an increasingly common way to create secure virtual environments. VDI solutions such as VMware Horizon® support not only your IT department but also your team as a whole.

The VDI Installation Process.

It’s possible to install a VDI environment if you have a team in place to manage them, but many organizations don’t — or don’t have enough employees to assist. To prevent overwhelm, Advizex can step in as your team’s extension. We set up your VDI in about one month, which includes deploying the servers, working on the image, and training you on how to capture applications. Then whenever you need our direct help again, we’re there.

You can connect any virtual machine to a product like VMware Horizon® to any infrastructure or other VDI hosting products, but it’s most effective when you stay within the VMware ecosystem. This also makes it smoother to troubleshoot.

Thanks to the coronavirus work-from-home boom, Virtual Desktop Infrastructures (VDIs) have become an increasingly common way to create secure virtual environments. VDI solutions such as VMware Horizon® support not only your IT department but also your team as a whole.

The VDI Installation Process.

It’s possible to install a VDI environment if you have a team in place to manage them, but many organizations don’t — or don’t have enough employees to assist. To prevent overwhelm, Advizex can step in as your team’s extension. We set up your VDI in about one month, which includes deploying the servers, working on the image, and training you on how to capture applications. Then whenever you need our direct help again, we’re there.

You can connect any virtual machine to a product like VMware Horizon® to any infrastructure or other VDI hosting products, but it’s most effective when you stay within the VMware ecosystem. This also makes it smoother to troubleshoot.

What Are the Differences Between VDIs and VPNs?

VPNs historically have been the most popular solution when remotely connecting to your work environment. VPNs use tokens or an app on your phone (which uses two-factor authentication). After authenticating, the device is then connected to your job’s secure network. VPN solution tokens can range in cost. Given the number of tokens needed in even a mid-sized company, it can get expensive fast.

VMware Horizon® is a self-contained VDI infrastructure you set up with servers and storage. You can create personalized desktops that are destroyed when users log off or have persistent VDIs that do not get destroyed at logoff, but their settings are saved on a file share. Therefore, when users log back on, it appears to be the same desktop even though it’s not.

VMware Horizon® VDI also uses its own version of two-factor authentication if you want to enable the feature. Your VDI will have a unified access gateway through which users can verify their login on their phones. With so many people on your network, you may be looking at manageability of devices through solutions such as the VMware workspace. Your data center, which is where your VDI will be based, has been through many tests to ensure its security, so a VPN is not necessarily as safe as a VDI.

Common Misconceptions About VDIs.

Will my Horizon Connection Server kick off users if it’s reset?
When a connection server needs to be reset, users who are already on the network will not lose their connection. It will only disallow new users from getting onto the server.

Do I need to load balance a Horizon Connection Server?
You can survive without a load balancer; however, you’d have to create a DNS entry (myvdi.com, for example) and forward that to the other connection server’s IP address in the environment. If you don’t use a nickname, your users would need to use the connection server’s fully qualified domain name. For maintenance purposes that take longer, that’s not a big deal. For companies who need everything up and running immediately, that workaround might not be as effective. With a load balancer, you can put it in front of your connection server, disable the connection server on the load balancer, and address any maintenance or administration issues without disruption to people’s VDI experience. Most people choose a load balancer because of that seamlessness.

Can I replace or upgrade my current production connection servers (for Windows Server OS)?
Connection servers are meant to be replaced and upgraded. VMware Horizon® makes it easy to transition, too. You install the Horizon Connection Server software on a new server, point to the connection server you are not having issues with or not upgrading at the time, and it will copy the data for you. You can then easily remove that connection server from the environment, replacing it with two new connection servers (one for redundancy). Once you create a replica server, all that server does is pull data from the first and copy it, so effort all around is minimal

Why Virtualization Matters.

As the concept of an office environment continues to shift, staying on top of technological advances will continue to help you succeed. VDI products such as VMware Horizon® Suite allow your employees to have a smooth transition to working from home. IT departments have the ability to software deploy (App Volumes) to VDI applications as well as capture Application settings (Dynamic Environment Manager) to provide a persistent feeling for the user on a non-persistent VDI.

A VDI environment will also provide the ability to diagnose issues, troubleshoot from the management console, and correct those problems — whether it’s one person having an issue or multiple people. Plus, from a security standpoint, a VDI environment can help mitigate virus/malware attacks and the spread of the attack with products like NSX Microsegmentation and with non-persistent desktops, which get deleted when users log off.

Depending on which VDI you use, this switch can be very cost effective as well as time efficient.

Advizex is your partner in identifying which VDI is the right fit for you and helping you install your new system. Please connect with us for more information.

Transitioning from Horizon 7 to Horizon 8.

Horizon 8 includes additional efficiencies for your virtual desktop infrastructure. If you have any linked clones in your environment, they’ll need to be changed to instant clones. A linked clone is what VMware used to call non-persistent VDIs that were created by the composer server. VMware is now using instant clones, which is the preferred way to create non-persistent VDIs. Instant clones are created through vCenter and not the composer server and use what VMware calls “forking.” Basically, it cuts your Windows 10 image and puts it on every server you have in your VDI environment. By utilizing instant clones, the composer server is no longer needed, which can save you a Microsoft license.

Much like any form of technology, we recommend staying on top of upgrades. Windows updates twice per year, and newer versions might not have Horizon 7 support.