Horizon 7 and App Volumes 2.x Updates

VMware has been committed to adding new features with every Horizon Suite point update, and the latest updates, announced yesterday, are no exception.

The Horizon 7.0.3 update, in conjunction with vSphere 6.5, adds several long-awaited features (announcement blog)(release notes).  These are:

  • Expanded Support for Windows 10
  • H.264 multimonitor support for Windows and Linux
  • A Universal Windows Platform Horizon Client for Blast Extreme
  • Linux Enhancements, including
    • Audio Input support
    • Ubuntu 16.04 Support
    • Clipboard Redirection for all supported versions
    • vGPU support for NVIDIA M6 GPUs for Red Hat Enterprise Linux desktops
  • Support for Windows Server 2016 Remote Desktop Session Hosts and single-use desktops

Two major vSphere 6.5 enhancements that impact Horizon were also highly touted yesterday.  The first is access to the Horizon API in PowerCLI 6.5.  This was released last week with vSphere 6.5, and both Alan Renouf and Thomas Brown have blog posts on how to access the API.   There is also a Github repository with examples on how to use the API. This has been a long awaited, and oft-requested, feature enhancement for Horizon.  While there has been a View PowerCLI module that’s been included since View 4.5, it was very limited and hadn’t been updated with the new features added to Horizon.  The new API access is very raw, and there are currently only two cmdlets, and these are used for connecting to and disconnecting from the API.  However, I expect significant additions to this in future versions of PowerCLI.

The second big announcement is HA support for vGPU-enabled desktops in vSphere 6.5.  This is a huge announcement for customers that require vGPU for 3D workloads.  In previous versions of vSphere, if a host failed, vGPU-enabled desktops would not restart on another host.  This now provides some method of fault tolerance for these VMs.  vMotion is still not supported, and this is a much harder problem to tackle.

Also included with Horizon 7.0.3 is Access Point 2.8 and vRealize Operations for Horizon 6.4 (release notes).  vRealize Operations for Horizon includes several new features including:

  • Support for monitoring Horizon Access Point – including Access Point health and connection information
  • App Volumes support – monitoring which AppStacks are attached to a user session and how long they took to attach
  • New Widgets and reports on application usages in virtual desktop sessions
  • Support for monitoring Cloud Pod Architecture

App Volumes 2.12 was also released yesterday, and it brings significant improvements to the current branch of the application layering software. (Release notes)(Announcement Blog)

The new features in App Volumes are:

  • Logon Enhancements
  • Support for multiple domain controllers and multiple Active Directory forests and domains
  • Communications between App Volumes Manager and agent now default to HTTPS
  • Certification Validation required for communications between vCenter and App Volumes Manager
  • Support for Office 365 (2016) as an App Stack
  • Support for Windows 10 Anniversary Update (AKA Build 1607)

There are also a couple of new Tech Preview features that can be enabled in the latest version.  These features are: