What's Coming in VMware Horizon 8

Tom Fenton gets a peek at what's coming in the commercial desktop and app virtualization product and offers his opinions on the best new features, including broader Instant Clone support and more.

On August 6, 2020, VMware announced what we can expect to see in Horizon 8 (H8), which is expected to be generally available in the company's fiscal Q3 FY21, ending Oct. 30, 2020. The first H8 release will be named Horizon 8 2010, or something similar as VMware has changed its naming scheme for Horizon to denote the year and month of the release.

Reading through VMware Horizon 8 Announcement and Pricing and Packaging Updates (KB 80146) gave me a good idea about what will be in H8. Below are the things that popped out at me about this release in the order that I think that they will affect Horizon users and administrators.

  • Horizon Standard and Advanced customers will have the right to use Instant Clones. This is huge as previously only more expensive versions of Horizon 7 (H7) were entitled to use this feature. Instant clones allow a running virtual machine (VM) to be "forked" to a child machine. This child VM initially uses the same real memory and disk space as its parent. When a write to the memory or disk occurs, though, it stores this data in a separate space, saving RAM and disk space. Because it forks a running VM, the clones can be created in just seconds.

    I have written about Instant Clones previously:

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    Instant Clones are a key component in VMware's composable desktop strategy where a desktop is built-up on the fly by bringing together the OS, applications, and user settings. This can lead to a considerable reduction in IT resources.

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    H8 also added new features for Instant Clones:

    • Instant Clone Smart Provisioning will allow provisioning of Instant Clones without requiring a parent VM this will reduce storage requirements and costs.
    • Dynamic pool expansion and Elastic DRS (Distributed Resource Scheduler) will allow Horizon administrators to dynamically expand pools and burst up and down automatically to meet business demands.
  • VMware is dropping support for Linked Clones in H8 so those that still use Linked Clones will need to transition away from them before going to H8.
  • H8 will support the use of Horizon in several places: on Google Cloud VMware Engine (GCVE), Horizon on VMC on Dell EMC, and Horizon on Azure VMware Solution (AVS).
  • H8 will not have entitlements to vSAN Advanced for Desktop.
  • vRealize Operations for Horizon is being removed from all H8 editions. For monitoring VMware has partnered with ControlUp. ControlUp has advanced monitoring, reporting, deep in-guest troubleshooting, and root cause analysis for their Horizon deployment. Customers can purchase ControlUp directly from VMware.

    I wrote about ControlUp previously:

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  • Horizon Standard and Advanced customers will now have Dynamic Environment Manager (DEM) Standard. This will replace Persona Management and Persistent Disks that was in H7.
  • For scalability VMware says that H8 can support up to 1 million users in a cloud pod architecture.
  • H8 will have new REST APIs to enable automation and orchestration of Horizon and add more administration functions APIs.
  • H8 will have Linux Hosted Apps that allow customers to leverage Linux OS to reduce costs and allow Linux only applications to be used with H8.

As this was just an announcement the above information is subject to change but H8 does have a few neat new features in it and VMware waterfalling Instant Clones, and DEM down to the standard license of H8 is a huge win for those that run the standard license.

Removing vSAN Advanced for Desktop may make life a little bit more difficult and/or more expensive for those that currently use VSAN. ControlUp becoming the de facto monitoring tool for Horizon is also big news as it is a framework for triggers and scripts to run against a Horizon deployment.

I will be looking forward to seeing more information from VMware about H8 as we get closer to its release date.

In VMware KB article 76934 the company has stated that Horizon 7.13 was to be released in 2020 Q2, but as August 8, 2020, it has yet to be released. 7.13 is to be an extended support branch (ESB) and it will be supported until 3/2022. VMware will offer technical guidance for H7 until 3/22/23

About the Author

Tom Fenton has a wealth of hands-on IT experience gained over the past 25 years in a variety of technologies, with the past 15 years focusing on virtualization and storage. He previously worked at VMware as a Senior Course Developer, Solutions Engineer, and in the Competitive Marketing group. He has also worked as a Senior Validation Engineer with The Taneja Group, where he headed the Validation Service Lab and was instrumental in starting up its vSphere Virtual Volumes practice. He's on Twitter @vDoppler.

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