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Integrating VMC on AWS with Horizon 7 leads to new use cases

Take advantage of Horizon 7 with VMC on AWS for a better hybrid cloud user experience, new use cases, and several different options for installation, deployment and integration.

VMC on AWS creates new use cases for running Horizon virtual desktops in the cloud, such as data center expansion and bursting, as well as improvements to cloud-based deployments.

VMware Horizon 7 now integrates with VMware Cloud (VMC) on AWS. You can run all your data center components in the cloud if you don't want to invest in on-premises hardware. That might be too big a leap for some organizations, but there are several other use cases you might want to consider.

New use cases

Data center expansion and bursting enable you to maintain your own on-premises Horizon deployment and temporarily expand your capacity. You can connect both environments using Cloud Pod Architecture (CPA) for seamless management.

Another reason you might consider moving virtual desktops to the cloud is application locality. If your virtual desktops are on premises and the applications users need are in the cloud, the distance between them creates latency. But if you put both the desktops and applications in the cloud, users will get better performance because the only traffic over the network will come from the virtual desktops.

With a cloud-based setup for disaster recovery (DR), you only have to pay for a base infrastructure in the cloud as opposed to purchasing and maintaining hardware to create your own DR site. You can then easily and rapidly scale up when needed.

Horizon with VMC on AWS

Certain features of Horizon -- such as App Volumes, which attaches AppStacks to VMs, and Instant Clones -- integrate with vCenter and vSphere. However, you don't get the same level of access to those servers in the cloud as you have on premises. Administrator-level access and root-level permissions to ESXi aren't available on vCenter, so VMware still needs to tweak these features with that level of access.

At VMworld 2018 in Barcelona, Spain, VMware announced that features such as App Volumes and Instant Clones will become available with the upcoming releases of Horizon 7.7 and App Volumes 2.15. VMware doesn't plan to support several other features, such as Linked Clones and Security Servers, either because they are obsolete, because there are technical limitations or just because the features don't make sense in an AWS environment.

Data center expansion and bursting enable you to maintain your own on-premises Horizon deployment and temporarily expand your capacity.

VMware also announced improvements to cloud-based and on-premises deployment management with the VMware Horizon Cloud Service. For those admins interested in deploying a hybrid cloud, this is good news, as it will unify their management.

How to get started

The last feature announced in Barcelona was an automated installation procedure for Horizon 7 with VMC on AWS. Until that arrives, you still have to install Horizon in the traditional way, which means setting up the same series of servers in the cloud as you would on premises. The required services include Active Directory (AD), a domain name service, Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol and Key Management Servers for Windows activation, and possibly Microsoft SQL Server for the event database.

To start, install a few Windows servers in your software-defined data center (SDDC) and get those up and running.

You can deploy a hybrid cloud with the use of CPA, which also enables you to connect two Horizon instances from separate data centers. In this case, you must set up a connection between your on-premises data center and VMC on AWS.

Horizon CPA
Figure A. Horizon CPA with VMC on AWS

When integrating two data centers, you can set up the connection between the two Horizon environments. To connect to VMC on AWS, you must take a few additional steps.

Part of setting up the link from the cloud environment to your on-premises data center is getting the virtual private network (VPN) to run with the correct firewall rules. This enables you to connect your two AD instances. It also permits users to connect to either of your Horizon environments to access their virtual desktops, which offers a seamless experience.

This becomes especially important when setting up a DR environment; if done properly, users won't even realize they aren't working in their normal production environment.

SDDC connectivity options
Figure B. VMC on AWS SDDC connectivity options

If you have NSX, you can easily set up the Edge VPN from there. If you don't have NSX, then you can run a separate appliance as a stand-alone client to set up the VPN.

VPN setup
Figure C. VMC on AWS SDDC VPN setup

The other part of setting up the VPN must happen within the SDDC configuration, as shown in Figure C above.

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