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VMware Horizon

Since launching our Desktop as a Service (DaaS) platform in November 2019, we’ve looked at the organisational benefits of DaaS, released an e-book on the subject in partnership with VMware and covered how it assists in modernising operating systems across your estate.

In this blog, we’re delving a bit deeper, looking at some of the more technical benefits of Desktop as a Service and, specifically, VMware Horizon, our VDI solution of choice here at Cloudhelix.

What is VMware Horizon?

VMware Horizon is a desktop and application virtualisation solution designed to deliver desktop experiences from a range of Operating Systems to any device. VMware Horizon delivers feature-rich virtual desktops and applications to meet the demands of the modern workplace. Our desktop as a Service platform utilises VMware Horizon to deliver a fully managed platform suitable for enterprise desktop delivery.

The Challenges of Managing Desktops

The management of physical desktops and laptops has always been time-consuming and expensive, which is where solutions like VMware Horizon come into play. Here’s why it’s a headache for IT teams…

There’s (usually) a large number of desktop and laptop models used, all with different hardware components that need to be maintained.
A growing number of mobile devices are added to the network all the time as employees utilise personal devices during their working day. This means every employee requires reliable, secure access to company data on three or more devices.
Managing access to all of these devices is extremely complex, balancing end-user experience with security… which proves impossible without compromise, potentially increasing risk.

VMware Horizon cuts the risks by simplifying how users access applications, desktop and data. This keeps IT teams in control of security and eliminates many of the risks, some of which have existed since the days when far fewer devices. Let’s take a look at how VMware Horizon can get rid of some age-old IT quibbles.

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How DaaS Improves the Patch Management Process

An organisation’s laptop and PC estate will naturally sprawl over the years, usually in an unplanned manner as the organisation shifts and grows. This results in a multitude of images, even if the hardware is the same.

Each device has its own operating system that must be installed, patched and updated. The users’ application also needs to be installed, patched and updated, as do hardware drivers. Then there’s also the more time-consuming task of troubleshooting and fixing machines or applications when they aren’t working.

Managing this at scale and ensuring every machine is working is difficult, which is where virtual desktops can help. Delivering the desktop via a virtual session removes all of these issues by abstracting the OS, applications and data away from the physical machine.

Instead of pushing out patches to individual machines or waiting for users to drop their laptop into your helpdesk, the patch can be applied to the desktop images and updated for all users. If you’re applying a security patch, speed of deployment is key, so centrally managing the process greatly improves protection against zero-day attacks.

How DaaS Improves the Testing Process

Applications can be tested against a handful of predefined images and then packaged to avoid compatibility issues. These applications can then be instantly provisioned to all users. Applications can be dynamically attached to users’ groups or devices while they are logged into a desktop session.

Deploying a new application to all users across an organisation can take weeks to complete in a traditional environment, often with mixed results. By utilising Horizon DaaS, you can update 100% of desktops within hours, or if you’re lucky, minutes. Just imagine how much time is saved in the process?

Desktop as a Service and Your Active Directory

VMware Horizon simplifies authentication with true single sign-on (SSO) and contextual, granular role-based policies that connect location device and user information. The service delivers a multi-layered defence-in-depth approach that goes from the device back to the data centre and the virtual infrastructure. True single sign-on streamlines the end-to-end login experience using the users’ Active Directory (AD) credentials. You can utilise policy to ensure that a desktop login from a network location you consider not secure will result in disabling security-sensitive features such as USB drive access.

Data will now be centrally located and secured within the data centre rather than residing on the user’s device. This is particularly important if your company has embraced bring your own device (BYOD) as enforcing security policy on end-users privately-owned equipment often proves impossible.

If a device is lost, stolen or compromised, the risk associated with loss of information is eliminated. As a result of this data centralisation, policies for retention and access can be controlled by the IT team, ensuring GDPR compliance. It also removes (some of) the need to ensure that end-user devices are encrypted and fully backed up, reducing risk for your company.

If this is something you’re looking for, we can carry out a one-off project to integrate your VMware Horizon platform with your Active Directory so users are authenticated against the AD. Our deep experience with VMware technology means we’re well placed to assist you.

What’s more, we’re proud to be one of a handful of accredited VMware Horizon DaaS partners globally. Our highly resilient, secure and scalable Desktop as a Service platform is available to test as a free trial here.

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