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VMware Horizon: All Clients are not created equal, choose your endpoint wisely!

Over the past 12-18months I have been having more and more discussions on the functionality available within the VMware Horizon stack, and after working with a few customers I have seen some resellers (VARs) promoting various endpoints within tender responses. This post is going to cover the approach and food for thought for choosing your endpoints when deploying a VMware Horizon solution.

I have seen many environments fail due to the incorrect end point selection. Don’t be one of those!

Background of VDI

It is not just virtual desktops anymore, and the use cases for VDI are becoming more functional in environments where it may have not of been previously. Whether that be due to the improvements of 3D graphics manipulation in VDI with vGPU to contact centers.


*tables and screen grabs within this post courtesy of VMworld US slide deck by Jim Yanik

When deploying your VDI solution as outlined in a previous article here, it is key that you outline the requirements of the solution from day 0, and ensure that your assessment captures any use cases of applications/services that need client offload functionality or media redirection etc. Knowing this information will allow you to intelligently select your endpoint/client as best you can.

Just because zero client “may” lower your foot print at the desk, doesn’t mean you should do it. Done properly most remotely managed endpoints can achieve this!

Not all clients are created equal

When deploying a VMware Horizon solution, it is crucial that you take note of the “functionality-ometer” below, this outlines at a very high level the amount of functionality you can get across your varying endpoint and client types.


Some things to consider

What device redirection do you require? Port level, high level or partner optimized. Knowing this will help you to not Fail at passing through client devices efficiently.

What is is port level?

Port level redirection is generic USB pass-through, and requires the driver within your virtual desktop or RDSH server.

What is high level device redirection?

High level device redirection leverages client and agent modules to redirect specific peripherals at higher application layer, but requires development for each peripheral type and client endpoint. This type of redirection creates a virtual channel between an agent and client module with minimal or no optimization.

Examples of high level device redirection with Horizon are: RTAV, ThinPrint, Scanner redirection, Smartcard redirection.

What is partner optimized device redirection

Partner optimized device redirection leverages VMware Horizon APIs to optimize their solutions for VDI. This is led by development of customized software for agent and client side modules to ensure the traffic between the end point and session is optimized.

Examples of partner optimized redirection with Horizon are: Optimized UC solutions (Lync, Cisco VXME, Avaya VDI communicator), XYZMO (optimized performance for signature tablets), Nuance Speech Magic (optimizes dictation), Dell remote scan (optimized scanning and imaging devices)

As an example the diagram below outlines USB redirection using port redirection vs high level device redirection:


As you can see, utilizing high level device redirection has provided a performance benefit of optimizing the amount of bandwidth being utilized.

When you add partner optimized solutions the benefits are higher but compatibility is reduced. USB port level redirection supports the most periphery but is not optimized.


The next item to consider is whether you have a UC solution that can be optimized or whether you are going to use RTAV. The table below outlines the pros and cons of both at an extremely high level:

RTAV UC Optimized Solution
Description RTAV encodes audio and video on client and sends stream back to remote desktop Partner media engines install on client endpoint and all media processing performed on client endpoint
Pros Broad client and application support Hi-def VoIP and video without affecting datacenter infrastructure
Cons Media hairpinning still occurs Limited client and application support

The other areas to keep in mind are:

  • Microsoft licensing
  • Bandwidth
  • Legacy devices
  • Firmware updates
  • Security
  • Peripheral support
  • Patching
  • QoS
  • End point client plugins
  • Use case requirements
  • Replacement lifecycle
  • Client power and capabilities
  • User experience expectations.


Useful Matrices

Thin / Zero Client Selection Matrix

Windows Thin Client Linux Thin Client Teradici Zero Client – Tera1 Teradici Zero Client  – Tera2
Latest Horizon View Certification 6.1 6.1 5.3 (End of Life) 6.1
VDI Desktops Yes Yes Yes Yes
RDS Desktops Yes Yes No Yes
RDS Applications Yes Yes No Yes
Unified Communications Yes Yes1 No Partial2
Microsoft Lync 2013 Yes No No No
RTAV Yes Yes No No
Windows Media MMR Yes No No No
Flash URL Multicast Yes Yes No No
Printer Redirection Yes Yes No No
Smartcard Redirection Yes Yes Yes Yes
Scanner Redirection Yes No No No
USB (VDI) Redirection Yes Yes Yes Yes
Port Level USB Storage (RDSH) Yes No No No
Client Drive Redirection Yes Yes No No
Linux Desktops Yes Yes No No
Central Management Yes Yes Yes Yes
Locked Down Endpoint Configurable Configurable Yes Yes

Managed Device Selection Matrix

Macbook iOS Android Chrome Client
Latest Horizon View Certification 6.1 6.1 5.3 (End of Life) 6.1
VDI Desktops Yes Yes Yes Yes
RDS Desktops Yes Yes Yes Yes
RDS Applications Yes Yes Yes Yes
Unified Communications No No No No
Microsoft Lync 2013 No No No No
RTAV Yes No No No
Windows Media MMR No No No No
Flash URL Multicast No No No No
Printer Redirection Yes No No No
Smartcard Redirection Yes Yes Yes No
Scanner Redirection No No No No
USB (VDI) Redirection Yes No No No
Port Level USB Storage (RDSH) No No No No
Client Drive Redirection Yes No No No
Linux Desktops Yes No No No
Central Management No No No No
Locked Down Endpoint No No No No

Tips for Choosing

So how do you decide, well here are some tips:

  1. Understand your use cases thoroughly
  2. Understand Microsoft VDA licensing implications
  3. Set expectations of differences when users roam between device types (this will happen)
  4. There is no one perfect endpoint, its up to you, your environment and requirements
  5. The windows client is going to be the most complete with regards to features, possibly a safe bet?
  6. Have a plan for endpoint management.

Thank you for reading this blog, and happy new year to you all!!

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