VM Hosted Applications – what is it all about?

Since the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak, I’ve been spending some time dabbling in EUC solutions to understand them better and see how it would fit into my customer’s BCP (Business Continuity Plan) strategies.

Today, I had several discussions on VM Hosted Applications. After speaking to several peers who are experts in this field as well as a little bit of research, I have compiled several key takeaways from my discussions.

What are VM Hosted Applications and how is it different from Horizon/RDSH Published Applications?

For a start- VM Hosted Application is not a new technology. It has been around for sometime now (cue Citrix!).

The thing is, Horizon have always been able to support published applications (instead of full desktops) using RDSH from a Windows Server. However, before Horizon 7.9, we were not able to support published applications from a Windows 10 Desktop.

So what VM Hosted Applications does is that it gives you the ability to publish applications from a Desktop OS (e.g. Windows 10) instead of a Server OS (e.g. Windows Server 2012 R2) without using RDS.

So what this means for the end user is that unlike VDI, they do not get access to a full Windows 10 Desktop. Instead, they will get direct access to the published application (similar to experience to accessing a Horizon Published App).

Why use VM Hosted Applications?

The most obvious reason would applications that are unable run on a Server OS. In some scenarios, certain applications do not run well in RDSH or they require the need to use a specific version of .NET. In this case, users can choose to run these applications on Windows 10.

Unlike RDSH servers where it is a 1:many session relationship, VM Hosted Applications are a 1:1 relationship – this perhaps offers better performance and security. One user would not be able to impact performance for another user and from a security perspective, you can use NSX Micro-segmentation with VM Hosted Applications.

Another scenario could be due to licensing. Some applications are licensed and supported only on on a Desktop OS (e.g. Windows 10). Hence, if you need to use these applications, you will need to have a full-fledged Windows 10 Desktop instead of delivering it through a published application. In this particular use case, using VM Hosted Applications would be suitable.

On top of that, if we take a look at licensing from Microsoft’s perspective, RDS CALs are not needed, unlike RDSH Published Applications.

Note: I’m sure there are other reasons as to why we would pick VM Hosted Applications over RDSH Published Applications. This is definitely not an exhaustive list!

What are the limitations of VM Hosted Applications?

One thing to note is that multiple users will not be able to use applications on a VM at the same time.

If you need to access the desktop and the published applications at the same time, you also won’t be able to. (Note: what is allowed though, is a single user being able to run multiple Windows 10 applications at the same time).

So how do do I get started?

This feature is available in Horizon 7.9, so you have to be minimally on 7.9 version or later (for both Horizon Server and Agent).

If you want to know in details what are all the requirements and the steps to enable this feature, we have a really good documentation here.

That’s all I have to share about this for now. Later!

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