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VMware Horizon Air Competitors and Alternatives

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AP
Director System Integration at a computer software company with 10,001+ employees
Vendor
Top 20
A mature product and an industry leader with great application virtualization

Pros and Cons

  • "Citrix is one of the companies that is delivering virtual apps and desktops in a big way. They are mature enough to understand the level of stability required and deliver it."
  • "If Citrix can develop something which can have more reach towards the backend infrastructure, other components of the Citrix environment, that would be ideal."

What is our primary use case?

For virtual desktops, like Windows 10 or Windows 7, we primarily use the solution to offer some customized applications to the users. 

Some of the basic applications, like Windows applications, are being used across all VDIs. 

The usage depends on the specific customer. They decide what applications they want to have in their VDI. We have certain items as far as their requirements, and we just manage the infrastructure in the background.

What is most valuable?

Citrix tends to have the most capabilities surrounding desktops.

The application virtualization is very, very good.

What needs improvement?

The customer is always looking for a unified solution. They need a single place where everything can be managed from while using a web application. With Citrix's system, there's an administrative tool and a helpdesk tool. Those two tools are very different, and the Citrix administrative tool is not meant for web-based use. It's in a heavy application. If they could build it into their web-based applications, that would be ideal. That way, administrators can log in from anywhere on any browser and they can just manage the environment in the background. 

Citrix does not have an in depth assessment tool. Some customers ask for components in Citrix that can give information around the hypervisor's resources or in-depth metrics of the hypervisor's site. There is a free tool from Citrix, however, it does not give you the deeper information of the other components like hypervisor or the OS or the storage, or downloads in the network. Those are the limitations of that particular tool right now. We might need to use a third party tool to gain that information. 

If Citrix can develop something which can have more reach towards the backend infrastructure, other components of the Citrix environment, that would be ideal. 

For how long have I used the solution?

We've most likely been using the solution for over eight years at this point.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Citrix is one of the companies that is delivering virtual apps and desktops in a big way. They are mature enough to understand the level of stability required and deliver it. 

Now, they are moving towards the cloud and offering everything as a service. The redundancy part is already taken care of by the company. 

We have many components and have controlled redundancies. From the end-user side, a user won't see any disruption in the services. That's due to the fact that the infrastructure in the background is highly available. Elasticity is also introduced. We're always building provisioning desktops on-demand and shutting the machines that are not in demand. 

We have certain policies defined in the infrastructure in the background, which can enable our administrators to utilize the resources as they need them. Therefore, it's quite stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We use this solution ourselves in our own organization and have a 60,000-70,000 userbase currently. We have more than 40 customers within the virtual workspace. Most are medium-sized entities. A few have 20,000-40,000 users. We'll be adding another client in healthcare that has about 20,000 desktops.

Scalability is not an issue. You can scale up to any number. There's only the requirement of adding the infrastructure and building that horizontally. You'll need to set up the different components horizontally. For example, if we have a 10,000 user base, then we can probably have 10 master servers. If the user base is around 40,000, then we can double the master servers so that they can take up the load.

How are customer service and technical support?

We often contact technical support.

They are very engaged, whenever we have an issue. They are very helpful. Most of the time, whenever we run into an issue where we need to reach out to Citrix they are available to us.

We do not support only Citrix. We also support the backend infrastructure and hosting infrastructure that are also Citrix products. If it's tied to another product, such as Microsoft, they'll work together to resolve whatever the issue is. 

We haven't found any difficulty in working with them. It's rare that we'd need to reach out to other vendors as well as Citrix (usually once in a quarter), however, if it happens, we know Citrix will do what they can to work with all parties.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We do not exclusively work with Citrix. It's much more high-end than other services, however, we do also offer, for example, VMware and Horizon.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is very simple currently. Earlier we used to install many components separately. Now, we have a basic software installation setup. We can build the environment in a few hours. It does not take much time now. Earlier, we used to have to secure the servers, for example. It is all virtualized. One administrator can build the environment from scratch and in a very short period of time. It's not complex now. Earlier it was, but not anymore.

The deployment time depends on the sizing of the environment. If the customer is looking for only 500 desktops, it takes one day to build everything. If there is planning involved, and there are some different components or key bits and pieces that the administrator needs to collect, it might take a bit longer.

If it is in a scalable environment that's sized, for example, at 1,000, 10,000, or 20,000, it will definitely take time. This is due to the fact that we need to choose the appropriate technology for the background. We need to figure out if the customer's willing to have a provision desktop, basically. That all depends on what the customer size is and what the customer requirements are.

We also offer managed services, so we can help our clients manage everything once the solution is fully deployed.

What about the implementation team?

Our team can help implement the solution for our clients. That said, I don't handle the process directly myself.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Citrix is competitive, however, at the same time, they give great service. VMware, Horizon, or other VDI solutions may be cheaper. That said, they do not have the same capability that Citrix has. 

We offer other VDI solutions like Microsoft WVDs and the VMware's Horizon, that are on the cheaper side. It's up to the customer, what they want to do. If they want to have premium services, we will host their VDIs on Citrix system components only. That will give them better features and better capabilities or maybe less frustration on the user experience side.

We offer cloud and managed services offerings as well as environments hosted on our data center. We have a variety of options and therefore can offer a variety of prices according to what they need/want.

What other advice do I have?

We're currently using the latest version of the solution.

While we mostly work with on-premises deployments, we also occasionally handle cloud deployments as well. 

We have our internal Cloud offering. Form there, we have a managed data center and within our company's premises, the customers are just subscribing to services based on their need for virtual desktops.

I would recommend the product. It's an industry leader in the VDI environment. Nobody can match their capabilities right now.

I'd rate the solution nine out of ten overall. If they had better capability testing, I might rate it higher.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
MG
Network administrator at a government with 5,001-10,000 employees
Real User
Makes it simpler and faster to deploy new versions and updates and enables us to provide support with the remote control feature

Pros and Cons

  • "One of the most interesting features in the enterprise version is the ability to do some support. There is a feature for remote control and debugging, which is something we didn't have before having Horizon 7 and the enterprise version."
  • "The most important feature that is missing is the ability to do some remote support on the client itself. For example, if somebody has a Horizon client installed on his machine, there should be a way to support his local machine as well. That's because most of the problems can't be solved very often due to the computer or the setup that someone is using on his personal machine. Because a Horizon client is already installed on the machine to access the environment, it would be nice if the client itself possessed some sort of remote control tool in it so that if needed, we could support both the virtual setup and the actual setup of the machine. It pretty much does everything well. It is mostly the support aspect that can be improved. You have perfect control over your in-house environment. You have a solution that can pretty much be used anywhere, but you have no control over the machine that's being used to access your environment. Definitely, that's where most of the features are lacking. There should be an option for remote control and maybe some options for conformity."

What is our primary use case?

We are using it to provide our users with a personalized desktop experience when they're working remotely, especially during the pandemic.

We are using its latest version. We usually deploy it on-prem, but I know that there is a possibility to put it on the cloud.

How has it helped my organization?

It is simpler and faster to deploy new versions and updates. It is also easier to make sure that everybody is using a standard image or a standard setup.

What is most valuable?

One of the most interesting features in the enterprise version is the ability to do some support. There is a feature for remote control and debugging, which is something we didn't have before having Horizon 7 and the enterprise version.

It is safer in terms of viruses and other types of attacks. If a machine ever becomes compromised, you can just destroy it immediately by logging off and having it recomposed.

What needs improvement?

The most important feature that is missing is the ability to do some remote support on the client itself. For example, if somebody has a Horizon client installed on his machine, there should be a way to support his local machine as well. That's because most of the problems can't be solved very often due to the computer or the setup that someone is using on his personal machine. Because a Horizon client is already installed on the machine to access the environment, it would be nice if the client itself possessed some sort of remote control tool in it so that if needed, we could support both the virtual setup and the actual setup of the machine. It pretty much does everything well. It is mostly the support aspect that can be improved. You have perfect control over your in-house environment. You have a solution that can pretty much be used anywhere, but you have no control over the machine that's being used to access your environment. Definitely, that's where most of the features are lacking. There should be an option for remote control and maybe some options for conformity. For example, if somebody installed the Horizon client on their shared computer, there could be some safety features or safety checks that were implemented in the client itself to make sure that the person using it is not using a compromised machine or something like that.

Its integration with third parties can be improved. Sometimes, there is a lack of integration with third parties. For example, we had issues at some point with Adobe products running in virtualization. I know they have a very hard time running in a virtualized environment and performing correctly. They work, but they're very slow, and they're hard to support.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for probably close to two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is very stable. It is very robust. The most fragile factor is the actual VM or the OS that you run on it. You might have a good virtual desktop solution, but if your VM that is running has an actual bug in it, such as a faulty patch or a problem that has to do more with software, then you're stuck with it anyway. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Its scalability is very good based on what I have seen so far. It is easy to scale it up or down, and I haven't seen any constraints of any kind.

Usually, at any given time, there are close to a hundred users who are using it. It is used by all departments. We use it everywhere, and it is used extensively. We don't really plan to extend it because it is already fulfilling all of our needs, so we don't need to upscale or downscale it. It is just perfect right now for our needs.

How are customer service and technical support?

It often depends on who you end up with. I've seen some people who go the extra mile and solve your problems really easily and quickly. If they don't have a solution, they'll make sure that somebody is able to help you. I've also seen the complete opposite at times where you have trouble trying to get follow-ups. It really depends on who's handling your case, and the fact that their support center is in India doesn't always help. I don't know if it's a language barrier or a social barrier or something else, but it's not easy. They are on the better side than the worst, but there is definitely room for improvement.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We were using Horizon 5. Before that, I've used different technologies but not in this environment. I've used a Citrix Metaframe in a different environment and not at this job.

How was the initial setup?

It was very straightforward. It was a lot simpler than previous versions.

What about the implementation team?

It was an in-house job. We were using Horizon 5, so we already had some experience with the product.

For its maintenance, one or two people are enough.

What was our ROI?

We have definitely got an ROI.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

It is hard to know for sure. It is definitely in the $20,000 to $30,000 range. It is quite expensive, but you do save money on desktop power, desktop upgrades, etc. You're able to extend the useful life of your previous desktops. Previously, we used to change desktops regularly, and now we just change them when they break.

What other advice do I have?

If you're currently looking for a solution that's in-house, it's a great solution. If you're looking into something that's more cloud-based, then you should definitely try a successor, which is a Horizon 8 or Horizon Air.

I would rate Horizon 7 an eight out of 10.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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