At VMworld Europe 2014 in Barcelona VMware introduced VMware Horizon FLEX. Today, VMware announced the general availability of VMware Horizon FLEX.

VMware Horizon FLEX is a comprehensive enterprise solution that enables organizations to provision and manage local, corporate Windows-based virtual desktops to groups of employees that were previously difficult or costly to support. IT is now able to give Mac users, contractors and remote workers access to a secure corporate desktop in a cost effective package without sacrificing security or corporate compliance. This allows IT to save on training and support costs, while end-users quickly become productive on a Mac or PC whether or not they are connected to the corporate network.

Horizon FLEXVMware Horizon FLEX is a policy-based containerized desktop solution which provides IT with the flexibility to meet the needs of Mac users, contractors, and disconnected workers, while ensuring security, control, and compliance of the corporate desktop. In other words, Horizon FLEX is a locked-down virtual machine for the user to run locally on a machine of their choice, that you as the administrator can control with various policies. You can provide users with the corporate access they need, and enforce the security compliance you want.

Benefits of VMware Horizon FLEX

VMware Horizon FLEX provides key benefits that include:

  • Flexible Deployment Options – Standardized virtual desktops for PC and Mac end-users can be provisioned for customers, contractors or remote employees through the corporate network or locally on a USB drive.
  • Centralized Control – Centralized policy-based management creates a more secure virtual desktop environment that assists with securing data, configurations and virtual disks. Device control can allow or deny use of peripheral devices, expiration control enables IT to set a timeframe for virtual desktops to expire and remote kill can disable virtual desktops remotely in case of theft, termination or lack of corporate compliance.
  • Local Execution –- Users get access to a rich desktop experience through VMware’s industry leading clients and ensure productivity, even when on the road or disconnected from the network.
  • Unified Image Management – Virtual desktops can be managed as a set of logical layers owned by IT or the end-user. Dynamic layer for desktop and application management using VMware Mirage™ technology enables IT managed layers to be updated while maintaining end-user files and personalization.
  • IT Cost Reductions – Enable Bring Your Own PC (BYOPC) and support Macs in the enterprise without having to support the system itself. This can reduce training needs by allowing employees to use their system of choice, expedite new employee on-boarding, and eliminate the cost of sending a physical laptop.
  • Interoperability with AirWatch – Utilize AirWatch OS X management to provision and manage Mac OS X devices including the configuration of VMware Fusion and the installation of desktop and application containers.

FLEX Security

With VMware Horizon FLEX you can lock down your virtual machines by controlling USB devices, preventing file copy, and disabling drag and drop. You can give contractors a restricted virtual machine with predefined expiration dates, and you can even “poison-pill” a virtual machine at any time, in circumstances such as employee termination or theft of the device.

VMware has been successful with the local virtual machine for many, many years. Recent feedback from Fusion Pro customers was extremely positive. A big plus was the enhanced restriction settings for virtual machines; however, missing was a central management capability for the restricted virtual machines. The Horizon FLEX Policy Server adds a level of control and management and launches the humble local virtual machine to enterprise-worthy status.

FLEX in EUC portfolio

With the addition of VMware Horizon FLEX to the VMware end-user computing portfolio, customers will be able to choose between three different virtual desktop and application options from a single vendor to match their specific needs:

  • VMware Horizon FLEX – A local solution with centralized controls that will enable the quick deployment of virtual Windows desktops to Mac and PC users so companies can embrace BYOPC policies without compromising security or control.
  • VMware Horizon 6  A data center solution that delivers published applications and virtual desktops on a single integrated platform to empower IT with a streamlined approach for managing Windows applications and desktops.
  • VMware Horizon Air  A cloud solution that will deliver cost-effective enterprise-class virtual desktops that gives customers the ability to blend public and private cloud desktops for a seamless end-user experience.

The best part about implementing this solution is that VMware Horizon with View and VMware vSphere are not prerequisites. Minimal infrastructure can be used to deploy Horizon FLEX. Remember, the virtual machines are stored locally on the endpoints, so there is no extra storage overhead to worry about. Mirage is packaged with Horizon FLEX as an optional image management tool, but you can continue to use your existing image management tool with the Horizon FLEX Policy Server, if you wish.

If you already have Mirage in your environment, Horizon FLEX will fit in, offering a local desktop option for your Mac users, BYO users, and offline users.