VMware’s Horizon Cloud platform brings virtual desktops to Microsoft Azure

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VMware Inc. is expanding its Horizon Cloud platform onto Microsoft Corp.’s Azure public cloud. The partnership is designed to help customers accelerate their migration to Windows 10 while making VMware’s suite of virtual desktops and applications available to Azure customers, the companies said.

Horizon Cloud made its debut in February on IBM’s SoftLayer cloud. It takes advantage of graphics processing unit technology running in the cloud to accelerate virtualized desktop applications for power-intensive applications such as computer-aided design and manufacturing.

The company is now bringing those same capabilities to Microsoft’s Azure cloud, said Courtney Burry, senior director of product marketing at VMware. What Horizon Cloud does is provide a single control plane for customers to choose their preferred infrastructure for delivering and managing virtual desktops and applications, she said. She added that customers can now access a cross-cloud platform that allows them to pair the VMware Horizon Cloud service with the infrastructure that best meets their need, be it IBM SoftLayer, Microsoft Azure or on-premises hyperconverged infrastructure appliances.

“The addition of VMware Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure puts VMware in a unique position to offer customers several infrastructure options for virtual desktops and applications with the flexibility to move between different platforms,” Sumit Dhawan, VMware’s senior vice president and general manager of end-user computing, said in a statement.

The offering also means that Microsoft Azure users now have access to genuine desktop as a service solution. The closest thing available previous to this was Microsoft’s soon-to-be-discontinued Azure RemoteApp service, but Burry said Horizon Cloud is superior in several ways. “We have a richer protocol, an integrated experience with Workspace-ONE and richer support for all kinds of devices from phones, tablets, thin clients, Macs and Windows PCs,” Burry said.

Burry said there was plenty of demand for the Horizon Cloud service among Azure users, which includes 90 percent of the Fortune 500 companies. “These customers are looking to leverage Microsoft’s 38 datacenters and hourly billing model for their desktop and application workloads,” She said. “We feel that this will be an attractive solution for customers looking to move or expand to the cloud, who want to take advantage of the flexibility that a cross-cloud deployment model provides.”

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