VMware Horizon FLEX Server: A Complete Guide

VMware Horizon FLEX Server

Are you looking for a flexible and secure solution to manage your desktops? Do you want to provide your users with the best desktop experience, regardless of their location, device, or network? If yes, then you should consider VMware Horizon FLEX.

What is VMware Horizon FLEX?

VMware Horizon FLEX is a policy-based containerized desktop solution that provides IT with the flexibility to meet the needs of various users, while ensuring security, control, and compliance of the corporate desktop. With Horizon FLEX, you can create, secure, and manage virtual machines that run locally on the user’s device, without requiring a constant network connection. You can also assign and distribute these virtual machines to users and groups, and enforce policies to control their behavior and lifecycle.

Horizon FLEX is ideal for scenarios where users need to work offline, use multiple devices, or access restricted or sensitive data. Some examples of Horizon FLEX use cases are:

  • Remote and branch workers: You can provide them with a consistent and reliable desktop experience, even when they are offline or have a poor network connection. You can also ensure that they comply with the corporate security and regulatory standards, and prevent data leakage or unauthorized access.
  • BYOD (Bring Your Own Device): You can enable your users to use their own devices, such as laptops, tablets, or smartphones, to access their corporate desktops. You can also reduce the IT costs and complexity associated with managing and supporting multiple devices and platforms.
  • Contractors and temporary workers: You can quickly provision and deprovision desktops for them, without compromising the security or performance of your network. You can also limit their access to specific applications and data, and remotely wipe or disable their desktops when their contract ends.
  • Developers and testers: You can provide them with isolated and sandboxed environments to run and test their applications, without affecting the production system. You can also enable them to switch between different operating systems and configurations, and easily share their virtual machines with their peers or clients.

How does VMware Horizon FLEX work?

Horizon FLEX consists of three main components: the Horizon FLEX server, the Horizon FLEX virtual machines, and the Horizon FLEX client. The following diagram shows the high-level architecture of Horizon FLEX:

Source: VMware Horizon FLEX Administration Guide

Let’s take a closer look at each component and see how they work together to deliver the Horizon FLEX solution.

Horizon FLEX Server

The Horizon FLEX server is the central management component of Horizon FLEX. It performs the following functions and features:

  • Creates and secures Horizon FLEX virtual machines: The Horizon FLEX server uses VMware Fusion Pro or VMware Workstation Pro to create virtual machines that run on the user’s device. It also encrypts and signs the virtual machines to protect them from unauthorized access or tampering.
  • Manages and distributes Horizon FLEX virtual machines: The Horizon FLEX server uses the Horizon FLEX Admin Console and the Horizon FLEX Policy Server to manage and distribute the virtual machines to users and groups. It also monitors and reports on the status and usage of the virtual machines.
  • Enforces policies on Horizon FLEX virtual machines: The Horizon FLEX server uses the Horizon FLEX Policy Server to enforce policies on the virtual machines, such as expiration date, network access, USB devices, copy and paste, drag and drop, and more. It also updates and revokes the policies as needed.

To install and configure the Horizon FLEX server, you need to follow these steps:

  1. Install VMware Fusion Pro or VMware Workstation Pro: You need to install one of these products on the system that will host the Horizon FLEX server. You can download them from the VMware website.
  2. Install the Horizon FLEX server components: You need to install the Horizon FLEX Admin Console and the Horizon FLEX Policy Server on the same system as VMware Fusion Pro or VMware Workstation Pro. You can download them from the VMware Horizon FLEX Downloads page.
  3. Configure the Horizon FLEX server components: You need to configure the Horizon FLEX Admin Console and the Horizon FLEX Policy Server to communicate with each other and with the Horizon FLEX client. You can use the Horizon FLEX Administration Guide for detailed instructions.

Once you have installed and configured the Horizon FLEX server, you can use the Horizon FLEX Admin Console and the Horizon FLEX Policy Server to create, secure, and manage your Horizon FLEX virtual machines.

Horizon FLEX Virtual Machines

The Horizon FLEX virtual machines are the containerized desktops that run locally on the user’s device. They are created, secured, and managed by the Horizon FLEX server, and accessed and run by the Horizon FLEX client. They have the following characteristics and capabilities:

  • Support multiple operating systems and platforms: The Horizon FLEX virtual machines can run Windows, Linux, or Mac OS X as the guest operating system. They can also run on Windows, Mac OS X, or iOS as the host operating system.
  • Provide a high-performance and rich desktop experience: The Horizon FLEX virtual machines leverage the hardware and software resources of the user’s device to deliver a fast and responsive desktop experience. They also support features such as 3D graphics, multiple monitors, and webcam and microphone.
  • Work offline and online: The Horizon FLEX virtual machines can work offline, without requiring a network connection, for a specified period of time. They can also work online, and synchronize with the Horizon FLEX server to receive policy updates and report usage statistics.
  • Comply with security and regulatory standards: The Horizon FLEX virtual machines are encrypted and signed by the Horizon FLEX server to prevent unauthorized access or tampering. They also comply with the policies enforced by the Horizon FLEX server to control their behavior and lifecycle.

To create, secure, and manage the Horizon FLEX virtual machines, you need to follow these steps:

  1. Create a Horizon FLEX virtual machine: You need to use VMware Fusion Pro or VMware Workstation Pro to create a virtual machine that runs the guest operating system and applications that you want to provide to your users. You can also use an existing virtual machine or import one from another source, such as VMware vSphere or VMware vCenter Converter.
  2. Secure a Horizon FLEX virtual machine: You need to use the Horizon FLEX Admin Console to encrypt and sign the virtual machine that you created. You can also specify a password and a recovery key for the virtual machine, in case the user forgets the password or loses the device.
  3. Manage a Horizon FLEX virtual machine: You need to use the Horizon FLEX Admin Console and the Horizon FLEX Policy Server to assign and distribute the virtual machine to users and groups. You can also monitor and report on the status and usage of the virtual machine, and enforce policies to control its behavior and lifecycle.

Once you have created, secured, and managed your Horizon FLEX virtual machines, you can distribute them to your users and let them access and run them using the Horizon FLEX client.

Horizon FLEX Client

The Horizon FLEX client is the software component that runs on the user’s device and allows them to access and run the Horizon FLEX virtual machines. It has the following requirements and compatibility:

  • Supports Windows, Mac OS X, and iOS devices: The Horizon FLEX client can run on Windows 7 or later, Mac OS X 10.9 or later, and iOS 8.1 or later devices. It can also run on Windows tablets and Apple iPads.
  • Requires VMware Fusion Player or VMware Workstation Player: The Horizon FLEX client uses VMware Fusion Player or VMware Workstation Player to run the Horizon FLEX virtual machines on the user’s device. These products are free for personal use and can be downloaded from the VMware website.
  • Requires an activation code: The Horizon FLEX client needs an activation code to connect to the Horizon FLEX server and download the Horizon FLEX virtual machines. The activation code is provided by the Horizon FLEX server and can be sent to the user by email or other methods.

To install and activate the Horizon FLEX client, you need to follow these steps:

  1. Install VMware Fusion Player or VMware Workstation Player: You need to install one of these products on the device that will run the Horizon FLEX client. You can download them from the VMware website.
  2. Install the Horizon FLEX client: You need to install the Horizon FLEX client on the same device as VMware Fusion Player or VMware Workstation Player. You can download it from the VMware Horizon FLEX Downloads page.
  3. Activate the Horizon FLEX client: You need to enter the activation code that you received from the Horizon FLEX server to connect to the Horizon FLEX server and download the Horizon FLEX virtual machines. You can also enter your username and password if required by the Horizon FLEX server.

Once you have installed and activated the Horizon FLEX client, you can use it to access and run your Horizon FLEX virtual machines.

Conclusion

VMware Horizon FLEX is a powerful and flexible solution that allows you to provide your users with the best desktop experience, regardless of their location, device, or network. With Horizon FLEX, you can create, secure, and manage virtual machines that run locally on the user’s device, and enforce policies to control their behavior and lifecycle. You can also reduce the IT costs and complexity associated with managing and supporting multiple devices and platforms, and ensure the security and compliance of your corporate desktop.

If you want to learn more about VMware Horizon FLEX, you can visit the VMware Horizon FLEX Product Page or the VMware Horizon FLEX Documentation. You can also try VMware Horizon FLEX for free for 60 days by downloading it from the VMware Horizon FLEX Downloads page.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article and found it useful. If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you. 😊

FAQs

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