Differences Between VMware Horizon and VDI

Virtual desktop solutions have become increasingly popular in recent years as organizations look to provide their employees with the flexibility and mobility, they need to be productive in today’s fast-paced business environment.

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) has emerged as a powerful solution for businesses that must provide employees with remote access to their desktops and applications. VDI is a virtualization technology that enables desktops to be hosted on servers and delivered to users’ devices over the network. VMware Horizon VDI is one of the leading solutions, offering businesses an efficient way to manage their virtual desktop environments. However, understanding the differences between VMware Horizon and VDI can confuse those new to the virtualization space.

We will explore these two solutions and their key differences to understand which solution best suits your business needs clearly.

What is Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)?

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is a virtualization technology that enables businesses to host desktops on servers and deliver them to end-users over the network. With VDI, users can access their desktops and applications from any device, anywhere in the world.

VDI architecture typically includes three layers: the user layer, the access layer, and the resource layer. The user layer includes the end-user devices, while the access layer comprises the network and access protocols that enable end-users to connect to the VDI infrastructure. The resource layer consists of the servers, storage, and virtualization software hosting virtual desktops.

Virtual desktops are hosted on servers and provide end-users with a desktop experience similar to a physical desktop. With the help of User profile management tools, businesses can manage user settings and preferences across multiple virtual desktops.

See How ACE VDI Facilitates Success In Long Run


What is VMware?

VMware is a software company that specializes in virtualization and cloud computing. Founded in 1998, the company has developed various virtualization products that enable businesses to run multiple operating systems and applications on a single physical server.

VMware’s Approach To VDI: What Is VMware Horizon?

VMware’s approach to VDI is to provide a comprehensive solution that includes virtual desktops, user profile management tools, and connection brokers.

VMware’s VDI solution, VMware Horizon, is built on its vSphere virtualization platform and provides businesses with a robust and scalable VDI infrastructure.

VMware Horizon VDI solution that enables businesses to create and manage virtual desktops on servers and deliver them to end-users over the network. VMware Horizon includes a range of features, such as desktop and application virtualization, user environment management, network optimization, and security, that make it a powerful solution for remote access to desktops and applications.

VMware’s Role in the VDI Market

VMware is a leading player in the virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) market, with a strong presence and a range of solutions that cater to different needs.

The global virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) market size is estimated to grow a CAGR above 20% over the forecast timeframe and reach a market value of around USD 78,163 million by 2030. The report also states that North America is expected to hold the largest market size during the forecast period.

VMware has been a dominant player in the VDI market for several years, and its VMware Horizon solution is a leading solution.

Vmware Horizon

According to the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, VMware VDI is positioned as a leader in the market, along with other leading players such as Citrix and Microsoft. The report notes that VMware Horizon VDI has a strong product vision, a robust feature set, and an extensive partner ecosystem, making it a preferred choice for many organizations.

VMware’s position in the VDI market is due to its broad portfolio of VDI offerings, including VMware Horizon, which offers comprehensive features for managing virtual desktops and applications.

Another factor contributing to VMware’s dominance in the VDI market is its software-defined infrastructure approach. Organizations can use commodity hardware to create a highly efficient and scalable VDI environment with VMware’s software-defined infrastructure. The approach reduces hardware costs and enables organizations to scale their VDI environment quickly and easily.

VDI Vs. VMware: How Are They Related?

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) and VMware Horizon are related but not the same.

VDI technology enables organizations to host and manage virtual desktops on central servers. Users can easily access these virtual desktops hosted remote servers from any device and location, just as they would with a traditional desktop computer.

VMware Horizon, on the other hand, is a comprehensive virtual desktop solution that leverages VDI technology. VMware Horizon VDI enables organizations to create, manage, and deploy virtual desktops and applications using a software-defined infrastructure. VMware Horizon provides a complete virtual desktop solution, including management, security, scalability, and rich user experience.

VDI and VMware Horizon are related because VMware Horizon is built on VDI technology. VMware Horizon leverages VDI technology to create and manage virtual desktops, but it also provides a complete solution that includes management, security, and advanced application delivery mechanisms.

Here, we will understand the critical differences between VMware Horizon and VDI.

VMware Vs. VDI: Differences to Note

Infrastructure Requirements

VDI typically requires a complex infrastructure of dedicated servers, storage, and network components. In contrast, VMware VDI leverages a software-defined infrastructure deployed on commodity hardware. The software-defined infrastructure is based on VMware’s Virtual SAN (vSAN) technology, aggregating local storage across multiple servers and presenting it as a single storage pool.

The approach simplifies the deployment process, reduces the cost of hardware, and makes it easier to manage and scale the virtual desktop environment. Organizations can leverage their existing hardware and expand as needed, making it more cost-effective.


Managing a VDI environment is a complex task that requires specialized expertise and dedicated resources. In contrast, VMware Horizon offers a comprehensive management interface that simplifies managing virtual desktops, applications, and user policies. The Horizon Administrator Console allows administrators to configure, manage, and monitor the virtual desktop environment from a single web-based interface.

Moreover, VMware VDI offers an advanced policy management framework that enables administrators to set policies based on user roles, devices, or locations. The policy framework entitles administrators to control access to virtual desktops and applications, enforce security policies, and manage user profiles.

User Experience

VDI environments can sometimes be slow and unresponsive, leading to poor user experience. VMware Horizon offers a rich user experience with features like high-definition audio and video, 3D graphics acceleration, and support for a wide range of peripherals. The Horizon Client is available on multiple platforms and devices, including Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and Linux.

One of the critical components of the VMware VDI user experience is Blast Extreme. Blast Extreme is a display protocol that provides a high-quality user experience over low-bandwidth networks. It leverages H.264 hardware decoding and advanced image compression to deliver smooth, responsive, high-quality graphics, even in low-bandwidth environments.


Security is a crucial consideration for any virtual desktop deployment. VMware Horizon offers advanced security features like end-to-end encryption, multi-factor authentication, and support for smart card authentication. In addition, VMware Horizon provides integrated support for virtual desktop security solutions like antivirus and malware protection.


VMware Horizon can isolate virtual desktops from the host operating system using a technology called Horizon Agent Direct-Connection (HADC). HADC enables direct connections between virtual desktops and client devices, bypassing the host operating system and reducing the risk of malware or other security threats.


Scalability is another critical consideration when it comes to virtual desktop deployments. VMware Horizon leverages a scalable software-defined infrastructure, allowing organizations to add new users and resources as needed. Scalability is made possible through vSAN, which enables organizations to scale storage and compute resources independently.

VMware Horizon also supports Instant Clones, enabling administrators to create and deploy virtual desktops rapidly. Instant Clones use a unique technology that allows organizations to create new virtual desktops in seconds by cloning an existing virtual desktop.

Application Delivery

Application delivery is another essential consideration when it comes to virtual desktop deployments. VMware Horizon offers an advanced application delivery mechanism that lets administrators manage and deploy applications directly to users or groups. The mechanism supports a range of deployment options, including streaming, thin provisioning, and app volumes.

VMware Horizon also supports the Just-in-Time Management Platform (JMP) concept, which enables organizations to deliver and manage applications and desktops with greater flexibility and speed. JMP uses three key components: Instant Clones, App Volumes, and User Environment Manager. These components work together to enable administrators to deliver applications and desktops in real-time while providing users with a personalized and consistent experience across devices.

Another critical component of VMware Horizon’s application delivery mechanism is the Horizon Workspace ONE app catalog. The app catalog provides a single location for users to access virtual applications, desktops, and web-based applications.


Cost is always a crucial consideration when it comes to virtual desktop deployments. VMware Horizon’s software-defined infrastructure approach allows organizations to reduce hardware costs significantly. In addition, VMware Horizon’s advanced management and policy frameworks also reduce the time and effort required to manage the virtual desktop environment, further reducing costs.

Another critical factor in the cost equation is licensing. VMware Horizon offers flexible licensing options, including perpetual and subscription licenses. These licensing options enable organizations to choose the model that best meets their needs and budget.

The Bottom Line: Choose the Managed VDI Solution and Leverage the Benefits of Both

While VDI and VMware Horizon are both virtual desktop solutions, there are significant differences between the two that organizations should consider when choosing a virtual desktop solution.

VMware Horizon is a robust and feature-rich VDI solution ideal for organizations with a dedicated IT staff that can manage their virtual desktops and applications. With its comprehensive features and industry-leading performance and reliability, VMware Horizon is a top choice for many organizations looking to implement VDI.

However, for organizations that require a managed VDI solution, Ace Hosted Virtual Desktop Solution, built on Citrix technology, offers a range of benefits.

With its scalable and flexible cloud-based infrastructure, advanced security features, and support for multiple operating systems, Hosted Virtual Desktop Solution is an excellent choice for organizations that need to focus on their core business while leaving the management of their virtual desktops to a trusted partner.

At Ace Cloud Hosting, we offer a fully managed VDI solution that takes care of all aspects of virtual desktop management, from infrastructure setup and maintenance to desktop provisioning and user support.

With our expertise in Citrix technology and cloud infrastructure, we support organizations to implement VDI quickly and easily, with minimal disruption to their business operations.

Let’s See Some More VDI Comparisons –

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VDI vs. DaaS: Which One is Better for You?

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VDI vs. VM – What Are The Differences Between Both?

About Julie Watson

Julie is a dynamic professional with over 16 years of rich experience as a VDI and Application Hosting expert. At Ace Cloud Hosting, she humanizes disruptive and emerging remote working trends to help leaders discover new and better possibilities for digital transformation and innovation by using cloud solutions with an enterprise-class security approach. Beyond work, Julie is a passionate surfer.
On the weekend, you will find her hanging out with her family or surfing around the North Shore of Oahu.

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