Instant Clone Technology

Best Practices for Published Applications and Desktops in VMware Horizon Apps and VMware Horizon 7

The best practices guide for published applications and desktops in Horizon 7 and Horizon Apps is now available!

This guide is intended for anyone installing or administering published applications or published desktops in Horizon 7 or Horizon Apps. Readers should already be familiar with basic installation and administration procedures, such as those described in Publishing Applications with VMware Horizon 7.

When deploying a Horizon 7 or Horizon Apps RDSH-based published application and desktop solution, administrators will want to consider a number of best practices. Areas of consideration include VMware ESXi host sizing, RDSH image configuration and optimization, Horizon 7 configuration and policies, antivirus solutions, provisioning, and recurring maintenance.

Administrators will also want to consider integrating VMware JMP technologies, which include VMware Instant Clone Technology, VMware App Volumes, and VMware User Environment Manager. With our latest release of VMware Horizon 7, just-in-time delivery of virtual desktops is extended to include published applications delivered from RDSH servers, bringing increased speed, scale, and simplicity.

Be sure to download and read Best Practices for Published Applications and Desktops in VMware Horizon Apps and VMware Horizon 7.

To comment on this paper, contact VMware End-User-Computing Technical Marketing at euc_tech_content_.

The post Best Practices for Published Applications and Desktops in VMware Horizon Apps and VMware Horizon 7 appeared first on VMware End-User Computing Blog.

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What’s New in VMware Horizon 7.2 and Horizon Client 4.5

We have just announced the general availability of VMware Horizon 7.2 and Horizon Client 4.5. This is a significant release for our flagship product, with improvements across the board—from scalability and user experience to deep technical innovations and improved policy controls. Let us dive straight in and highlight the key technical advances this release delivers.

Horizon 7.2

What&#rsquo;s New Highlights

Horizon Help Desk Tool
  • Provides user-session details for the Horizon 7 environment.
  • Single console for troubleshooting and solving user issues.
Workspace ONE mode
  • Forces using Workspace ONE when the client supports it.
  • Optionally blocks clients that do not support it.
Reuse AD account for instant-clone pool
  • Create a new computer account only if it does not exist.
Graphics settings from snapshot
  • SVGA settings / vGPU profile from master snapshot.
ADM template removal
  • Only ADMX in 7.2.
Increased scale
  • Pod , Cloud Pod Architecture, and Connection Server.
Storage improvements
  • Storage DRS cluster, storage policy-based management, encryption, local storage.

Horizon Help Desk Tool

The Horizon Help Desk Tool provides a tailored troubleshooting interface for the help desk that is installed by default on the Connection Servers. To access the Horizon Help Desk Tool, navigate to https:///helpdesk, where CS_FQDN is the fully qualified domain name of the Connection Server, or click the Help Desk button in the Horizon Administrator console.

The Horizon Help Desk Tool reduces workload for administrators and provides quick troubleshooting and metrics for the help desk.

The tool allows help desk staff to easily perform the following tasks on the user machine:

  • Restart, Logoff, Reset, and Disconnect
  • Remote Assistance
  • Send Message

You can obtain the following metrics for the client and virtual machine:

  • Client
    • Username
    • Client IP, Name, and OS
    • Protocol, TX Bandwidth, and Frame Rate
  • VM
    • Computer Name
    • Agent Version
    • Session State and State Duration, Logon Time and Duration, and Session Duration
    • CPU, Memory, Latency, and Logon Segments
    • Connection Server
    • Pool
    • vCenter

To get logon segments in the help-desk feature, you need to enable timingProfiler writes to the event database on each Connection Server:

vdmadmin -I -timingProfiler -enable

For detailed information on the Horizon Help Desk Tool, see the VMware blog post Help&#rsquo;s on the Way with the New VMware Horizon Help Desk Tool.

Watch this quick demo of the Horizon Help Desk Tool to see it in action:

Workspace ONE Mode

Workspace ONE mode secures access to Horizon 7 by allowing applications and desktops to launch only from Workspace ONE. This setting enforces access policies per application or per desktop. You enable Workspace ONE mode on the Connection Servers. When a user connects to a Workspace ONE mode-enabled server in Horizon Client, they are redirected to the Workspace ONE portal to launch desktops or applications, and the Horizon Client will no longer show other items that are available to launch. You also have the option to disable clients that do not support Workspace ONE mode.

See Workspace ONE mode in action in this short demo:

Reuse AD Account for Instant-Clone Pool

You can now rebuild a virtual machine in an instant clone and keep all machine assignments by reusing the computer account.

Graphics Settings from Snapshot

Instant-clone desktop pools inherit graphics settings from the vCenter Server parent-VM snapshot:

  • Memory
  • Number of monitors (with a new maximum of four)
  • Resolution

Just as with the SVGA settings, the vGPU profile for an instant-clone desktop pool is automatically selected when you select the snapshot of the vCenter Server parent VM.

All Active Directory Group Policy Templates Are Available as ADMX

All policy settings have been migrated to ADMX, and ADM is now deprecated and no longer included with Horizon 7. With all settings now in the ADMX templates, managing Horizon 7 is more streamlined and simpler than ever because now all templates can be placed in a central store, and no redundant copies need to be made into Sysvol.

Scalability

Horizon 7.2 increases scalability for Cloud Pod Architecture deployments to now support up to 120,000 sessions across 12 View pods and five sites. Additionally, Horizon 7 can now support 4,000 desktops with a single VMware vCenter Server for linked-clone, full-clone and instant-clone deployments.

Local Storage Support for Instant Clones

You now have the option to use local storage as a low-cost storage tier for instant clones. However, for high-availability events, this requires careful pool capacity planning and adds complexity to vSphere host maintenance, which you would not have with vSAN.

Ability to Select Storage DRS Clusters for Full Clones

It is no longer required to select all storage devices belonging to a Storage DRS Cluster; you can now directly select the cluster for easier administration.

vSAN and Storage Policy-Based Management Improvements

Horizon 7.2 adds support for vSAN encryption and provides updated storage policy-based management for finer granularity.

Horizon Agent 7.2 for RDSH

What&#rsquo;s New Highlights

Smart Policies for applications
  • Extend support from desktop to remote applications.
Session pre-launch
  • Launch application on broker login.
  • Can be enabled per application.

Smart Policies for Applications

Smart Policies give administrators granular control of a user&#rsquo;s desktop experience. You can dynamically control a variety of Horizon 7 features based on user, device, and location. Horizon 7.2 now introduces Smart Policies for RDSH applications. Smart Policies for applications, together with tags, can control the behavior of published applications.

Following are client properties mapped to User Environment Manager properties:

Volatile Registry Key User Environment Manager Property Value
viewClient_Broker_GatewayLocation Client location Internal/External
viewClient_Launch_Matched_Tags Launch tag(s) Tags (comma)
viewClient_Launch_ID Pool name Pool ID

Edit the Connection Server settings to add a tag for a desktop pool. The tag can be any string value, for example, Internal or External.

Then, from User Environment Manager, create a Smart Policy and reference the tag name.

Or if you want this policy to apply only to specific applications, you can make the condition more specific, for example, only for applications that have Secure in their pool name:

But remember that the pool name that launched the session is evaluated at user-session launch time, so you cannot differentiate between applications on the same farm. If you want to differentiate, separate the applications with nonmatching settings into different farms and use OR to add all the applications to the conditions.

Session Pre-Launch

Administrators can configure a published application so that an application and remote desktop session are launched immediately after a user has authenticated to the Connection Server. When the user starts the session from Horizon Client, the session loads almost instantly. The pre-launch setting enables faster start times for frequently used applications. From the Horizon 7 Administrator console, you can configure pre-launch, as follows:

It is recommended to enable this option only for applications that the user will almost certainly use immediately after launching, to minimize unnecessary load on the farm. To further reduce impact, you can set a timeout for unused pre-launched applications, as follows:

To minimize impact even further, you can set a reasonable maximum amount of users, as determined by testing on the RDSH servers, and configure session load-balancing based on CPU and memory load, leaving enough headroom for boot storms.

For more information, see Configuring Load Balancing for RDS Hosts in View Administration.

Horizon Agent 7.2

What&#rsquo;s New Highlights

Recursive Unlock
  • Single unlock of the client device also unlocks the virtual desktop or published desktop.
USB over virtual channel
  • USB-redirection port consolidation.
HTML5 content redirection (beta)
  • Redirect HTML5 from agent to client.
Blast Extreme SHA-256
  • Upgraded to use the latest security algorithms.
Horizon Agent DX11
  • Complete rewrite of the D3D9 renderer.
Skype for Business GA
  • General availability.

Recursive Unlock

The Recursive Unlock feature unlocks all remote sessions after the client machine has been unlocked. After the user logs in to the server, remote sessions such as published applications, RDSH desktops, and Windows desktops are unlocked. This feature removes unnecessary authentication steps for the user.

Requirements for this feature include:

  • The Windows client device must be domain-joined
  • The user logging in to the client must be the same user logged in to the remote session
  • Enable the client setting Log in as current user
  • Enable the Group Policy setting Unlock remote sessions when the client machine is unlocked in ComputerPoliciesVMware Horizon Client ConfigurationSecurity.

USB over Virtual Channel

You can enable USB redirection without opening the firewall port 32111. USB over virtual channel allows USB over a side channel.

Configure this registry setting as follows:

  • Key path: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREVMware, Inc.VMware VDMAgentConfiguration
  • Key name: UsbVirtualChannelEnabled
  • Key value: true

HTML5 Redirection (Tech Preview)

The HTML5 redirection feature allows video content redirection for websites that do not use Adobe Flash Player. Benefits of this feature include reduced CPU usage and smoother video playback.

HTML5 redirection requires:

  • Windows 7 or Windows 10 Enterprise for the agent and client OS, with VMware Horizon 7 HTML5 redirection package (available by request)
  • Google Chrome 58 with extension, from Chrome Web Store
  • Setting URL lists in the registry, for example:

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREPoliciesVMware, Inc.VMware HTML5MMR]

"enabled"=dword:00000001

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREPoliciesVMware, Inc.VMware HTML5MMRUrlWhiteList]

"https://vimeo.com/*"=""

"https://www.youtube.com/*"=""

Note: Tech Preview features and capabilities arenot supported for production deployment. These features are available to test in a lab or UAT environment as a preview of potential upcoming innovations. You can provide feedback to improve these features throughVMware Communities.

Horizon Virtualization Pack for Skype for Business

Optimized audio and video calls are now possible with Skype for Business inside a virtual desktop without negatively affecting the virtual infrastructure and overloading the network. All media processing takes place on the client machine instead of in the virtual desktop during Skype audio and video calls. Using native Skype codecs, bandwidth usage is equivalent to native Skype for Business calls.

For detailed information on this feature, which is now generally available, see the VMware blog post VMware Horizon Virtualization Pack for Skype for Business (Beta) Is Now Available!.

Horizon Client 4.5

The Horizon Client has been updated, too, with availability of an XBox One Client in the Windows store, a new installer UI for Windows, dual-monitor support for HTML Access, SSO for RHEL/CentOS 7.x, and KDE and CDR support for Linux.

What&#rsquo;s New Highlights

For more information, see the Release Notes on the Horizon Clients Documentation page.

With all these great additions, it is easy to see why we are so excited about this release. We invite you to see it all yourself by visiting the Horizon 7.2 download page and the Horizon Clients download page.

 

The post What&#rsquo;s New in VMware Horizon 7.2 and Horizon Client 4.5 appeared first on VMware End-User Computing Blog.

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Announcing the Completed Reviewer’s Guide for View in VMware Horizon 7

The entire Reviewer&#rsquo;s Guide for View in Horizon 7 is now available! Posted as eight slim sections, this white paper series walks you through the setup and exploration of the View component of Horizon 7. Using easy-to-follow diagrams and screenshots, it examines the major features of View, including setting up desktop pools, provisioning end users, creating and using instant clones, all about Smart Policies, and much more.

Each section contains visual aids and practical exercises about the following topics:

  • Reviewer&#rsquo;s Guide for View in VMware Horizon 7: Overview
  • Reviewer&#rsquo;s Guide for View in VMware Horizon 7: Installation and Configuration
  • Reviewer&#rsquo;s Guide for View in VMware Horizon 7: Preparing Virtual Machines for Desktop Pools
  • Reviewer&#rsquo;s Guide for View in VMware Horizon 7: Instant Clones
  • Reviewer&#rsquo;s Guide for View in VMware Horizon 7: Desktop Pools
  • Quick-Start Guide: Publishing Applications with VMware Horizon 7
  • Reviewer&#rsquo;s Guide for View in VMware Horizon 7: Smart Policies
  • Reviewer&#rsquo;s Guide for View in VMware Horizon 7: Provisioning Users

Overview

The Overview starts the series by introducing the View component of VMware Horizon 7, discussing benefits, features, and architecture; and describing how View and other Horizon 7 components interoperate. See more in Reviewer&#rsquo;s Guide for View in VMware Horizon 7: Overview.

Installation and Configuration

The Installation and Configuration section walks you through the installation process and initial configuration processes. When you finish this section, you have a working deployment that you can use to explore the main View features. See more in Reviewer&#rsquo;s Guide for View in VMware Horizon 7: Installation and Configuration.

Preparing VMs for Desktop Pools

The Preparing VMs for Desktop Pools section describes how to build a virtual machine, and how to use it as the master image for multiple desktop pools. You can then use this virtual machine in subsequent guides to create full-clone pools, linked-clone pools, and instant-clone pools. See more in Reviewer&#rsquo;s Guide for View in VMware Horizon 7: Preparing Virtual Machines for Desktop Pools.

Instant Clones

The Instant Clones section introduces VMware Instant Clone Technology, which improves and accelerates the process of creating cloned virtual desktops. This section describes how to create an instant-clone desktop pool, as well as how to update it to use a new master image.

When you use Instant Clone Technology, the desktop gets deleted when the user logs out, and a new desktop is created using the most current image on which the instant-clone pool is based. This requires less storage and expense to manage and update than other types of virtual desktops. See more in Reviewer&#rsquo;s Guide for View in VMware Horizon 7: Instant Clones.

Desktop Pools

The Desktop Pools section shows you how to automate the process of making many identical virtual desktops, including how to create full-clone desktop pools, linked-clone desktop pools, and session-based RDSH desktop pools.

See more in Reviewer&#rsquo;s Guide for View in VMware Horizon 7: Desktop Pools.

Publishing Applications

The Publishing Applications section shows how to quickly install and deploy published applications with VMware Horizon 7. Publishing applications simplifies management of line-of-business applications, allows the delivery of Windows applications to non-Windows devices, and can potentially provide licensing advantages. The Published Applications feature supports a variety of remote-experience features, including HTML Access, client-drive redirection, access to locally connected USB devices, file-type association, Windows media redirection, content redirection, printer redirection, location-based printing, 3D rendering, smart card authentication, and more. Users can launch an application, save files, and use network resources from a remote RDSH server, just as if the users had the application installed on their local computers, tablets, or phones. See more in Quick-Start Guide: Publishing Applications with VMware Horizon 7.

Smart Policies

The Smart Policies feature of VMware User Environment Manager is included with VMware Horizon 7 Enterprise Edition. Smart Policies give you granular control over the user&#rsquo;s desktop experience, based on who the user is, as well as variables such as client device, IP address, pool name, and more. You can enable or disable clipboard redirection, USB access, printing, and client drive redirection. You can also customize the user experience based on user context and location. Smart Policies can be enforced based on role, and evaluated at login and logout, and disconnect and reconnect, and at predetermined refresh intervals. With all these capabilities and fine-grained control, you can use one desktop pool to address many different use cases. See more in Reviewer&#rsquo;s Guide for View in VMware Horizon 7: Smart Policies.

Provisioning Users

The Provisioning Users section explores the process of entitling users to desktop pools and application pools, as well as how to connect to virtual desktops and published applications from a variety of client devices. This section shows how to entitle users when creating a pool, or after the pool is created. See more in Reviewer&#rsquo;s Guide for View in VMware Horizon 7: Provisioning Users.

JMP

Horizon 7 includes JMP, the just-in-time management platform, which allows desktop or RDSH server components to be decoupled and managed independently in a centralized manner, and reconstituted on demand to deliver a personalized user workspace when needed.

JMP provides several key benefits, including simplified desktop and RDSH image management, faster delivery and maintenance of applications, and elimination of the need to manage full persistent desktops. To find out more, see Jump (JMP), Radio & a Pony: Your Journey to Modern Workspace Management.

Now that all eight sections of the Reviewer&#rsquo;s Guide series are available, you can explore them:

  • Reviewer&#rsquo;s Guide for View in VMware Horizon 7: Overview
  • Reviewer&#rsquo;s Guide for View in VMware Horizon 7: Installation and Configuration
  • Reviewer&#rsquo;s Guide for View in VMware Horizon 7: Preparing Virtual Machines for Desktop Pools
  • Reviewer&#rsquo;s Guide for View in VMware Horizon 7: Instant Clones
  • Reviewer&#rsquo;s Guide for View in VMware Horizon 7: Desktop Pools
  • Quick-Start Guide: Publishing Applications with VMware Horizon 7
  • Reviewer&#rsquo;s Guide for View in VMware Horizon 7: Smart Policies
  • Reviewer&#rsquo;s Guide for View in VMware Horizon 7: Provisioning Users

To comment on this paper, contact VMware End-User-Computing Technical Marketing at euc_tech_content_.

The post Announcing the Completed Reviewer&#rsquo;s Guide for View in VMware Horizon 7 appeared first on VMware End-User Computing Blog.

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When Will VMware Instant Clones Support High-End 3D Graphics?

New in VMware Horizon 7.1: Instant Clones & NVIDIA GRID vGPU

“When will VMware Instant Clones support high-end 3D graphics?”

This is the most frequently asked question I got from customers after we launched VMware Instant Clones in VMware Horizon 7. VMware VDI customers had to choose between either having high-end, hardware-accelerated graphics support or Instant Clones. With the release of Horizon 7.1, that is no longer the case. Customers can now enjoy the best of both worlds: the ability to create a pool of Instant Clones backed by NVIDIA GRID vGPU.

Interested in learning more? Register here for our NVIDIA & VMware Community Tech Webinar on What&#rsquo;s New with Horizon 7.1 and NVIDIA GRID on March 21.

What Are Instant Clones & GRID vGPU?

Instant Clones technology from VMware allows administrators to rapidly clone and deploy a space-efficient virtual machine. It is part of Horizon 7 Enterprise Edition and significantly accelerates the process of provisioning virtual desktops over the previous View Composer Linked Clone technology. In addition, Instant Clones is easier to manage and update, because the desktop deletes when the user logs out. A new desktop is created using the latest master image. The rolling update minimizes desktop maintenance window.

NVIDIA GRID vGPU enables multiple VMs to have simultaneous, direct access to a single physical GPU, using the same NVIDIA graphics drivers deployed on non-virtualized operating systems. This gives VMs unparalleled graphics performance and application compatibility, together with cost effectiveness and scalability brought about by sharing a GPU among multiple workloads.

Plenty has been written about the merits and inner workings of vGPU and Instant Clones, so I will not go into more details. Here are a couple of good guides that I encourage you to check out:

  • A VMware Whitepaper on Instant Clones
  • NVIDIA GRID vGPU Deployment Guide for VMware Horizon 6.1

Neither guide is updated with Horizon 7.1 yet, but I find the content very useful, nonetheless. In this post, let me walk you through how to provision a pool of Instant Clones with vGPU configured with Horizon 7.1.

Provisioning a Pool of Instant Clones with vGPU

Before you start to provision your pool, you must first create a master VM in your vCenter. Then, follow these steps to enable NVIDIA support:

  • Add NVIDIA GRID vGPU device, and select the GPU configuration in your master VM. Be sure to remember which profile you selected, as you will need this information later on when you provision the Instant Clone pool in Horizon Administrator console.
  • Start the master VM, and install the NVIDIA driver.
  • Connect to the master VM, and verify settings.
  • A more detailed step-by-step can be found in the NVIDIA GRID vGPU Deployment Guide for VMware Horizon 6.1.

Once you verify that your master VM configured correctly, take a snapshot in vCenter.

Go to the Horizon Admin Console, and click on Add Desktop Pool to bring up the pool creation wizard:

  • On the Type panel, select Automated Desktop Pool. Click on Next.
  • On the User Assignment panel, select Floating and click on Next. Dedicated user assignment currently is unsupported for Instant Clones.
  • On the vCenter Server panel, select Instant Clones and then select the desired vCenter Server. Click on Next.
  • The Desktop Pool Identification panel does not contain any specific settings for this feature. So, populate fields as you normally would, and click Next.
  • On the Desktop Pool Setting panel under the Remote Display Protocol section, keep the Default display protocol selection on VMware Blast. PCoIP currently is unsupported with vGPU for Instant Clone pools. Select NVIDIA GRID vGPU in the 3D Renderer drop down. Be sure to select “No” in the Allow users to choose protocol field. You do not want your user to accidentally choose PCoIP. Populate the remaining fields on this panel as desired. Click on Next.
  • Fill in the Provisioning Settings and Storage Optimization panels as you normally would. There are no specific settings for this feature on these panels. Click on Next.
  • On the vCenter Settings panel, fill in the ParentVM field with the Master VM you created in vCenter and fill in the Snapshot field with the snapshot you created. Select the desired VM folder location, Cluster, Resource Pool and Datastores. In the vGPU Profile field, you must select the vGPU profile that matches the profile in the master VM, or the pool creation will fail. Note also that only one vGPU profile is allowed per ESXi cluster. Click on Next. If the vGPU Profile field is absent on this page, it may be that the ESXi cluster you selected does not have vGPU cards.
  • Fill in the Guest Customization panel. Click on Next.
  • Verify your configuration on the Ready to Complete summary panel, and click on Finish.

You just created a pool of vGPU-enabled Instant Clones!

Scale Testing of Instant Clones with vGPU

Together with NVIDIA, we conducted scalability validation. We had a goal of testing 500 VMs. Here is the test environment we built:

  • Horizon 7.1, Horizon Client 4.4, vSphere / ESXi 6.5 EP1
  • 5 HP Proliant DL 380 servers with Xeon CPU with a total of 96 cores across the servers, 2 M10 GRID vGPU cards per server
  • Master VM: 2 vCPU, 2GB RAM, M10-0B profile, Win 7 SP1 x64

With this setup, we provisioned and then connected to 550 Instant Clone desktops. Excluding image priming, it took 44 minutes to create the pool of fully customized and powered on Instant Clones. That is 4.8 seconds per clone on average. We are looking to reduce that time even further in the future. Currently, an Instant Clone with a vGPU driver requires a reboot, but we are looking to remove that with future changes in the vSphere layer.

Interested in learning more? Register here for our NVIDIA & VMware Community Tech Webinar on What&#rsquo;s New with Horizon 7.1 and NVIDIA GRID on March 21.

Because you liked this blog:

  • Horizon 7.1 Is GA! What’s New: Part 1 & Part 2
  • Horizon 7 Instant Clone Primer: A Behind-the-Scenes Look
  • The Next Wave: Enterprise-Grade Monitoring with NVIDIA GRID vGPU & Horizon 7

The post When Will VMware Instant Clones Support High-End 3D Graphics? appeared first on VMware End-User Computing Blog.

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Just-in-Time Apps with VMware Horizon 7

With our latest release of VMware Horizon 7, Horizon 7.1 extends just-in-time delivery of virtual desktops to include published applications delivered from Remote Desktop Session Hosts (RDSH) and powered by the Just-in-Time Management Platform, or JMP, bringing increased speed, scale, and simplicity. With Just-in-Time Apps, you dramatically simplify deployments with a tightly integrated stack, fewer components, and easy maintenance by using VMware Instant Clone Technology.

This blog covers what an instant clone is and how it works, how to start using instant clones for RDSH, and what maintenance options are available. We also provide some best practices.

What Exactly Is an Instant Clone?

Instant Clone Technology leverages vmFork, which uses rapid in-memory cloning of a running parent virtual machine in a quiescent state, and copy-on-write to rapidly deploy virtual machines.

(Thanks to Duncan Epping for the original of this diagram: Project Fargo aka VMFork – What is it?)

A running parent virtual machine is brought to aquiescent state, then child VMs are spawned (forked) from the parent with a unique UUID/MAC, and the disk is rebased on the replica disk and resumed. The child VMs are then prepared with new network settings (machine name, MAC address, and so on) and restarting of the quiesced services. Because these child VMs utilize the replica disk and shared memory pages from the host, there is no dependency on the parent after cloning. Both memory and disk are copy-on-write, so if a child modifies bits of its memory or disk, a separate copy is made for that virtual machine. All of this happens without any operating system restarts.

What Benefits Do Instant Clones Bring to the Deployment and Management of RDSH?

Instant clones allow you to deploy RDSH servers more rapidly, scale more easily, and perform maintenance up to 85 percent more quickly than was previously possible. Instant clones improve security by regenerating and automatically refreshing RDS hosts on a scheduled basis. Instant Clone Technology requires half the required steps compared to View Composer when deploying or scaling.

(Thanks to Fred Schimscheimer for this diagram: VMware Instant Clone Technology for Just-In-Time Desktop Delivery in Horizon 7 Enterprise Edition.)

How Do I Provision RDSH Instant Clones with Horizon 7?

Horizon Administrator is the web interface through which you configure the Connection Server and manage your remote desktops and applications. To use instant clones, you need to add a user account privileged to join machines to the domain, create a master image, and set up a farm.

  1. Configure instant clones.

a. In Horizon Administrator, selectView Configuration>Instant Clone Domain Admins and click Add.

b. Type the username and password, and click OK.

2. Create a master virtual machine.

a. Create an RDS host virtual machine.

b. Install the Horizon Agent with VMware Horizon Instant Clone Agent selected and VMware Horizon View Composer Agent deselected.

c. Shut down the VM and take a snapshot.

3. Create a farm with the wizard by navigating to Resources > Farms and clicking Add.

a. On the Type page, select Automated Farm.

b. On the vCenter Server page, select Instant Clones and the vCenter Server used for the RDS hosts.

c. On the Identification and Settings page, provide a name in the ID

d. Complete the Provisioning Settings Here you can select how many RDS hosts you want to create and how many should stay available during maintenance operations to make sure users are not impacted.

e. On the Storage Optimization page, you can select whether to use vSAN and separate datastores for replica and OS disks.

f. On the vCenter Settings page, point to the image and snapshot created in Step 2, and select the datastores, cluster, resource pool, and network to be used.

g. On the Guest Customization page, select the domain-join account created in Step 1, and select the AD OU where the RDS hosts will be created. Optionally, you can provide scripts with parameters to adjust the RDS host during the customization process.

Creation Process

The creation of the VM template, replicas, and parents is the publishing—also called priming—process, and the creation of the RDSH VMs (the instant clones) is the provisioning process.

Publishing is done only when you create a new farm or make changes and want to update an existing farm to reflect the changes. Publishing the master image can take from 7 to 40 minutes, depending on the type of storage and number of hosts you are using. Provisioning the servers takes only 1 or 2 seconds per server. You can perform these tasks at separate times by not enabling provisioning in the Add Farm wizard, so that the provisioning process occurs either at a scheduled time or immediately after the publishing process is complete. When you scale up the pool, all that needs to be done is provisioning.

The provisioning process does not require power operations, and the clones are forked from a running parent VM, so the process takes only a couple of seconds. The engine customizes each forked instant clone. This ClonePrep process performs the following customization tasks in roughly 30 seconds, all without requiring a reboot:

  • Gives the VM a unique MAC address
  • Updates the computer account password
  • Restarts quiesced services
  • Joins the machine to the Active Directory domain
  • Activates the Microsoft license

Example deployment times (including waiting times) in our testing lab are as follows:

Instant Clones Composer Linked Clones
Total for 1 and then scaling to 51 RDS hosts 9 minutes 45 seconds 35 minutes 56 seconds
Template creation 3 minutes 38 seconds N/A
Replica creation 3 minutes 58 seconds 3 minutes 4 seconds
Parent creation 13 seconds N/A
Clone 1 RDS host 2 seconds 25 seconds
ClonePrep SysPrep (for 1 RDS host) 26 seconds 13 minutes 38 seconds
Total for 1 RDS host 8 minutes 17 seconds 17 minutes 7 seconds
Clone 50 RDS hosts 48 seconds 4 minutes 1 second
ClonePrep / SysPrep (for 50 RDS hosts) 40 seconds 14 minutes 48 seconds
Scaling from 1 to 51 RDS hosts 1 minute 28 seconds 18 minutes 49 seconds

In the previous table, note how quickly you can scale from 1 to 51 RDS hosts, with instant clones: in 1 minute 28 seconds.

In the testing lab, 200 RDS hosts can be instant cloned, including template/replica/parent creation, in less time than View Composer takes for replica creation and a single RDS host!

How Do I Ensure My RDS Hosts Stay Optimal and Up to Date?

Horizon 7 allows for easy modification of the RDS host and farms. You can use the Maintenance Wizard to either schedule automatic or recurring maintenance, or perform an out-of-band, emergency update.

  • A recurring maintenance schedule ensures that the clones are periodically regenerated. Any potential contamination is removed so that the farm runs optimally. Recurring maintenance at a specific time can be scheduled on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
  • Immediate maintenance can also regenerate the clone but is typically used to update the farm with patches or other updates to the master image. Immediate maintenance can optionally be delayed to a future date and time, such as after business hours.

If you perform maintenance with the current master VM and snapshot, all that needs to be done is provisioning, but you can also make changes to the master and use a new snapshot, or use a different master and snapshot.

It is possible to choose whether to log users out or wait for them to log out before performing maintenance.

Best Practices to Consider When Deploying RDSH

  • There are two recommended virtual CPU configurations when deploying RDSH. Which one works best depends on the actual application workload and is something that should be tested before making a final decision:
    • 4 sockets with 1 core per socket with a 1:1 virtual-to-physical CPU ratio
    • 8 sockets with 1 core per socket with a 2:1 virtual-to-physical CPU ratio

Make sure the ratios do not span CPUs.

Example:

The hosts used for the RDSH cluster have two Intel Xeon Processor E5-2699A v4 (a total of 22 cores).

The hosts should run a maximum of 2 (physical CPUs) * 1 (1:1 ratio) * 20 (physical cores rounded down to the closest multiple of 4) / 4 (virtual single core sockets) = 10 RDSH VMs and not 11.

This amount is equal for both ratios. The extra cores are not lost, but used for virtual networking, storage, and other host tasks.

  • The amount of memory assigned should be assessed by actual application usage. We recommend reserving the full amount of memory to make sure accidental over-commitment does not occur and no disk space is wasted with unused swap files.
  • We recommend installing all available updates to Microsoft Windows and other Microsoft products with Windows Update or WSUS when creating the image. You may have to first manually install Windows Update Client for Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2: March 2016.
  • Run the VMware OS Optimization Tool with the default options, which can reduce the resources needed by Windows Server by 15 percent. The tool speeds up Windows and gives users a faster and better experience.

One optimization that you might want to disable is TCP/IP Offload in the HKLM settings when all host network cards are capable of offloading.

  • Space reclamation is recommended. By reducing the vmdk size that expanded by patching Windows, you can speed up the publishing process. In testing, the image shrank from 58.29 GB to 12.82 GB, which saved 1 minute and 34 seconds from the creation of the replica. In a production environment where the storage system is also busy doing other things, this savings can be much bigger.
    • Use the Windows built-in Disk Cleanup utility to delete unnecessary files.
    • Empty space should be zeroed so the space can be reclaimed. Sysinternals SDelete can do this on Windows. Example: exe –z c:
    • On a VMFS 5 volume, you can use vmkfstools to reclaim the zeroed empty space, which would also save diskspace for the master. Example: vmkfstools -K /path/to/disk-name.vmdk. On non-VMFS volumes, you can clone to a thin disk.

  • Actively monitor the environment. A perfect match would be vRealize Operations for Horizon, which can track the health of the hypervisor layer, network, sessions, users, and applications through a single console.

Conclusion

Just-in-time delivery of published applications from RDS hosts, powered by Instant Clone Technology is a big time-saver and simple to configure.

Adhering to the best practices for creating a master image at the start ensures that you get the best performance for your applications. Use monitoring plus recurring maintenance to keep your implementation functioning properly and performing optimally.

So, what are you waiting for? It is time to JMP in.

The post Just-in-Time Apps with VMware Horizon 7 appeared first on VMware End-User Computing Blog.

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