Whats new in Horizon 6.2 and why should you care

Today at VMworld 2015, VMware announces the Horizon 6.2 release and the updates that will be available later this week. That’s right my fellow EUC nerds, we will not have to wait long to take advantage of these new little goodies. As great of an EUC story that VMware has built already, they have had multiple little things that plagued them when being compared to Citrix for certain customer requirements. This new release is going to help with several of these items and hopefully we won’t have to wait long for more to be released.

RDS Application Updates

Ever since VMware added the RDS functionality to Horizon in 2014 for shared desktops and application presentation I have been excited about the possibilities. They have improved on functionality in short bursts in the last 12 months, but even with that at times it felt like they were not closing gaps fast enough.

The Horizon 6.2 announcement today is going to close several of what most would can required gaps.

RDS Apps with Cloud Pod

I have to admit I’m not a big supported of the Cloud Pod architecture that is offered from VMware as a multi-site architecture, but the face that it was only for desktops in the past was silly. In the 6.2 update the Cloud Pod offering now supports global entitlements for applications and the associated placement and load balancing that has been available for desktops.

rds cloud pod

About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Solutions Architect for a VMware partner and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status for 2014, 2013, 2012 & 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design

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VMware Horizon 6.1 brings new features and a peak at the future

Today brings another update to VMware Horizon, version 6.1 is being announced. With this update comes several new features and a peek at a few others expected in a future release. The NVIDIA GPU support is the worst kept secret, since it was announced that vSphere 6 would have vGPU support. It was only going to be a matter of time until Horizon was updated to take advantage of the new vGPU feature.

Note: Some of the tech preview items will only be available via the public VMware demo site or via private requests. Not all tech preview items will be included in the GA code like many have been in the past.

The summer of 2014 saw the release of Horizon 6.0 and the ability to present RDS based applications. It was missing a number of features and VMware quickly closed the printing gap in 6.01. Today in 6.1 we are seeing several new features which I will cover in more detail. A few other features will enter tech preview mode and are likely to be released in an upcoming version.

new features

 

 USB Redirection

In 6.1 the ability to redirect USB storage devices for Horizon applications and hosted desktops will now be available. This helps close another gap that existed. It will only be available in 2012/2012R2 OS versions.

usb redirect

 

Client Drive redirection

This is something that has been available in Citrix XenApp since the stone ages. It will only be available in tech preview for now, but I’m sure we will see this some time this year. Initial support for Windows only clients with other OS’s coming later.

client drive

Horizon Client for Chromebooks

The current option in you want to use a Chromebook as your endpoint is to access Horizon via the HTML 5 web browser. This limited you to only connect to a desktop, because Horizon apps were not supported over HTML5. Without a proper client pass-thru items such as USB devices were not possible either.

The Horizon client for Chromebooks will be based on the Android version that has been around already. There has been growing demands for this client. This will be available as a tech preview sometime in Q1/Q2 of 2015.

Cloud Pod updates

The cloud pod architecture was released last year to provide an architecture for building a multi-site Horizon install. The initial version was not that attractive in my eyes. The updated version in 6.1 brings the configuration and management parts of cloud pod into the horizon manager. The previous version had to be done via command line and global entitlements were not shown in the Horizon manager.

Other Items

We are also see a number of other check the box type items that are expected due to vSphere 6 updates.

  • VVOL support Horizon 6 desktops
  • VSAN 6 support
  • Large cluster size support for VSAN6 and higher densities
  • Support for Windows 2012R2 as a desktop OS
  • Linux VDI will be a private tech preview option

 

 

 

 

About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Solutions Architect for a VMware partner and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status for 2014, 2013, 2012 & 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design

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People VMware vCAC is not easy, it takes effort to get value

I tend to get the feeling that many customers expect that if they purchase vCloud Automation Center (vCAC) some type of magic will happen. Maybe it’s a disconnect in how the product is marketed or something else, but the message is not getting through. I’ve noticed this through customer meetings before a sale or during the architecture phase of a project.

vCAC as a product can be very powerful and does allow for a lot of flexibility to solve complex problems. But vCAC does not contain a bunch of magical workflows that will automate your data center out of the box. The product offers a self-service portal, a service catalog, machine blueprints, ties in with automation tools and the ability to surface data from ITBM for business reporting.

If you want to do anything beyond allowing someone to self provision a template from vCenter, you need to do custom work. This work will be creating blueprints to build custom properties and logic and tie in with vCenter Orchestrator or another tool for the more complex tasks. This is where all the magic is accomplished. The point to drive home here is that just installing vCAC does not win you the battle or give you a feature rich “Cloud”. You will need to invest a lot of time or hire someone to build out the automation and orchestration that provides the real value in the solution.

I don’t intend to scare anyone way, but rather just clear up what should be expected from a project based on vCAC from a high level.

HARD-WORK

About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Solutions Architect for a VMware partner and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status for 2014, 2013, 2012 & 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design

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VMware Horizon 6 install – Part 4 configuring an RDS pool

I was a bit delayed in getting this fourth post in my Horizon 6 series completed, life and work got in the way. I’m back from vacation and ready to get moving again. In this post I will be covering how to take a prepared RDS host and get them prepared and added into the Horizon manager.

I’m not going to cover the steps to install RDS services onto my test server, there are probably enough good posts out on the web for this. If there is enough demand for it I might add that to the series later.

 

Other posts in this Horizon series.

VMware Horizon 6 install – Part 1 connection servers

VMware Horizon 6 install – Part 2 security servers

VMware Horizon 6 install – Part 3 SSL certificates

VMware Horizon 6 install – Part 5 setting up RDS desktops

VMware Horizon 6 install – Part 6 setting up RDS applications

 

RDS Confirmation

Before we get started I wanted to show a quick check to make sure RDS is installed on the Windows Server we will be working on. I’m looking at the Roles installed on the server to make sure it has the necessary RDS roles.

1-check-rds-status

 

 

Installing Horizon Agent

To get things started we need to find the View agent installer file. We will need the 64bit version to install on the server.

2-install-agent

 

The installer kicks off with the typical first step, click next and get the process moving.

3-agentinstall1

 

In this step you just need to accept the licensing agreement.

4-agentinstall2

 

In this step you are allowed to choose the options that should be installed with the base agent. Currently there is just the vCOPs metrics that are installed by default.

5-agentinstall3

 

This step we will be linking the View Agent to our Horizon install. In the server field you will provide the IP or hostname to one of the Horizon connection servers. Also you must provide credentials for connecting to Horizon Manager. In this example I am using the ID that I’m logged in with, or you can provide a different set of credentials.

6-agentinstal4

 

The last step before it installs shows the path for the install.

7-agentinstall

 

Once the install is completed the server will need to be restarted. The install of the agent is nothing exciting as you know now, but a necessary step to enable RDS functionality for Horizon.

8-agentinstall

 

 

Add RDS server to Horizon Administrator

Now that we have the Horizon Agent loaded on our RDS server we will now move to the Horizon Administrator. Login and click on the Farms selection under the Resources heading in the tree on the left. Then in the right side of the panel you will should see no existing Farms, in my case I’ve already setup a few so the example below shows them. Click on the Add button to get the process started.

9-horizonadd

 

A window will open up that will step you through the wizard for adding an RDS farm. In this example my farm is just a single RDS server. You will need to fill in the ID for the farm to be used within Horizon, a description is optional but I encourage a detailed description so that others understand its purpose. The farm settings section offers a limited number of settings that can control the access and some behaviors of how the farm would be used.

10-horizonadd

 

The next step within the wizard shows any RDS servers that Horizon is aware of. In our case only the server that was just prepared is showing here. So we will select it and move to the next step.

11-horizonadd

 

The last step of the wizard is a confirmation screen that you can review your choices before creating the farm.

12-horizonadd

 

Now that we have completed adding the server to Horizon the list of RDS Farms now shows our new configuration. From this point we can use are new farm to publish applications or shared desktops.

13-horizonadd

 

This process is pretty straight forward and currently there is little that you can modify. In other posts in this series I have covered how to use your farm to present applications and hosted shared desktops.

 

About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Solutions Architect for a VMware partner and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status for 2014, 2013, 2012 & 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design

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VMware Horizon 6 install – Part 5 setting up RDS desktops

This begins the fifth part of my Horizon 6 install series bringing us to configuring RDS desktops. RDS desktops are a new feature for VMware in Horizon 6, something that Microsoft and Citrix have been providing for a long time. I will walk you through the process of getting a new pool configured and ready to serve hosted desktops from your environment.

 

Other posts in this Horizon series.

VMware Horizon 6 install – Part 1 connection servers

VMware Horizon 6 install – Part 2 security servers

VMware Horizon 6 install – Part 3 SSL certificates

VMware Horizon 6 install – Part 4 configuring an RDS pool

VMware Horizon 6 install – Part 6 setting up RDS applications

 

Configure Horizon RDS Desktop Pool

 

To get this started I have already clicked on the pools choice in Horizon View Manager and clicked the Add button. This brings us to the window shown below. From here, we can select the type of pool to create. For this exercise we will be creating an RDS Desktop Pool. This will utilize Windows servers as the platform and offer shared hosted desktops. With this option, we can host upwards of a few dozen users on a properly configured server.

horizon-rdspool-1

About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Solutions Architect for a VMware partner and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status for 2014, 2013, 2012 & 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design

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VMware Horizon 6 install – Part 3 SSL Certificates

The third part of my Horizon 6 install series brings us to SSL certificates. I know, I know no one likes certificates and they are usually a pain in the ass to set up. But you cannot ignore them in a Horizon installation and by allowing almost any client to connect from nearly any place the ability to ensure you’re connecting to the right server is critical.

This post will focus on how to install the SSL certificate on the first connection server. This process will be repeated for each additional connection server, security server(s) and the View composer server if you are installing one separately from vCenter. You could just use the default Web Server certificate that is built into Window Certificate Authorities (CA) but VMware does specify a few other requirements. I’ve seen them work fine, but I recommend that you follow what VMware requires exactly to ensure full supportability. I recommend reading Derek Seaman’s walkthrough on preparing a new certificate for use with VMware. For the purpose of this article I will be using a Windows CA. This is also predominately the most common method that I see at customers.

Other posts in this Horizon series.

VMware Horizon 6 install – Part 1 connection servers

VMware Horizon 6 install – Part 2 security servers

VMware Horizon 6 install – Part 4 configuring RDS pool

VMware Horizon 6 install – Part 5 setting up RDS desktops

VMware Horizon 6 install – Part 6 setting up RDS applications

 

Horizon 6 Install SSL Certificates

If we try to log into the Horizon View Manager you will get the warning about the website’s security certificate as shown below. This is because the View server is using as self generated certificate and it does not come from an authority that we trust. horizon-ssl-1

About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Solutions Architect for a VMware partner and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status for 2014, 2013, 2012 & 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design

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