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 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 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 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 2 security server

This is the second part of this multi part series on installing VMware Horizon 6. The first part covered installing Horizon View connection servers and replica servers. In this post I will cover the install of a View Security Server, these servers are used for brokering external network connections into your datacenter for Horizon. The security servers are located in your DMZ network and establish a secure connection back to a linked connection broker.

You can install multiple Security Servers into a View environment. There is a 1:1 relationship between a security server and a connection server. This means if you want 2 security servers you will need at least 2 connection servers. VMware recommends that most customers build separate connection servers just for pairing with your security servers. This might not be necessary for smaller install.

 

Other posts in this Horizon series.

VMware Horizon 6 install – Part 1 connection servers

VMware Horizon 6 install – Part 3 SSL certificates

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

 

Install Horizon 6 security server

To start off you will need to log into the View Administrator. First click on Servers from the View Configuration area, then click on the connection server that you will be pairing the security server with. Last from the More Commands button choose to Specify Security Server Pairing password, this is a unique password that will allow the two servers to establish a secure connection.
horizon6-security-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 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 1 connection server

With the recent update of the entire EUC suite from VMware I thought it would be a good time to revisit the install process for Horizon 6. Yes it used to be called VMware View, then it was Horizon View and now it’s just Horizon 6. Why? well because it is no longer just VDI. Horizon 6 is now a product that offers VDI, Application presentation and Hosted shared desktops both via RDS from Microsoft. This is a big advancement by VMware and welcomed by anyone that cares about EUC.

This is what drove me to revisit the install of Horizon. With these added features there will be many changes and I wanted to build a comprehensive post series that covers what it takes to get the product up and running.

Other posts in this Horizon series.

VMware Horizon 6 install – Part 2 security server

VMware Horizon 6 install – Part 3 SSL certificates

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

 

Installing the first connection server

Step 1: You will need to provision a Windows Server 2008R2 or 2012R2 server to install Horizon 6 onto. The product will definitely not install on the non-R2 versions of these, this comes from someone picking the wrong VM template the first time.

Step 2: If you have not already then you need to download the install files for Horizon 6. For this walkthrough you will only need the connection broker install file, but I would recommend you grab all the files that you will need for your build. This includes the View agents, GPO files and others.

Step 3: Copy the installer to the server that you will be using for the install and run the installer. The app starts with a familiar look the product version is shown in the lower left of the window letting us know its version 6.0.

horizon6-install-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 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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Operational processes for keeping your VDI or PVS gold image updated

I often get asked about “How do I keep my gold image update to date” in a VDI environment. Does not matter if we are talking about VMware View or Citrix XenDesktop, customers of both have similar questions. The fact is you work from some master image for these technologies and you need a good process for keeping them up to date and releasing new updates. So I have put together some thoughts on this and want to try and make this a collaborative effort. So if you have something that works for you share with others in the comments or get a message to me.

 

What needs to be done

There needs to be some form of cadence when you update an image so that things do not get missed. I don’t care if you have just one image or if you have multiple to keep updated, You’re going to miss things if you don’t have a process. So I’ve put together a list to start of what might need to be updated each time you do gold image maintenance.

  • Operating System patches
  • Application updates
  • Antivirus Definitions – there’s better ways than this :)
  • Add or remove applications
  • Version tracking

 

Gold Image updates

This is the part I would like to hear feedback from others on. These are the major steps that I think should be accounted for in image management. I’ve broken them down into steps and explained my thoughts on them.

Clone image – This seems pretty obvious but wanted to make sure it was clear. You could just update your existing image but I personally make a clone of the image and perform my updates on the new clone. This clone will ultimately become the new gold image once the updates are done. I do this rather than just updating the existing and continuing to add more and more snapshots to it. I tend to keep a few versions around in case I have to roll back and also keep additional older versions on some type of backup media.

OS updates – Also a bit of an assumption here but you need some regular schedule of OS patching. This might mesh with your normal desktop patching schedule or might be specific to this. But you need to set a schedule for performing these updates. You should know if it will be done once a month will you be applying all patches, what if something of high concern comes out and you are required to update in between your regular updates.

You might manually go in and run windows update manager or maybe you have a tool for this. I read a post from Sean Massey a VMUG member from Wisconsin that he came up with for using WSUS you can read here.

Application updates – Almost no customer can completely keep applications from being installed into their images. There are just some applications that work better in the image than being presented by other methods or being virtualized in some manner. You will either need to update these at the same time you are doing the other updates or have their own schedule. To cut down on your maintenance activities I would look at doing them all in the same window when possible.

Antivirus updates – I’m not a fan of installing AV products into your gold images but if you must than look for ways to optimize the process. Vendors like Symantec have guides for using their products in VDI environments that deal with how to install, update and setup scans. There should also be guidance around how you should be updating definitions and such. Do you leave auto updates on or just update in the image update process? This will help with operations and performance. The better way would be to adopt a AV product that can scan at the hypervisor level and utilize the vShield Endpoint features from VMware.

QA testing – So you have done all your updates are you going to just put that image back into service? Well some will but I would recommend that you spend time testing and putting the updated image through some type of QA process. At minimum I would create a check list of things that you can test the image against, maybe a list of web sites or running applications that are common in your environment. Don’t forget to do some basic user tasks like web browsing, flash, java etc. To accomplish this I would recommend you create a new temp desktop pool and use the updated image. This would allow you to test the image as it will be used by your customers, rather than just testing by using the VM directly.

Update tracker – So you’ve done all these updates now what? Well I bet by lunch you will have forgotten what you all updated. This means that you will need a method for tracking what was updated in the image. To accomplish this I think a few things need to be done. The first is come up with some type of version tracking for your gold images. I think something as simple as tracking versions works for most and incorporating them into the naming convention, examples below. Also to track version info I think you should incorporate the version number into the build in some method. I have seen customers add a registry key with the version info in it. This is a good idea because you can look at this if you need to confirm what version a user is running if needed.

  • windows7-gold-V3
  • gold-image-version5

The last part of tracking updates is some type of a change log or build sheet. When you make updates and changes I think you need a way to see what is in the current version being used and what was in previous versions. This would help in troubleshooting and also audits. A simple idea that I had was to create a spreadsheet for this tracking. I’ve created a simple Google doc that you can use as a starting point and build from for your environment. You can access the doc direct via this link.

 

Conclusion

To wrap things up these are a few of my thoughts on this. I’m sure others have some great ideas and if we share, this list can be updated and become a great resources for others to use.

 

 

 

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 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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