In this post, we take a look at how to connect VMware Horizon to vCenter Server. This includes accepting certificates, setting up Horizon Composer, and configuring Storage options.

Brandon Lee

Brandon Lee has been in the IT industry 15+ years and focuses on networking and virtualization. He contributes to the community through various blog posts and technical documentation primarily at Virtualizationhowto.com.

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In previous posts of this series, we have discussed the role of the Horizon View Connection Server as well as the Horizon View Composer Server. Each plays a key role in being able to provision a VMware Horizon virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) in its simplest form. We need the Connection Server to serve the purpose of being able to broker connections from the end users coming into the VDI as well as make connections to the VMware vSphere vCenter Server infrastructure.

The Horizon View Composer Server is the component that allows us to take advantage of the latest cloning technologies including the linked clone desktops and the new instant clones. Now let's take a look at making the vCenter Server connections and provisioning our first desktop pool for connecting end users to the Horizon VDI infrastructure.

The first step to creating a Horizon View Desktop Pool is configuring the connection to vCenter Server. Let's look at the configuration process in making the connection via vCenter to the VMware vSphere infrastructure.

Log in to the VMware Horizon View Connection Server administrator console

Log in to the VMware Horizon View Connection Server administrator console

After logging into the Horizon Administrator console, we need to navigate to the View Configuration > Servers configuration page. On the vCenter Servers tab, click the Add… button to begin the Add vCenter Server connection wizard.

Adding a new vCenter connection

Adding a new vCenter connection

On the VC Information screen, we enter in the details of the vCenter server address as well as credentials to connect to vCenter. There are also configurables in the Advanced Settings section for setting operational limits on concurrent operations and so on.

Configuring the vCenter Server address and connection information

Configuring the vCenter Server address and connection information

After hitting Next on the VC Information screen, if using a self-signed certificate in vCenter, it will present you with the Invalid Certificate Detected dialog box. Click the View Certificate button to view the thumbprint on the certificate. You have to click the button to get the option to accept the certificate.

Viewing the vCenter Certificate

Viewing the vCenter Certificate

The certificate displays on the Certificate Information screen. Click the Accept button.

Accepting the vCenter Certificate

Accepting the vCenter Certificate

On the next configuration screen, View Composer, we can configure View Composer Settings. View Composer is the Horizon component that allows using the newest cloning technology such as linked clones and instant clones. This configures the vCenter connection to be aware of and use Horizon Composer.

Configuring the View Composer settings

Configuring the View Composer settings

With Horizon Composer, if we are using the self-signed default certificate, we will see the Invalid Certificate Detected dialog box as we saw making the connection to vCenter. Click the View Certificate button to display the certificate fingerprint to accept.

Viewing the Horizon View Composer certificate

Viewing the Horizon View Composer certificate

Click the Accept button on the Certificate Information screen.

Accepingt the Horizon Composer certificate

Accepingt the Horizon Composer certificate

On the View Composer Domains screen, you have the ability to add View Composer domains. Using View Composer gives you the ability to add computer accounts for linked-clone machines in Active Directory automatically with the cloning process. Adding the Composer domains on this screen makes the connection with your Microsoft Active Directory infrastructure.

Adding View Composer domain

Adding View Composer domain

When you click Add, it brings up the Add Domain dialog box. Enter the fully qualified domain name as well as credentials to connect to Active Directory. The user making the connection needs the Create Computer Objects, Delete Computer Objects, and Write All Properties permissions.

Entering domain and credentials

Entering domain and credentials

After entering the credentials, you will see the Active Directory domain added to the list of View Composer domains.

Composer domain is now added

Composer domain is now added

Next, we configure the Storage settings of the vCenter connection. There are a couple of checkboxes on this screen to make note of.

  • Reclaim VM disk space: Starting with vSphere 5.x and higher, you can configure virtual machines to use a space-efficient disk format that supports reclamation of unused disk space. As noted, this option reclaims unused disk space on each virtual machine and uses a threshold to initiate the space-reclamation process.
  • Enable View Storage Accelerator: You can configure ESXi hosts to cache virtual machine disk data, which improves performance during I/O storms such as when many machines power on and run anti-virus scans at once. Hosts read the common data blocks from caches instead of reading the OS from disks.
Configure storage settings

Configure storage settings

After configuring the Storage settings, we make it to the Ready to Complete screen. Make sure to review the information on the screen and go back to correct any issues before completing the configuration.

Review the Horizon vCenter Server configuration settings

Review the Horizon vCenter Server configuration settings

After clicking Finish, you will see the vCenter Server listed on your vCenter Servers configuration screen.

The configured Horizon vCenter server connection

The configured Horizon vCenter server connection

There are several configuration items involved with integrating VMware Horizon servers into an existing vSphere environment. As shown in the post, the process to connect VMware Horizon to vCenter Server is fairly straightforward. We should make note of a few configuration items including Horizon Composer configuration as well as composer domains.

Additionally, storage acceleration and space reclamation are items we can use to tweak the performance of the underlying Horizon storage subsystem. Once we have the connection to vCenter Server in place along with a "gold image" workstation in general terms, we are ready to begin creating and configuring Horizon desktop pools.

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