This article looks at how to create VMware Horizon View desktop pools and entitlements that allow end users to access pools of virtual desktops in the Horizon View virtual infrastructure.

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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We have seen how to provision a VMware Horizon Connection Server, which is the component of VMware Horizon View that brokers connections from end users to the Horizon virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). It also makes the connection to vCenter Server. Additionally, the Composer Server is the component of the Horizon View infrastructure that allows us to take advantage of its latest cloning technologies such as linked clones and the new "instant clone" technology. To provision a Horizon View environment users can actually connect to, we need to create a desktop pool. Let's look at the steps involved in this process.

The Horizon View Connection Server has a straightforward process to create a new desktop pool for end users. We use the Horizon View Administrator located on our Connection Server to create the new desktop pool.

Note: As a prerequisite to creating the desktop pool, we need to have a "gold" Windows 10 virtual machine (VM) prepared and ready for provisioning using the cloning mechanism we choose.

Click the new desktop pool in Horizon Administrator

Click the new desktop pool in Horizon Administrator

Once we click the Add button, this launches the Add Desktop Pool wizard for creating the new desktop pool. We have three options available when adding the desktop pool.

  • Automated Desktop Pool: This type of pool uses a vCenter Server template or VM snapshot to generate new machines. We can create the machines upon pool creation or generate them on demand based on pool usage.
  • Manual Desktop Pool: A manual desktop pool provides access to an existing set of machines. This supports any type of machine that can install Agent. Examples include vCenter VMs and physical machines.
  • RDS Desktop Pool: A Microsoft Remote Desktop Services (RDS) desktop pool provides RDS sessions as machines to View users. Connection Server manages RDS sessions in the same way as normal machines. This supports Microsoft RDS hosts on vCenter VMs and physical computers.
Choose the type of desktop pool to create

Choose the type of desktop pool to create

Next, we choose the type of user assignment. This determines how to assign users to the virtual workstation resources.

  • Dedicated: Users receive the same machines each time they log in to the desktop pool.
  • Floating: Assigns the user to an available workstation. If a user connects to a desktop pool to which the user is entitled but does not have a machine, View automatically assigns a spare machine to the user. In an automated desktop pool, this may create a new machine if no spare machines exist.
Choose the type of user assignment

Choose the type of user assignment

On the vCenter Server screen of the Desktop Pool Definition section, we choose the type of VMs we want to provision. Below you will see the Instant clones option grayed out. This is because there is no Enterprise license installed. Additionally, instant clones are not available unless you choose the Floating assignment.

Choose whether to create full VMs or clones

Choose whether to create full VMs or clones

Next, we give the desktop pool an ID and a Display name and select an Access group if we have any defined.

Desktop Pool Identification

Desktop Pool Identification

Under Desktop Pool Settings, we can configure many options here including Remote Display Protocol and related settings. Additionally, if you want to allow HTML Access to the desktop pool, make sure to check that here.

Desktop Pool Settings and HTML access

Desktop Pool Settings and HTML access

On the Provisioning Settings screen, one of the important configuration parameters we configure is how we want to handle Virtual Machine Naming. Here we can also control the maximum number of machines and spare machines configured in the desktop pool. Additionally, we can provision the machines up front or on demand.

Set up the desktop provisioning settings

Set up the desktop provisioning settings

The Disposable File Redirection setting allows redirecting disposable files to a non-persistent disk deleted automatically upon session end.

View Composer Disks settings

View Composer Disks settings

Under Advanced Storage Options we can choose options with regard to using a virtual storage area network (VSAN) or using separate datastores for replica and OS disks.

Configure storage policy management

Configure storage policy management

On the vCenter Settings screen, we choose the default image, snapshot, location, and resource settings of our "gold" image VM. The parent VM must be in a powered-off state. Also, the snapshot must be from a powered-off state as well.

Configure the default image location and resource settings

Configure the default image location and resource settings

On the Advanced Storage Options screen, we can choose to Use View Storage Accelerator if we want to cache certain desktop pool data; this is the recommended option. Also, there are other options if we are using NFS-backed datastores. Blackout Times prevent the reclamation of space during non-optimal time periods for business.

Configure advanced storage options

Configure advanced storage options

The Guest Customization screen allows choosing the Active Directory container to house computer accounts in the desktop pool as well as how we want to customize the VMs. We can use QuickPrep or a customization specification involving Sysprep.

Choose guest customization settings

Choose guest customization settings

After selecting our options, we are ready to create the new desktop pool. Be sure to review the settings for errors. Also, we can open the Entitlement screen after the wizard finishes if we choose.

Review the configuration settings for the desktop pool

Review the configuration settings for the desktop pool

If you didn't click to open the Entitlement screen after the wizard finished, you can select the Entitlements button to begin setup.

Click the Entitlements button to set up access to the new desktop pool

Click the Entitlements button to set up access to the new desktop pool

Click the Add entitlement option.

Add entitlement

Add entitlement

Click the Add button to choose users you want to add from the selector. Below we have simply added Domain Admins to the entitlement for testing.

Add users to the entitlement using the selector

Add users to the entitlement using the selector

We have set up our new desktop pool, which is now ready to accept connections from entitled users!

New desktop pool created and ready for entitled end users

New desktop pool created and ready for entitled end users

Using the desktop pool creation wizard in VMware Horizon View Connection Server makes provisioning a new desktop pool very easy. Make sure to have a prepared Windows 10 VM to use as the gold image for your provisioning scheme you want to employ. Also, be sure to think about your naming convention for workstations provisioned in the desktop pools as well as the Active Directory container that will house them. Additional guest customization can also streamline provisioning tasks to bring a fully operational VM online for end users. Entitlements are what give end users access to the created desktop pools.

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