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.
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.
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.
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.
Next, we give the desktop pool an ID and a Display name and select an Access group if we have any defined.
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.
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.
The Disposable File Redirection setting allows redirecting disposable files to a non-persistent disk deleted automatically upon session end.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Add entitlement option.
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.
We have set up our new desktop pool, which is now ready to accept connections from entitled 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.