In this third post of my VMware Horizon View series, we take a look at the VMware Horizon Composer Server requirements, database configuration, and installation.

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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VMware Horizon View contains many pieces and moving parts to deliver the VMware virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution to the end user. At its core, VMware Horizon View Connection Server is an essential component of delivering VDI connectivity. With VMware Horizon, recent updates to the product have allowed better and faster cloning technologies to deliver cloned desktops to the end user more quickly and efficiently.

The component of VMware Horizon View that makes this functionality possible is the Horizon View Composer Server. With this, you can provision and deploy multiple linked-clone or the new "instant clone" desktops from a single "gold" or base image. Let's look at installing VMware Horizon View Composer Server and the requirements for installation.

VMware Horizon View Composer Server requirements ^

When considering the installation of Horizon View Composer, we need to look at various aspects of the requirements for Composer Server. The first requirement we want to consider is the operating system for the platform. VMware supports Horizon View Composer Server on the following operating systems:

  • Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1: 64-bit, Standard, Enterprise, and Datacenter editions
  • Windows Server 2012 R2: 64-bit, Standard, or Datacenter
  • Windows Server 2016: 64-bit, Standard, or Datacenter

Additional considerations for Horizon View Composer Server include:

  • You cannot multi-home Horizon View Connection Server and Composer Server. You must install them on separate servers.
  • You have one Horizon View Composer Server per vCenter Server.

Server hardware requirements

The hardware requirements for the Horizon View Composer Server are a bit lower than the requirements for the Connection Server. However, they consist of the following:

  • 4 GHz or faster Intel 64 or AMD 64 processor: 2 CPUs/vCPUs minimum; 4 CPUs/vCPUs recommended, running 2 GHz or faster
  • Minimum 10/100 Mbps network connectivity; 1 Gbps recommended
  • Minimum 4 GB of memory; 8 GB RAM or higher for 50 or more remote desktops
  • 40 GB minimum disk space required with at least 60 GB recommended

Database server requirements

Unlike the Horizon View Connection Server, which doesn't require a database (DB) unless you use an optional events database to record information from it, Horizon View Composer Server requires a backend database to store data. Many currently using a Windows vCenter installation may choose to use the same DB server as for the Windows vCenter server. However, with VMware's recommendation to use only the vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) now, organizations will want to think about possibly housing Composer Server data on a different backend database, especially if it is a greenfield installation.

When standing up a database server for housing the Composer Server database, the options are either Microsoft SQL Server or an Oracle backend database. The following are the currently supported versions according to the VMware Interoperability Matrix.

  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 SP2 all the way to Microsoft SQL Server 2016 Enterprise SP1
  • Oracle 12C Standard Release 1 or Enterprise Release 2

Install VMware Horizon View Composer ^

The installation of the Horizon View Composer Server involves just a few steps, including:

  • Setting up a database server
  • Setting up a database user
  • Installing Horizon View Composer Server
  • Checking the Composer service

Set up a database and user

Below we have already installed SQL Server 2014 Standard Edition to house the Composer Server database. The first thing we do is create a database for Composer Server data. Here we are creating a DB called hcomp for housing the data.

Create a Horizon View Composer Server database

Create a Horizon View Composer Server database

Administrators may desire to change the recovery model of the Composer Server database. You can do this under the Options for the created Composer Server DB.

Change the recovery model if desired

Change the recovery model if desired

Next, we need to set up a database user to connect to the Composer Server database. Here we are creating a SQL Server authentication user. Be sure to uncheck the password policy and "change password" options for the new user.

Create a new SQL Server login

Create a new SQL Server login

Finally, we associate the new user to the Connection Server database by assigning the db_owner role.

Assign the db owner role to the Connection Server DB for the new user

Assign the db owner role to the Connection Server DB for the new user

Install Composer Server

Now that we have the database server configured with a database and a user to access it, we can begin the Composer Server installation. The download is an extremely lightweight installation. Log in with your VMware account and download the installer.

Download the Composer Server installer

Download the Composer Server installer

The VMware Horizon 7 Composer installation is very straightforward with only a small diversion for Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) setup.

Begin the Composer Server installation

Begin the Composer Server installation

After launching the installer, click Next and accept the end-user license agreement (EULA).

Accept the EULA

Accept the EULA

Select the installation directory for Composer Server.

Choose the destination folder for Composer Server

Choose the destination folder for Composer Server

On the Database Information screen, we need to click the ODBC DSN Setup button to set up the connection to the database server.

Set up the ODBC DSN

Set up the ODBC DSN

Create an ODBC entry

Since in the lab environment below we have SQL Server installed on the Composer Server, we have the SQL Server entry available to us. If you are connecting to a SQL Server outside of the Composer Server, which most likely you will do in production, you will need to install the SQL Server Native Client to connect to the selected SQL Server in the Create New Data Source dialog box. This is a free download from Microsoft.

Choose SQL Server ODBC connection

Choose SQL Server ODBC connection

Enter a name for the ODBC entry and the SQL Server to connect to the Composer Server database configured earlier.

Next, we use the SQL Server user we created for making the database connection.

Next, we change the default database to the Composer Server database we created.

Change the default database for the connection to the Connection Server database

Change the default database for the connection to the Connection Server database

Click Finish.

Finish the new ODBC connection

Finish the new ODBC connection

Finally, we can click the Test Data Source button to make sure we can successfully connect to the backend Composer Server database.

Test Data Source

Test Data Source

The test should complete successfully.

The new connection should verify successfully

The new connection should verify successfully

Complete the installation

On the Database Information screen, we can now populate the information with the configured database connection.

Populate the database information with the new ODBC connection

Populate the database information with the new ODBC connection

On the Horizon Composer Port Settings screen, we can accept the defaults.

Configure or accept the Connection Server port configuration

Configure or accept the Connection Server port configuration

Now we simply click the Install button to begin the installation.

Install Horizon View Composer Server

Install Horizon View Composer Server

A status bar shows the installation progress.

Horizon View Composer Server installation proceeds

Horizon View Composer Server installation proceeds

The Horizon Composer Server installation completes.

Click Finish on the installer

Click Finish on the installer

After the installation, we need to reboot the Composer Server to finalize the installation.

Reboot the Horizon View Composer Server after installation

Reboot the Horizon View Composer Server after installation

After the Composer Server reboots, we want to verify the VMware Horizon 7 Composer service is Running.

Verify the Horizon View Composer Server service after reboot

Verify the Horizon View Composer Server service after reboot

Concluding thoughts ^

If organizations want to take advantage of the true power of the most recent cloning technologies, including linked clones and the new "instant clones," Composer Server is a required component of the VMware Horizon View infrastructure. As shown, the installation is fairly straightforward; however, it does require the use of a backend database such as Microsoft SQL Server. After configuring a database and user, you simply need to point the installation to the database server and finalize it.

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