Storage Considerations with App Volumes

With the release of VMware App Volumes 2.6 VMware has added the ability to manage multiple copies of the same AppStack as a single AppStack with in the App Volumes Manager interface. Storage groups can be used to group datastores together, this way you can add an AppStack to a storage group and the App Volumes Manager will place the AppStack in the best place based on your Distribution Strategy. For Distribution Strategy you have 3 options:

  • Spread – Distribute files evenly across all the storage locations.
  • Spillover – Distribute files by filling each storage location before using the next one.
  • Round-robin – Distribute files by sequentially using the storage locations.

When a user logs in, the App Volumes Manager will manage the connection to the relevant AppStack. When the Spread option is chosen the App Volumes Manager will use Round-robin to connect users to the AppStack VMDK to spread the connections over the datastores.

This will make managing and assigning AppStacks to large numbers of users much easier for the App Volumes administrators.

The graphic below gives you a high level look at how this affects storage.

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Now the question that an architect needs to answer is how many VMDK’s will be needed to support a single AppStack with in the App Volumes manager. The table below is the recommended number of connections per VMDK depending on storage type.

Storage Type VMFS NFS Flash Storage
Recommended Maximum connections per VMDK 128 250 1000

Using this table it make the decisions basic math. The following equation can be used to figure out just how many VMDK’s will be needed per AppStack.

Number of users / Maximum connections per storage type = Number of VMDK’s needed or datastores

So if you were assigning an AppStack to 500 users in you organization and the storage type the AppStack VMDK’s is stored on is VMFS the calculation would be

500 (Users) / 128 (max connections per datastore) = 3.9

A single copy of the AppStack VMDK could then be placed on a datastore with in the Storage Group and the App Volumes Manager would replicate that VMDK to all the datastores with in the storage group.

Now the above calculation helps with number of users connecting to AppStack VMDK’s however you will also need to take in to consideration the number of IOPS needed for the software in the AppStack. For best performance this may mean you need more datastores to spread the load across more disks.

How to configure Storage Groups for AppStacks

The following will walk you through how to configure a storage group in App Volumes.

  1. Log in to your App Volumes Manager
  2. Click Infrastructure, Storage Groups, Create Storage Group

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  1. Give the Storage group a Name, then choose the options that are required, then click Create

Note: If there are already AppStacks on the storage that will be included in the storage group check the box Automatically Import AppStacks

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  1. Click Create

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Once the storage group is created any new AppStacks created on a datastore with in the storage group will be automatically copied to all the datastores with in the storage group.

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Upgrading App Volumes Templates

Following on from my ealier blog about upgrading the App Volumes managers, found here, another key task is upgrading the App Volumes templates. These templates are always used when you create a new AppStack or Writable Volume.

To upgrade your App Volumes Templates simply follow these simple steps.

  1. Log into the App volumes manager
  2. Click Configuration and then Storage

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  1. Verify the storage locations listed and then press the “Upload Prepackaged Volumes” button.

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  1. Select the correct storage location where the templates are located, select a Host to copy the files and enter the correct user credentials. Select the correct templates to upload and click Upload.

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If you have created any custom templates then you should also update these at this time. You can read more about creating custom templates here

I would like to thank my good friend and colleague Stephane Asselin for contributing to this blog. To read more about Stephane please see his blog here

Upgrading VMware App Volumes

A number of people have now asked me about the process for upgrading VMware App Volumes Managers.

In this blog I will document how to upgrade an App Volumes deployment from 2.5 to 2.6. It should also be noted that to avoid downtime you should have at least 2 App Volumes servers load-balanced in a pool. To find out how to load-balance App Volumes see my blog on the VMware web site Here.

This process will work if you do not have your App Volume servers load-balanced however during the process your desktops will not have access to the App Volumes server, meaning no AppStack or Writable will be attached at boot-up or login.

Before beginning the upgrade process make sure you back up the SQL database that App Volumes is using.

To upgrade the App Volumes servers follow the following process:

  1. Remove the first App Volumes server from the Load-balanced pool.
  2. Log in to the first App Volumes server
  3. Click Start -> Control Panel
  4. Click Uninstall Program
  5. Highlight App Volumes Manager and Click Uninstall

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  1. Click Next when the uninstaller starts
  2. Click Remove
  3. Click Finish
  4. Now run the Setup file for the new version of App Volumes, in this case 2.6
  5. Click Next

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  1. Accept the License agreement and click Next

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  1. Select the App Volumes Manager and click Install

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  1. Click Next
  2. It is very important at this stage to select Connect to an existing SQL Server Database and click Next

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  1. Select the correct SQL server. Configure the SQL log in information. Select the Database. DO NOT check the Overwite existing database check box then click Next

NOTE: If you do not add a Login ID then servers SYSTEM account will be used to connect to the database and App Volumes will probably fail to start.

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  1. Confirm the ports are correct and click Next

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  1. Confirm the install location and click Next

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  1. Click Install
  2. Click Finish
  3. Add the App Volumes server back in to the Load Balanced pool.
  4. Follow these steps for any additional App Volumes servers.

Once the serevrs are updated you should now update the App Volumes Templates. To do this check out my blog post here

Link Horizon Deployments Together with Cloud Pod Architecture

VMware has just made life easier for VMware Horizon administrators. With the release of VMware Horizon 6.1, VMware has added a popular feature—from the Horizon 6 release—to the web interface. Using Cloud Pod Architecture you can now link a number of Horizon deployments together to create a larger global pool – and these pools can span two different locations.

Cloud Pod Architecture in Horizon 6 was sometimes difficult to configure because you had to use a command line interface on the connection brokers. Now, with Horizon 6.1, you can configure and manage Cloud Pod Architecture via the Web Admin Portal, and this greatly improves the Cloud Pod Architecture feature.

You can read the rest of my post on VMware.com  Click Here