Time to Upgrade your Horizon Environment

Is it time to upgrade your Horizon Environment? Is your infrastructure team getting ready to upgrade the vSphere servers? Both questions that you should probably be saying yes to.

If you have read any number of blogs that have been released recently, vSphere 5.5 will be going End of General Support in less that 6 months’ time. Read more here: https://kb.vmware.com/s/article/51491

Upgrade to Horizon 7

So why am I talking about vSphere upgrades in a blog about Horizon upgrades. Well now is the time you need to ask what version of Horizon you are currently running, because if you haven’t updated to Horizon 7 yet then now would be a great time to start planning your upgrade.

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

Horizon Cloud Pod Architecture 7.1 Update

Last year with the release of Horizon 7 I wrote a blog on the new features of Cloud Pod Architecture (CPA) this included the new scale numbers. You can find that blog here.

This week VMware released Horizon 7.1 and with this release VMware has increased the scale numbers yet again for Cloud Pod Architecture.

Now with Horizon 7.1 Cloud Pod Architecture can support a maximum of 75k sessions across 5 sites.

The table below shows the new update compared with Horizon 7.0

Horizon 7 Horizon 7.1
Total Number of Sessions 50,000 75,000
Total Number of Sites 5 5
Total Number of Pods 25 25

This is yet another great update to VMware’s Horizon and Cloud Pod Architecture.

VMware Horizon Multi-VLAN Update

With the release of VMware Horizon 7.1 this week, VMware has made a significant update to the way Horizon supports Multi-VLAN for Instant Clones.

Multi-VLAN support, if you are not aware of this feature allows you to assign Multiple VLANs to a single Horizon View Pool. For example if you have a Horizon View Pool with 1000 desktops these desktops could be spread across 4 different VLANs rather than all sitting on one very large VLAN.

Multi-VLAN support has been around in Horizon View for some time now, however the catch was that it needed to be configured from the command line using a PowerShell script and this wasn’t always the easiest and was not that easy to go back and change.

With the release of Horizon 7.1 when you create an Instant Clone Pool you can now configure Multi-VLANs right from the GUI.

When you get to the vCenter settings page you will now see a new option for Networks.

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Once you click on Browse you will see the new screen to choose what VLANs you want to use for your new Instant Clone pool.

You will first need to uncheck the box “Use network from current parent VM image”

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Once this box is unchecked you can choose just what networks you would like to use for the newly created Instant Clone Pool.

NOTE: This feature is only available for Instant Clones Pools Desktops or RDSH servers. For Linked Clones you would need to use the old way using the PowerShell script.

 

 

VMware Horizon 7 Instant Clones Best Practices

Recently, I have been working with Instant Clones in my lab. Although I have found this easy to get up and running (for more information, see my blog here), it hasn’t been easy to find best practices around configuring Instant Clones, as they are so new.

I reached out to the engineering team, and they provided me with the following best practices for using Instant Clones in VMware Horizon 7.0.2.

Check OS Support for Instant Clones

The following table shows what desktop operating systems are supported when using Instant Clones.

Guest Operating System Version Edition Service Pack
Windows 10 64-Bit and 32-Bit Enterprise None
Windows 7 64-Bit and 32-Bit Enterprise and Professional SP1

For more information, see the architecture planning guide.

To read the rest of this blog please check it out on VMware.com here

Using a Mouse with my iPad Pro

Earlier this Month VMware released the latest update to the Horizon Client for the iPad. Version 4.2 can be downloaded here

This brought a number of great updates but my favorite is the ability to use a Mouse with my iPad, yes that’s right when connected to a Horizon desktop or application I can now use a Bluetooth connected mouse.

The mouse that is supported is the SwiftPoint GT mouse, this is a great mouse and fantastic from people that travel with an iPad Pro


This mouse is extremely small but works really well, I have been using the iPad for travel for a few months now and it has been working well but when connected to a virtual desktop there is definitely something missing and that’s the mouse. I have tried to use the Apple Pencil and that works OK but it’s not as good as a mouse. The SwiftPoint GT fixes that problem and now I feel that when traveling with my iPad I have everything I need to do my job as if I was at my desk.

If you would like more details on the SwiftPoint GT mouse you can find it here.

Configuring VMware Identity Manager and VMware Horizon 7 Cloud Pod Architecture

With the release of VMware Horizon® 7 and VMware Identity Manager™ 2.6, it is now possible to configure VMware Identity Manager to work with Horizon Cloud Pod Architecture when deploying your desktop and application pools over multiple data centers or locations.

Using VMware Identity Manager in front of your VMware Horizon deployments that are using Cloud Pod Architecture makes it much easier for users to get access to their desktops and applications. The user has just one place to connect to, and they will be able to see all of their available desktops and applications. Identity Manager will direct the user to the application hosted in the best datacenter for their location. This can also include SaaS applications as well as the applications that are available through VMware Horizon 7.

For the full blog please see my blog on VMware.com

http://blogs.vmware.com/consulting/2016/07/configuring-vmware-identity-manager.html

Configuring VMware Identity Manager with SQL Always On

For the last few weeks I have been testing VMware Identity Manager with SQL Always On database for multi-site deployments. This has been an interesting learning curve as its been some time since I last did anything substantial with Microsoft SQL. Before I start with the VMware Identity Manager I think it is worth calling out these 2 resources that I found really useful for setting up SQL Always On in my Lab.

This is a quick intro in to SQL Always On and how to configure it

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKCqRgqLAuo

This was a useful step by step guide for deploying SQL Always On

http://www.careexchange.in/installingconfiguring-sql-2014-always-on-cluster-on-windows-2012-r2-recommended-way/

Now before configuring VMware Identity Manager with an SQL Always On Database you should be aware that even though there is a database in each of the datacenter’s all Read and Writes operations will take place on the Primary database with in the Availability Group.

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 8.41.02 AM

From my testing I found that setting the database to automatic failover worked as expected and the database was only unavailable for a very short time less than a couple of seconds. However, I did find that when I failed the database back after an outage this took a bit more time and I would recommend that any failback is done in a much more controlled manner. In my testing fail back took about 40 seconds so a noticeable difference.

Creating the VMware Identity Manager SQL Always On Database

 

  1. Open SQL Management Studio and log in with sysadmin privileges (This should be done on the primary server)
  2. Click File – New – Query with current connection
  3. In the editor window paste the following SQL Commands
CREATE DATABASE saas

COLLATE Latin1_General_CS_AS;

ALTER DATABASE saas SET READ_COMMITTED_SNAPSHOT ON;

GO

BEGIN

CREATE LOGIN horizon WITH PASSWORD = N'H0rizon!';

END

GO

USE saas;

IF EXISTS (SELECT * FROM sys.database_principals WHERE name = N'horizon')

DROP USER [horizon]

GO

CREATE USER horizon FOR LOGIN horizon

with default_schema = saas;

GO

CREATE SCHEMA saas AUTHORIZATION horizon

GRANT ALL ON DATABASE::saas TO horizon;

GO
  1. Click Execute

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  1. The saas Database will now be created
  2. Make a Full backup of the database (This must be done before adding the database to an Always On High Availability Group)
    • Right click the database – Tasks – Back Up
  3. Add the database to the Always On High Availability Group

 

NOTE: It is also recommended to make the following changes to SQL

  • Change ‘HostRecordTTL to a lower value than the default in multi-site deployments. 120 seconds is a good value
  • Change ‘RegisterAllProvidersIP’ to false in multi-site deployments

Connect VMware Identity Manager to the SQL Database

During the install of VMware Identity Manager connect to the SQL Database using the following settings

Jdbc:sqlserver://SQLAGListener;DatabaseName=saas

  • SQLAGListener = the SQL Availability Group Listener, in the example below that is SQLProdServer
  • If the secondary SQL server is on a different subnet add the following to the jdbc string
    • multiSubnetFailover=true
      • Jdbc:sqlserver://SQLAGListener;DatabaseName=saas; multiSubnetFailover=true

Picture3

 

VMware User Environment Manager 9.0 – What’s New

Earlier this month VMware released a new version of User Environment Manager that brings some new and exciting features, not only to User Environment Manager, but also to the Horizon Suite. To learn about the new features in Horizon 7 you can see my blog here.

Here I would like to highlight the new main features of VMware User Environment Manager 9.0

Smart Policies

The new Smart Policies offer more granular control of what users can do when they connect to their virtual desktop or applications. With the first release of Smart Policies you will be able to manage these capabilities based on the following conditions:

  • Horizon Conditions
    • View Client Info (IP and name)
    • Endpoint location (Internal/External)
    • Tags
    • Desktop Pool name
  • Horizon Capabilities
    • Clipboard
    • Client drive
    • USB
    • Printing
    • PCoIP bandwidth profiles

 

For more information on these capabilities, see my more detailed blog Here.

It should be noted that to use Smart Policies you will need Horizon 7 View and User Environment Manager 9. You will also need the latest View Agent and Clients installed to take advantage of these new features. Also note that these policies only work with the PCoIP and BLAST Extreme protocols, and not RDP.

Application Authorization (Application Blocking)

This feature gives administrators the ability to white- or black-list applications or folders. In the example below you can see that some applications are allowed and some will be blocked.

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Using this feature with User Environment Managers Conditions will not only give administrators great control over what applications users can use, but also how they can be used. An example would be if a user is on the internal network they have access to company-specific applications; however, if they accessed their desktops from an external network then these applications would not be available.

With a simple check of a box, administrators have a very simple model for enforcing applications that the users are authorized to use, and using conditions in this way could be result in a different set of applications depending on where the user connects from.

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ThinApp Support

When clicking on the DirectFlex tab of an application you will now see the new check box to Enable ThinApp Support for that application.

Picture3

When this is selected you will be able to manage what happens within the ThinApp “bubble” from within User Environment Manager, rather than doing this by setting specific values during the ThinApp capture process, or afterward via a script. This integration generalizes the approach that packagers can take when choosing isolation or encapsulation. It allows them to not have to force the knowledge of each and every configuration during the capture process by setting isolation modes or creating separate packages for different application configurations.

You should also note that you do not need to configure a separate application within User Environment Manager to take advantage of this. If the box is checked the flex agent will notice if the application is natively installed or accessible via ThinApp, and automatically apply the correct settings.

Manage Personal Data

User Environment Manager now has the ability to easily manage personal data. This would include things like My Documents, My Music, My Pictures, etc.

The example below shows how easy this is to configure.

Picture4

Office 2016 Support

User Environment Manager 9.0 now supports Office 2016. As you can see from the example below this also includes Skype for Business and OneDrive. Just like with earlier versions these can all be added with the Easy Start button.

Picture5

New User Environment Manager Conditions

As part of the new deep integration with Horizon 7, User Environment Manager has added a number of new conditions that can be pulled from Horizon 7. These include Pool-Name, Tags, and client location – such as internal or external.

Picture6

 

I have also posted this blog on VMware.com here

VMware Horizon 7 New Features

With the release of VMware Horizon 7 I thought I would try and highlight some of the new features that have now been added with this released.

Blast Extreme Protocol

With the update to Blast Extreme, VMware has upgraded the Blast Extreme protocol to the same level as PCoIP and RDP. Now not only will you be able to use the Blast Extreme protocol when connecting via HTML5, but now when you connect to a Virtual desktop or RDSH App using your Horizon client on any device you will be able to connect using the Blast Extreme protocol.

Just as with PCoIP and RDP, Horizon Administrators will be able to configure the Blast Extreme protocol as the default protocol for both desktop and application pools.

1

Blast Extreme will not only be available for standard desktop and application pools but also Global pools when configured with Cloud Pod Architecture

2

As time permits I will write another blog with more details around the new Blast Extreme protocol so watch this space

VMware Instant Clone Technology

VMware Instant Clones is the long awaited technology that is built on the VMware Fork technology that was previewed at VMworld and VMware has been working on for some time. VMware Instant Clones is helping to create the Just in Time desktop and it allows for a new virtual desktop to be created in seconds and thousands of virtual desktops to be created in a very short time. This is one of the best features of the Horizon 7 release and I believe that Horizon Administrators are going to love creating desktop pools using this new Instant Clone Technology.

For information on configuring the new Horizon Instant Clone technology see my blog here

Cloud Pod Architecture

The two main updates to Cloud Pod Architecture are Scale and Home Site improvements.

I have written two new blogs to cover these new updates you can find them below

Cloud Pod Architecture New Features

Update to How CPA Home Sites Work with Horizon 7

Smart Policies

The new Smart Policies are a way to have more granular control of what users can do when they connect to their virtual desktop or applications. With the first release of Smart Policies you will be able to manage these capabilities based on the following conditions

  • Horizon Conditions
    • View Client Info (IP & Name)
    • Endpoint location (Internal/External)
    • Tags
    • Desktop Pool name
  • Horizon Capabilities
    • Clipboard
    • Client Drive
    • USB
    • Printing
    • PCoIP bandwidth profiles

For more information on these Capabilities see my more detailed blog Here

It should be noted to use Smart Policies you will need Horizon 7 and User Environment Manager 9. You would also need the latest View Agent and Clients installed to take advantage of these new features. The other thing to note is that these policies only work with the PCoIP and BLAST Extreme protocols and not RDP.

Desktop Pool Deletion

The Desktop Pool Deletion feature is often a request from customers to make it possible to stop Administrators from deleting a desktop pool that currently has active desktops with in the pool. With Horizon 6.x and earlier it was possible that an administrator could accidentally delete the wrong desktop pool and all the VM’s with in that pool. This feature when enabled would stop that from happening.

To enable this feature follow the instructions in my blog Here

 

These are just some of the new features that have been released with Horizon 7. For a full list of the new features check out the release notes here.

I also posted this blog on VMware.com here

 

Configuring VMware Horizon Instant Clones

I have been testing VMware Horizon Instant Clones for some time now and several people have asked me how I configured instant clones as when they tried to test them either the instant clone option was grayed out or when instant clones is selected the next button is grayed out. The other issue I see is some people have issues deploying instant clones and they fail to deploy.

Below are all of the things to check when configuring View Instant Clones. One of these issues has fixed all of the question I have been asked over the last few week during testing.

Licensing

Make sure you have the correct VMware Horizon license, there is a new license that include the Instant Clone feature. If you do not have the correct license then the option will be grayed out.

View Storage Accelerator

One of the requirements for Instant Clones is to enable the View Storage Accelerator. Before you try and deploy a new Desktop pool using Instant Clones make sure you have configured the View Storage Accelorator on you vCenter server.

1

Select the vCenter Server

If you have the View Storage Accelorator enabled and you select Instant Clones but the Next option is still grayed out make sure to select the vCenter itself.

2

Configure Instant Clone Domain Admin

Make sure you configure the Instant Clone Domain Admin, this account will need to be able to add new computers to your Active Directory.

3

Horizon View 7 Agent

Make sure you install the new Horizon View 7 Agent on to the gold image. There are a couple of things here you need to know

  1. First if you want to use the gold image for View Instant Clones, then during the install of the View 7 agent you need to select this option
  2. If you do select the View instant clone during the install then you can not install the view composer option, it is one or the other
  3. Unlike with view composer with View Instant Clones it is the Agent its self that adds the VM to active directory and not a separate composer server. This make View Instant Clones much more light weight, no extra server or database is needed for View Instant Clones.

If you make sure you have checked all of these things, then I am sure that View Instant Clones will work and you will see just how fast this new option is when deploying desktops.

Final Note

One last thing to Note, you will see a number of new VM’s in your vCenter that relate to your newly deployed instance clone desktops. I have listed these below.

4

cp-template-XXXXXXXXX This is the template VM that will be used to create your Instant Clones, this will be created from your Gold Image. This will be created on the destination storage or your desktops, but under storage you will also see that it is on the same storage as your gold image. You will also notice you can not edit this VM.

cp-replica-XXXXXXXXX this is the replica that is created for your VM parents. This is created from the cp-template and is placed on the destination storage.

cp-parent-XXXXXXXXX you will see one of these for each of the servers in your cluster, so in my case you see 6 as there are 6 ESXi servers in my cluster. These are all created on the destination storage and will be powered on, each ESXi server will have 1 of these cp-parents powered on and in memory ready to create a new desktop.