Creating RDSH-Published Desktops and Applications

VMware Horizon 7 version 7.5 and later

Creating RDSH-Published Desktops and Applications

Introduction

Horizon 7 Published  Desktops and Applications are based on sessions to RDSH servers. That is, administrators use Microsoft Remote Desktop Services (RDS) to provide users with desktop and application sessions on RDS hosts. Delivering published applications and desktops is a very simple process:

  1. Create an RDSH server farm from a master VM image, which automatically clones the number of servers you specify.
  2. Publish a desktop pool so that multiple users can access session-based shared desktops from RDSH servers.
  3. Publish one or multiple application pools with one trip through the Add Application Pool wizard.
  4. Learn how to perform image maintenance tasks for RDSH servers.

Create an Instant-Clone RDSH Server Farm

A farm can contain from 1 to 200 RDSH servers. For the exercises in this guide, you create an automated farm of RDSH servers, which is similar to creating an automated pool of instant-clone desktops. With this feature, you do not need to create and configure each RDSH server separately.

For this exercise, you will use the newest Horizon 7 management interface, the Horizon Console.

Important: If your session in the Horizon Console is idle for more than a few minutes, you might be automatically logged out, and if you were in the middle of creating a server farm, your changes are lost.

Prerequisites for Creating an Instant-Clone Server Farm

To perform this exercise, you need the following:

  • Master VM and snapshot – Before you can deploy a farm of RDSH servers, you must create an optimized master image, which includes installing and configuring a Windows operating system in a VM, optimizing the OS, and installing the various VMware agents required for server farm deployment. For step-by-step instructions, see the guide Creating an Optimized Windows Image for a VMware Horizon Virtual Desktop.
    Important: The master VM for RDSH servers must have the appropriate RDSH roles and services installed, as described in the section of that guide called Configure Windows Server Systems for VDI or RDSH.

    Note: It is also possible to enable Windows Server machines to be used as single-user desktops rather than RDSH servers, which provide session-based shared desktops. For information, see the product documentation topic Prepare Windows Server Operating Systems for Desktop Use. None of the exercises that follow involves creating single-user desktops from Windows Server machines.
  • AD OU – You must have determined which Active Directory OU to use for storing instant-clone computer accounts. In a test environment, you can use the Computers OU. In a production environment, VMware recommends that you create a specific OU and domain user, and delegate the minimum required permissions, as described in the exercise Create a Domain User Account and OUs in AD for Clone Operations.
    Note: For the server farm OU, give the OU a descriptive name such as RDSH Servers.
  • Instant-clone domain administrator – You must have added an instant-clone domain administrator, as described in the exercise Add an Instant-Clone Domain Administrator.
  • VM folder – (Optional) A VM folder in the vCenter Server inventory. Having a specific folder in the vCenter Server inventory helps you locate and manage the RDSH servers in the instant-clone farm.
  • Applications – The applications you provide to end users can be either installed directly on the RDSH server, or dynamically attached, as App Volumes AppStacks. Before you begin this exercise, install any applications that you want to have in the base image, available for all users.
    Note: To install applications directly on an RDSH server, place the host into RD-Install mode, install the desired applications, and place the host back into RD-Execute mode. For more information, see the Microsoft TechNet article Learn How To Install Applications on an RD Session Host Server. If you plan to use AppStacks, be sure to install the App Volumes Agent, as described in the guide Creating an Optimized Windows Image for a VMware Horizon Virtual Desktop.

1. Start the Add Farm Wizard in the Horizon Console

  1. Log in to the Horizon Console, and select Inventory > Farms.
    The format of the URL for accessing the console is: https://<connection-server-FQDN>/newadmin
  2. Click Add.

2. Select the Automated Farm Type

  1. Select Automated Farm.
  2. Click Next.

3. Select the vCenter Server Instance

  1. Select the vCenter Server instance.
  2. Click Next.

4. Choose Whether to Use vSAN

  1. Select Do not use VMware Virtual SAN.
  2. Click Next.

In a production environment, you might select to use VMware Virtual SAN. VMware Virtual SAN, or VMware vSAN, is a software-defined storage tier that virtualizes the local physical storage disks available on a cluster of vSphere hosts. You specify only one datastore when creating an automated desktop pool or an automated farm, and the various components, such as virtual machine files, replicas, user data, and operating system files, are placed on the appropriate solid-state drive (SSD) disks or direct-attached hard disks (HDDs).

5. Complete the Default Image Settings

Click the Browse button next to the first setting, which is Parent VM.

Important: This page has numerous settings, and in the next steps, we do not copy this screenshot into every step, but instead only refer to it and show a screenshot of the window that appears when you click Browse for that setting.

Note: This page refers to the default image because after the pool is created, you can edit the pool and select a different snapshot to use if you want to push a new image and generate new desktops using that other image.

Describing all the settings in detail is beyond the scope of this quick-start guide. For details about all the settings in the Add Desktop wizard, see the product documentation topic Worksheet for Creating an Automated Instant-Clone Farm in Horizon Console.

5.1. Select a Parent VM

  1. Select the master VM that you created.
    For instructions, see the guide Creating an Optimized Windows Image for a VMware Horizon Virtual Desktop.
  2. Click Submit.

5.2. Select a Snapshot of the Master VM

  1. Click Browse next to Snapshot, and select the snapshot to use as the default image for creating the pool.
    For instructions, see the guide Creating an Optimized Windows Image for a VMware Horizon Virtual Desktop.
  2. Click Submit.

5.3. Select a VM Folder for the Instant Clones in the Farm

  1. Click Browse next to VM Folder Location, and select the folder to use.
    Note: The RDSH folder shown in the screenshot is just an example; you can select any available folder.
    The VM folder is described in Prerequisites for Creating an Instant-Clone Server Farm.
  2. Click Submit.

5.4. Select the Resource Cluster

  1. Click Browse next to Cluster, and select a vCenter Server resource cluster.
    Note: The cluster selected in the screenshot is just an example; you can select any available cluster.
  2. Click Submit.

5.5. Select a Resource Pool

  1. Click Browse next to Resource Pool, and select a resource pool.
  2. Note: The resource pool selected in the screenshot is just an example; you can select any available resource pool.
  3. Click Submit.

5.6. Select a Datastore for the Clones

  1. Click Browse next to Instant-Clone Datastores, and select a datastore.
  2. Note: The datastore selected in the screenshot is just an example; you can select any available datastore or multiple datastores.
  3. Click Submit.

5.7. Select a Network

  1. Click Browse next to Network, and note that by default you use the same network as the master image VM.
  2. Click Submit.

5.8. Click Next on the Default Image Page

On the page that summarizes the default image settings you selected, click Next.

6. Enter a Pool ID and Select Remote Display Settings

  1. Add a pool ID; for example, enter RDSH-Farm.
  2. Scroll down and select the HTML Access check box so that users will be able to access virtual desktops using their web browsers in addition to Horizon Client.
  3. Select Allow Session Collaboration.
  4. Use the defaults for the other settings, and click Next.

7. Specify Provisioning Settings

  1. Enter a naming pattern for the VMs. For example, for this exercise, you can use RDSH-.
    This naming pattern helps you identify RDSH server instant clones in Horizon Console.
  2. For farm sizing, set Max number of machines to 10 or fewer (for the purposes of this exercise).
    In a production environment, instant-clone farms have been tested to support up to 200 servers.
  3. Set Number of ready machines to 1.
  4. Use the defaults for the other settings, and click Next.

8. Select a Domain Administrator and an OU

  1. Select the instant-clone domain administrator, which you added in the exercise Add an Instant-Clone Domain Administrator.
  2. Click Browse in the AD Container section, select the OU, and click Submit.
  3. Click Next.

9. Begin Deploying the Server Farm

Leave the check box at the top of the window de-selected, and click Submit. Entitling users is a separate exercise.

For more information about the available settings in this wizard, see the product documentation topic  Worksheet for Creating an Automated Instant-Clone Farm in Horizon Console.

You are returned to the Farms list, where you can verify that the newly created farm was added to the list.

10. Monitor the Farm Creation Process

To access details about the newly added pool, click the farm name on the Farms page.

If you do not see the farm listed, click the Refresh icon above the table.

11. Check the Publish State

On the Summary tab, scroll down to the State area. The status changes from Publishing to Published.

12. Check the List of Hosts

After the status changes to Published, scroll up and click the RDS Hosts tab to verify that the 10 RDSH servers were created.

Deploy an RDSH-Published Desktop Pool

An RDSH desktop pool has different characteristics than an instant-clone, full-clone, or linked-clone automated desktop pool. An RDSH desktop pool is based on a session to an RDSH server. Now that you have created an RDSH server farm, you can select that farm when creating your desktop pool. For this exercise, you will use the newest Horizon 7 management interface, the Horizon Console.

Important: If your session in the Horizon Console is idle for more than a few minutes, you might be automatically logged out, and if you were in the middle of creating a desktop pool, your changes are lost.

Prerequisite for Deploying a Session-Based Desktop Pool

To perform this exercise, you need to have completed the exercise Create an Instant-Clone RDSH Server Farm. Although it is possible to actually create the RDSH server farm as part of using the Add Desktop Pool wizard, the steps in this exercise direct you to select an existing server farm.

1. Start the Add Pool Wizard in the Horizon Console

  1. Log in to the Horizon Console, and select Inventory > Desktops.
    The format of the URL for accessing the console is: https://<connection-server-FQDN>/newadmin
  2. Click Add.

2. Select the RDS Desktop Pool Type

  1. Select RDS Desktop Pool.
  2. Click Next.

3. Complete the Desktop Pool Identification Page

  1. Add a pool ID; for example, RDSH-desktops.
  2. (Optional) Add a display name, such as RDSH Desktop, which users will see when they log in using Horizon Client or the HTML Access web client.
    If you do not provide a display name, the pool ID is used for the display name.
  3. Click Next.

4. Click Next on the Desktop Pool Settings Page

Click Next to accept the default settings. For more information about the settings, see the product documentation topic Desktop Pool Settings for RDS Desktop Pools.

5. Select the RDS Farm You Created

  1. Click Select an RDS farm for this desktop pool.
  2. Select the farm name in the list. This is the farm that you created in the exercise Create an Instant-Clone RDSH Server Farm.
  3. Click Next.

Note: As an alternative to creating the RDSH server farm before you complete this Add Desktop Pool wizard, you can select Create a new RDS farm. If you use this option, additional pages are added to this wizard, and you are prompted to specify farm settings and select the RDSH server or servers to add to the farm.

6. Begin Deploying the Desktop Pool

Leave the check box at the top of the window de-selected, and click Submit. Entitling users is a separate exercise.

7. Monitor the Pool Creation Process

To access details about the newly added pool, click the pool name on the Desktop Pools page.

If you do not see the pool listed, click the Refresh icon above the table.

8. Review Pool Details

Review the pool information. In addition to the information shown in the screenshot, if you scroll down, you see information about the server farm used for this pool.

Publish Applications Hosted on RDSH Servers

The Published Applications feature supports a wealth of remote-experience features, which include client-drive redirection, access to locally connected USB devices, file-type association, Windows media redirection, content redirection, printer redirection, location-based printing, 3D rendering, smart card authentication, and more.

After applications are published, end users launch Horizon Client, or the HTML Access web client, to access a catalog of published applications. Selecting an application from the catalog opens a window for that application on the local client device, and the application looks and behaves as if it were locally installed.

For example, on a Windows client computer, an item for the application appears in the taskbar and looks identical to the way it would look if it were installed on the local Windows computer. Users can also create shortcuts for published applications, and the shortcuts appear on the client desktop, just like shortcuts for locally installed applications.

To publish applications, administrators create an application pool. Horizon 7 automatically enumerates the installed applications on the RDSH servers. Administrators can select which of the applications to deploy and entitle users to.

For this exercise, you will use the newest Horizon 7 management interface, the Horizon Console.

Important: If your session in the Horizon Console is idle for more than a few minutes, you might be automatically logged out, and if you were in the middle of creating an application pool, your changes are lost.

Prerequisites for Publishing Applications

  • RDSH server farm – You need to have completed the exercise Create an Instant-Clone RDSH Server Farm. Although it is possible to actually create the RDSH server farm as part of using the Add Desktop Pool wizard, the steps in this exercise direct you to select an existing server farm.
  • Applications – The applications you provide to end users can be either installed directly on the RDSH server, or dynamically attached, as App Volumes AppStacks. Before you begin this exercise, install any applications that you want to have in the base image, available for all users.
    Note: To install applications directly on an RDSH server, place the host into RD-Install mode, install the desired applications, and place the host back into RD-Execute mode. For more information, see the Microsoft TechNet article Learn How To Install Applications on an RD Session Host Server. If you plan to use AppStacks, be sure to install the App Volumes Agent, as described in the guide Creating an Optimized Windows Image for a VMware Horizon Virtual Desktop.

1. Start the Add Pool Wizard in the Horizon Console

  1. Log in to the Horizon Console, and select Inventory > Applications.
    The format of the URL for accessing the console is: https://<connection-server-FQDN>/newadmin
  2. Click Add.
  3. Select Add from Installed Applications.

Note: For this exercise, you will use installed applications. For information about adding an application pool manually, see the product documentation topic Worksheet for Creating an Application Pool Manually.

2. Select Applications

  1. Select the automated server farm you created.
  2. Click the check box next to an application.
    Note: The list of applications includes both natively installed apps and App Volumes AppStacks that you have attached to the servers, if you are using AppStacks.
  3. Click the check box next to another application. You can create multiple application pools with only one trip through the wizard.
  4. De-select the check box Entitle users after adding the pool. You will entitle users in a later exercise.
  5. For the other settings, use the defaults, and click Next.

For information about the other settings on this page, including Pre-launch, category folder, and restrictions, see the product documentation topic Worksheet for Creating an Application Pool Manually.

3. Edit the Display Name and Begin Pool Deployment

  1. Add RDSH- to the beginning of the display name. This way, if you later open the published app on a Windows computer, you will be able to distinguish between the locally installed app and the RDSH-published app.
  2. Click B.

The wizard closes and the application pools are added to the list.

Perform Maintenance on a Server Farm

When you use automated instant-clone RDSH server farms, you can rapidly change the size of the farm, refresh the servers back to their original state and disk size, or update the servers to use a new master image. Performing maintenance on an instant-clone farm means deleting the VMs in the farm and either recreating them from the current master image or creating VMs from a new master image, or snapshot.

  • Create a recurring maintenance schedule to restore the operating system disk of each VM in the farm to its original state and size, reducing storage costs. The VM is deleted and recreated from the currently selected master image.
  • Schedule immediate maintenance to change the master image used by the VMs in the farm, such as to apply an urgent security patch.

You can use both types of schedules at the same time, and if you specified a minimum number of provisioned servers to be available during maintenance operations, your end users might never have their work interrupted.

Prerequisites for Performing This Exercise

This exercise involves making changes to instant-clone RDSH server farms. Therefore, you must have completed the exercise Create an Instant-Clone RDSH Server Farm before you begin this exercise.

1. Click the Farm Name

  1. Log in to the Horizon Console, and select Inventory > Farms.
    The format of the URL for accessing the console is: https://<connection-server-FQDN>/newadmin
  2. Click the farm name; for this example the farm name is RDSH-Farm.

2. Select to Schedule Maintenance

On the Summary tab, select Schedule from the Maintain drop-down list.

3. Set a Weekly Maintenance Schedule

  1. For Schedule, select Recurring.
    Note: If, instead, you select Immediate from the drop-down list, you are prompted to specify the task start time.
  2. For Maintenance Period, select Weekly.
  3. Click Next.

4. Click Next to Use the Current Snapshot

On the Image page, click Next. (If the Next button is dimmed, de-select Use current parent VM image and then select the check box again.)

The default is to use the current master image. To select a different master VM and snapshot, you can de-select the check box, browse to a new master VM, and select one of its snapshots.

Note: Setting this schedule so that it runs weekly means that on a weekly basis, the servers are refreshed back to their original state and disk size using the master VM and snapshot that you specify.

5. Click Next to Start the Task After Users Log Off

Click Next.

The default is Wait for users to log off. If, instead, you select to force users to log off, you can give users a warning and a grace period of 5 minutes, by default. To edit this setting, after you finish creating the schedule, open the Horizon Administrator (https://<connection-server-FQDN>/admin), navigate to View Configuration > Global Settings, and click Edit in the General settings section.

6. Click Finish to Complete the Maintenance Schedule

Click Finish. You are returned to the Summary tab for the farm.

The schedule you set appears in the Farm Maintenance section.

If, in addition to this recurring schedule, you find you need to schedule an immediate push of a new master image, you can repeat this process, selecting Maintenance > Immediate rather than Recurring. The farm would then have both a recurring and an immediate maintenance schedule.

In the following steps, we will explore other maintenance tasks.

7. Select to Edit the Farm

Scroll back up to the top of the page, and click Edit.

8. Change the Max Number of Machines to 4

  1. Click the Provisioning Settings tab.
  2. In the Farm Sizing section, set the Max number of machines to 4.
  3. Click OK.

You are returned to the Farms Summary tab.

9. Monitor Changing the Size of the Farm

Click the RDS Hosts tab. Note that the status for some of the servers changes to Deleting. Some servers are deleted to reduce the size of the farm to 4 machines.

Click the Refresh icon, if necessary, to update the status.

Tip: If you change the maximum number of machines to a larger number, the new RDSH servers will typically become available within a minute. This is because the VM snapshot is already published, and therefore only the instant-clone provisioning phase is required.