VMware Flings – Horizon View Configuration Tool

An other post in the VMware Lab Flings series. This time a fling that will make life a bit simpler in deploying Horizon View 5.3, the Horizon View Configuration Tool. Check it out here http://labs.vmware.com/flings/horizon-view-configuration-tool.
What is this tool about? It is a virtual appliance with the required components to automate a VMware Horizon View 5.3 deployment. This means no longer going around with installers at servers and watching those installers go by. With just inserting a licensed Windows server image, some unmanaged ESXi hosts (they will be managed afterwards), configuration parameters (yes you will have to input something yourself) and Horizon licenses and you are set up with the following components:

  • Optional, VM with Active Directory Domain Controller configured. Optional as you can choose to integrate with an existing domain.
  • Windows 2008R2 VM with Horizon View Connection Server installed.
  • Windows 2008R2 VM with Horizon View Composer installed.
  • vCenter Server Appliance (vCSA) deployed and configured.

Use case?

The automation tool in it’s current initial state is very useful for doing basic Horizon View infrastructures for small deployments or Proof of concepts. Be aware that there is no official support from VMware for flings, it is a little on the own risk (with help from the community and fling engineers of course).

The Composer is set-up with a SQL Express database, maybe here should be an option to include an external database server.

What is needed?

For the servers that will be deployed a Windows 2008R2 ISO is needed together with a license to operate them.

The configuration parameters for networking (one DHCP scope IP plan, either managed or unmanaged depending on greenfield DC or integration), some storage (VMFS datastore with at least 250GB for the infrastructure VM’s plus data store for your VD’s) and VD ESXi hosts (not yet managed).

For the hosts make sure that Secure Shell (SSH) and the ESXi Shell are both set to running.

You will ofcourse need the Horizon View Configuration Tool downloaded and next to it you need VMware Studio to download here https://my.vmware.com/web/vmware/details?downloadGroup=STUDIO2600GA&productId=193.

Installation

Deploy both the VMware Studio and the Horizon View Configuration tool to one of your ESXi hosts. Deployment is straightforward, accepting the EULA (with the deployment and after start up) and configuring the correct networks and storage locations.

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Both hosts should be powered on and configured for there IP addresses. Standardly they will try to get a DHCP lease, but if your doing an greenfield with a DC and unmanaged DHCP this could be a chicken egg story. For this a static IP is recommended. But if you have a managed DHCP elsewhere a reserved DHCP with DNS records is no problemo. The Horizon View Configuration Tool must be able to reach the VMware Studio (it will check in configuration, bobo’s will be determined there)

For the purpose of test driving I am installing both appliances in VMware Workstation. I have a Windows DC there with DHCP set up. I got two ESXi 5.5 hosts not managed. I have an OpenFiler NFS data store setup to store the infrastructure VM’s on to.

My VCT is running with a DHCP lease and DNS record. I can access the webservice at http://<fqdn vct or IP>/vct.

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But first upload the 2008R2 ISO with WinSCP or something similar to the VCT appliance. Just put the ISO (with friendly name) in the root (that is /) of the appliance. The default user is root and password is vmware. When the ISO is on there, you can open up and fill in the values for the existing/integration or new DC deployment.

Fill in the values on the tab’s. First start with the ESX connection, AD DS, vCenter, Connection server and finish with the composer.

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When you want servers in trail mode, don’t fill in a product key for the Windows server components.

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Troubleshooting

With the automation kicking in the only places to look for what is happening are the connections to the hosts (but without a vCenter deployed this is limited with a vSphere client) and the log files on the VCT appliances. Just log in with SSH (or check with WinSCP if you still have that open from uploading the ISO) and look for files named VCT_timestamp.log in root.

– Happy automating your VMware Horizon View deployment!

VMware Horizon View 5.3 is available for download and new feature list

VMware Horizon View 5.3 is available for download and can be downloaded at the following location: https://my.vmware.com/web/vmware/info/slug/desktop_end_user_computing/vmware_horizon_view/5_3.

So what new features are available with version 5.3?

The following features are new to this version:

  • 3D graphics with virtual dedicated graphics acceleration (vDGA). This leverages view to use complex 3D graphics in your VDI environment. In combination with vSphere.
  • Virtual Shared Graphics Acceleration (vSGA) now supports AMD/ATI graphics cards next to the NVidia cards.
  • Improved Real-Time Audio-Video experience and performance. With encoding and compression techniques seriously improving reduction to bandwidth consumption. This enables end users rich communication and collaboration over WAN links. Available in the feature pack.
  • Enhancement to mobility features in HTML5 and Unity Touch. Use Blast HTML to provide end users with a mobile workspace experience even when the client is not available. Also available in the feature pack.
  • Windows 8.1 support. Support for the latest Windows version as virtual desktop.
  • VMware® ThinApp® 5.0. Support for application virtualization of 64-bit applications. The support of 64-applications in VDI environments starts with VMware Horizion View 5.3.
  • Manage persistent virtual desktop images with VMware Horizon Mirage™ 4.3. Before 4.3 Mirage was only supported with physical images.
  • Virtual SAN or VSAN support. Leverage Virtual SAN for your Horizon View VDI deployments. (maybe a little over done, but Virtual SAN is Beta.).
  • Support for Windows Server 2008 as virtual desktop.
  • View Agent Direct Connection (VADC). An optional plugin for end user sessions without having to authenticate into a connection server. This let’s your users connect to sessions when a WAN link isn’t available (due to connection problems, poor bandwidth or high latency). Perfect for you mobile workforce.

So go out and download this version if you not already haven’t. Test, plan and update your reference architecture for new deployments with this version.

The updated versions of View, Mirage and Thinapp (etc). are also available via the Horizon suite download link: https://my.vmware.com/web/vmware/info/slug/desktop_end_user_computing/vmware_horizon_suite/1_0.

– Enjoy delivering a mobile workspace with VMware Horizon!