Creating a App Volumes App Stack

In the first post covering VMware’s App Volumes, Installing and Configuring VMware AppVolumes Manager, we walked through the process of installing and configuring the App Volumes Manager server and dashboard. With a working management server our next task is to install the VMware App Volumes Agent.

In my lab environment the primary focus of  for App Volumes is going to be leveraged with floating, non-persistent desktops running on VMware Horizon’s View. Keeping that in mind I will be deploying the App Volumes Agent onto separate MS Windows 7 images:

  • Win7-AppVolProv – Clean Windows 7 install (hotfixes/service packs installed, View Agent, and App Volumes Agent) for creating and editing App Volume stacks
  • Win7_x32-Gold – Golden Image used to create Horizon View desktop pool Note – For this release, the App Volumes Agent is supported on Windows 7 64 or 32 bit, Windows 8, or Windows Server 2008R2 virtual machines.

App Volumes Agent Installation

The App Volumes Agent Installation bits are contained on the same ISO download as the App Volumes Manager. I have mounted the ISO to my Win7-AppVolProv virtual machine and logged into the system with Administrator access.

With the ISO mounted execute the installer. Click “Next” on the Installation Wizard dialog:

AppVolumesAgent1

Accept the the licensing agreement and click “Next”  to continue:

AppVolumesAgent2

    Choose the “Install App Volumes Agent” radial and click “Install” to continue:

AppVolumesAgent3

The “App Volumes Agent Installation Wizard” dialog will be displayed. Click “Next”to continue:

AppVolumesAgent4

Provide the IP address or host name for the VMware App Volumes Manager server. In the screenshot below I provided the IP address and used the default TCP port:

AppVolumesAgent5

Confirm the settings and select “Install” to proceed:

AppVolumesAgent6

The installation process should run for a couple of minutes:

AppVolumesAgent7

Once the agent installation has completed you will be prompted for a system reboot:

AppVolumesAgent8

List of applications installed on the App Volumes provisioning virtual machine:

AppVolumesAgent9

And a quick log into the App Volumes Manager dashboard show that our system/agent has successfully registered:

AppVolumesAgent10

With the agent installed and communicating appropriately, it is time to create our fist App Stack!

Creating an App Stack

All right, with the App Volumes agent installed it is time to get down to business. Again, as I will be leveraging App Volumes in my Horizon View environment I wanted to choose some “base” applications to provision for testing. The applications include:

    • Adobe Flash Player v16.0.0.234
    • Adobe Reader v11.0.10
    • Notepad++ v6.7

With the applications selected, lets get started. From within the App Volumes Manger dashboard select the “Volumes” from the navigation bar, choose the “AppStacks” tab, and finally click “Create AppStack”:

CreateAppStack1

Provide the AppStack details in the next screen, provide a name, storage, path, template, and a brief description of the AppStack. Click “Create” when completed:

CreateAppStack2

You will be prompted to perform the AppStack creation in the background (default) or “Wait for Completion”. I chose the later and clicked “Create”:

CreateAppStack3

With the AppStack created it is time to provision the AppStack  for the application installations. In the right hand side of the  AppStack click “Provision”:

CreateAppStack4

Any system with the App Volumes agent installed can be used as the provisioning system as long as they do not have an attached Appstack(s or a writable volume attached.  Mentioned at the beginning of the post I will be using the Win7-AppVolProv system. With a quick search the system was located and selected. Click “Provision” to continue:

CreateAppStack5

The needed are you sure screen, click “Start Provisioning”:

CreateAppStack6

I quickly switched over to vCenter and noticed an additional VMDK had been mounted to the virtual machine. This VMDK will be used by App Volumes for the application installations:

CreateAppStack7

CreateAppStack8

Wit the VMDK attached I logged into the system and received the following message from App Volumes. With the dialog in the background I went ahead and installed Adobe Flash and Reader along with Notepad++. With the installations completed click “OK” to continue:

CreateAppStack9

You will be prompted with additional dialogs making sure you have completed the application installs and letting you know that the host system will be rebooted:

CreateAppStack10

CreateAppStack11

With the successful reboot of the provisioning VM I logged backed in and received the “Provisioning successful” message. I clicked “OK” and then powered down the system:

CreateAppStack12

Back in the App Volumes Manager dashboard we can see that the “Base OS Applications” AppStack has been created and provides details around the size of the AppStack as well as the applications contained in the AppStack and their versions. To make the AppStack work for us, click on “Assign”:

CreateAppStack13

AppStacks can be assigned to either users or computers either via named accounts, OU’s, or groups. For my lab configuration I wan to assign the AppStack to my set of virtual desktops contained in the vDesktop OU:

CreateAppStack14

Finally we need to confirm the AppStack assignment. I left the default option for “Attach AppStacks on next login or reboot” selected and click “Assign”:

CreateAppStack15

Again back in the App Volumes Manager dashboard we can see the number of assignments and attachments for the Base OS Applications AppStack:

CreateAppStack16

Now, lets see if all this work pays off. The below screen shots are from my vCenter showing the settings for one of my virtual desktops, you can see the additional VMDK attached, and notice the name in the upper right:

CreateAppStack18

And the next two screen shots are form within the guest OS. You can the applications from “Add/Remove Programs” and the application icons and launched on the desktop:

CreateAppStack19

From the in guest user experience I can say that from my testing I would be hard pressed to say or tell the difference is the applications where natively installed in the OS or running via AppVolumes. And when it comes to successful VDI deployments that is the key metric, the overall end user perception and acceptance.

Stayed tuned for the next post in the series, how to edit/update an existing AppStack.

-Jason