VMware App Volumes with RDSH and Horizon View 6

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Some of my favorite things seem to go better when paired, peanut butter and chocolate, hamburgers and French fries, and VMware App Volumes and Horizon View 6.x. Over the last month or so I have written several posts covering the use of App Volumes and mostly demoed that using my Horizon View lab environment with floating non-persistent desktops.

In this post we are going to switch gears a bit and focus on a feature that was made available with View 6.0, support for application delivery via Microsoft Remote Desktop Services Host or RDSH in short. This was a welcome edition to View to attempt feature parity with offerings from Citrix. But managing a farm of installed RDSH applications can be both a bore and a chore.

Well with App Volumes we can limit some of the overhead in managing those applications with the use of  App Volumes AppStacks. Leveraging AppStacks allows you to update user applications in one location and deliver the update to many RDSH servers. The concept and setup is very straight forward, though the configuration for RDSH servers is lacking from the VMware App Volumes product documentation.

Prerequisites

Before heading into the steps of creating and presenting the App Volumes AppStack, I will quickly go over what is configured in my App Volumes/Horizon View lab:

  • Running VMware App Volumes v2.6
  • Running Horizon View 6.0
  • Two Microsoft RDS Host servers (TS01-v6 and TS02-v6)
  • Active Directory Security Group for the RDSH servers (RDS_Hosts)
  • RDSH Farm configured in Horizon View Administrator console, RDSH_Apps
  • RDSH server have both the Horizon View and App Volumes agent installed
    • Note on installing the App Volumes agent, be sure to have the RDSH role installed prior to installing the App Volumes agent (KB2101881)
    • To verify successful installation in the App Volumes Manager Dashboard go to Directory -> Computers Tab and you will see a list of systems. Confirm that your RDSH servers are listed as “TServer”:

RDSH_Pic01

Creating the AppStack

I have covered the process of creating an AppStack in a previous blog post located here. Instead of rehashing 95% of the same information I am going to call out a few items that are different when creating the AppStack for use on an RDSH server:

  • You can not leverage pre-existing AppStacks that were created for desktop operating systems
  • During the application installation, prior to starting the installation placed your RDSH server in “User Install Mode”. This can be done via an Administrative Command prompt:

RDSH_Pic02

  • Once you have finished installing your application or applications the RDSH server will need to be placed back into “User Execute Mode”. From the same Administrative Command prompt issue the following:

RDSH_Pic03

  • From this point forward you can follow the standard App Stack build process

Through the power of internet magic, here is my new AppStack “Administrative Tools RDSH”. In this AppStack I have installed the VMware vSphere Client:

RDSH_Pic04

And assigned to the RDS_Hosts Active Directory Security Group and attached to TS01-v6 and TS02-v6:

RDSH_Pic05JPG

Creating the Application Pool

With the AppStack created and presented/mounted to the RDSH servers it is time to publish the applications with VMware View. As covered above in my Horizon View lab I have already configured the RDSH farm, titled RDSH_Apps and joined TS01-v6 and TS02-v6 to the farm:

RDSH_Pic06

To create the new Application Pool to present my freshly captured VMware vSphere Client AppStack, in View Administrator expand Catalog and select Application Pools. In the right hand side pane click Add:

RDSH_Pic07

Select the RDS Farm from the drop down (I only have the single farm, RDSH_Apps) and select the application or applications from list. For this post I have selected the VMware vSphere Client. Take note, from the operating system perspective it believes the application is installed locally:

RDSH_Pic08

Just to show this is truly coming from the AppStack, screen shot of the virtual machine settings for TS01-v6 highlighting the second hard disk as well as the disk file location:

RDSH_Pic09

Work the way through the rest of the wizard and be sure to add user/group entitlements when completed. When all is said a done you see something similar in the View console:

RDSH_Pic10

Final Product

With the AppStack and the Application Pool created it is time to test it out. Using my View Client I logged into the environment and as you can see from the screenshot below the VMware vSphere Client is displayed and in the foreground I have successfully launched the application:

RDSH_Pic11

Hoping back over to the View Administrative Console we can take a look at the sessions for the RDSH pool. You can see my user details as well as the start time and duration of the session:

RDSH_Pic12

Hope you found this post helpful and if you have any questions or comments be sure to leave them in the comments section below.

-Jason

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