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Horizon Pools

In this post, I will provide on overview of Horizon Pools.

Desktop Pools

Horizon Desktop Pool is a desktop collection that users can select when logging in using a Horizon Client or web browser.

When creating a pool, the goal should be to abstract the end user’s profile and apps from the desktop.

There are two types of pools.

  • Automated: vCenter VM Templates or snapshots are used to create a new desktop pool. The machines can be created when the pool is created. Automated pools support Instant Clones, LinkedClones, venter Virtual machines, Blast and PCoIP.
  • Manual: Manual desktop pools are a collection of existing vCenter Server VMs, physicalcomputers, or 3rd party virtual machines.

Pool Assignments

You can specify how users are assigned to desktop pools.

There are two types of assignments.

  • Dedicated: Each user is assigned a desktop and uses the same each time a logon. It requires a 1:1 desktop to user mapping.
  • Floating: These pools can be used by many users to create a desktop pool. The used desktop can be deleted immediately after logout and re-created as needed. This configuration can ensure safety and efficient storage.

Stateful and Stateless Pools

When and where to use stateful or stateless desktops is a decision made based onbusiness requirements and intended business use case.

Stateful Desktops

Stateful or persistent desktops treat like any other physical desktops. It creates a unique operating system image and keeps for each user.

Stateful desktops require backing up, updates, applications installed like any other physical desktop. Stateful desktops consume more storage than stateless desktops as well.

Stateless Desktops

Stateless desktops also called nonpersistent desktops, do not retain personal information.

They provide many advantages over stateful. These benefits include lower storage cost, easier to maintain or upgrade and patch, no need to back up the virtual desktops as they are normally destroyed when the user logs off.

The primary benefit of the stateless desktop approach is that it requires less storage.

Instant, Linked and Full Clones

Instant Clones

Instant clone is basically a VM snapshot that continuously shares virtual disks, preserves disk space, and allows multiple VMs to use the same software installation. Instant clones are like linked clones in that they share virtual disks with a parent VM. However, instant clones do the same for memory. One of the few disadvantages for using instant clones is each host running instant clone desktops requires a powered-on parent desktop instance. This parent VM has the same CPU and RAM consumption as the linked clones and should be factored into the host capacity when sizing hosts.

Linked Clones

A linked clone is a copy of a virtual machine that shares virtual disks with the parent virtual machine in an ongoing manner. This conserves disk space and allows multiple virtual machines to use the same software installation.

Linked clones allowed desktop pools to be created from a snapshot and deployed. This is still a supported method however it is being used less often because of the requirements and single points of failure.

Full Clones

Full clone desktops are clones deployed from a template desktop in vCenter. It shares nothing with the parent virtual machine after the cloning operation. Ongoing operation of a full clone is entirely separate from the parent virtual machine.

The full clone desktops are treated like physical desktops as user data and applications are stored on these desktops. They don’t have storage-saving benefits that linked or instant clone desktops have. 

Creating an Instant Clone Pool

In this section, we will see the steps needed to create an Instant Clone desktop pool.

  • Log on Horizon Administrator. Expand the Catalog menü and click on Desktop Pools.
  • Click Add. This will start the add desktop pool wizard.
  • In the first step, Select Automated Desktop Pool and click Next.
  • Choose Floating and Next. (Ignore the pop-up.)
  • Select Instant Clones and Next.
  • In the ID & Display Name field type a name you want and click Next.
  • Type a name pattern in the Naming Pattern Blank.

IC_Pool-{n:fixed=2} the 2 indicates to add 2 numbers to the name of the server being deployed. The first server would be named MyPool-00, ,01,02…05. You can change the 2 to a 3 or 4 depending on naming convention requirements.

  • Max Number of Machines set to 1 and click Next.
  • After setting up the Parent VM, Snapshot, VM Folder Location, Cluster, Resource Pool, Datastore and Network, click Next.
  • In the last step, review the settings and click Finish for create a pool.
  • Instant Clone pool named IC_Pool has created.

Application Pools and Published Desktop Pools

With application pools, you can deliver a single application to many users. The application runs on a farm of RDS hosts or a desktop pool. When you create an application pool, you deploy an application in the data center that users can access from anywhere on the network.

An application pool has a single application and is associated with a single farm or desktop pool. To avoid errors, you must install the application on all of the RDS hosts in the farm or desktop pool.

Now let’s take a closer look at how to create an application pool.

  • Horizon Administrator -> Catalog -> Application Pools and click Add. This will start the add application pool wizard.
  • Select RDSH Farm and applications you want. Then click Next.
  • Uncheck the Entitle Users after this wizard finishes checkbox. If you need to rename your applications for your end users that is displayed when launching applications, you would change this under the DISPLAY NAME and ID fields. (I will not change.)
  • Click to Finish to the application pool deployment process.
  • Verify that the Character_Map and Math_Input_Panel application pools are present.

Creating an RDS Desktop Pool

In this section we will be creating an RDS desktop pool.

  • Horizon Administrator -> Catalog -> Desktop Pools and click Add. This will start the add application pool wizard.
  • This time we select RDS Desktop Pool.
  • We enter the ID and Display and then select RDS Farm.
  • In the last step, review the settings and click Finish.
  • Verify the RDS Pool was created.

Entitling Pools and Applications

After you have created your desktop pools and application pools, the next step is to provide access to the end users. Add users or groups to pools is simple. Active Directory users or Groups can be added.

VMware recommend adding groups to entitlements and then adding users to the groups for simplify the administration.​​

  • Horizon Administrator -> Catalog -> Desktop Pools
  • Select the Pool you want to entitle -> Entitlements -> Add Entitlement
  • In the window, Add to start adding an entitlement.

Uncheck Users checkbox -> Type your group name Name/Username search box. -> Click Find -> Click on group name -> Click OK

Entitlement process is completed. Lets validate that we actually have entitled our pool.

  • Double Click on your pool and click on Entitlements tab. You should see a screen like this:
  • Verify your group is listed and entitled from. Entitlement completed successfully.

This was the overview of the Horizon Pools. I hope it has been a useful article for you. Please contact me or comment below for your questions, requests and suggestions.

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