In case you are not familiar with Horizon View it allows you to deliver virtual desktops and applications through a single platform. With Horizon View 7 we see several enhancements made to the product. VMware has introduced a new display protocol, Blast Extreme, as well as introduced their new Instant Clone technology. Other improvements can be found on VMware’s Blog. Through future blog posts of my own I hope to demonstrate some of these new features.
I won’t use this blog post to cover the details and inner workings of View. For now you can reference VMware’s extensive documentation for that. View Documentation
Below are the steps involved in a basic Horizon View environment build. Here I outline how to install the Horizon View Connection server (Standard Server) which will be the core to our Horizon View environment. I already have an existing vSphere/ESXi lab environment that I will use. Always consult VMware’s Compatibility Guide and Interoperability Matrix to ensure you have all the right and compatible components.
I created a Windows 2012 R2 virtual machine to be used for the Connection Server. It is recommended to have 4 CPUs and 10GB of RAM, but you can go lower for a small POC environment. Sizing can be found here. The server is a member of my lab domain. As required I have configured the virtual server with a static IP. I will perform the installation using a domain account that has local administrator rights on the soon to be connection server. I prefer to use the same domain service account for all my View installation to keep permission and tracking simpler. I will use this same account to install all my connection, security, composer, and any other administrator servers in the environment.
Horizon View Connection Server Installation
I logged into my new connection server using the domain service account I created for this purpose.
I had already downloaded the Horizon View 7 installation files. The various installs can be found here. I then selected the executable and Right Clicked to then select Run as administrator.
I had UAC enabled on my server so I was prompted with the following message. Select Yes, if prompted.
The installation then goes through some preparation steps. You are then presented with a Welcome screen. Select Next.
On the License Agreement page select I accept the terms in the license agreement (A). Then click Next (B).
You can then change the default installation directory if you wish. I chose to leave it as the default. Click Next.
On the Installation Options page you have several choices. Since this is my first Connection Server in the environment I need to select the Horizon 7 Standard Server option (A). Unless you want to prevent HTML access to all VMs in the environment it is best to select the option to Install HTML Access (B). HTML access can be disabled on specific pools later, but for now I like to have the feature enabled at a global level. I leave the default option for IPv4 as I do not use IPv6 at this point. Click Next (C).
*Clicking on each of the install types will give a brief description of what each option is.
On the Data Recovery page you must enter a password to be used by the built in Connection Server backups. In the event of a recovery you will need to use this password.
It’s far easier to let View configure the Windows Firewall. If you don’t let View configure it you will need to define the ports manually. Click Next.
By default the View install will select the user account being used to perform the install. If you have an AD group already created for your administrators, then you can change the field to reflect the global group. Click Next.
Here you can choose whether to anonymously provide user experience to VMware. Most times I will enable this and have yet to see an impact by allowing it. It is optional to fill out the 3 dropdown menus, but they help classify your environment for VMware. Click Next.
You are now ready to install Horizon View 7 based on the options we have just selected. Click Install.
The install took less than 5 minutes to complete.
When completed you see the following message. Click Finish.
Horizon View 7 Login Access
The desktop of your Connection Server will now have a new shortcut to the Web Administrator Console.
Clicking this link will open the webpage for the administrator console. If your default browser is IE you may have some trouble due to the Flash requirements for the View Administrator Console. Either install flash or if you have Google Chrome installed I suggest you launch it using that.
From IE I received the following since I do not have Flash installed:
For now I’m going to use Google Chrome.
From the Connection server connect to: https://localhost/admin
You should also be able to remotely connect to the management console. Simply replace ‘locahost’ with your server name. In my lab that would be: https://ViewVNT7-01/admin
Without proper certificates in place you will receive an untrusted warning. Simply click Show Advanced (A) followed by Proceed to localhost (unsafe) (B).
Now you should be able to login using credentials that you gave administrative rights to during the install. In my example I installed the Connection Server using a domain account, but if you defined an AD group you can use any of the members from that account.
On a new install you are immediately presented with the Licensing and Usage screen. If you have your license for Horizon View enter it now. Without a license key you will not be able to use key features of View, such as Composer. You can enter the license key later.
Click Edit License… and enter your valid VMware license. Click OK.
View should now be licensed. The key used in my example is a trial key for my lab. Yours should reflect the limitations of your key.
Horizon View Basic Configuration
After the initial installation the Dashboard should look similar to this.
The connection server has a red, warning, status due to the default untrusted certificate. This can be ignored for the sake of testing. It is best to add signed certificates before rolling a production environment out.
I like to add the Events Database first. This gives us an easy way to track tasks, changes, and errors in the environment. The Events Database is optional and the logs are still kept on the Connection server without it.
A separate Database will need to be created for use with View Events. VMware has a compatibility list here to ensure you meet their requirements. Create the database based on their guide before continuing here.
My examples will be using a SQL 2014 Express database. Please note that as of writing this 2014 Express is not supported, but the steps will still be the same from a View perspective.
If you use a SQL database you must use SQL Authentication. Windows authentication is not supported.
Navigate to View Configuration > Event Configuration (A). Then select Edit under Event Database (B).
Based on your database fill in the following information. Mine reflects a SQL Express database installed on a separate virtual machine with a Database called View7_Events. I created a SQL user account called vdi and made it the owner of that database.
After clicking OK your configuration should reflect the options you set.
Horizon View Administrator Permissions
If like me, you only gave the service account administrative rights to Horizon View you can now go in and add other users or groups. This is only access to the Administrator Console for Horizon View, not desktop access. That will be configured later.
To add/remove user access navigate to View Configuration > Administrators (A). From the Administrators and Groups tab you can add or remove user access. Click on Add user or Group… (B).
Type the user name or group into the first text box (A). In large domains it can be much quicker to search if you only select Users or Groups under Type. In my example I set up a test domain just for this build so it doesn’t make much of a difference. To search click Find (B). Once you find the user or group you would like to add select it (C). Finally click OK.
Select the role or access that you would like the user or group to have within Horizon View. Simply click on the role and click Next.
Select the access group to permission the user or group to. If you have not created any access groups simply select root(/) or if you want to permission them to the whole environment. Root simply gives full permission. Access Groups can be used to permission administrator to have rights only to specific Pools or VMs. Click Finish.
You should now see the new user or group listed. Selecting that user or group will display their access and assigned role.
Configure Horizon View for a vCenter
Now we want to add a vCenter server. This will be your vCenter that manages the ESXi hosts where the virtual desktops will live. In a large deployment you want to have a dedicated vCenter server for VDI. Your virtual servers, such as Connection servers and Composer, should live under the management of a separate “Management” vCenter on dedicated hardware. VMware best practices and architecture guides go into greater detail on how and why this design should be used.
For the sake of simplicity my lab only has a single vCenter server (VCSA6) which I will connect Horizon View to.
Navigate to View Configruation > Servers > vCenter Servers (A) and select Add… (B).
Enter all the information for your vCenter server. Whenever possible use an FQDN for the vCenter server. An IP is not recommended and can be a problem if you ever have to change the IP.
The vCenter User Name is for an account that has sufficient privileges in vCenter to perform the operations needed by Horizon View to manage the virtual desktops. You can create a designated account with only the necessary permissions following VMware’s documentation here. I permissioned the service account used for my Horizon View install as an administrator in vCenter.
For now, I will leave the Advanced Settings at their default limits. Future testing will help determine if these should be adjusted.
If you have not changed out the self-signed certificates you will be prompted with a warning. Simply click View Certificate.
On the Certificate Information window select Accept.
Next you need to select the View Composer Settings. I have not yet installed Composer, but will install it in later steps. You can come back later and configure it. If you have already installed it select the appropriate options for the installation. I will cover the steps to install Composer in a future post.
If you did not yet install Composer or will not be installing it select Do not use View Composer (A). Click Next (B).
For my lab I chose to deselect Reclaim VM Disk Space (A). I do this because I don’t plan to leave linked clone VMs online for long. They will also be configured to refresh on logoff. Therefor I do not see the need to have View clean up disk space. This is a great feature for persistent linked clones that are left online long enough to benefit from disk cleanup.
I will enable View Storage Accelerator (B) with the default 1024 MB (C) sizing. In a production environment I would change this to the maximum of 2048 MB, but for my lab I’m keeping it minimal. Click Next (D).
You should now see your vCenter server along with the chosen features.
At this point the basic configuration, except for Composer, has been installed. I will follow up this post with steps on how to install Composer.