EUC, un futuro luminoso per Horizon

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In questi giorni c’è molto fermento nel mondo dell’EUC (‘End-User Computing) in merito alla comparsa sul mercato di un nuovo nome.

Ma partiamo con ordine, nel lontano 2008 mi avvicino al modo delle VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) inizialmente con l’automatizzazione di aule corsi, grazie a VMware e al suo prodotto che allora era stato appena rinominato in Horizon View (se non sbaglio precedentemente si chiama VMware VDM….. ancora oggi, nelle installazioni dei Connection Server, troviamo una cartella VDM sotto c:\ProgramData).

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Col tempo le soluzione VDI di VMware sono evolute in maniera importante con l’aggiunta prima della tecnologia linked clones e poi con le instant clone (tecnologie che permettono di semplificare notevolmente la vita dell’amministratore delle postazioni di lavoro).

Abbiamo visto l’affiancare a Horizon soluzioni che permettono di sfruttare al meglio le VDI come App Volumes, DEM (Dynamic Environment Manager), Workspace One ecc.…

Poi dall’on-premise è stato portato anche sul Cloud con soluzione come Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure.

Anche per la mia carriera lavorativa il mondo delle VDI ha lasciato un solco importante dal 2021 sono vEXPERT (Con specificità nel mondo EUC) e dal 2024 sono EUCExpert e collaboro con VMware/Broadcom nel deploy.

Mi direte ok sono cose che ormai conosciamo ma quindi che cosa è successo??

Bene, sappiamo tutti che VMware è stata acquisita da Broadcom e una delle prime dichiarazioni della nuova proprietà è stata quella di non volere investire sull mondo EUC.

Ma quindi che succede?

Tutto i prodotti EUC di VMware sono riconosciuti tra i leader del mercato dei prodotti VDI e Desktop as a Service sono stati comprati da KKR (Fondo Americano nato nel 1977) per cui nasce Omnissa

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Nata con persone VMware per garantire la stessa qualità e lo stesso sviluppo in innovazione che è stato garantito in questi anni.

In cui continua o parte una nuova vita (scegliete voi) per tutti i prodotti EUC che molti noi conosciamo e apprezziamo  (Horizon ecc…)

Ne vedremo sicuramente delle belle e ci aspetta un futuro luminoso!

EUC, un futuro luminoso per Horizon

Approach to updating a horizon infrastructure

When approaching the upgrade of an infrastructure in the EUC world (as with most technologies in the IT world) it is necessary to define a roadmap of activities and follow it carefully. In many cases, IT technology vendors already have update procedures in place that should be followed carefully. When I started working as a consultant, the documentation was very scarce (we are talking about the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st…) and the procedures were poorly documented and only those who took courses or had experience could approach with a certain “tranquility” updates of production environments.

Going back to EUC infrastructures and focusing on the VMware by Broadcom world (still for a while….given the transfer of the technology in question) we have a precise update sequence, especially if we talk about + technologies that interact with each other, and the need to verify the interoperability between the various technologies.

For example, we have this KB that gives us the upgrade sequence of a Horizon 8 infrastructure:

Update sequence for Horizon 7, Horizon 8, and compatible VMware products (78445)

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And the ability to use the interoperability portal:

https://interopmatrix.vmware.com/Interoperability

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In my ten-year experience in updates and maintenance of vSphere and Horizon infrastructures, it has often happened that I have had to intervene and manage post-upgrade problems, where in most cases the problems were generated by the fact that I did not perform the update in the correct order or even did not complete all the upgrade steps.

For example, I have experienced situations where, following upgrades, the copy and glue to and from VDI sessions no longer worked correctly in a Horizon infrastructure.

In the end, the problem was solved by also performing the update step of the Horizon ADMX templates in Active Directory, something that the customer or whoever had done the update for him had not done.

Approach to updating a horizon infrastructure

Horizon 2312, new feature to simplify the Gold Image Linux Configuration

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Few people know that it is possible use Linux Distribution to create VDI desktop or Stream Application (Like RDS) to publish it with Horizon.

The desktop pool can to be Instant Clone or Full Clone.

In the last Horizon version (2312) there is a new functionality to configure the agent, the function have to objective to simplify the installation and also configure the OS ((Like the joined to Active Directory domain).

In the Horizon Agent for Linux package there is a new command file:

easyinstall_viewagent.sh

We can use this command for:

  • Configure Linux OS template
  • Install Horizon Agent

For complete all previous steps you can start this command (with root privileges)

./easyinstall_viewagent.sh

The command do:

Platform check

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Now you need to insert information like DNS, Hostname, Domain and Account to join to domain

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Now the script check and install missed packages (SSSD etc.…) and make the domain join

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After joined the template to AD domain the script start to install the horizon agent

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Now the Linux GoldI mage is ready to use for create a Horizon instant clone desktop pool or used for Full Clone Desktop Pool.

It is possible to configure the OS and install Horizon Agent in two different steps

  • Configure OS
    • For configure user Linux OS use this command:

./easyinstall_viewagent.sh -c

  • Install Agent
    • After configure the OS we can install the Horizon agent with this command:

./easyinstall_viewagent.sh -i

With this command we can to use some switch value:

Default (Hostname, Domain FQDN, DOMAIN Join User, DOMAIN Join PASSWORD …)

Advanced (The same option of DEFAULT with NTP, HORIZON AGENT FEATURE and other)

Expert (The same option of Advanced with another function)

In this link more information

Use the Easy Setup Tool to Prepare a Linux Machine (vmware.com)

Horizon 2312, new feature to simplify the Gold Image Linux Configuration

VMware Horizon 2312

As usual, every 3 months VMware releases a new version of Horizon (and also of almost all EUC applications)
The following have been available for a few days:
Horizon 8 2312
App Volumes 4 2312
Dynamic Environment Manager 2312
ThinApp 2312

Among the various features released for Horizon 8, the most interesting one is Agent Auto Upgrade:

“The agent auto upgrade feature allows customers to automatically initiate upgrades without manual intervention. To utilize this feature, on-premises systems must have access to CDS servers. Customers without CDS access can establish their webserver, host the agent components, and then register the agent build with the connection server to upgrade agents in VDI/RDSH desktops. This feature requires Horizon Plus or Horizon Universal License, and is available for Full Clone Desktops and RDSH Servers only. To upgrade Horizon Agent in Instant Clone Desktop Pools or RDS Farms, upgrade Horizon Agent on the Golden Image and schedule maintenance to push the new image.”

VMware Horizon 2312

DRS and HPE SimpliVity

In recent days, a customer reported an anomaly on an HPE SimpliVity cluster hosting instant clone Horizon VDIs. In detail:

  • vSphere with seven hosts present, two were always at 98% CPU utilization and 90% RAM utilization.
  • Continuous vMotion generated by the VM DRS to and from those two HOSTS.

After a careful analysis, we identified that there were no problems at the vSphere infrastructure level.
The issue was due to a Simplivity feature called IWO.

By disabling IWO and keeping DRS active (Full automatic) I have an optimal balance of CPU and RAM load between hosts at the expense of a slight increase in I/O trip times

Scenario – Even VM Load Distribution

I want even VM load across my cluster in terms of CPU and memory. Data locality and I/O performance are not top priorities. Most applications are CPU and memory intensive, and adding 1ms to 2ms to I/O trip times will not impact application performance.

In this scenario, IWO can be disabled thus ensuring no DRS affinity rules are populated into vCenter server. Suppressing DRS affinity rules will allow VMware DRS or allow you to directly distribute VMs across the cluster as desired to ensure all VMs are adequately resourced in terms of CPU and memory. The ‘Data Access Not Optimized’ alarm can be suppressed within vCenter server.

More information:

https://community.hpe.com/t5/around-the-storage-block/how-vm-data-is-managed-within-an-hpe-simplivity-cluster-part-3/ba-p/7033153

DRS and HPE SimpliVity

Configure ControlUp for VMware Horizon Instant Clone VDI monitoring

In this guide, we will analyze how to configure ControlUP COP (ControlUP on-Premise) to monitor a VMware Horizon 2309 infrastructure with Instant Clone Desktop Pools (we will not cover the installation part of the product)

The following steps are required:

  • Control UP COP Server Component Installation (Optionally use an external SQL instance or SQL EXPRESS present in the Server component installation)
  • Installing the Control UP Console (Can also be installed on the same server)
  • Installing Agent Control Up on the GoldImage
  • Horizon Infrastructure Inventory
  • VirtualMachine Inventory (For this step we can also implement an automatism)

Requirements for the server part:


COP Server
COP Server Console Machine
Machine Windows Server Windows Server orWindows
Operating System Windows Server supported versions:2022,2019,2016 Windows Server supported versions:2022,2019,2016
OR Windows 11, 10
CPU* 2 CPUs 2 CPUs
Memory* 8 GB RAM 8 GB RAM
Disk Space* 10 GB 10 GB
Required Software & Permissions
  • .NET Framework 4.8 or later
  • PowerShell 5.x or later
.NET Framework 4.5 or later

Requirements for Part DB:

MSSQL Versions (Standard, Enterprise, or Express) Maximum Database Size Collation
2022,2019,2017,2016,2014 10 GB SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS

Requirements for the VDI part:


ControlUp Agent
ControlUp Agent
Machine No server installation necessary. Deployed onto Windows machines that are monitored by ControlUp(Linux monitored via API).
Operating system Windows Server supported versions:
202220192016 (Core or Full)ORWindows 11, 10
Required installed software .NET 4.5 or later
TCP PORT 40705

A Service Account to access the Horizon infrastructure:

The Read-Only role is sufficient for all monitoring purposes. If you want to perform built-in Horizon actions, then the service account needs the following permissions:

  • Enable Farm and Desktop Pools
  • Manage Machine
  • Manage Sessions
  • Manage Global Sessions (Cloud Pod architecture only)

So what is needed is:

Download the version of ControlUP COP from the VMware site

Log in to the customer portal and in the product area under Desktop & End-User Computing

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Log in to OEM Addons

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Download the on-premise version

Perform the basic installation

Once the COP version is installed and the console is installed, log in to our ControlUP installation

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How to install the agent on the GoldImage:

  1. The agent MSI file is on the downloaded file zip from VMware Portal
  2. Open the Real-Time Console and go to Agent Settings and copy your Agents Authentication Key. The key is used to connect the Agent to your ControlUp environment.

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  1. Run the installation of the MSI package on the machine where you want to install the Agent.
  2. During the installation, paste the authentication key that you copied from the Real-Time Console.

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  1. Complete the installation. The Agent is installed on the machine and the machine can be monitored from the Real-Time Console.
  2. Take the snapshot
  3. Deploy the new master image on Desktop Pool

Now from the ControlUp Management console, we are able to:

  • Connect our Vmware Horizon infrastructure
  • Connect the instant clone machine

Add Horizon infrastructure:

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Add the infrastructure info

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Click on OK

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Add the pod to the console

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Now on the left panel, we have our Horizon infrastructure added.

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To monitor correctly our instant clone (after adding the agent) we need to discover the VM like a Machine

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Search with the partial name of the VDI machines

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Select cancel

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We are VM on the left control panel in black status

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After a few seconds the VDI VM Goes to Green

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Auto connect state must be enabled (this function is important when the instant clone VDI is removed and recreated).

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Now we can monitoring the Instant-Clone VDI

Check the VDI logon duration

Now we can manage and control the infrastructure, for example, to check the logon duration

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What happens when VDI instant clones are regenerated?

If a user disconnects from his VDI of the instant clone type, it is destroyed and recreated, on the ControlUp side this is put in the Red -> Yellow state until it returns to Green

When recreating

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After recess

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Dynamic inventory

For a dynamic inventory of VDI, we can use Synchronization with Universal Sync Script (I’ll talk about this in a future post)

EUC Synchronization with Universal Sync Script (controlup.com)

After installation, we can schedule or start manually the script to sync my ControlUP with my EUC infrastructure.

References:

How to Deploy the Agent on Your Master Image for PVS/MCS/Linked/Instant Clones (controlup.com)

EUC Synchronization with Universal Sync Script (controlup.com)

ControlUp On-Premises

Configure ControlUp for VMware Horizon Instant Clone VDI monitoring

Steps for Upgrade Horizon 23xx to the next version

The release of new versions of VMware Horizon 8 each quarter of the year (to provide new features and resolve any security holes) entails the need to have a consolidated, conservative update procedure with the least impact on users.
Below I report the procedure that I am using successfully.

User impact:

  • Users already connected to the VDI do not encounter problems or disconnections
  • Users who need to connect during update activities may have problems (normally a maintenance window is declared)

Steps

  • Restarting the Connection Servers Operating System (One at a time is a step preparatory for committing any pending Windows updates), after each reboot check from the Horizon web console that everything is ok
  • Disable Provisioning
  • Shut down all three Connection Servers
  • Snapshot of the VMs hosting the Server connection
  • Turn on the Connection Server (One at a time), after each reboot check from the Horizon web console that everything is ok
  • Backup DB Adam (C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware View\Server\tools\bin\vdmexport.exe > vdmconfig.ldf)
  • Disable and Updating one Connection Server ( disabling the Connection Server being updated puts the connection server offline for the load balancer on the top of the connection servers and it is not used for authenticating users and assigning VDI) and after upgrade enable the Connection Server.
  • Repeat the previous step for all Connection Servers
  • If necessary, reapply the customizations
  • Check from the console that everything is ok

After the horizon upgrade, test the Desktop Pool:

  • Try a connection from internal
  • Try a connection from external
  • Delete a VDI machine
  • Publish a new Master Image

For upgrading three Connection servers all steps necessity of two hours
During the activities, the users connected to the VDI do not encounter any problems

The next step, after complete the Connection Servers upgrade, is to update the Horizon agent on the master image and delete the Connection Servers snapshot

Steps for Upgrade Horizon 23xx to the next version

Use Horizon VDI and VPN client

For us consultants, the VDI used in the Horizon environment can also be useful for having environments where we can install customers’ VPN clients.
Normally we find ourselves having, if the customer does not have Horizon infrastructure to give us access from the outside (Through UAG, MFA … all possible security), different VPN clients to support our customers, with the consequence of possible problems of compatibility between clients and degradation of your laptop.

In my case, I have a Horizon infrastructure in my Home Lab and I have created my own VDI where to install the clients’ VPN clients.
The only change to make, to prevent my Horizon session from ending when I activate a VPN connection, is to enter the following registry key
HKLM\Software\VMware, Inc.\VMware VDM\IpPrefix = n.n.n.n/m (REG_SZ)

where in n.n.n.n is the subnet and m is the number of bits in the subnet mask. Specifically, the network that must be used for the connection between the horizon agent and the various components (Horizon Client, Connection server, etc..)

es:

Use Horizon VDI and VPN client

Enable copy and paste between Guest Operating System and Remote Console

Copy and paste operations between the guest operating system and remote console are deactivated by default. 

To enable it:

  • Browse to the virtual machine in the vSphere Client inventory
  • Right-click the virtual machine and click Edit Settings.
  • Select Advanced Parameters.
  • Add or edit the following parameters.

    isolation.tools.copy.disable False
    isolation.tools.paste.disable False
    isolation.tools.setGUIOptions.enable True
    These options override any settings made in the guest operating system’s VMware Tools control panel.
  • Click OK.
  • (Optional) If you made changes to the configuration parameters, restart the virtual machine.

Enable copy and paste between Guest Operating System and Remote Console