Monday, January 26, 2015

VMware App Volumes: Installation

For VMware App Volumes you will need an App Volume Management server and database.  You can deploy Windows 2012 R2, however it will require .NET 3.5. .NET 3.5 can be a pain on Windows 2012 as it is not part of the default installation.  The easiest way to install .NET 3.5 is to ensure that you have the media or iso file you used to deploy Windows 2012 mounted.  Once the media is mounted run the following command from the command line (assuming it is mounted on the “d:” drive:

“DISM /Online /Enable-Feature /FeatureName: NetFx3 /All /LimitAccess /Source:d:\sources\sxs”

Once you have .NET 3.5 installed and enabled, you will need a Microsoft SQL database for the metadata.  For testing Microsoft SQL Express is fine, although Microsoft SQL is recommended in production.  As part of the installation you can deploy SQL Express (Note: In my testing I deployed App Volumes version which installed Microsoft SQL Express 2008 as an option).

Installation is pretty straight forward and begins with launching the setup.

  1. Within the VMware App Volumes Installation Wizard click Next
  2. Accept the terms of the license agreement and click Next
  3. On the App Volumes install screen select the Install App Volumes Manager and click Next as shown in figure 1.10

imagefigure 1.10 Install App Volume Manager

        • On the Choose a Database screen, select either Install Local SQL Express Database or Connect to an Existing SQL Database (Note: as this is a PoC environment, I selected Install Local SQL Express) and click Next
        • The installation of SQL Express will kick off and you will be asked to configure the actual database as shown in figure 1.20

imagefigure 1.20 Database Server

        • Under the Choose local or remote database server to use, select your SQL database server (Note: in the example it is “(local)\SQLEXPRESS”).  Ensure the “Connect using” option is configured for Windows Integrated Authentication and the Name of the database catalog to use or create is set to the default svmanager_production. Leave all other settings as is and click Next
        • Under the Choose Ports screen accept the default port 80 for HTTP and port 443 for HTTPS and click Next
        • Under the Destination Location leave the defaults and click Next
        • On the Ready to Install Windows Screen click Install
        • Ensure the App Volume Wizard completes successfully and click Finish

Now that the product is installed, you will need to configure it.  You can do this by selecting the App Volumes icon on the desktop.  The first time it is launched a Getting Started Wizard is run as shown in figure 1.30.

image figure 1.30: Get Started

          • Click the Get Started button
          • The License information is displayed; the evaluation version comes with 10 User, 10 Terminal Users and 10 desktop licenses.  Review the information and click Next
          • On the Active Directory tab input the Active Directory name, Domain Controller Host name, LDAP Base (“In distinguished name format: DC=virtualguru,DC=local”), Username (for connecting to LDAP) and associated password.  If you want desktops to use App Volumes without Active Directory select the Non-domain checkbox and click Next
          • Under the Administrators tab click the Search button to find your administrators group, select it and click Next
          • Under the Hypervisor tab select vCenter Server from the dropdown, type the vCenter host name, an Administrator and password, select Mount local and Mount On Host (more about those in a later post) and provide an ESXi user name (i.e. root) and password and click Next.
          • Under the Storage tab you need to provide a location for your AppStacks and Writeable Volumes (see VMware App Volumes Introduction to understand what these are).  Select the datastores you will use for AppStacks and Writable Volumes by hitting the Default Storage Location dropdown box and click Next (the Default Storage and Template Paths get populated automatically). 
          • When you click Next you will be prompted to Import volumes in the background or Import volumes Immediately.  Accept the default “Import volumes in the background” and select Set Defaults as shown in figure 1.40

image figure 1.40 Confirm Storage Settings

        • As part of the storage configuration you will prompted to upload the App Volume templates which are actually vmdk files.  Ensure the datastore location specified in the Storage drop box is correct, select a host to do the uploading from the ESX Host drop box, and specify an ESX Username and ESX PasswordEnsure that all the Volume/templates files are selected and click Upload.  To confirm the Upload activity select Upload one more time from the confirmation prompt.
        • On the Summary tab and to complete the configuration activities select Next

At this point you should be able to access the App Volume Management Interface as shown in figure 1.05.  While we have loaded the Management server and software we still need to create some “AppStacks” which we will do in the next Post so stay tuned.


figure 1.05 App Volumes Management Interface

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

VMware App Volumes Introduction “App Delivery at the speed of Cloud”

Okay so the title is a little hokey but the topic is cool.  I have been interested in CloudVolumes since VMware made the acquisition last year.  “App Volumes” (the VMware release of CloudVolumes) is now available along with the appropriate documentation. If you are like me and have many things to keep tabs on, a great primer is always appreciated.  In these series of posts we will take it out of the box, install it and take it for a bit of a test run.

There are a couple of different pieces to App Volumes: the App Volume Manager, the App Volume Agent, the Microsoft SQL database for the metadata and the Provisioning desktop. 

The App Volume manager provides the software and administrator interface, the Agent is installed on both the provisioning desktop and any other target desktop you wish to deploy an App Volume to.  Which brings me to an important distinction, App Volumes is a deployment technology vs. an encapsulation solution like ThinApp. Because of this, you can actually use them in conjunction with each other. 

When you deploy App Volumes a series of templates are deployed to the datastore you specify. These templates are actually vmdk files that are used to create the “App Volumes”.  Keep in mind that both the provisioning and target desktops or Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH)  Servers must have access to these “App Volumes” so that they can be mounted.

There are actually two types of volumes that you can create; a volume that contains applications, referred to as an “AppStack”.  An AppStack Volume is created by attaching an App Volume to a designated provisioning desktop (A desktop that has the App Volume Agent) and then installing Applications.  The installation of applications is no different because the redirection is transparently handled by the App Volume Agent.

Once the applications are installed, the newly created “AppStack” is un-mounted from the provisioning desktop.  It is then available for assignment to any number of virtual desktops or Windows RDSH servers that are running the App Volume Agent. AppStacks are mounted “Read-Only” when assigned. 

In addition to an AppStack Volume there is a second Read/Write volume type called a Writable Volume. A Writable Volume is assigned to a single desktop.  Writable Volumes allow the storage of user specific information such as User Profiles or Files.

Now that we have looked at the basics, we will focus on the installation in the next post so stay tuned.