App Volumes is a real-time application delivery solution accuired by VMware recently from CloudVolumes. Personally for me it is not just this, but much more and I will try to show how it can be used in different scenarios and pool designs. I will start with how to install and configure the App Volumes Manager, which is the manager server of the solution.
The architecture of the solution is relatively simple and that is one of the reason to like it even more. In the traditional Virtual Desktop the applications are either installed in the base image, streamed via the network or installed locally by the users if they have a persistent one. App Volumes is agent based which is responsible for checking the user or computer assignments and attaching pre-configured virtual disks with pre-loaded application or attach a personal writable volume.
App Volume manager has the following requirements:
CPU: 2vCPUs minimum (4 vCPUs recommended)
RAM: 4GB of RAM
HDD: 1GB additional free space
It can be installed on Windows Server 2008 R2 (Standard, Enterprise or Datacenter) or Windows Server 2012 R2 (Standard and Datacenter). It also requres .NET 3.5 framework.
Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 SP2 or Microsoft SQL Server 2012 SP1 is required (Any version, including Express).
App Volumes Agent could be installed on Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 Professional or Enterprise versions only. You should plan 1 GB of additional disk space during your template design phase.
Install App Volumes Manager
You can obtain the installation binaries from VMware’s web site. You will download an ISO file, which contains all required sources – manager and agent
In the installation folder you will find the setup.exe which is common for both Manager and Agent
Once you lunch the installation, the welcome wizard will appear. The latest version right now is 184.108.40.206 which we are going to install and configure.
Read and Accept the terms in order to be able to continue.
Choose the Install App Volume Manager and click Install.
You will go through the welcome wizard again, which is specific for the Manager module. After that you have the option to install SQL Server Express or connect to an existing SQL DB server. I am using external one for this PoC.
You must specify server address IP address or hostname, login credentials and the name of the database which you will use or create if missing. For high-availability you may want to add a second App Volumes Manager. In that case you must use the same database, but be sure that Overwrite existing database is not selected. Be careful, if you put a wrong information here an error will appear, but you will be able to continue with the installation. If you do so, the application server will be installed, but will never run due to a missing database.
The default ports are 80 and 443, but they can be changed if needed. They are used for Access the Manager console and Manager-Agent communication.
Next step is to select location, where the Manager will be installed.
After that the installation will start and if successful you should see the following screen.
Configure App Volumes Manager
The management console could be access via http://serveraddress_or_ip
If you login for the first time you will be prompted to do the initial configurations.
First you should be sure tat you have valid licenses applied. You can use the evaluation license which has some limitations but it is enough for PoC.
Next step is to connect to the Active Directory. The only mandatory fields are AD Domain Name, username and password. If you have a small domain as I do, you don’t need to limit the deployment to specific OUs.
Then you need to specify who will be the administrators of the solution. First you need to type some search criteria and then you must select from the results, from the drop-down menu.
In the Machine Manager tab you can select between vCenter Server, ESX (single host) or In-Guest Services. I’m going to use the vCenter Server deployment type. The In-Guest Services is something which I plan to go through in a separate blog post in near future.
For vCenter, you must supply with host name, username and password. If you click on the link Required vCetner Permissions, you will get a complete list of privileges which the ID must have.
If the vCenter is too busy, it might add some delay in the attachments of the App volumes or the Writable volumes, which will increase the time of the virtual desktop login process and decrease the user happiness. In that case you can handover those operations to the ESXi hosts, but you need to provide local ESX ID and password with administrator privileges.
Once you add the vCenter, you can add more if you need.
Next step is to setup Storage for the volumes. Here you setup just Default locations. Additional once could be added later. AppStacks and Writable volumes could leave on different locations which is good since they both have different IO profiles. The selection is being done via the drop-down menu. You will be asked if you want to wait for the importing the default volumes or you prefer to be done on the background.
Then you need to specify root credentials for one of the ESXi hosts, which will be used for uploading the VMDKs.
Summary at end to validate that everything is like you want to be.
And we are done. Now you should have a fully functional VMware App Volumes deployment. Next I will install App Volumes in the base image of my template.
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