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It All Starts Here: Internal Implementation of Horizon Workspace at VMware

By Jim Zhang, VMWare Professional Services Consultant

VMware has had a dogfood tradition since previous CEO Paul Maritz’ instilled the practice of having VMware IT deploy VMware products for production use internally. As a VMware employee personally, I can understand some criticism to this practice, but I definitely believe it serves to build and deliver a solid and quality product to the market.

Prior to the release of VMware’s Horizon Suite, VMware IT provided Horizon Workspace to its employees in the production environment. It’s very exciting! Right now, I can use my iPhone and iPad to access my company files without being tied to my desk. Also, it is very easy to share a folder and files with other colleagues, expanding our ability to collaborate and also track various file versions. Additionally, with Workspace, I can access internal applications without further authentication after I login to the Horizon portal. Even my entitlement virtual desktops are still there!

While Mason and Ted discuss the IT challenges with mobility computing in this blog, we at VMware understand these challenges because ‘we eat our own dogfood’.  In this blog I’d like to share some of the key sizing concepts of each of the Horizon components and reference which sizes VMware IT utilized to deploy the Horizon Workspace for its 13,000+ employees.

Horizon Workspace is a vApp that generally has 5 Virtual Machines (VM) by default:

Lets go through each VM and see how to size it in each case:

1.  Configurator VA (virtual appliance): This is the first virtual appliance to be deployed. It is used to configure the vApp from a single point and deploy and configure the rest of the vApp. The Configurator VA is also used to add or remove other Horizon Workspace virtual appliances. There can only be one Configurator VA per vApp.

  • 1x Configurator VA is used. 2vCPU, 2G Memory

2.  Connector VA:  Enterprise deployments require more than one Connector VA to support different authentication methods, such as RSA SecureID and Kerberos SSO. To provide high availability when deploying more than one Connector VA, you must front-end the Connector VAs with a load balancer. Each Connector VA can support up to 30,000 users. Specific use cases, such as Kerberos, ThinApp integration, and View integration, require the Connector VA to be joined to the Windows domain.

  • 6x Connector VA is used. 2 vCPU, 4G Memory

3.  Gateway VA: The Gateway VA is the single namespace for all Horizon Workspace interaction. For high availability, place multiple Gateway VAs behind a load balancer. Horizon Workspace requires one Gateway VA for every two Data VAs, or one Gateway VA for every 2,000 users.

  • 4x Gateway VA is used: 2 vCPU, 8G Memory

4.  Management VA: aka Service VA. Enterprise deployments require two or more Service VAs. Each service VA can handle up to 100,000 users.

  • 2x Service VA is used: 2vCPU, 6G Memory (1 for HA)

5.  Data VM: Each Data VA can support up to 1,000 users. At least three Data VAs are required. The first Data VA is a master data node, the others are user data nodes. Each user data node requires its own dedicated volume. In proof of concept or small-scale pilot scenarios, you can use a Virtual Machine Disk (VMDK). For production, you must use NFS.

  • 11x Data VA is used: 6 vCPU, 32G Memory

6.  Database: Workspace only supports Postgres. For enterprise deployment best practice is to use an external Postgres database.

  • 2x Postgres Server is used: 4 vCPU, 4G Memory (1 for replication)

7.  MS Office Preview Server: Windows 7 Enterprise or Windows 2008 R2 Standard required; MS Office 2010 Professional, 64-bit required;Admin account w/ permissions to create local accounts; Disable UAC; Real-time conversion of documents

  • 3x MS Office Preview Server: 4vCPU, 4G Memory

 

If you want to learn more about the real deployment experience and best practices for deploying the Horzion Suite, please contact your local VMware Professional Services team. They have the breadth of experience and technical ability to help you achieve your project goals: from planning and design to implementation and maintenance. Also, be on the look out for upcoming Horizon reference guides being released from VMware soon. Good luck!

Jim Zhang joined VMware in November 2007 as a quality engineering manager for VMware View.  In 2011, he moved to Professional Services as consultant and solution architect.  Jim has extensive experience in desktop virtualization and workspace solution design and delivery.

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