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VMware User Environment Manager Deployed in 60 Minutes or Less

Dale Carter

Author: Dale Carter

Dale is a Senior Solutions Architect and member of the CTO Ambassadors. Dale focuses in the End User Compute space, where Dale has become a subject matter expert in a number of the VMware products. Dale has more than 20 years’ experience working in IT having started his career in Northern England before moving the Spain and finally the USA. Dale currently holds a number of certifications including VCP-DV, VCP-DT, VCAP-DTD and VCAP-DTA. For more blog post from Dale visit his website at http://vdelboysview.com

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In only two months after the acquisition of Immidio, announced in February 2015, VMware has released VMware User Environment Manager. User Environment Manager is a powerful, simple, and scalable user environment management solution that helps IT with profile management and setting up dynamic policies. It is part of our bigger Workspace Environment Management capabilities. We are helping our customers achieve end-to-end application and user management with real-time application delivery, app isolation, SSO capabilities, monitoring, and much more. User Environment Manager is an integral part of achieving Workspace Environment Management.

In the last several weeks, I have been doing some internal testing with User Environment Manager (UEM), looking at the capabilities the software has and how VMware UEM will help administrators manage users and improve the user experience.

After the acquisition was complete, I kept hearing how easy UEM is to deploy, because there is no extra infrastructure needed to configure it. There is no management server component other than a couple of network file shares and a few Group Policy objects (GPOs) configured on the user organizational unit (OU). Unlike a lot of management software, VMware User Environment Manager requires only the software on an administrator’s desktop or several administrators’ desktops. And the User Environment Manager agent must be installed on each endpoint.

User Environment Manager can be used on virtual desktops, physical desktops, and even published applications through RDSH and XenApp.

Given the ease of installation, I decided to document how simple it is to get an enterprise-ready solution deployed in less than 60 minutes. This exercise is a basic deployment for 50 linked-clone virtual desktops, and you will see just how easy it is to deploy and configure. For an enterprise with many sites, you will need to make decisions about configuring network shares and where to place them on the network, but you can accomplish most of the work, as you will see, in 60 minutes or less.

Create Two File Shares (10 Minutes or Less)

Begin the deployment by creating two file shares: a UEM configuration share and a profile-archive share.

UEM Configuration Share

The UEM configuration share contains the central configuration for UEM. The UEM Management Console is used to create and edit the UEM configuration. Administrators use the UEM Management Console, so they need “change” permissions to be able to create and edit the UEM configuration. When a user logs in, the UEM FlexEngine reads the configuration in this share to determine which configuration should be applied. That is why users need only “read” permissions.

This share can be any central share on a file server or a CIFS share from a SAN or NAS device. For multi-site scenarios, this share can be replicated as long as the path to the share is the same for all client devices. DFS namespaces are supported.

Example share name: \\server\UEMshare

The minimum share permissions are “change” for administrators and “read” for users. Set the following NTFS security permissions on this share:

  • Administrators of UEM: Full control
  • Users of UEM: Read & execute

UEM Profile-Archive Share

The UEM profile-archive share is used to store the personal settings for all users. A unique subfolder is created for each user. The personal user settings are read from this share at login or at application start, and are written back at application exit or at logout. Users need “change” permissions to store their personal settings in this share.

This share contains mostly ZIP files, the so-called UEM profile archives. The total storage space for this share depends on the number of users, the number of applications, and the number of backups.

Example share name: \\server\UEMprofiles

The minimum share permissions should be “change” for all users. Set the following NTFS security permissions on this share:

  • UEM administrators or help desk: Full control
    • Apply to: This folder, subfolders and files
  • Users of UEM: Read & execute, and Create folders/append data
    • Apply to: This folder only
  • Creator-owner: Full control
    • Apply to: Subfolders and files only

This screenshot shows the configured permissions:

VMware_UEM_permissions_configured

Configure Windows GPOs (10 Minutes or Less)

The next step in the deployment process involves configuring the Windows Group Policy objects.

Copy the VMware User Environment Manager GPOs

Before creating the VMware User Environment Manager GPOs, you need to copy the GPOs to the correct location.

Both the .admx and .adml files can be downloaded as part of the VMware User Environment Manager download. Copy these files to one of your Active Directory servers at the following locations:

  • Copy the .admx files to C:\Windows\SYSVOL\sysvol\<domainname>\Policies\PolicyDefinitions
  • Copy the .adml files to C:\Windows\SYSVOL\sysvol\<domainname>\Policies\PolicyDefinitions\en-US

Create the VMware User Environment Manager GPO

To create the UEM GPO, complete the following steps.

1. Open the Group Policy Management console. Create a new Group Policy object (GPO) that will be applied to the users who will be managed by the UEM FlexEngine.

2. Right-click the newly created GPO and click Edit.

3. Configure the following UEM Group Policy settings.

Note: These policies are found under User Configuration > Administrative Templates > VMware UEM > FlexEngine.

a. UEM config files: Use this setting to configure the central location of the UEM config files for uses by UEM FlexEngine.

i. Enter the following value:

\\UEMServer\UEMShare\general

Note: Always include the “general” folder at the end of the path.

ii. Select the option Process folder recursively.

b. Profile archives: Use this setting to configure the location that is used by UEM FlexEngine to read and store user profile archives, and some other settings related to profile archives.

You must use a location that is unique for each user, which is why the variable %username% is used. This way, a unique folder is created for each user.

i. Enter the following value:

\\Server\UEMprofiles\%username%\archives

ii. Select the option Compress profile archives.

c. Profile archive backups: Use this setting to configure the location that is used by FlexEngine to store backups of profile archives.

i. Enter the following value:

\\Server\UEMprofiles\%username%\backups

ii. For number of backups per profile archive, select the required number.

d. Run FlexEngine as Group Policy Extension: Select this setting to run FlexEngine automatically during login by running as a Group Policy client-side extension.

i. Important: To guarantee that the UEM FlexEngine Group Policy client-side extension will run during each login, you must select the Group Policy setting Always wait for the network at computer startup and logon. This policy is available under Computer Configuration > Policies > Administrative Templates > System > Logon.

ii. Be sure to apply this Group Policy to an OU in Active Directory where all the Windows clients are located.

e. FlexEngine logging: Use this setting to configure the location of the UEM FlexEngine log file, the level of log detail, and the maximum size of the log file.

i. Enter the following value:

\\Server\UEMprofiles\%username%\logs

ii. Log level: Debug
Log level should be changed to Warn in a production environment.

iii. Maximum log file size in KB: 512

4. You must configure the UEM FlexEngine logout command to run from a logout script. This way, the personal settings or users are exported at logout. In the same GPO, navigate to User Configuration > Windows Settings > Scripts and configure the logout command. The UEM FlexEngine logout command that needs to run during the logout process is:

C:\Program Files\Immidio\Flex Profiles\FlexEngine.exe –s 

5. As a best practice, the following GPO should also be selected:

Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > System > Logon > Always Wait for the network at computer startup and logon

UEM Management Console Install (10 Minutes)

Install the VMware UEM Management Console on an administrator’s machine. This can be any computer, whether it be a desktop or a central server used for administrative tasks.

Install the VMware UEM Management Console by executing VMware User Environment Manager 8.6 x.msi. The VMware UEM Setup Wizard will guide you through the steps required to install the software on your computer:

1. Run VMware User Environment Manager 8.6 x.msi.

2. Click Next.

3. Accept the license agreement and click Next.

4. Select the install location and click Next.

5. Select Custom.

6. Ensure the Management Console is selected and click Next.

VMware_UEM_Setup

7. Browse to a license file and click Next.

8. Click Install.

9. Click Finish.

UEM Management Console Configuration (1 Minute)

Start the UEM Management Console to complete the initial configuration. You will see the following dialog the first time you start the UEM Management Console:

VMware_UEM_configuration_share

Enter the UNC path to the UEM configuration share, created earlier, and click OK.

After this, you are presented with a settings screen. Keep the default settings and click OK. This completes the initial configuration of the UEM Management Console. 

Easy Start Configuration (2 Minutes)

Easy Start installs a default set of UEM configuration files that allow you to quickly get a feel for the UEM personalization, user environment, and condition sets capability. In addition to the default configuration files, you can choose to have Easy Start create UEM config files and user environment shortcuts for one or more versions of Microsoft Office.

To use this option, simply click Easy Start in the toolbar:

VMware_UEM_Easy_Start

After that, you are presented with an option to include UEM config files and user environment shortcuts for one or more versions of Microsoft Office:

VMware_UEM_Easy_Start_Office

Select the Office version(s) you are using and click OK. A popup message confirms that the Easy Start configuration is complete.

UEM Agent Installation (10 Minutes)

For this configuration, I will install the agent on a golden image desktop that I will use to deploy 50 linked-clone desktops.

The UEM FlexEngine is the UEM agent component and needs to be installed on all desktops that are managed by UEM. You can install the UEM FlexEngine on physical desktops and laptops, virtual desktops, and RDSH servers.

The steps to install the VMware UEM FlexEngine are as follows:

1. Run VMware User Environment Manager 8.6 x.msi.

2. Click Next.

3. Accept the license agreement and click Next.

4. Select the install location and click Next.

5. Select Custom.

6. Ensure the Management Console is not selected and click Next.

VMware_UEM_FlexEngine

7. Browse to a license file and click Next.

8. Click Install.

9. Click Finish.

Deploy 50 Horizon Linked-Clone Desktops (15 Minutes)

For this test, I have created a new desktop pool in my VMware Horizon 6 virtual desktop environment. I will use the golden image that I installed on the VMware UEM agent as the master image and deploy 50 desktops. These desktops will be added to an OU in Active Directory which has the UEM GPOs configured.

Summary

As you can see from this test, I was able to deploy UEM in around 43 minutes, and it took 15 minutes to deploy a pool of 50 desktops. The result: configuring VMware UEM in less than 60 minutes for a small group of 50 virtual desktop users.

This blog shows just how quick it is to configure VMware UEM and gives you an idea of the components that are needed to get UEM up and running in your environment. To deploy this solution in a large enterprise, you would need more planning than I required in my test environment, but this approach is a great starting point for a small pilot of a fantastic solution for user management. For more information on VMware User Environment Manager, be sure to visit the User Environment Manager product page on the Web. To learn more about Workspace Environment Management capabilities, please visit our Workspace Environment Management product page. For more updates, visit us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or discuss in our Communities. 

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