By Ryan Klumph
Here are my top ten tips and tricks for a smoother deployment of VMware Horizon® View™ Standard Edition. These suggestions are informed after spending several years as a Technical Support Engineer. This is not a complete list, so please refer to the official Horizon View Documentation when planning your deployment.
I’m sure everyone has probably heard this one by now, but it cannot go without mention. Connection Servers for a production environment must be configured for at least 4 vCPU and 10 GB of RAM. An underpowered Connection Server can be the root of so many oddities—from connection issues, to database replication issues, to performance issues, and beyond. Give Connection Servers the juice they need early on, to save yourself from headaches down the road!
“If you install View Connection Server with less than 10 GB of memory, View provides memory recommendations by generating warning messages after the installation is complete. An event triggered every 12 hours states that the View Connection Server instance is configured with a small amount of physical memory.” – Horizon View Documentation
I’ve previously written about how to easily install a signed certificate. Long story short—if you have Knowledge Base (KB) 2068666on hand prior to attempting your certificate installs, you’ll be downright winning. VMware recommends a Certificate Authority (CA) signed cert for Connection Servers, Security Servers, and Composer Instances, as well as your View vCenter Server. Check out Scenarios for Setting Up SSL Certificates for View.
All Horizon View environments should have, at the very least, two Connection Servers. This allows the ADAM Database to replicate to a second server. This way, if BROKER1 goes down, a simple DNS adjustment to BROKER2, for example, can allow all your users to connect without pulling the fire alarm. Environments that cater to internal and external users should have a minimum of four Connection Servers and two Security Servers. With this setup, two Connection Servers are reserved for internal users to provide high availability, and the other two Connection Servers are reserved for external users, each paired with Security Servers (Access Point aside).BONUS TIP: Disable Secure Tunneling for the internal Connection Servers. In most environments, it is not necessary.
Backup and Restore
View administrators should be familiar with the backup and restore procedure. Once again, having the right KB on hand will equip you to quickly restore data if needed. Be sure to bookmark Performing an End to End Backup and Restore for View. I also wrote about this process here.
There is a surprising number of VMware Flings for Horizon. As they can be great tools for managing and automating tasks for View Admins, they certainly deserve mention. Some of my favorite Flings are the OS Optimization Tool, the Horizon Toolbox, and the View Event Notifier. Take a look around and you’ll likely find some that will benefit you.
VMware Horizon Blast Extreme is the new kid on the block and is absolutely worth checking out, though many environments still use Teradici’s PCoIP protocol. Teradici has a Network Design Checklist that all View admins should provide to their network admins. Some of the highlights include enabling QoS, segmenting PCoIP Traffic, and, of course, ensuring proper port configuration. If your goal is to use VMware’s ultra-tuned Blast Extreme Protocol in Horizon 7, be sure to read the new white paper here.
Black Screen Disconnect
Speaking of PCoIP, this particular configuration deserves a call out. PCoIP uses UDP packets as its real-time protocol, but initial authentication from Client to Connection Server is done using TCP packets. This means port 4172 UDP and TCP must be open. A misconfiguration on any network device in between the client and the Connection Server could cause the connection to show a simple black screen, then disconnect. Check out the Horizon View Ports KB as well as the recently refreshed port diagram.
VMware vCenter Dependency
Once it has been configured alongside a VMware vSphere® environment, Horizon View could have some serious side effects if architectural changes occurred in VMware vCenter®. Licensing aside, this is one of the reasons you will often find customers having a vCenter dedicated just for Horizon View. It better allows for a “set it and forget it” Similarly, Horizon View can be particular about how it handles architectural changes. See Changing the IP of a Connection Server and Changing the name of a Connection Server.If a situation arises where vCenter must be renamed or re-IP’d, you will need to consider and plan for rebuilding Horizon View. Be sure to take this into consideration when planning your View Infrastructure, or when taking a POC to production. This also means managing desktops from vCenter isn’t recommended. All management operations should come from Horizon Administrator—including resets, refreshes, relocation (aka rebalance), and so forth.
Sometimes it’s necessary to manually remove Linked Clones that are stale, or otherwise appear stuck and don’t seem to get removed from Horizon Administrator. At times, you’ll see the desktop listed in the View Pool’s inventory, but it’s nowhere to be found in vCenter.When a Linked Clone gets created, it has an entry in a few places: the ADAM Database on the Connection Servers, the Composer Database, and the vCenter Database. It’s when the VM entry gets partially removed—that is, removed from one or two of the three databases—that you can run into this type of behavior. I’ve covered this scenario in this post before, but there is also an official KB and new method of clearing the databases using the ViewDBChk Tool (for Horizon View 5.3+ environments).
The last tip pertains to the View Agent (Horizon Agent) on your desktop or clone’s Parent Image. Always install the View Agent last on your image, unless specified by another software’s installation guide. This is especially important to remember when updating a Parent Image down the road. When planning Windows updates, software updates, and other patches to your Golden Image before taking that final snapshot, you will want to uninstall the View Agent, reboot the VM, and reinstall the View Agent.If you install software on top of the View Agent, the userinit string can get modified so that it halts proper communication of the Agent to the Connection Server.
This KB talks about verifying if your registry value has been modified or not. In addition to the symptoms listed in the KB, you can sometimes spot this issue by the Agent Status still reporting Availablefor a desktop that is in fact being used by an end user.
I’m sure every Horizon View administrator has their own top ten list, so you can put this one in the tool belt along with the rest. Thanks for reading!
Ryan Klumph is a Technical Account Manager for VMware’s VTA Services. Based in Colorful Colorado, Ryan has been with VMware since 2011 in many capacities from GSS to PSO. Ryan runs a personal blog at https://thatvirtualboy.com. Connect with Ryan on Twitter!