VMware View Architecture Design for Dummies:The Building Blocks

I have been working off late on some large VDI Design projects, I thought of sharing my experience with the VMware View design approach. So I am planning to have some small write ups for each design phase, this post is the first in that series.

In this post I am going to discuss around the required components of the View Architecture with a brief introduction to each.

vCenter Server

VMware vCenter is a required component of a VMware View solution. This is because the View Connection Server interacts with the underlying Virtual Infrastructure (VI) through vCenter Web Service (typically over port 443).

Some of the core features provided by vCenter are

  • vMotion
  • DRS
  • Cluster
  • HA
  • Folders
  • vSphere Client
  • Resource pool

VMware vCenter performs the following tasks in a VDI environment.

  • The creation of virtual machine folders to organize VDI vms
  • The creation of resource pools to segregate physical resources for different groups of VDI vms
  • The creation of VDI vms
  • The creation of snapshots which is one of the basic things required for the VDI

So one of the questions which are asked is what happens when the vCenter is down, how does this affect the VDI environment?

In case the vCenter is down there will be no impact on the inbound connections to already provisioned VDI vms but it will not allow any additional VDI vms being provisioned , refreshed or deleted. So yes it is important to have redundancy built for the vCenter, as a good design practice.

View Connection Server

View Connection Server is the primary component of a VMware View solution; if VMware vCenter Server is the gateway for management communication to the virtual infrastructure and the underlying physical servers, the VMware View Connection Server is the gateway that end users pass through to connect to their VDI vms.

The types of VMware View Connection Servers

  • Full: This option installs all the components of View Connection Server, including a fresh Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) instance.
  • Security: This option installs only the necessary components for the View Connection portal.
  • Replica: This option creates a replica of an existing View Connection Server instance for load balancing or high availability purposes.

As you can see there are three types of View Connection servers meant for different purposes, so the next questions comes do you need three different software installs? No, the installation file is going to be the same. The first component that you are going to install is the VMware View in Full mode, and then you need to install View Connection Server in Replica mode. For resiliency you need minimum of two View Connection servers. If you have a requirement of people using WAN access then you need to install the View Security Server component, again for resiliency you need minimum two.

View Agent

View Agent is a component that is installed on the target desktop, whether physical (seldom) or virtual (almost always). View Agent allows the View Connection Server to establish a connection to the desktop.

View Client

View Client is a component that is installed on the end device (for example, the user’s laptop). View Client allows the device to connect to a View Connection Server, which then directs the device to an available desktop resource. Following are the two types of View Clients:

  • View Client
  • View Client with Local Mode

VMware View Local Mode is the ability to securely check out a VDI vm to a local device for use in disconnected scenarios.There is roughly an 80 MB difference in the installed packages (View Client with Local Mode being larger).

VMware View Composer

View Composer is the component that manages the deployment of linked clones, for desktop VMs from a single base snapshot. View Composer is installed typically on vCenter Servers however with View 5.1 you can install this as a separate component on separate machine. View Composer also needs a separate database.

VMware View Transfer Server

The VMware View Transfer Server is a new component in VMware View since version 4.5. The transfer server’s primary role is to deliver the desktop virtual machines from the data center to the end local device for use in an offline scenario. Running a VDI vms locally on the end device is known as Local Mode in VMware View.

Other important terms used for View Design:

Snapshot

A snapshot saves a point-in-time state of a given virtual machine. Changes beyond the snapshot of the point-in-time are written to a delta disk while the original virtual disk (.vmdk) is marked as read-only.

Linked clones

A linked clone is a copy of a virtual machine based on a specific snapshot of that virtual machine (known as the parent). When a linked clone pool is created, VMware View Composer creates a replica. While linked clones are based off of an original parent VM, each linked clone still has a unique MAC address and virtual machine UUID.

Templates

A template is a virtual machine that has been marked read-only by converting it into a template. A template is simply a virtual machine, which has had its .vmx configuration file converted into a .vmxt configuration file.

Types of disks

There are three types of disks — OS Disk, User Data Disk, and Disposable Disk.

OS Disk

The OS Disk stores the system data (for example, Windows 7) and provides the base for a functional desktop.

User Data Disk

A persistent User Data Disk is an optional component of a VMware View virtual desktop. The User Data Disk stores user profile information. By storing this information on a persistent disk, View Composer actions such as Refresh and Recompose will not affect the user profile data.

Disposable Disk

Disposable disk stores the OS swap file (pagefile.sys) and temporary data that is created during a user session. The size of the Temp Data Disk is configurable. The Temp Data Disk can only be stored on the same data store as the OS Disk.

So these are some basic information about the components that you will be using in your View Design, stay tuned for my next article in the series which will cover the next phases of the VMware View Architecture Design.

One thought on “VMware View Architecture Design for Dummies:The Building Blocks

  1. can you explain more about how horizon view 5.2 behave if my vcenter goes down. means does users will able to access desktops normally.. what services will be don, what services will not affected in view environment. thanks for the help.

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