The desktop master is up and running! At this point, we’re ready to deploy VDI desktop pools. A desktop pool is a group of users who get the same master VM image. Once the VMware View manager is configured, desktop deployment is easy and speedy, especially using SSD as the linked clone datastore. In this case, we will be deploying one desktop pool.

  1. In VMware View Manager, go to Inventory->Pools. Add a new pool
  2. Choose Automated Pool. We will be using a dedicated pool with automatic assignment. With dedicated pool, each user will get a desktop VM with persistent disk and will always connect to the same desktop. With a floating pool, users would get a random desktop. In order to use a floating pool, Microsoft Windows Roaming Profile like technology must be used. Example technologies are LiquidWare and AppSense.
  3. Choose VMware View Composer Linked Clones and choose the vCenter server
  4. Enter the Name of the pool with a description.
  5. In the Pool Settings, select following settings:

i. Ensure desktops are always powered on for Remote desktop Power policy. Otherwise, the VM will suspend and create a hibernation file equal to the memory size on the SSD datastore. Since we want to minimize SSD usage, disable suspension.

ii. Choose either Always or Every 7 Days for Refresh OS disk after logoff. Linked clone space will grow and the desktop refresh will reset the desktop linked clone size to the original. During a desktop refresh, the linked clone VM will revert back to the snapshot taken during provisioning operation.

iii. Choose Redirect Windows profile to persistent disk. Set the Disk size to 5G or larger if folder redirection is not enabled. The persistent disk will contain all the user profile including user registry keys, My Doc, Desktop, etc.

iv. Choose Redirect disposable files to non-persistent disk with 4G disk size. Disposable disk contains windows paging file and temp location. The disposable disk is created on the same datastore as linked clones (SSD). However during reboot, the disposable disk is recreated, thereby helping to contain linked clone growth.

v. Set a naming pattern. Make sure the total naming pattern including the numeric extension does not exceed 15 characters. (if there are going to be more than 99 desktops, then the name potion cannot be longer than 11 characters.) Use naming pattern such as name-{n:fixed=2} to preface 0 with number. For example, VMware ViewVM-{n:fixed-2} will create VM names VMware ViewVM-01, VMware ViewVM-02, etc.

vi. Choose the vCenter Settings. First choose the default image. This is the master Microsoft Windows 7 VM that will be used for linked clone deployment. Choose the VM. Once the VM is chosen, snapshot windows will pop up. Choose a snapshot to be used for deployment.

vii. Choose the folder, host, and resource pool for the VMs

viii. Next, select the datastore for the OS disk for linked clone, and the persistent disk that will store the user profile. If we had another SSD, we could place the replica on the second SSD and used the first SSD for linked clones. It is general perception that only the replica needs to be on the SSD. Our benchmark testing indicated that the linked clone VMs do have very high write I/O demands during provision and boot, and it is best to place both replica and linked clone on the SSD.

ix. Check User different datastores for OS disk and VMware View Composer persistent disks.

x. Check SSD datastore and SATA datastore. Select OS disk for the SSD datastore. Select Persistent Disks for the SATA datastore

xi. In the next window, you can place computers in their dedicated organizational Unit (OU). While Sysprep can be used, our testing showed that QuickPrep is faster.

xii. After the pool creation is completed, the creation of desktop VMs can be monitored in the vCenter. The VMware View Manger/vCenter will first clone the master VM to replicate (which will take about 5 – 8 minutes), and then start creating linked clones. During linked clone provisioning, the desktop will be customized, and joined to the domain.

xiii. Once a pool is created, users need to be entitled to use the pool.åÊ Highlight the pool and click entitlement button.åÊ Add individual users or groups.

ix. If VMware View provisioning errors out, make sure of the below:

  1. Microsoft Windows is activated
  2. The Connection Broker can reach the VM via the Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN)
  3. The VM can reach connection broker via FQDN
  4. The Domain Name System (DNS) is registering the linked clone VM addresses
  5. The Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) lease may have to be reduced for repeated provisioning. Reduce the time from 8 days to 1 hour.

Accessing the VMware View system

The VMware View system can be accessed in one of several ways:

  • Microsoft Windows VMware View Client (can be downloaded from the connection broker web address)
  • Mac OSX VMware View Client (can be downloaded from VMware site)
  • iPad Client (free download from app store Before iPad client can access the VMware View system, the user desktop must be assigned before by using either windows or mac client.
  • VMware View Linux open client (can be downloaded from VMware site)
  • Zero client (HW zero client. 2X client)

Performance numbers

  1. Provisioning of 10 Microsoft Windows 7 desktop VMs took 17 minutes with the first VM ready in 14 minutes.
  2. Recompose operation of 10 Microsoft Windows 7 VMs took 20 minutes.
  3. Performed avast! AV quick scan test. On the VMware View desktop, 10.6G worth of data (mainly Microsoft Windows) was processed in 2 minutes, 11 seconds. On a physical desktop, with 10.6G of data, scanning took 7 minutes 35 seconds.
  4. Ran a GUImark 2 flash video test and compared it to my physical desktop running Microsoft Windows 7. The physical desktop has NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GS video card, Intel Core Duo E6550 2.33G dual core CPU, and 2G RAM.

GUImark 2 Test name

Physical Desktop result

VMware View PCoIP client result

VMware View RDP Client result

Vector Charting Test

19.1 FPS

12.4 FPS

4.69 FPS

Bitmap Gaming Test

10.09 FPS

11.9 FPS

1.19 FPS

Text Column Test

13.01 FPS

10.01 FPS

8.1 FPS

One interesting result is that the VMware View desktop is faster on bitmap gaming test. It may be due to a faster CPU used on the server. Also the PCoIP client produces far superior results compared against Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) clients.

Running Login Consultant’s VSI Load Testing

Login Consultants is a European-based IT consultancy that provides an excellent (and free) VDI load testing program. The VSI 3.0 simulates typical users running Office application, PDF browsing and printing, video playback. My test used 10 users with a heavy user scenario.

  1. Install VSI 3.0. There are three components to install. The first installs on the domain controller and prepares a test user, the organizational unit, scripts and files. The second installs on the target. The target installation includes test programs and automation scripts. The third component is the launcher manager. It can be any desktop PC or server. However it should be a physical machine due to its heavy resource consumption.
  2. I had to make quite a bit of modification to get the test working. First, I had to disable Outlook’s macro security, remove all languages except English, and remove ThinPrint and Virtual printing from the target machine. The ThinPrint changes the default printer from the included PDF writer used for benchmarking to my desktop printer, which breaks the automation script.
  3. I captured vSphere CPU, RAM, Datastore, and Disk usage during the testing. As can be seen in the graph below, the CPU usage stayed at less than 50% with a 10 heavy user workload most of the time. Memory is almost maxed out with 10 users and 3 servers. However, the memory TSP sharing and compression works well enough to keep the consumed memory at around 85% of total memory available. The datastore statistic was quite impressive. With 10 heavy users, the SSD datastore latency peaked at 8ms.
  4. The benchmarking test indicates that my $500 VDI setup is quite a machine. It can handle 10 heavy workloads (not to mention the server loads) without performance issues. Not too shabby at all.

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