View Composer – Technical Deep Dive

As the title implies, the View Composer was the focus of this session.

VMware View Composer uses linked clones to rapidly deploy virtual desktop images from a parent virtual machine. View Composer is installed on the vCenter Server and allows View Manager to clone and deploy multiple desktops from the parent virtual machine. After the virtual desktops have been created, linked clones do not have any link with the parent virtual machine. Parent virtual machines are required for new linked clones, but are not required for existing linked clones.

It is used in order to provide significant storage savings over “non-linked clone” View images, as much as 50-70%, to ease the management of the image(s) as an update can be applied once to a parent VM and then applied to all linked clones, and to allow for the rapid deployment of new View VMs.

If using View Composer, the vSphere cluster hosting your virtual desktops is limited to 8 hosts because VMFS will not allow more than 8 ESX hosts to access the same read only file simultaneously as this would lead to file corruption.

View Composer is installed on the vCenter server and runs as a service and requires its own database. Once built, the connection broker must be “connected” to that vCenter/View Composer server. There is a port change in View 4.5, in that the port to connect to has changed from 443 to 18443.

The first thing that must be done in regards to linked clones, is building the parent VM, the base image, the golden image so to speak. It is HIGHLY recommended that you do not P2V a physical system to serve as the base VM as the speakers stated they have had nothing but problems when trying to use a P2Ved computer as the Parent VM. Also, keep the base image as minimal as possible and disable any unneeded services. However, if a particular application is needed by all the users in your organization, it may be easier to add that application into the parent VM/golden image. The VMware preferred method is to use ThinApp as much as possible…

There’s plenty more from this session, specifically about using SSD storage for replicas as a means to maximize performance and reduce the effects of “boot and login storms” but I want to research this a little further before posting more.

There is a new disk created in View 4.5, the “disposable” disk in which the Pagefile and Temp directories are stored. It is unnecessary to save this data long term so this disk is destroyed when the user logs off.

There was a good discussion on AV scanning, though no definitive stand was taken. There are pros and cons to each I suppose. When using XenDesktop, I like to leave AV off the image if the customer will let me. Certainly you run AV on the file servers and such but the image is read-only…. The speakers leaned toward leaving not running AV on the virtual desktop if at all possible, but again, stopped short of calling this a best practice. They were very excited by the possibilities of the vSphere vShield and the Trend Micro Deep Security product as these may provide the mechanisms to finally take AV off the virtual desktop.

http://us.trendmicro.com/us/products/enterprise/datacenter-security/deep-security/index.html

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