Installing: App Volumes Manager

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Part one of this blog series was a ‘First Look: App Volumes‘  in this post, I’m going to install App Volumes.  As with all things it’s best to start with the pre-requisites.

App Volumes Manager

  • Windows 2008 R2
  • Windows 2008 2012 R2 if using App Volumes 2.7
  • .NET 3.5
  • Internet Explorer 9 or 10
  • 4GB RAM
  • 2vCPU
  • 1GB Disk Space
  • ESXi 5.x and vCenter 5.x (note ESXi and vCenter version must match)

App Volumes Agent

  • Windows 7 32/64 Bit
  • Windows 2008 R2 64 Bit
  • Windows 8.1 32/64 Bit if using App Volumes 2.7
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 and 2012 R2 for RDSH if using App Volumes 2.7
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 and 2012 R2 for VDI if using App Volumes 2.7

SQL Database

Windows 2012 R2 with SQL 2012 if using App Volumes 2.7

Step 1 – App Volumes Manager

Download the installer App Volumes from here

You will notice two files, one is an ISO which contains the application and licence key file.  The license is EULA based, so you need to promise to be good!

App Volumes Manager and App Volumes Agent use the same installer, we need to make sure that we install App Volumes Manager first.

Launch the App Volumes Setup > Click Next

App Volumes 01

I’m sure you will read the EULA before accepting it then click next

App Volumes 02

 

Select > Install App Volumes Manager > Install

App Volumes 03

Click Next

App Volumes 04

Select whether you wish to use SQL Express or SQL Database Server > Next

App Volumes 05

I’m using a SQL Database Sever so have entered in the relevant details > Click Next

App Volumes 06

Select your Firewall Ports > Click Next

App Volumes 07

Select you install path > Next

App Volumes 08

We are ready for the install

App Volumes 09Finally Click Finish

App Volumes 10

Step 2 – Initial Config

When you launch App Volumes Manager you should be greeted with the getting started guide.  The first thing we want to do is upload and apply our license key file.  Once done it’s time to configure Active Directory.

App Volumes 12

 

This was probably one of the easiest Active Directory integrations I have done, other vendors pay attention!

Next select the Active Directory Security Group which will be allowed to access App Volumes Manager.

App Volumes 13

Next we need to plumb in our vCenter details, couple of points to note:

  • Mount Local – can be useful for testing applications on local storage before using production storage
  • Mount On Host – Avoids having vCenter as a SPoF

App Volumes 14

Select your Default Storage Locations for AppStacks and Writeable Volumes.

App Volumes 15

Next choose if you want to upload any pre-packaged volumes.

Finally Select Storage & Upload Prepackaged Volumes from an ESXi Host

AppVolumes21

Final Thoughts

I have to say that I’m seriously impressed with the initial configuration of App Volumes.  It really is a breeze, they even go as far as telling you vCenter permissions during the configuration wizard.  Other vendors should take note!

First Look: App Volumes

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I have been meaning to take a look at App Volumes for a while now, so thought it was about time I understood how it fits together in the Horizon stack.

Q. The first question I always ask is why look at this technology? Well the answer is application packaging is difficult, often cumbersome and timely.  Once the application is packaged you then have to look at lifecycle management, updating the application, testing the application and rolling out updates to users.

Q. This then leads onto the next question, how will App Volumes help?  App Volumes is a layer technology in which you capture an application or applications inside a virtual machine (think ThinApp).  These captured applications are then mounted as a VMDK to a users virtual desktop.

App Volumes is not an application virtualisation technology. Therefore if you need two different flavours of internet explorer, one could be delivered by App Volumes and the other via ThinApp.

The main use case I see for App Volumes is to make achieving the ‘nirvana’ of non-persistent desktops far easier, as it’s as easy as installing an application onto a VM and assigning these out to Active Directory Security Groups.

You still need to deal with the odd applications that have their quirks which need to be delivered by App Remoting or ThinApp.

Components

AppStack – Name for the captured applications.

AppStack Volumes – Read only volume that contain one or more applicationsbeing presented to the users as an VMDK.

Writeable Volume – Captures any changes the users makes to an application such as Microsoft Word settings are presented back to the user at next login.

App Volumes Manager – Centralised Management Console used to manage and assign AppStacks.

App Volumes Agent – Installed on the user VDI machines and is responsible for mounting the assigned AppStacks (VMDK’s)

I find that a picture is easier to understand.

App Volumes Diagram

Licensing

App Volumes is available under three licenses schemes:

  1. Horizon 6 Enterprise Edition using 10 or 100 Named or Concurrent User packs
  2. Horizon Application Management Bundle using 10 or 100 Named or Concurrent User packs
  3. VMware App Volumes using 10 or 100 Concurrent User packs

In the next post I will be installing App Volumes.

Review: Mastering VMware Horizon 6 – With 25% Discount Code

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Mastering Horizon 6It was around a year ago when Barry Coombs approached me to see if I would like to be a reviewer on his and Peter von Oven upcoming book Mastering VMware Horizon 6.  I agreed to the project as most of the previous books I had read or reviewed from Packt Publishing had been circa 200 hundred pages and skimmed the surface of the chosen subject.  When I opened the first chapter to provide feedback, I knew this was an entirely different book, in a good way!

Peter and Barry have created the go to book on Horizon 6.  It covers every aspect of the Horizon Advanced stack, including the latest release 6.1.  I’m not entirely sure how they managed this considering the book was started twelve months ago.  But from the readers perspective you know that the information is up to date.

I don’t say the words, they have covered every aspect of the Horizon stack lightly:

  • Horizon View Architecture (Connection, Composer & Security Servers)
  • Persona Management
  • Printing, USB Devices
  • PCoIP
  • Hardware Accelerated Graphics
  • Unified Commuications, Real Time Audio Video
  • Design & Deployment Considerations
  • Backup & Disaster Recovery
  • SSL Certificates
  • Optimising Desktop Image
  • Managing Desktop Pools
  • Fine Tuning End User Experience
  • Application Delivery
  • View Clients
  • Upgrading to Horizon 6
  • VMware Mirage
  • VMware Workspace
  • App Volumes
  • Virtual SAN
  • Troubleshooting

VDI is a complicated product that has probably the most ‘touch points’ on end to end infrastructure than any other.  If we take a users connection to virtual desktop, you need to account for Client Device > View Client > Network > SSL Certificates > Security Server > Connection Server > Active Directory > View Composer > Windows Operating System > User Profiles > Application Delivery

Peter and Barry have all of this covered along with compute and storage resources using their unique easy to digest writing style.

If you are deploying, managing or configuring a Horizon View environment, this book needs to be in your toolkit, I cannot speak highly enough of the content.

Discount Code

Peter and Barry have been kind enough to share a 25% discount code that readers of VMFocus.com can use via Packt Publishing before 16th May 2015.

Go to Packt Publishing add the Mastering VMware Horizon 6 book to your cart and apply discount code MVH25 at the checkout.

Discount Code

How To: Perform a SRM Unplanned Failover & Maintain ‘Business As Usual’ Operations

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SRM LogicalPurpose

The purpose of this blog post is to provide the steps required to perform a Site Recovery Manager unplanned failover and maintain business as usual operations.  I performed these steps twice on a clients live production environment with users accessing production virtual machines at the ‘source’ site.  The users noticed no impact to their daily work activities.

Pre-Requisites

The pre-requisites listed below had been discussed with the client and change control invoked for the following items:

  • vCenter and Site Recovery Manager would not be accessible during the unplanned failover
  • vSphere Client 5.5 U2 is used to enable editing of virtual machines with hardware level 10
  • Source vCenter and Site Recovery Manager ‘pinned’ to an ESXi Host using DRS Groups Manager ‘should’ rules to enable easy location of virtual machines
  • Replication stopped for the production remote copy virtual volumes for the duration of the test
  • Test virtual volume created and presented to ESXi Hosts using an existing Host Set
  • Test virtual machine created using Mike Brown’s Tiny VM to minimise inter site link bandwith consumption.  Note this doesn’t have VMware Tools installed.
  • Remote Copy IP and Management Interfaces for 3PAR StoreServ had been located on upstream switch

Steps One – Isolate Storage

Isolation of the 3PAR StoreServ at the ‘source’ site by issuing ‘shutdown’ command on the Management and Remote copy IP interfaces on the upstream switch.

If RCIP traffic and Management traffic are on the same subnet, RCIP traffic will traverse Management interfaces

Verify that you can no longer ping the RCIP interfaces and that your Remote Copy Group are in a ‘Stopped’ status.

Step Two – vCenter & SRM

Connect to the ESXi Host that runs the vCenter and Site Recovery Manager virtual machines and manually disconnect their virtual NIC’s

Result

Using the above process, we have isolated the 3PAR StoreServ, vCenter and Site Recovery Manager virtual machines.  This simulates having an inter site link failure, but enables users to continue to access virtual machines at the source site.

Perform your unplanned failover on the Test Virtual Volume and then issue the ‘no shutdown’ command against your 3PAR StoreServ Remote Copy and Management interfaces.  Then finally reconnect the virtual NICs on your vCenter and Site Recovery Manager virtual machines.

Architecting Multi-Site HP Storage Solutions (HP0-J67) – Exam Experience

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MASEI had been considering taking the ‘Architecting Multi-Site HP Storage Solutions – HP0-J67′ for quite some time after reviewing the exam objectives.

I had cut my teeth on P2000 MSA’s and StoreVirtuals and had spent quite a bit of ‘one to one’ time with StoreServ’s recently, so thought I was in a good position to tackle the exam.

Bart Heungens (HP Certified Instructor) over at bitcon.be had written a blog post entitled ‘Are you ready for being a Master ASE Storage Solution Architect?‘ which had the download link for the resource library for the exam.  This was my go to study material to prepare for Architecting Multi-Site HP Storage Solutions HP–J67.

My initial thoughts when I flicked over the resource library was yikes! How much information was their to digest, I was never going to be able to do that in a timely manner.  The good news was that I had previously read most of the P2000, StoreVirtual and 3PAR whitepapers when creating designs and installing the products.

So I decided to skim read the P2000, StoreVitual and 3PAR whitepapers, noting down information that I had forgotten or thought or could be relevant.  This was fairly difficult as newer versions of LeftHand OS and Inform OS are not covered, so I spent sometime going over their release notes and essentially forgetting that information for the exam.  In total I must have spent four hours brushing up on the P2000, StoreVirtual and 3PAR.

I felt pretty comfortable with the HP StoreEasy range, as I use these for products for most of the Veeam Backup & Replication designs I propose.

The main area which my knowledge lacked was the HP StoreOnce, literally I have never read up on them, used them or tried to position one with a customer.  So I knew this was my ‘achilles heel’.  But I wanted to be sensible as I knew that I wouldn’t be positioning them with customers so any information I learned for the exam, would be leaving my brain shortly after exiting the exam centre!

I took a pragmatic approach to this looking at items that I felt could appear in an exam (if you are an experienced exam veteran you know what I mean by this) items such as block size, StoreOnce deduplication sources and size limits on the models.  I spent around 6 hours on this reading the various whitepapers.

In total I spent around 10 hours preparing for the exam, not what I would recommend, but I was aiming for minimally qualified candidate!  Designing storage solutions is part of my job (not all of it), so I was happy with my approach for this exam.

A new PearsonVue testing centre had recently become available in Milton Keynes, which had car parking (paid) which was a plus.  The exam centre was bright, clean and the receptionist was welcoming.

Not sure why I wasn’t nervous before stepping into the exam centre, I guess this had something to do with the amount of preparation I had done.  I think that if I had invested more time, then I would have been concerned about the outcome.

The exam consisted of 60 questions which had to be completed in two hours.  Usual exam format was used with multiple choice and drag and drop questions.  I thought the questions where a fair reflection of the blueprint.

I finished in an hour and clicked the ‘end exam’ button, and I was pleased to see you have passed the ‘Architecting Multi-Site HP Storage Solutions – HP0-J67′ with a score of 62%.

The pass mark was 58%, so I left the exam centre with a smile on my face thinking ‘I have done the optimal amount of studying’ and am the definition on the ‘minimally qualified candidate’.

One of my goals for 2015 was to achieve the HP Master ASE accreditation, I’m pleased to say that gaining the HP0-J67 has enabled me to do this.