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Harvest a crop of virtual desktops on an RDSH farm

Horizon View 6.0 empowers IT admins to publish virtual desktops using an RDSH farm. Find out how, and get the details on what an RDSH farm is.

VMware’s Horizon 6.0 with View brought some significant changes to the way IT can use RDSH.

One of the new capabilities is a Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH) farm, which is separate from the desktop pool employees use to access their RDSH desktops. Setting up an RDSH farm and publishing a desktop from it is fairly straightforward.

In versions of View prior to Horizon 6.0, IT could create a Terminal Services pool to aggregate multiple RDSH servers and deliver desktops to a group of users. Each RDSH server hosts multiple user desktops, so the Terminal Services pool is always a floating-assignment pool.

In the older versions of View, RDSH felt like a second-class citizen because it didn’t have support for PCoIP, but in versions of View after Horizon 6.0, RDSH desktops can use PCoIP.

RDSH farm

An RDSH farm is a View construct that lets IT group a set of identical RDSH servers and treat them as a pool of resources for running desktops and applications.

The RDSH servers in the pool should have identical VM configuration and builds so they are interchangeable. The simplest way to make them identical is to deploy all the RDSH servers from the same template and use guest OS customization.

The View Agent should not be installed in the template. Ideally, a guest customization trigger would alert the agent to re-register with the connection server, but it’s important that the template keep its VM name for registration with the connection server.

One option that is available is to use the customization specification to set a RunOnce value and launch the agent installer with silent install switches such as this:

VMware-viewagent-y.y.y-xxxxxx.exe /s /v"/qn VDM_VC_MANAGED_AGENT=0 VDM_SERVER_NAME=MyView.lab.local"

Substitute the connection server name in the VDM_SERVER_NAME field, and make sure to set an automatic logon for the VM. Then, either use a domain account with the rights to add an agent to View, or include the username and password in the agent install command line.

Once the RDSH servers are built, add the farm in View. On the Identification and Settings page, it is possible to set some of the properties that usually apply on a desktop pool. The Access group and some display protocol settings, which are set for the farm, apply to all pools created on that farm.

Figure 1

A less familiar set of properties relate to the timeouts, primarily those properties around application pools, where users launch applications from the View client rather than a full desktop.

The applications a user launches share a single session with a single RDSH server, which speeds the subsequent application launch as the logon script, user profile and Group Policy Object (GPO) processing only occur when the first application is launched. The timeouts control when the session is automatically logged off. A session is empty when the user closes all of the applications he launched. If the user launches another application while the session is still open, only the new application needs to open.

On the other hand, the user’s profile will not unload until the session is logged off; the host only uses a small amount of resources until the session is closed. If the user has logged off of the previous session, then the logon script, profile and GPO must be processed when he launches a new application pool from the View client.

The longer the Empty session timeout and Log off disconnected sessions last, the more likely it will be that the user can quickly launch new applications. With shorter timeouts, the load on the RDSH is lessened, and profiles safely unload more rapidly. The right balance depends on the environment. Some IT administrators may need to tune settings as users learn to use the RDSH application pools.

Once the timeouts are set, select the hosts from a list of hosts registered with the Connection Servers. Each host can be a member of only one RDSH farm.

Publish an RDSH desktop

Creating RDSH desktop pools works the same way as creating any other desktop pool -- by selecting Remote Desktop Services (RDS) Desktop Pool as the type.

Figure 2

Because the RDSH hosts are already deployed and can control remote display through the RDSH farm, the pool has relatively few settings. Admins can control flash bandwidth and use tags to restrict the pool to specific connection servers. Once the pool is created, simply entitle users to the pool.

Next Steps

How RDSH and VDI stack up

Complete guide to RDS and RDSH management

What’s new in VMware Horizon 6.0 with View?

Dig Deeper on Terminal Services and Remote Desktop Services