Horizon View 5.3 Appendix C – Desktop Pool Types

When you sit down to design the desktop pools in your Horizon View environment, you’ll be presented with a number of choices that will dictate how those pools will behave.  The choices that you’re presented with are the type of desktop pool and assignment type.

Desktop Pool Types

There are three types of desktop pools in a Horizon View environment.  The desktop pool types are:

  • Automatic Pool – These pools consist solely of virtual machines, and they may be full-clones generated from a template in vCenter or a linked-clone desktop created using View Composer.  View and vCenter do the provisioning and management of these desktops, and most of the features of View are geared towards this class of desktop pools.  I’ll go into the differences between linked-clone and full-clone desktops below.
  • Manual Pool – A manual pool is a type of pool that is essentially defined as “other.”  The items in this pool can be virtual machines that have the View Agent installed such as physical desktops that have been converted to virtual or physical hardware that has Teradici PCoIP cards installed.  As the name implies, desktops have to be manually added to this type of pool, but it can provide a single management and presentation layer if you are using PCoIP to provide access to centrally-hosted physical workstations or P2V’ed desktops.
  • Microsoft Terminal Services Pool – A Terminal Services Pool provides terminal server sessions as Horizon View Desktops.  This version supports the fewest number of Horizon View features, but it can provide a single pane of glass for management if you use both Terminal Server and View desktops or if you are transitioning from Terminal Services to Horizon View.


As I mentioned above, there are two types of Automated Pool desktops – Full-Clone desktops and Linked-Clone Desktops.

Type Pros Cons
Full-Clone Desktops
  • Easy to Deploy
  • Similar to physical desktop environments
  • Can Utilize Existing Desktop Management Infrastructure (SCCM)
  • Only one template required – Apps can be deployed after cloning
  • Requires Deduplicating Storage Arrays or lots of Storage
  • Can’t be recomposed or refreshed
  • Requires desktop management infrastructure to manage large numbers of full-clone desktops
Linked-Clone Desktops
  • Requires less storage capacity
  • Recompose and Refresh Operations supported
  • Can update entire pools by making changes on template machines and recomposing
  • Does not require desktop management infrastructure (SCCM)
  • Recompose/Refresh operations can leave users without access to desktops during maintenance windows
  • Removing a VM snapshot can render pools unusable
  • Multiple desktop templates may be required to deploy pools with different application packages

Assignment Type

There are two assignment types for most of the pools: Dedicated Assignment and Floating Assignment.  These are more commonly known as Persistent and Non-Persistent pools.

Dedicated or persistent pools are desktop pools where the user gets assigned to a virtual desktop, and that is the desktop that they receive each time they log in.  The desktop can be assigned automatically the first time a user logs in or it can be assigned by an administrator through View Administrator.

Floating or non-persistent pools are desktop pools where the user is not permanently assigned to a desktop, and they may receive a different desktop each time they log in.  Desktops in a floating assignment pool are usually returned to a known good state after the user logs out, and they are commonly paired with Roaming Profiles, Persona Management and/or third-party solutions like Liquidware Labs and/or UniDesk.

If you are using Linked-Clone desktops, there is a middle ground between Persistent and Non-Persistent that is “semi-persistent.”  This kind of setup is one where the user is permanently assigned to the desktop, but the desktop is refreshed to a known good state on logout.  I’ve had to deploy a few pools like this in my previous job because non-persistent linked clone desktops were the standard but the application had licensing restrictions based on the computer name.

Design Decisions

There are a number of factors that would influence what type of pool and assignment policies are selected during the design phase, including:

  1. Customer requirements
  2. Type of Storage Infrastructure that is in place or being procured
  3. Type of Desktop Management infrastructure that is in place or being procured
  4. Application requirements
  5. Budget

Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the various combinations of pool and assignment types is very important.  Those decisions impact the ability to manage and maintain the environment.

Some vendors and evangelists like to push one particular desktop type over another, but there is no one-size-fits-all solution to any virtual desktop deployment.  The only “Ultimate Solution” is the one that fits your needs and meets your requirements.

One thought on “Horizon View 5.3 Appendix C – Desktop Pool Types

  1. Pingback: Horizon View 5.3 Part 12 – Creating An Automatic Linked-Clone Desktop Pool | Sean's IT Blog

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