In order to deliver virtual desktops to end users, a Horizon View environment requires multiple components working together in concert. Most of the components that Horizon View relies upon are VMware products, but some of the components, such as the database and Active Directory, are 3rd-party products.
What components does a Horizon View environment need, and what are the system requirements for these components?
The smallest Horizon View environment only requires four components to serve virtual desktops to end users: ESXi, vCenter, a View Connection Server, and Active Directory. The hardware for this type of environment doesn’t need to be anything special, and one server with direct attached storage and enough RAM could support a few users.
All View environments, from the simple one above to a complex multi-site Cloud Pod environment, are built on this foundation. The core of this foundation is the View Connection Server.
Connection Servers are the broker for the environment. They handle desktop provisioning and user authentication and access. There are two types of Connection Servers – Standard Connection Servers and Replica Connection Servers. Both types of Connection Servers have the same feature set, and the only difference between the two is that the standard server is the first connection server in the environment.
Connection Servers can also manage access to multiuser desktops and published applications on Remote Desktop Session Host servers.
The requirements for a Connection Server are:
- 2 CPU
- Minimum 4GB RAM, 10GB recommended if 50 or more users are connecting
- Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows Server 2012 R2
- Joined to an Active Directory domain
|Note: The requirements for the View Security Server are the same as the requirements for View Connection Server minus being joined to an Active Directory domain.|
Aside from the latest version of the View Connection Server, the requirements are:
ESXi – ESXi is required for hosting the virtual machine The versions of ESXi that are supported by Horizon View 6 can be found in the VMware compatibility matrix. All versions of ESXi 5.1 and ESXi 5.5 Update 1 are supported, but ESXi 5.5 without Update 1 is not supported.
vCenter Server – The versions of vCenter that are supported by Horizon View 6 can be found in the VMware compatibility matrix. All versions of vCenter 5.1 and vCenter 5.5 Update 1 are supported, but vCenter 5.5 without Update 1 is not supported. The vCenter Server Appliance and the Windows vCenter Server application are supported.
Active Directory – An Active Directory environment is required to handle user authentication to virtual desktops, and Group Policy is used to configure a number of user profile, virtual desktop and PCoIP settings. The Server 2008 domain functional level and above are supported.
Horizon View has a lot of features, and many of those features require additional components to take advantage of them. These components add options like secure remote access, profile management, and linked-clone desktops.
Secure Remote Access – Remote access to virtual desktops and published applications is handled by the View Security Server. The Security Server is designed to sit in the DMZ and relay or proxy connections to the Connection Server that it is paired with. Security Servers do not need to be joined to a domain, and they have the same system requirements as a Connection Server.
Linked-Clone Desktops – Linked Clones are virtual machines that share a set of parent disks. They are ideal for some virtual desktop environments because they can provide a large number of desktops without having to invest in new storage technologies, and they can reduce the amount of work that IT needs to do to maintain the environment. Linked Clones are enabled by View Composer.
The requirements for View Composer are:
- 2 CPUs
- 4 GB RAM, 8GB required for deployments of 50 or more desktops
- Windows Server 2008 R2 or Server 2012 R2
- Database server – supported databases include Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server. Please check the compatibility matrix for specific versions and service packs.
Persona Management – A user’s settings need to roam with them when they are in an environment with non-persistent desktops. Persona Management is VMware’s answer to that by storing the full user profile in a central network location and loading it when the user logs in. In some ways, it is like Roaming Profiles on steroids, and it works with Folder Redirection.
Horizon View requires a number of different ports to be opened in the Windows firewall as well as the firewalls between untrusted and trusted zones in the network. Rather than write a long table with all of these ports like I intended, I’ll link to a nice graphic put together by VMware that maps it all out.
The original image, along with a detailed explanation of the map, can be found in Ray Heffer’s post on the VMware Blog site.