Creating a Dedicated Full Clone Pool and choices you have (video included)

In a previous post I wrote about creating a Floating Linked Clone Pool. In another article I went through the options you have when creating such a pool.

In this post I will discuss the reasons why to choose for Dedicated Full Clone Pool and the option/choices you have when creating 1 via View Manager. To get a good picture, take a look at the video first.

So, why choose for a Dedicated Full Clone Pool? My personal opinion; the 2 reasons would be;

1. Local Admin rights/Software Installation rights; In other words; if your users need and are allowed to install software on their desktops, do give them a Dedicated Full Clone desktop. I do see customers giving users with local Admin rights Dedicated Linked Clone desktops but you have to be careful; a recompose/rebalance will delete all changes to the Linked Clone and users need to re-install their software again. Another advantage is that you know what size the VM is (let’s see 30GB or 50GB). Multiply that by the amount of users and you know the storage capacity need for that pool. No need to monitor the growth of Linked Clones.

2. Local Mode; to be able to use Local Mode, you need a Dedicated pool, either Full Clone or Linked Clone. See #1 why I don’t see Dedicated Linked Clone pool happen. Also, Local Mode isn’t Composer aware. That means when you have a Dedicated Linked Clone pool and a user takes its VM offline, that VM won’t be a subject of a recompose when an admin patches the parent and wants to recompose the pool. Only after a Check In, the VM can be recomposed again, manually.

So, which options do you get when creating a Dedicated Full Clone Pool? Again, check out the video. I won’t discuss all options, only that ones I get most questions about. If you have read my previous blog about Floating Linked Clone pools, you will find that many options are the same between Floating Linked Clone and Dedicated Full Clone pools.

“Remote Desktop Power Policy”;  basically has 3 options; leave your VM’s turned on, suspended or turned off. This is the policy you set on VM’s which aren’t in use by users and which don’t belong to the “spare (powered on) desktops”. The amount of “spare” VM’s can be configured later on under “Provisioning settings-Pool Sizing”. Most of the times, I set the power policy to power off. Why burn CPU cycles when no one is using the VM? If you have enough (and that’s the magic word I guess) VM’s set as spare, no one needs to wait before a VM completely boots. It has to be said, when you leave all the VM’s on, no one needs to wait. Not even in the case suddenly everyone logs on.

“Automatically logoff after disconnect”; what do you want to happen when someone disconnects its sessions? Automatically logoff? Straight away or after a period of time? Straight away means freeing up the VM so others can use it. On the other hand, what about roaming through a building? Disconnect, go to a different level connect and directly go on with your work because your session is there. I have seen the setting “after a period of 4 hours” so users could go home and continue there. Do keep in mind, when a session logs off after a disconnect, all open applications (yes, that also means an open Word document which cost hours of work) will close as well.

Just a quick comment on “Remote Display Protocol” settings; when you pick PCoIP as the default protocol and don’t allow users to choose protocol, you will be able to enable Windows 7 3D Rendering and set an amount of Video Ram per VM.

“Pool Sizing”; max amount of desktops and number of spare desktops. Do look back at the “Remote Desktop Power Policy”. All policies together set the behavior of the pool.

Example; max amount is 100. Spare is set to 20, Remote Power Policy is set to turned off and provisioning is “up-front”.  In this example all 100 VM’s get created and configured. When they all are created, 20 VM’s will remain turned on and 80 turned off. When someone logs on to a VM, only 19 VM’s are spare because 1 has been taken. Automatically 1 VM will be turned on to meet the policy again. This continues till all VM’s are turned on.

To sum it up, think about Dedicated Full Clone desktops when you want to provide a desktop to users with admin rights/software installation rights. Also use this kind of pool mechanism when users need to take their desktops offline and use VMware View Local Mode. In other cases a Floating Linked Clone desktop should be the mechanism to go for.

Creating a Floating Linked Clone Pool (video included)

One of the things I always show during a demo of View Manager is the creation of a pool. I show which choices you have as an admin; dedicated/floating pools, 3D turned on/off, storage tiering etc. I created a video in which I provision a Floating Linked Clone Pool. My message; it is very easy to create pools in VMware View and also that for different user groups you can create different pools, which behave differently.

In this post I would like to discuss the creation of a Floating Linked Clone Pool with Refresh after first use. Why start with this pool? Because I think this is the pool to aim for, to go for, which will give you flexibility, efficiency and the least management.

A Floating Linked Clone Pool is a pool mechanism where there is no permanent relationship between user and VM. On a random day I could log on to VM1 and the next time logon to VM20. When you know, on average, 70% of your employees are working every day you only need to provision 70% of the workspaces/VM’s. You don’t have to create a VM for every employee. This way you can work more with concurrency. With 70 VM’s you can provide a workplace for 100 employees.  This impacts the size of your VMware View environment but also 3rd party software running on your VM’s. So, you could save on hardware and software when working with concurrency.

Linked Clone Pools mean that you work with a Parent VM, or also known as Golden Image. Instead of giving every concurrent user a VM, which is 30GB in size, you can create a pool based on a 30GB Parent VM and users start with a small “Linked Clones”. These Linked Clones will grow over time but you will save on storage capacity. With a Linked Clone Pool, you only have to patch and manage the Parent VM so you will have single image management.

You can delete/refresh these Linked Clones after first use so storage management will be reduced. You don’t have to monitor these Linked Clones in detail. Most likely, they won’t grow that much during a user’s workday. In my opinion, do use the delete of refresh option when you use Floating Linked Clone Pools. The pool is floating, so delete changes made by a user before the next user logs on. Everybody starts with a clean VM, with his/her set of applications.

A couple of things you have to keep in mind;

  • Profiles; because you delete/refresh the Linked Clones, profiles/user settings need to be saved centrally. Use View 5’s Persona Management or any other 3rd party tool like Roaming Profiles, RES, Appsense etc. This way a user will get his/her settings back when logging on to a clean VM.
  • Local Admin/Installation rights; when users have Local Admin rights, giving them a Floating Linked Clone Pool is most likely not the best choice. After a refresh/delete, all user installed applications are gone and the next time your users have to install the applications again..and again.
  • Virtualizing your applications will make this mechanism even more flexible and efficient.  You can then reduce the amount of different Parent VM’s with a specific application set locally installed.

After knowing the boundaries I believe most employees/users can be placed on a Floating Linked Clone Pool. You will get storage savings, you can work with concurrency, single image management and users will see a full, complete Windows desktop with applications

Next, I will discuss the options you get during the creation of a Floating Linked Clone Pool. To check out the options, see the video.