App Volumes is a fairly new acquisition for VMware. Formerly known as CloudVolumes, App Volumes comes bundled with Horizon 6 Enterprise as well as offered as a standalone product for Citrix shops. This is an on-demand application delivery solution that “installs” applications natively on endpoints. Not to be confused with ThinApp which virtualizes applications, App Stacks are more like fully integrated and installed applications. While it won’t help you to run two incompatible applications on the same system, it does help simplify VDI deployments.
Take these three groups for example. Your kiosks may only need IE, so the base VDI image will do. Meanwhile Group A needs Microsoft Office and Group B needs Office and Visual Studio. With App Volumes you can deliver all these applications based on individual users or groups from one master image. This reduces storage requirements and makes application upgrades much easier!
In the first installment of our App Volumes discovery series we’ll look at a simple home lab installation using VHD’s to deliver applications rather than VMDK’s. This would normally be used for physical hosts or VM’s running on non-VMware hypervisors. It’s the trickier of the two methods because the documentation is a bit lacking, but it’s still a pretty simple installation and configuration process.
Even though I’m using Windows 8 for the agent VM’s and Server 2012 for the manager just be aware that as of right now App Volumes does not support Windows 8 or Server 2012!
What you’ll need:
- Active Directory Server
- App Volumes Manager Server
- Server 2008 R2
- 4GB Ram
- 2 vCPU’s minimum, 4 recommended
- My config has a 40 GB vmdk for OS, 100 GB for the App Stacks, 50 GB HDD for Writable Volumes. All thin provisioned.
- 2 App Volumes Agent VM’s. One to capture the application installs (provisioning VM)andonefortheend user workstation
- Windows 7 (64 or 32 bit) (Server 2008 R2 is also supported and will be covered in a later article)
- 1GB Ram or more depending on the application requirements
Installing App Volumes Manager
- Join the App Volumes Manager VM to the domain
- Install the Application Server Role and .NET Framework 3.5 feature
- Mount the App Volumes ISO and copy D:\Hypervisor\In-Guest VHD\cloudvolumes\apps_templates\app_volume.vhd to E:\AppStacks\cloudvolumes\apps_templates folder (where D: is your mounted ISO and E: is your 100GB vmdk)
- Share the AppStacks folder with the Domain Computers group.
- Copy all files in D:\Hypervisor\In-Guest VHD\cloudvolumes\writable_templates to F:\WritableVols\cloudvolumes\writable_templates (where D: is your mounted ISO and F: is your 50GB vmdk)
- Share the WritableVols folder with the Domain Computers group.
- Run the installer and select “Install App Volumes Manager”
- Since this is a demo environment select SQL Server Express.
- Wait for SQL Express to be installed.
- The default SQL instance settings are OK for our demo.
- Default ports are OK.
- Installation defaults are OK.
- Wait for the installer to complete and click Finish.
- Open a browser on the App Volumes Manager VM and navigate to https://localhost/start-config or click on the icon on the desktop.
- Click Get Started.
- The demo license is good until 12-31-2015!
- Configure your Active Directory settings and click Next.
- Configure the App Volumes administrators group. I just used Domain Admins.
- Configure the Hypervisor. Since we’re using VHD’s just select VHD as the Hypervisor and click next.
- Configure your storage locations.
- Confirm your settings and complete the configuration.
Install App Volumes Client on the Provisioning VM
- Join the VM to the domain.
- Mount the App Volumes ISO and run the installer.
- Select App Volumes Agent.
- Reboot if prompted.
- Repeat these steps for the end user VM.
Creating an AppStack
- Open the App Volumes console by opening a web browser on the App Volumes Manager and navigating to http://localhost/login
- Click on Volumes and select the AppStacks tab.
- In this example we’ll install notepad ++ Populate the settings per the example below and click Create.
- Select “perform in the background” and click Create.
- Once the Notepad ++ App Stack is available, click Provision.
- Search for and select the provisioning VM by selecting the radio button in the right hand column. Click Provision.
- Confirm the start provisioning process and click Start Provisioning.
- Restart the provisioning VM per the App Stack directions.
- Once the provisioning VM has restarted, log in and confirm you see the following dialog. It may take two reboots for this to occur. DO NOT CLICK OK.
- Install Notepad ++.
- Once Notepad ++ has been installed, click OK on the App Volumes dialog.
- Click Yes and reboot the provisioning VM.
- Click OK.
- Once the provisioning VM has rebooted, sign in and click OK on the App Volumes dialog. It may take two reboots for this to occur.
- Go back to the App Volumes console and click Complete on the Notepad ++ App Stack.
Assigning AppStacks to end user workstations
- In the App Volumes console click on Volumes and click on the AppStacks tab. Expand the Notepad ++ AppStack and click Assign.
- Search for the name of the end user VM. Select the VM by clicking on the check mark in the right hand column. Click Assign.
- Confirm the assignment. Note the AppStack will only become available upon next reboot or login.
- Login or reboot the end user system if necessary.
- Launch Notepad++.
- Notepad++ is now being delivered to the end user system via App Volumes!!
Taking A quick peek under the covers, we see the VHD mounted on the VM.
This is way cool stuff!!! In the next post we’ll look at running our AppStacks on a Server 2008 R2 system using VMDK’s.