This section provides a high-level overview of the components needed for creating and deploying a VDI environment. Successful deployment requires a deep understanding of the architecture when you are designing the environment.
VMware vSphere provides a flexible and secure foundation for business agility, with the following benefits for VDI applications:
- Improved appliance management—The vCenter Server Appliance Management Interface provides CPU and memory statistics, network and database statistics, disk space usage, and health data. This reduces reliance on a command-line interface for simple monitoring and operational tasks.
- VMware vCenter Server native high availability—This solution for vCenter Server Appliance consists of active, passive, and witness nodes that are cloned from the existing vCenter Server instance. You can enable, disable, or destroy the vCenter HA cluster at any time. Maintenance mode prevents planned maintenance from causing an unwanted failover. The vCenter Server database uses native PostgreSQL synchronous replication, while key data outside the database uses separate asynchronous file system replication.
- Backup and restore—Native backup and restore for vCenter Server Appliance enables users to back up vCenter Server and Platform Services Controller appliances directly from the vCenter Server Appliance Management Interface or API. The backup consists of a set of files that is streamed to a selected storage device using the SCP, HTTP(S), or FTP(S) protocol. This backup fully supports vCenter Server Appliance instances with both embedded and external Platform Services Controller instances.
- VMware vSphere HA support for NVIDIA vGPU-configured VMs—vSphere HA protects VMs with the NVIDIA vGPU shared pass-through device. In the event of a failure, vSphere HA tries to restart the VMs on another host that has an identical NVIDIA vGPU profile. If no available healthy host meets this criterion, the VM fails to power on.
- VMware vSAN Enterprise Edition—Includes all-flash space-efficiency features (deduplication, compression, and erasure coding), software-defined, data-at-rest encryption, and stretched clusters for cost-efficient performance and greater hardware choice.
- VMware Log Insight—Provides log management, actionable dashboards, and refined analytics that enable deep operational visibility and faster troubleshooting.
The architecture described here is based on VMware Horizon 8, which provides a complete end-to-end solution that delivers Microsoft Windows virtual desktops to users on a wide variety of endpoint devices. Virtual desktops are dynamically assembled on demand, providing pristine, yet personalized, desktops each time a user logs in.
VMware Horizon 8 provides a complete virtual desktop delivery system by integrating several distributed components with advanced configuration tools that simplify the creation and real-time management of the VDI.
The core Horizon components include:
- Horizon Connection Server (HCS)—Installed on servers in the data center, HCS brokers client connections, authenticates users, entitles users by mapping them to desktops or pools, establishes secure connections from clients to desktops, supports single sign-on, and sets and applies policies.
- Horizon Administrator—Provides administrator functions such as deploying and managing Horizon desktops and pools, setting and controlling user authentication, and more.
- Horizon Agent—Provides a means of communication with Horizon clients. The agent is installed on all VMs, physical machines, and Terminal Service servers that are used as a source for Horizon desktops. On VMs, the agent communicates with the Horizon client to provide services such as USB redirection, printer support, and more.
- Horizon Client—Installed on endpoints, the client creates connections to Horizon desktops that can be run from tablets, Windows, Linux, or Mac PCs or laptops, thin clients, and other devices.
- Unified Access Gateway—Provides a way to securely deliver connections that require a higher level of security to access, such as remote internet connections.
- Horizon Portal—Provides access to download links for full Horizon clients. The portal enables the HTML access feature to run a Horizon desktop inside a supported browser.
- vCenter Server—Provides centralized management and configuration to the entire virtual desktop and host infrastructure. It facilitates configuration, provisioning, and management services.
VMware Horizon 8 offers the following methods for cloning desktops:
- Full clones—These are typically used for testing purposes or to create management VMs. Full clones are not ideal for VDI because full copies have no connection to the original VM. You must update each VM with this approach.
- Instant clones—These are available with Horizon Universal Subscription, Horizon Standard Subscription, and Horizon Enterprise Edition (TERM) licenses. This technology provisions a VM immediately after a user requests one. This is a far easier approach to operating system updates and patch management because the VM is created when it is needed. You can use the combination of products such as VMware App Volumes and Dynamic Environment Manager to emulate persistence.
vSAN software-defined storage
vSAN is available in hybrid or all-flash configurations depending on the platform.
After vSAN is enabled on a cluster, all disk devices that are presented to the hosts are pooled to create a shared data store that is accessible by all hosts in the VMware vSAN cluster. You can then create VMs with storage policies assigned to them. The storage policy determines availability, performance, and sizing.
vSAN provides these configuration options:
- All-flash configuration—Uses flash for both the cache tier and capacity tier to deliver enterprise performance and a resilient storage platform. In this configuration, the cache tier is fully dedicated to writes, allowing all reads to come directly from the capacity tier. This model allows the cache device to protect the endurance of the capacity tier. All-flash configured solutions enable data deduplication features to extend the capacity tier.
- Hybrid configuration—Uses flash-based devices for the cache tier and magnetic disks for the capacity tier. Hybrid configurations are ideal for clients looking for higher volume in the capacity tier. The performance of SSD and magnetic spinning disks is comparable in VDI applications.
NVIDIA vGPU virtualizes GPU hardware acceleration to share GPUs between multiple virtual desktops or aggregate and assign them to a single virtual desktop, without compromising the graphics experience. NVIDIA vGPU offers the following software variants to enable graphics for different virtualization techniques:
- NVIDIA Virtual Applications (vApps)—Delivers graphics accelerated applications using Remote Desktop Service Host (RDSH).
- NVIDIA Virtual PC (vPC)—Provides full virtual desktops with up to dual 4K monitor support or single 5K monitor support.
- NVIDIA RTX Virtual Workstation (vWS)—Provides workstation-grade performance in a virtual environment with support for up to four Quad 4K or 5K monitors or up to two 8K monitors.