VMware Horizon 7 provides the centralized management, agility, and simplicity that is required for your virtual desktop infrastructure. With Horizon 7, your workstations reside inside the data center premises, making the provisioning, maintenance, and recovery of virtual workstations easier. Horizon 7 with VMware Just-in-Time Management Platform (JMP) can provision and deliver virtual desktops and applications in a fast, flexible, and personalized manner. JMP uses Instant Clones for ultra-fast provisioning of desktops, App Volumes for real-time application delivery, and Dynamic Environment Manager for user-profile management, personalization, and dynamic policy configuration to deliver an experience with the simplicity of non-persistent management. For more information, see the Horizon resources page on the VMware product resources website.
VMware Horizon solution architecture
Figure 1 depicts the architecture of the validated solution, including the network, compute and graphics, management, and storage layers. The solution runs on the VxRail HCI platform based on VMware vSAN software-defined storage. See the design guide for this solution on the VDI Info Hub for more information about the solution design.
This architecture aligns with the VMware Horizon block and pod design. A pod is made up of management servers and a group of interconnected Horizon Connection Servers that broker connections to desktops or published applications. A pod has multiple blocks to provide scalability. A block is a collection of one or more resource vSphere clusters hosting pools of desktops or applications. Each block has a dedicated vCenter Server and composer servers (if linked clones are used). A vSphere Cluster can have a maximum of 64 nodes and 6,400 VMs per vSAN cluster. To expand beyond this limit, you can add clusters and balance the VMs and nodes across the new clusters. For more information about Horizon component design, see the Horizon Reference Architecture available on VMware TechZone.
We validated this solution with the Login VSI and NVIDIA nVector performance tools. For this validation effort, we used a 4-node VxRail cluster. One of the hosts was used for both management and compute VMs, and the other three hosts were used only for the compute VMs. For the test involving graphics workloads, only one compute node was used with six NVIDIA T4 Tensor Core GPUs configured on that host. The deployment option for this Dell EMC Ready Solutions for VDI solution supports all cloning techniques available from VMware: full, instant, and linked clones.
VMware Horizon clone technology
VMware Horizon 7 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. Updates must be performed on each VM with this approach.
Instant clones—These are available only with Horizon 7 Enterprise licenses. This technology provisions a VM the instant a user requests one. The result is a far easier approach to operating system updates and patch management because the VM is created near the time of login. You can use the combination of JMP features such as App Volumes and Dynamic Environment Manager to emulate persistence. For the Login VSI testing, we created desktop virtual machines with instant clones. The instant clone VMs are re-created after they log off.
Linked clones—These require fewer storage resources than full clones. This technology is appropriate for many VDI use cases. Differences between the parent VM and the clone are maintained in a delta file. While updates can be rolled out effectively, multiple VM rebuilds are required to deploy a patch at the operating system level correctly. Operating system updates are rolled out to the parent images, and then the Desktop pool is pointed to the new snapshot with the updates. A Horizon Composer instance is required with linked clones to manage the recompose functions of the pool. For the nVector graphics performance testing, we created desktop virtual machines with linked clones.