VMware App Volumes series: Creating an AppStack


VMware App Volumes series: Creating an AppStack

VMware acquired Cloud Volumes last year August to turn it into App volumes not too much later. App Volumes allows you to dynamically provision applications to your users without having to install them in the golden image. 
This drastically lower the storage needed for a golden image and gives you flexibility to assign layers of applications to different departments without having to create multiple images of the VDI desktop.
The next series of my blog will be about App volumes, the manager, the broker, the client and management. My previous blog was around the installation of the manager, read it here.

This blog will cover the AppStack, what to do to prepare a machine and how to install applications.

The installation is a two step proces;

  • Agent
  • AppStack creation

Agent

Without the agent, VMware App Volumes has no way of working, so first we have to install the agent on a reference machine. Make sure the reference machine doesn’t have the VMware horizon View agent installed or any Anti virus software.. Handle the machine like you would handle a AppVirt machine. 

Instead of the manager you now choose for App Volumes Agent. This is the same setup as you will use in the VDI desktop later on. Now the agent is used to create the AppStack.

The installation will ask for the address of the App Volumes Manager Address, so we enter the address here. I removed the lines for it had customer information.

After you entered the manager address the setup is finished and you can revert to the manager console.

Next up is the manager and the creation of the AppStack.

AppStack

After you log in the management console you select volumes. Click on “Create AppStack” to start the process. 

There is one preparation that you need to take care of, in my previous article I talked about importing the volumes. you got the question if you wanted to do that immediately or in the background. Anyway you wanted to do that, you have to log on to the ESX host(s) to upload the volumes.

If you haven’t completed that task yet, please do so for you can’t continue before you did. You will get “”No Templates found” if you haven’t completed that task.

After you completed the upload you can select a template. There are more templates read-only or write-able. I only selected the read-only one for now. 

Give the AppStack a name and select the correct storage and create the AppStack.

You will see a process of creation, it goes very fast and then you’re finished.

Provisioning of the AppStack is the next step, Click on “Provision” to start the installation of application in an AppStack. 

To install the application in the AppStack you will need a machine to do that in. The agent we just installed was registered with the manager. So that machine is available to pick as the reference machine. If you have VDI desktops installed and running you will see all those desktops also in the list.

I had only one machine running and so I selected that one to provision on. Once you select the machine you will get a pop-up asking for confirmation. Click on “Start Provisioning” and there you go.

You will see the status of the AppStack being changed and now you have the option to click “Completed”. Once you’re done installing the applications you click completed, not before.

If we now take a look at the virtual machine you see that the AppStack vmdk is added to the virtual machine as Hard disk 2. The adding of the disk is done instantly.

If you take a look the machine it self and log on you see this pop-up appear on the screen.
You now are ready to install applications in the machine just like you would in a normal Windows machine.

Again treat the machines like a AppVirt machine, there are some applications you can’t install but you will learn that along the way. Start of with the usual suspects like FireFox, 7Zip, VLC Player and so on… you can’t go wrong there.

Once you are finished installing you can click “JA/Yes” and the system will reboot to complete the process. 

I went back to the manager console after this and clicked on Complete…. 

The error is pretty clear, I  had to logon once more in the virtual machine to really end the process of capturing. So back to the virtual machine.

Once you logged on again at the reference machine you get the message it’s ready and you can go to the management console to assign users.

Next up is assignment of the users, click on “Assign” after you selected the AppStack in the manager console.

You can search the directory and also search sub-domains to find the users you want the get the applications when they log on to their desktops. 

I selected my own test accounts for this was just a test AppStack in a PoC environment. 
If you click just a bit further you see that you can enable the AppStack for more operating systems, it’s really just like AppVirt but then without all the hassle. 

So in the overview you see the current assignment so that you know who gets which AppStack. Of course in real life you would never assign to a user but always to a group. 
It would be impossible to manage if you would assign by users.

The applications you just installed are visible in the console as well. As you see I installed three applications to do the test.

With this the creation of the AppStack is finished. this was a read-only AppStack and not a writeable one. I wanted to show you how to create an AppStack, it’s pretty basic and only takes minutes to complete.
Next blog is about the agent and then we will see the AppStack running and provisioning applications. CU there.

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