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Horizon View 5.3.1 on VMware vSAN - Quick Start Guide (2073795)

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VMware vSAN is a software-defined storage technology that is available with vSphere 5.5 Update 1 (or later). vSAN is a core component of vSphere that aggregates local server-attached storage (local storage on a vSphere host/server) and provides a datastore that is visible to all hosts within a vSphere cluster. VMware vSAN is optimized for use with Horizon View 5.3.1 and provides the following benefits:

  • High-performance storage with automatic caching
  • Storage policy based management, for automatic remediation
High-performance storage. vSAN requires and supports two classes of storage within the vSphere server:
  • Class 1 - SSD (solid-state drives)
  • Class 2 - HDD/Magnetic tiers
vSAN aggregates the two classes of storage and provides a single datastore across the vSphere cluster. In addition, vSAN provides automatic performance acceleration for all the virtual machine IO operations. It accomplishes performance acceleration by using the SSD class of storage to cache all the read IO operations and buffer all the write IO operations.

Policy-based management. vSAN implements a policy-based approach to storage management. These policies define virtual machine storage requirements, such as capacity, performance, and availability. Storage is provisioned and automatically configured according to these policies.
The above characteristics of the vSAN architecture are highly beneficial to virtual desktop environments that use Horizon View 5.3.1. Further, the architecture supports standard vSphere features that require shared storage, such as HA, vMotion, and DRS. vSAN eliminates the need for an external shared storage infrastructure and simplifies storage configuration and virtual machine provisioning activities.

vSAN Requirements

The vSAN feature has the following requirements:
  • vSphere 5.5 Update 1 or a later release.
  • Hardware that is compliant with the specifications outlined in the VMware Compatibility Guide, including a 10GB NIC and at least one SSD and one HDD for each capacity-contributing node.
  • A cluster of at least three ESXi hosts.
  • Enough ESXi hosts to accommodate your setup. For more information, see the vSphere Configuration Maximums document.
  • SSD capacity that is at least 10 percent of HDD capacity.
  • Enough HDDs to accommodate your setup. Do not exceed more than 75% utilization on a magnetic disk.


Using vSAN with Horizon View 5.3.1 involves the following tasks:
  1. Make sure your vSphere infrastructure meets the requirements for a Horizon View setup, as described in the vSAN Requirements section.

  2. Use vCenter Server 5.5 Update 1 or a later release to enable vSAN on the vSphere cluster. For more information, see the vSphere Storage document.

    Figure 1: vSphere Web Client interface showing cluster settings - Select the Turn ON vSAN check box

  3. Create a Horizon View 5.3.1 desktop pool on, or migrating a Horizon View 5.3.1 desktop pool to, a vSAN datastore, as described in the Using a vSAN Datastore in Horizon View section.

    You can use vSAN for either linked-clone desktop pools or full-clone desktop pools.

  4. If you have Horizon View 5.3 desktop pools on non-vSAN datastores, and you want to upgrade and migrate the pools to vSAN datastores, this procedure is described in the Upgrading a Desktop Pool section.

  5. Depending on your requirements, modify the default storage policies. vSAN uses a storage policy framework to manage virtual machine storage requirements, including capacity, performance, and availability.

    The vSAN datastore has a default policy that is applicable to all virtual machines on the vSAN datastore, and it can be changed depending on customer requirements. Please refer to the vSAN Storage Policy Profiles section.

Using a vSAN Datastore in Horizon View

To create a new Horizon View 5.3.1 desktop pool on a vSAN datastore:

  1. Using the vSphere Web Client to connect to vCenter Server, set up a cluster of ESXi nodes (minimum of three) with at least one SSD and one hard disk in each of the nodes, and enable vSAN for this cluster, as described in the vSphere Storage document.

  2. In View Administrator, when creating a desktop pool, select the vSAN datastore that you created in step 1.

    You can use vSAN for either linked-clone desktop pools or full-clone desktop pools.

  3. In other parts of the pool creation wizard, if you are creating a linked-clone pool, do not attempt to select separate datastores for things like replicas, OS disks, and persistent disks.

    vSAN performs storage acceleration automatically. Use only the vSAN datastore.

To move an existing Horizon View 5.3.1 linked-clone pool from another type of datastore to a vSAN datastore:

  1. Using the vSphere Web Client to connect to vCenter Server, set up a cluster of ESXi nodes (minimum of three) with at least one SSD and one hard disk in each of the nodes, and enable vSAN for this cluster, as described in the vSphere Storage document.

  2. In View Administrator, edit the pool to deselect the old datastore and select the vSAN datastore instead, and use the Rebalance command.

    Note: To upgrade a pool from 5.3.0 to 5.3.1, see the procedure after this one.

To monitor the vSAN cluster and the disks that participate in the vSAN datastore, use vCenter Server. For more information, see the vSphere Storage document and the vSphere Monitoring and Performance document.

Upgrading a Desktop Pool

You can upgrade a Horizon View 5.3.0 linked-clone desktop pool that does not use vSAN to a Horizon View 5.3.1 desktop pool that uses vSAN.
  1. Upgrade the View 5.3.0 desktop pool to View 5.3.1 according to the standard upgrade procedure documented in the Horizon View 5.2 Upgrades document.

    This process includes installing View Agent 5.3.1 on the parent virtual machine and taking a snapshot.

  2. Recompose the pool on the non-vSAN datastore using the Horizon View 5.3.1 snapshot.

  3. Edit the newly upgraded Horizon View 5.3.1 pool and change the datastore from a non-vSAN datastore to a vSAN datastore, and use the Rebalance command.

Note: Upgrading a Horizon View 5.3.0 desktop pool already on a vSAN datastore (a Tech Preview feature) to Horizon View 5.3.1 on a vSAN datastore is not supported.

vSAN Storage Policy Profiles

vSAN offers a storage policy framework where customers can control the behavior of various virtual machine objects that reside on the vSAN datastore. A default storage policy profile is created when you enable vSAN for the vSphere cluster. An object in vSAN is typically a virtual disk (VMDK file), and there are four characteristics of each object that are controlled through policy:
  • Stripes: Number of stripes of data. The number of disk stripes affects how many magnetic disks you have (HDDs).
  • Resiliency: Number of failures to tolerate. The number of host failures to tolerate depends, of course, on the number of hosts you have.
  • Storage Provisioning: Thick or Thin
  • Cache Reservation: Read-cache reservation
The stripes and cache reservation settings are used to control performance. The resiliency setting controls availability. The storage provisioning setting control capacity. These settings, taken together, affect how many vSphere hosts and magnetic disks are required.
For example, if you set the number of disk stripes per object to 2, vSAN will stripe the object across at least 2 HDDs. In conjunction with this setting, if you set the number of host failures to tolerate to 1, vSAN will create an additional copy for resiliency and therefore require 4 HDDs. Additionally setting the number of host failures to tolerate to 1 requires a minimum of 3 ESXi hosts, 2 for resiliency and the third to break the tie in case of partitioning.
Note: If you inadvertently attempt to use settings that contradict each other, when you attempt to apply the settings, the operation will fail, and an error message will tell you, for example, that you do not have enough hosts.
With Horizon View 5.3.1, there is no need for any user action associated with the default policy. The policy applies to both linked-clone desktop pools and full-clone desktop pools. The default policy for all virtual machines using the vSAN datastore is as follows:
  • Stripes: 1
  • Resiliency: 1
  • Storage provisioning: Thin
You can use the vSphere Command-Line Interface (esxcli) to change the default storage policy profiles for the vSAN datastore. Each virtual machine maintains its policy regardless of its physical location in the cluster. If the policy becomes noncompliant because of a host, disk, or network failure, or workload changes, vSAN reconfigures the data of the affected virtual machines and load-balances to meet the policies of each virtual machine.
You can enable and use policies in either of two ways:
  • Define and use a default policy that can be applied to all virtual machines.
  • Define and use different policies for each disk file (VMDK file), based on the requirements of the workload.
The following examples illustrate how you can use the esxcli vsan command to configure the vSAN Policies.
Example 1: Display the vSAN default policy:
~ # esxcli vsan policy getdefault

Object Policy ClassPolicy Value

cluster ((“hostFailuresToTolerate” i1) (“forceProvisioning” i1))

vdisk ((“hostFailuresToTolerate” i1) (“forceProvisioning” i1))

vmnamespace ((“hostFailuresToTolerate” i1) (“forceProvisioning” i1))

vmswap ((“hostFailuresToTolerate” i1) (“forceProvisioning” i1))
Example 2. Set the vSAN default policy for each virtual disk file (VMDK file) by setting the number of stripes to 1, and the host failures to tolerate as 1:

~# esxcli vsan policy setdefault -c vdisk -p “((\”stripeWidth\” i1)(\”hostFailuresToTolerate\” i1))”

Although VMware strongly recommends that customers use the default policy with Horizon View 5.3.1, there exists the option to modify the policy based on the use cases for which Horizon View and vSAN are being deployed.


The vSAN feature has the following limitations when used in a Horizon View deployment:
  • This release does not support using the Horizon View space-efficient disk format feature, which reclaims disk space by wiping and shrinking disks.
  • vSAN does not support the VMware vSphere Storage APIs – Array Integration (VAAI) feature because vSAN does not use NAS devices. 
  • 100 Virtual machines per host (there is a 3000 component limit per hosts and each composer clone can use up to 24 components) do not exceed more than 75% utilization on magnetic disk. 
  • With Horizon View using vSAN datastores, users cannot manually select different datastores for replicas and linked clones.

Note: vSAN is compatible with the View Storage Accelerator feature. vSAN provides a caching layer on SSD disks, and the View Storage Accelerator feature provides a content-based cache that reduces IOPS and improves performance during boot storms. For more information on vSAN configuration maximums please see the section "VMware vSAN" in the VMware vSphere 5.5 Configuration Maximums guide.

Also, Horizon View, when used with vSAN, eliminates the need for the Replica Tiering feature provided by Horizon View. vSAN provides near equivalent capability by addressing the read caching requirements through the SSD layer.

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