Getting Started with VMware VDI on Nutanix 🐎
If y'all remember from pt. 1, VDI was the killer app that made the Nutanix engine run. Due to its distributed storage system, VDI became optimal to run on HCI. Today, we are going to be talking about both Citrix's & VMware's VDI solution on Nutanix.
In order for the Horizon solution to work on Nutanix, let's look at some of the components that any VDI solution needs (not an all-exclusive list):
1) Client Device
2) Identity Access Management
3) Profile Management
4) Desktop Display Protocol
5) Desktop Delivery Services (Connection Broker, Host, Client Agent)
6) App Services
Horizon 8 addresses these needs by using the following components:
1) Horizon Client - how end users actually access desktop
2) Unified Access Gateway & Workspace One - authentication and authorization solution
3) Dynamic Environment Manager - user profile manager
4) Blast Extreme - VMware developed display protocol
5) Connection Server, Provisioned Desktop VM, Horizon View Agent
6) Apps Volume - app virtualization solution
Deploying Horizon 8 on Nutanix 🌅
Horizon deploys as a "pod" with different "blocks". The blocks can take the form of two separate clusters: one for management and the other where the vSphere desktops actually live. This pod will exist in one datacenter. The management block will consist of a load balancer, the unified access gateway, a connection server and a vCenter server. The view will consist of the vSphere hosts running the desktops and an additional vCenter. In both blocks, there are redundant components to ensure availability. This cloud pod architecture can be understood by viewing Ray Heffer's diagram below (although he is showing a Horizon 7.4 deployment).
We always have to remember, when it comes to solution design, we have to consider factors like scalability, availability, observability, and latency. I know that's a lot of "ee" sounding words, but it's true. If we are planning a proper EUC implementation, all of these topics must be addressed! I won't get into the nitty gritty of the solution design I'm reviewing, but all that information can be found in the validated design.
Deploying Citrix on Nutanix 🖥
Citrix addresses VDI needs by using the following components:
1) User Device w/ Citrix Workspace App - how end user actually access desktop
2) Citrix Gateway & Workspace App - authentication and authorization solution
3) Citrix Workspace Manager - user profile manager
4) HDX - Citrix developed display protocol
5) Controller, MCS/PVS, Virtual Desktop Agent
6) FS Logix or App Layering - app virtualization solution
CVAD or Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops is Citrix's on-prem VDI solution that we will be focusing on. Citrix also offers a cloud solution, Desktop-as-a-Service, where many of the components like licensing, databases, and the controller are now being handled by Citrix. Similar to Horizon 8, CVAD operates in a pod-like approach, separating the management plane from the control plane.
Split into the control pod and services pod, the control pod consists of the infrastructure services and Citrix components like Storefont, Controller, and Studio that allow for resource authorization, desktop brokerage, and desktop management. These will typically be deployed in redundant fashion with a load balancer distributing traffic. Within the services pod, the actual desktop creation services would run such as machine creation services (MCS) or Citrix Provisioning (PVS). The services pod is where all the virtual desktops will live and can communication with the Delivery Controller using the Virtual Desktop Agent.
*As a side note, there are additional plugins needed so the Nutanix hypervisor can communicate with the delivery controller.
There are more topics and considerations needed to be discussed when considering a VDI solution, but I laid out some high-level architectural principles and definitions. Overall, I'm interested to see how the trees shake-up between the VMware and Nutanix relationship. I know Horizon is still a supported solution, but Citrix is the preferred solution. With Nutanix now able to support workloads in Azure, Citrix DaaS became the first validated solution on the Nutanix Cloud Clusters on Azure. I wonder if VMware Horizon DaaS will follow suit in working with Nutanix to build a hybrid, multicloud environment 🤷♂️