Working with Writable Volumes

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In this lesson you will upload a writable volume template and create a user writable volume.

What is a Writable Volume?

The App Volumes Writable Volumes feature enables the creation of a per-user volume where the following user-centric data can be installed and configured in different ways and move with the users:

  • Application settings
  • Licensing information
  • Configuration files
  • User-installed applications

The key differences between Application Packages and Writable Volumes are:

  • Package VMDKs are mounted as read-only and can be shared among multiple desktop virtual machines (VMs) within the data center.
  • Writable Volumes are dedicated to individual users and are mounted as the user authenticates to the desktop. Writable volumes roam with the user for non-persistent desktops.

Writable Volumes are not a replacement, but a complementary option to a user environment management solution.  VMware Dynamic Environment Manager is a companion to App Volumes and provides management of user application settings that are applied when the user logs in or when an application launches. VMware Dynamic Environment Manager can manage data within writable volumes at a more granular level, and provide contextual rules to enforce policies based on different conditions or events.  To find out more information on VMware Dynamic Environment Manager please see Module 7 of this lab.

Creating and Assigning a Writable Volume

You are now ready to walk through the creation of a Writable Volume.

Launch Firefox


If Firefox is not already opened on the Main Console:

  1. Launch Firefox shortcut from the Main Console taskbar.

Log in to App Volumes Manager

If you still have the App Volumes Manager tab open in Firefox, return to the tab.

If you closed the App Volumes Manager session or were signed out after the last exercise:

  1. Open the AppVolumes shortcut folder
  2. Click on AppVol-01 shortcut
  3. Enter Username: Administrator
  4. Enter Password: VMware1!
  5. Click Login

Upload Writable Volume Template

There are three user writable volume templates available, each providing different capabilities. Before creating a user writable volume, you must upload the template or templates you want to use.

  • Profile-Only:  Captures and persists the entire Windows profile for the assigned user.
  • UIA Only - The user-installed applications template captures and persists any software programs installed to a non-persistent Windows VM. Windows profile data is ignored, and may be addressed using alternative technologies such as Dynamic Environment Manager. Note: End users must have the appropriate permissions in Windows to install software. Dynamic Environment Manager privilege elevation may be combined with UIA only user writable volumes to support the user-installed applications use case for end users with standard Windows permissions.
  • UIA+Profile -  This template captures and persists both the Windows profile and user-installed applications.
  2. Click Storage
  3. Click Upload Templates

Upload the UIA Only Template

  1. Notice the App Volumes 2.x templates are already uploaded to the App Volumes Manager server. The manager was upgraded from 2.x to 4, and is running in co-existence mode. With co-existence you can still manage your 2.18 agents, while strategically migrating to App Volumes 4.
  2. Select the checkbox for the UIA Only template.
  3. Click Upload.

In this lab you will only use the UIA Only template. In practice, you may choose to upload multiple templates to provide different capabilities to various groups of end users.

Confirm Upload

  1. Click Upload

Template is Uploaded

The template should take just a few seconds to upload. The update icon with a "1" will change back to "0" once the process is completed.

No action is required on this step.

Create Writable Volume

  1. Click the INVENTORY tab
  2. Click Writables
  3. Click Create

Assign a User

First you need to determine who the writable volume will be assigned to.

  1. In the Search Active Directory box, type user1mod5
  2. Click Search
  3. Select CORP\user1mod8

Configure the Writable Volume

In this window you enter a variety of information pertaining to the writable volume.  This includes the template type.  Your template type determines what types of information will be stored within your writable volume.  

Enter the following information:

  1. Confirm the storage type is listed as vcsa-01a.corp.local: [RegionA01] RegionA01-ISCSI01-COMP01. In a production environment you should place the writable volume onto shared storage optimized for random IOPs with 50% read/write.
  2. Accept the default destination path.
  3. Drop down the source template section and select the /template_uia_only.vmdk (10GB).  You can expand the size of your writable volume once the volume has been created.
  4. Exception Resolution allows an administrator to define what happens if the writable volume becomes unavailable for attachment.  Select Block user login.
  5. Click the Limit the attachment check box.
  6. Enter Base.  This will prevent the writable volume from attaching to any virtual machines who's machine name doesn't begin with "base."
  7. Click Create.

Execute the Creation of the Writable Volume

  1. Select Create volumes immediately
  2. Click Create

Confirm the Writable Volume was Created

  1. Click + next to the writable volumes.  As you can see, the writable volume for user1mod8 has been created.
  2. You have the ability to modify the Writable Volume in the following ways:
  • Edit - Allows you to modify such settings as Exception Resolution and Limit Attachment
  • Disable - Prevents a user from being able to attach to the Writable Volume
  • Expand - Allows you to increase the size of the writable volume.
  • Move - Is for when you want to relocate your writable volume to a different datastore
  • Backup - Schedule backups of your writable volumes.  
  • Restore - Restore a Writable volume

Allow End Users to Review Size of Their Writable Volume

With a simple registry edit you can allow your users to view the size of their writable volume.  Please consult the following KB for more information.

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