VMware Horizon View, Session in Session leads to poor performance

A client of mine wanted to dip their toe into the Cloud and what better way than to start delivering applications from the cloud into an existing on-prem VDI environment.

The on-prem setup comprised of nothing more complicated than a Windows 7 VDI and the proposed application was a more recent flavour of the Microsoft Office suite with Windows 2012 under the hood. The environment was spun up painlessly as an extension of the existing Horizon 7.0.2 deployment and integrated as a separate site off the Cloud Pod Architecture capability of VMware Horizon. Application delivery was initially tested by launching the app from a desktop PC geared up with VMware Client 4.3 and it worked flawlessly as expected. Superb, or so I thought, until however I tried to repeat the same application launch from the VDI platform.

The application started, but interactivity seemed sluggish so I figured I’d misconfigured something on the VMware client, perhaps a mismatch in Protocol or something or some sort of contention from the client on its journey into the cloud. After playing around with the various protocols, bearing in mind the VDI session was established using PCoIP and application publishing was also configured to use PCoIP, I tested every possible option to include BLAST to the VDI, PCoIP to the app, PCoIP to the VDI and BLAST to the app etc, but with no success. (note it is not possible to use RDP for application publishing. I’m not entirely sure why – please leave me a comment if you know the reason, but at the time of writing, RDP as a protocol is only usable with desktop publishing). I then RDP’d directly to the Windows 2012 server within the VDI session using the native MSTSC client and performance was absolutely fine (also tested with RemoteApp and it too was fine).

This left me no option but to log a ticket with VMwares GSS and their initial acknowledgement suggested this behaviour wasn’t unexpected. Whilst there is no definitive answer to the problem, it appears to be linked to the behaviour on a device that is installed with both the Horizon Agent in combination with the Horizon Client. This does therefore seem to be a fairly big problem for companies looking to stagger their application migration into the cloud, certainly when using VMware as the core and sole EUC platform.

Update: 26/01/17

After setting up a Citrix bare bones environment and repeating the same application publishing exercise, it was identified that the application was still subject to poor interactive performance!!  This was now despite running a PCoIP session and running an HDX delivered published application within it! 

At that point I figured the problem must be down to the source VDI, rather than the destination app. I subsequently configured a new test pool and started playing around with rendering options to include more VRAM and fewer monitors until eventually, the optimum configuration involved completely dropping 3D rendering altogether. 

Oh no! Turning this off means the loss of Aero for Windows 7, which was the sole purpose for it being enabled in the first instance! Without GPU cards in the hosts (BL460 blades) software rendering is the only choice to permit the clients required configuration, so it seems that session in session publishing using anything other than RemoteApp simply isn’t a possibility to meet their needs.

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