VMware App Volumes 2.14

2 days ago, on May 29th, VMware released the newest version of App Volumes, version 2.14. In this blog I will cover some of the new and exiting features such as Role-Based Access Control and Backup, Restore and Move Writable Volumes with more depth and my personal opinion.

Role-Based Access Control

I’ve been waiting a while for this option because I see roles for different kinds of expertise, but I don’t want to give them the possibility to view and adjust every setting in the App Volumes Manager.

For example, I would like to give the Servicedesk the possibility to Assign/Unassign AppStacks, Restore Writable Volumes and to view the Log files in case they need to troubleshoot. In version 2.14 it’s now possible to delegate these tasks and build your own custom role.

To create a custom role you access the “Configuration” tab, select “Admin Roles” and click on “Manage Roles”.

Next, you select “Create Custom Role”. In this case I used the name Servicedesk and selected the options;

  • AppStacks > View, Assign/Unassign
  • Writeables > View, Restore
  • Activity > Pending Actions, Activity Log, Troubleshooting

When the custom role is created you can assign it to an AD security group.

In the “Admin Roles” tab click “Assign”, then;

  • Select the role Servicedesk.
  • Insert the name of the AD security group, and click search.
  • Select the AD security group you want to give the Servicedesk role to.
  • Click “Assign”

Now it’s time to logon as a Servicedesk user and check if the assigned user rights are given and I cannot do anything more than that.

After logging in, I immediately noticed that I could still see all the tabs and options available in the App Volumes Manager.

But when I clicked on a tab I did not have access to, I got the message that I didn’t have the permissions for it.

For me personally I would have liked to see only the tabs and options that are available for me. But this is a good start and hopefully viewing only assigned user rights will be something for the next release.

Backup, Restore and Move Writable Volumes

Before version 2.14 there was no built-in option to back up,restore or move Writable Volumes. You could use the VMware fling: App Volumes Backup Utility to back up AppStacks and Writable Volumes but now you have the option to back up, restore and move Writable Volumes in the App Volumes Manager.

Backup Writeable Volumes

In the App Volumes Manager you now have the option to schedule backups for your Writable Volumes and to create a single backup of a specific Writable Volume.

To schedule backups for your Writable Volumes, you select the “Configuration” tab and click on “Settings”. At the bottom of the page you will find the configuration for “Writable Volumes Backups”.

You can configure to create backups every XX days (the default is 7) and select the datastore you want to write the backups to. Easy peasy!

When you, for example, no longer need a specific Writable Volume in a production environment, but still want to have a single backup in your archive. You now have the option create and archive it. To create a single backup, follow the instructions below.

Select the “writables” tab and select the Writable Volume you want to back up. And click “Backup”

Note: When the selected Writable Volume is attached, the options to back up and restore are grayed out!

Select the datastore and destination path you want and click “Backup”

Note: You have the option to delete the Writable Volume after the backup is completed.

Restore Writable Volumes

The restore option is really self-explanatory.

  • You select the Writable Volume.
  • Click Restore
  • Select the datastore you want to restore from
  • Click Restore

Note: When the selected Writable Volume is attached, the options to back up and restore are grayed out!

Move Writable Volumes

Last but not least, you also can move Writable Volumes to other destinations or datastores. To move a Writable Volume.

  • Select the Writable Volume
  • Click Move
  • Select the datastore or change the destination path
  • Click Move

Note: When the selected Writable Volume is attached, the task will be executed after the user has logged off or the Writable Volume is detached

For me, the Role-Based Access Control and Backup, Restore and Move Writable Volume are the major features in this release. Among this there are some other new features I would like to cover.

Writable Volumes on Shared Datastores

You can share Writable Volumes across vCenters using Shared Datastores so users can access their Writable Volumes in environments with multiple vCenter hosts. This is great news because can now log out and log in to a session on another vCenter and continue to use their volume with personal settings and applications.

Improved Login Performance

You can improve the login performance by enabling the “asynchronous mounting” option. When you enable this, the App Volumes Manager no longer waits for disks to be attached before responding to the agent. In large-scale deployments this really is an option you want to consider because the App Volumes Manager will be able to handle more simultaneous login requests and the load on vCenter en Active Directory are reduced.

Support for Cached Exchange Mode and Windows Search Indexing

If you have the combination of App Volumes 2.13 and VMware UEM 9.3 you have the possibility to redirect the Outlook OST file to a writeable volume (Link). This way the Outlook cache roams with the user in non persistent environments, which is a pretty nice feature. When I saw the title “Support for Cached Exchange Mode and Windows Search Indexing” in the release notes I hoped VMware to have created a Writable Volume template explicitly for the OST file and the Window Search Index. But as far as I can see now they only added the support to the existing “UIA only” Writable Volume template.

I hope you are as excited as me about App Volumes and its new features. If you have questions or comments let me know!