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Keeping on top of App Volumes events

VMware App Volumes (formely CloudVolumes), is a very interesting technology and for Virtual Desktops, it simply rocks!

AVLogo

It enables IT administrator to provision applications on-demand, as user require them, getting away from the old way of doing things where admin would have really fat OS images with everything in it or where user would wait hours, sometime days to get the applications they need in their Virtual Desktops.

 

You can learn more about App Volumes here. There’s also a lot of videos on Youtube, encourage you to go check some of them out, for instance, a quick 5 minutes overview, here.

I wanted to focus in this post on a small but very useful tool that one of my colleague released a few days ago. Chris writes a lot of small apps, stuff that his customer ask him for or just apps that comes out of his head after doing stuff manually a few times. I love his tools, he has a bunch of them, you should definitely check him out, http://chrisdhalstead.net.

 

One of his latest tool, an App Volumes Event Notifier. This is very useful if you’re an admin looking to get notified when something happens to your App Volumes environment. You cannot stay in front of the console every single moment of every day, if you could, then you wouldn’t need this tool. Realistically, once you’ve deployed the solution, you will go back to the console when you need to provision new apps or assign them to users. Well, if something happens during a specific task and you’re not specifically on the System Messages in the App Volumes console, you won’t see the event, as it happens or until you actually take the time to go on the tab and inspect the events.

 

Initial setup is pretty straightforward. This assumes you have App Volumes up and running, since this is an App Volumes Event Notifier…

This is very useful for administrator, you can deploy this in less than 5 minutes on your admin workstation or, worst case scenario, run it directly from the AV Manager server (the intent is to stay away from logging in the server but if you’re stuck, you’re stuck…)

I would recommend deploying this on your own machine, very lightweight, does not install any services or any agents of any kind.

Simple pre-requisites, you need at least .Net 3.5 and you also need a user account that has administrative access to the App Volumes Database.

After you have extracted the ZIP file, just run the App_Volumes_Event_Notifier.exe from the folder where everything was extracted.

First time you open it, you will need to configure the connection to the AV Manager DB. Make sure you know the SQL Server name and the instance name before running the tool. Then, you will also need the name of the App Volumes Database, by default (svmanager_production).

Opening big parenthesis here…

<<It is not the goal of this post but in case you need to dig around and get additional information for SQL, I suggest you download and install SQL Management Studio, whatever version that is the same has the SQL server you are running for App Volumes. This is also very helpful to find additional information about the SQL DB, enables you to look at tables, do simple SQL queries and other (assuming you have proper permission to do this). You can easily Google SQL Management Studio, it’s a free download from Microsoft. The nice thing about this, you can also use an older version of the Management Studio, with newer Database. I find this useful when I have to do quick setup of environments, like VMware Mirage or VMware View and I don’t have access to the customer full environment, running SQL Management Studio 2008 to check on the AV DB is easy. I even have a ThinApp version of SQL Management Studio 2005. I know this is totally unsupported but in a lot of Proof of Concepts that I do, it still works and saves me time. Back to the reason of this post>>

Next step is to choose proper credentials. I initially wrote this post with only SQL authentication but I had to update this since Chris added Windows Authentication (which is a very good thing and best practices) to authenticate to SQL Server. After the SQL information is entered, click Save. I would encourage you at this point to test your connection, just for good measures…

AVEvent

 

You are now ready to start the tool, simply clicking on the lower left Start Button. If you want to see live what the events looks like, just switch to the event tab (App Volumes Events), top of the screen.

I have been working with Chris on testing the tool, I have a couple of App Volumes environment running and this is simplifying my life greatly. No need to login every couple of hours to check what is going on, I receive email notification when something wrong happens and then I can login to the environment to troubleshoot.

Chris is working on some new cool feature, we exchanged a bit on what else could optimize the tool and make every App Volumes admin want to run this, I will update this post as soon as the new version goes live.

 

Check out the free tool, here.

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