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VMware Horizon View on-premises VDI

VMware Horizon View is an effective on-premises virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution for virtualizing ArcGIS Pro. View is a heavily used VDI platform and supports one of the most important requirements for virtualizing ArcGIS Pro: to provide a shared or pass-through graphics processor unit (GPU) to the virtual machine (VM).

The VMware ESXi hypervisor GPU support enables the VM to adequately service the DirectX or OpenGL calls generated by ArcGIS Pro. The VMware Horizon client provides the technology to quickly deliver the graphics generated on server.

Below are important hardware requirements and steps for the successful deployment of ArcGIS Pro using VMware VDI technology.

Hardware Requirements

The server hardware required to virtualize ArcGIS Pro with VMware Horizon View shares a common architecture: 2U servers, with current processors, 256 GB of RAM or more, adequate storage, and shareable or pass-through GPUs. The GPU allows a virtualized copy of ArcGIS Pro to provide exceptional 3D rendering and an exceptional user experience. Currently tested GPUs that deliver this performance are NVIDIA GRID:

  • K-series
  • M-series
  • P-series

1. Select the server hardware

ArcGIS Pro relies on GPU-enabled hardware to provide an acceptable user experience in a virtual environment. Selecting the correct server hardware that is compatible for delivering ArcGIS Pro is important. To be sure that the server you intend to purchase is compatible with an NVIDIA GRID GPU, see NVIDIA GRID Certified Servers.

Below are examples of the required hardware specifications, which can also be found as part of the ArcGIS Desktop Virtualization Dell Appliance.

  • Two (2) 14-Core Intel® Xeon® E5-2680 v4 2.4 GHz Processors, 35 MB SmartCache
  • Two (2) NVIDIA Tesla M60 PCIE 3.0 Dual Slot Graphics Cards with 16 GB of GDDR5 memory (8 GB per GPU)
  • 256 GB RAM (32 x 8 GB RDIMMs)
  • Five (5) x 800 GB Solid State 6 Gbps SATA Hard Drives with RAID 6

2. Select a GPU

Graphics processor units are essential for delivery of ArcGIS Pro. Selecting the correct GPU or GPUs is dependent on the type of server (blade or rack), the ArcGIS Pro workloads that need to be supported, and the VM or server density. To help determine what type of GPU is best for your VDI deployment, see NVIDIA Virtualization.

3. Install components for the hypervisor—ESXi

To successfully deploy ArcGIS Pro with VMware, you need to have three components outside of the hardware needs:

  • Install the hypervisor (ESXi 6.x or greater).
  • Install the vSphere Client or vCenter to manage the hypervisor as well as configure the vGPU.
  • Install VMware Horizon client (4.x or greater) to connect with the VMs.

For additional information, see the VMware Knowledge Base.

4. Install NVIDIA GRID Virtual GPU Manager

The next step is to install the NVIDIA GRID Virtual GPU Manager. This calls for installing the NVIDIA VIB. From the NVIDIA website, download the appropriate archive with the needed VIB and drivers for your host and VMs. The basic steps to successfully install the VIB are listed below with a link to detailed steps.

  • Upload vGPU VIB to a desired datastore using the WinSCP or vSphere web client.
  • Place the host in maintenance mode.
  • Use PuTTY to install the VIB ( $ esxcli software vib install -v <path>/<name of vib>)

For additional information, see the VMware Knowledge Base.

5. Create and configure the virtual machines

VMware Tools is a suite of utilities that enhances the performance and management of the virtual machine's guest operating system. To initiate installation, open the VM console via vCenter or RDP to the VM.

VMware View Agent and VMware View Agent Direct Connection need to be installed within the VM through the vCenter remote or RDP. These installation files can be downloaded from the VMware Horizon View website. Once the View agents are installed, the VM can be accessed remotely using the Horizon View Client.

6. Connect the client

Horizon Clients are available for Windows and other operating systems. These clients provide a connection to VMs from your device of choice. Once the client has been installed, users connect to View Connection Server or through a direct connection to the VMs hosted in the data center. The Horizon Client can utilize RDP, PCoIP, or Blast Extreme for connection; however, only PCoIP and Blast are recommended for ArcGIS Pro and 3D rendering.

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