Running XenDesktop 5 inside of VMWare Workstation

This is a follow up to my previous post on trying to run XenDesktop in VMWare Workstation 8. In my previous attempt, I wanted to try and consolidate all of the Windows Server roles into the least amount of virtual servers as possible. In my initial attempts I realized that there was no easy way to avoid having a minimum of 3 Windows Servers. The roles are as follows:

  1. Active Directory
  2. vCenter
  3. XenDesktop Broker

I found that XenDesktop nor vCenter can run on a Domain Controller. The other idea was to run the XenDesktop server roles and vCenter on the same server. I’ll forewarn you that installing XenDesktop on a standalone virtual machine can be difficult enough so, I avoided attempting this configuration. In my previous attempt, I basically ran out of RAM. My physical system only has 8GB of RAM and this lab the proved to be too much for the configuration. My system was unusable just after booting these 3 servers and the ESXi server. There was no way I’d be able to run the VDI workstations inside of the ESXi server.

So, this put my project on hold until I read that my laptop is capable of running with 16GB of RAM. I anxiously upgraded to 16GB of RAM and re-ran my lab. A lesson learned – document your passwords. I couldn’t remember the password to my Domain Controller which forced me to re-install the DC and rejoin all of the machines to the domain. The second problem I ran into was the XenDesktop install. There was basically something wrong with the SQL Express install and AD rights being applied to the DB. every time XenDesktop installer went to create the database tables I received an “xendesktop unhandled exception thrown service” error message. I ended up having to blow away my server hosting XenDesktop and build a fresh VM. The original Windows 2008 R2 server was a clone of a base image I’ve used. This may have something to do with the problems with SQL Express. This cleared the problem and I was to complete the deployment of 10 VDI workstations within the ESXi server running within VMware Workstation 8.

There a drawing of the final lab.

This is an extremely taxing lab. The ultimate bottleneck in my system ended up being my disk. I have a 7400 RPM spinning disk in my laptop and an SSD would have definitely made a big improvement. However, the difference between attempting this lab with only 8GB and 16GB was the difference between success and failure. I was actually able to run all 4 of the infrastructure Virtual machines, my XP golden image machine and two VDI sessions. Here’s a snapshot of my task manager with all of this running.

As you can see I had no hope of getting this to work with only 8GB of RAM

Here’s a snapshot of VMWare Workstation and the nest vCenter with the VDI desktops created by XenDesktop.

I have to tell you I’m pretty geeked that this lab was finally successful. It’s a testament to how powerful VMWare Workstation 8 is with enough RAM. I’m extremely impressed.

Related Posts

XenDesktop 5 inside of VMware Workstation 8 – First attempt

XenDesktop Lab Within VMware Workstation 8 Teaser

 Citrix VDI in a Box within VMware Workstation 8 

My XPS 15 VMware Workstation 8 Lab

Published by Keith Townsend

Now I'm @CTOAdvisor

6 thoughts on “Running XenDesktop 5 inside of VMWare Workstation

    1. Hi, i found a way to get xenserver able to run on virtual machine under vmware8 workstation.
      Simply chose virtualize chose Virtualize intel VT on processor preference on the preference for virtual machine where xenserver run.
      I have windows7 host with several HDD and 24 Gbytes of ram

      1. And would be fine if you get several hdd i’v notice that hdd activities it’s very high during boot and normal operation, so, if you run several VM on several HDD maybe you could obtain a little increment in performance, the ideal would be to have several ssd but it’s expensive for 256 Gb capacity 😀
        If you use openfiler via iscsi? do you think could be a solution to achieve best performance for a lab?
        Sory for my bad english i’m italian

      2. Thanks for the comment. You are correct the more drives the better or one SSD would make a huge difference. Actually I’ve upgraded to multiple HDs and a single SSD and similar labs are much better. I do normally use open filer and ISCSI.

        Not bad English at all.

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