Xi Frame on Nutanix AHV

Frame is an infrastructure-agnostic desktop-as-a-service platform built for cloud deployment. With minimal setup, you can now use Frame to host your apps, desktops, and user data on your own private cloud using Nutanix AHV infrastructure.

Requirements

  • Nutanix cluster running AHV with Acropolis Operating System (AOS) with Prism Central 5.10 or newer
  • Frame Agent and Frame Cloud Connector Appliance (which you can find here)
  • A Xi Frame subscription
  • Review the Network Configuration Requirements documentation which outlines required network protocol and port configurations.
  • Review the Platform Hierarchy documentation to ensure you understand Xi Frame account infrastructure.

Attention

The automated deployment of Cloud Connector Appliance for Frame on AHV is supported for standard installations of Prism Central 5.11.2 or higher, and CCA version 2.1. If you have a custom/older version of either component, please follow the Xi Frame on AHV (Manual CCA) instructions.

Setup Overview

  1. First, securely download all required components.
  2. Prepare your Nutanix cluster.
  3. Install the Xi Frame Guest Agent onto your existing image to create a gold master image.
  4. Connect your cluster to Xi Frame.
  5. Once connected, you can create and manage your Xi Frame on AHV accounts directly from the Xi Frame interface.

Note

Xi Frame can be connected to a Prism Central deployment that manages multiple AHV clusters. There must be one Cloud Connector Appliance per Nutanix Frame datacenter.

Prepare your Nutanix Cluster

Navigate to your Prism Central Management console to prepare your cluster for Xi Frame on AHV. You will want to start by creating a user account to be used by Frame for provisioning and infrastructure management.

  1. Go to your Prism settings by clicking on the gear menu in the top right corner of the management console.

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  2. Click on “Local User Management” from the menu on the left-hand side. Click the “New User” button.

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  3. Fill out the “Create User” form that appears.

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  4. Ensure that both “User Admin” and “Prism Central Admin” boxes are checked before submitting the information.

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  5. Save your user name and password – you will need these later on in the process.

  6. From your home drop-down menu on the left, click “Settings.”

  7. Under the “Setup” section of the “Settings” menu, click “Connect to Frame.”

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  8. On this page, specify the following:

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    • Select Frame Service: This is your Frame Service deployment type. Most organizations should select “Commercial” unless using a Frame GovCloud deployment.
    • Dedicated AHV cluster: Select the cluster where the CCA would be deployed from the drop-down menu.
    • Network connected to Prism Central: Specify the VLAN that will be used by this CCA from the drop-down menu.

Note

DHCP must be configured in order for this operation to work. IF you do not have DHCP configured, please reference the Xi Frame on AHV (Manual CCA) instructions.

  1. Click “Next.” The current image for CCA will be downloaded from Nutanix portal and deployed on the Nutanix cluster specified in the previous step. The progress can be monitored in the status bar. Once complete, click “Configure.”

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Create a Gold Master Image

Considerations

Please consider the following before starting this section:

  • Nutanix Guest Tools cannot be installed onto your gold master image, as this could cause communication issues between the Frame backplane and workload instances. If your image already has Nutanix Guest Tools installed, you must install VirtIO drivers before uninstalling Nutanix Guest Tools. If you attempt to remove Nutanix Guest Tools without first installing VirtIO drivers, your virtual machine will not boot.

  • When creating a new master image or adding an existing disk to a VM in Prism Central or Prism Element, you must use iSCSI as the bus type and do not use a volume group as the disk type. IDE bus types and volume groups disks are not supported as Frame master VM disks.

  • Due to technical specifics of how the Frame display driver works, once the Frame Guest Agent is successfully installed the VM can no longer be accessed via the built-in AHV VNC console.

  • We recommend disabling automatic Windows updates on the Master image. Automatic updates should also be disabled on non-persistent images locally and via any applied GPOs if linked to production pool VMs. Leaving Windows updates enabled could potentially impact user performance in certain use cases.

  • When setting up the Gold Master image, it can be useful to have the Windows Firewall disabled. To do so, run the following command in Powershell.

    Set-NetFirewallProfile -Profile Domain, Public, Private -Enabled False
    
  • If you plan on setting up Domain Join for your account, we strongly recommend that you do not domain join the Gold Master Image since the sysprep step will eliminate it from the domain anyway.

Let’s create a Windows master image or “gold master image.” You can create more than one master image if you would like, since Xi Frame allows you to use multiple images. If you plan on using a Windows 10 image, there are certain conditions that could cause sysprep to fail. Please reference this article from Microsoft for additional details.

  1. First, starting with a Windows Server 2016 or Windows 10-based image, create a VM and place it on the cluster you are going to use for Xi Frame. When configuring your image, you must use an account with administrative privileges.

Warning

The Windows account name “Frame” is reserved, please use a different name when setting up your Windows account to prevent accessibility issues.

  1. Access the VM via RDP. Do not use the built-in VNC client. To enable RDP on your VM, run the following Powershell command as an Administrator.

    Set-ItemProperty -Path 'HKLM:\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Terminal Server' -name "fDenyTSConnections" -value 0
    

Attention

Before moving on to step 3, we strongly suggest that you create a snapshot of your master image to use if needed.

  1. Install the Frame Guest Agent using either the standalone executable or using an ISO image with the executable. We recommend using the ISO image since it can be uploaded to Prism and mounted to the virtual CD-ROM.

  2. Once you have configured the image the way you like, launch Powershell as an Administrator.

  3. Run the following command:

    Start-Process -FilePath "C:\Windows\System32\Sysprep\Sysprep.exe" -ArgumentList "/oobe /shutdown /generalize /unattend:C:\ProgramData\Frame\Sysprep\Unattend.xml" -Wait -NoNewWindow
    
  4. Click on the hamburger menu icon in the upper left portion of your Prism Central interface.

  5. Expand the “Virtual Infrastructure” menu item and select “Categories.”

  6. Click on the “New Category” button.

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  7. Fill in the form with the following values:

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    • Name: FrameRole
    • Purpose: Create and Manage Frame Instances
    • Values: Instance, Template, and MasterTemplate (Add each value on separate lines using the plus symbol.)
  8. Click “Save.”

  9. Eject the CD-ROM device on the VM.

  10. Stop the VM.

  11. Navigate to your VM list and click on your VM. Put the VM in the FrameRole category you created earlier with the value MasterTemplate by opening the “More” drop-down menu and selecting “Manage Categories.”

Warning

Make sure the MasterTemplate VM does not get deleted.

You have successfully created a gold master image to use for your Xi Frame workloads. Move on to step 2 in the setup overview section above. If you run into any issues, check out the Troubleshooting section at the end of this guide.

Connect your AHV Cluster to Frame

Connecting your AHV cluster to Frame is the final task required to get Frame running on AHV.

  1. Access the Frame Cloud Connector wizard by navigating to the CCA’s IP. For example https://192.168.2.X.

  2. Login with the Prism Central account you have designated for Xi Frame and enter the Prism Central URL.

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  3. Select your cluster and network VLAN to host desktops and enter your desired cloud account name. If you plan on using Enterprise Profiles and/or Personal Drives, check the designated check box. Fill in the service account user name, password, and container to store the data for Personal Drives and/or Enterprise Profiles.

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Note

To ensure a smooth setup, please make sure you are logged in to your Frame customer entity or organization entity (either through “My Nutanix” or your identity provider) in a separate tab in your browser window.

  1. Define and add the VM instance types to use for your AHV-hosted Xi Frame account.

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  2. Check the box next to your golden master image VM template for the Sandbox template.

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  3. Click on the “OS” field listed next to your Sandbox template. Select your desired operating system. Click “Next” when you’re ready.

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  4. Select the Customer entity or Organization you created earlier in the Xi Frame account setup. Click “Finish.”

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  5. The wizard should inform you that your cluster has been connected successfully.

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Note

At this time, you cannot make any configuration changes to the Cloud Connector Appliance after it has been connected to the cluster. This functionality is coming soon. Please create a support case through your MyNutanix portal if you need to make any changes to your CCA.

  1. Log in to your Xi Frame account to check the cloud account creation status. The “C” status indicates that the account is still being created.

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Note

If your account status hasn’t changed after an hour, please create a ticket through your MyNutanix support portal and provide your cloud account’s display name. You can locate the cloud account’s display name by navigating to the Organization or Customer entity’s “Cloud Accounts” tab.

  1. The account status should change from “C” (Creating) to “R” (Ready).

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  2. Once the cloud account is ready, you can use your AHV infrastructure to create an account. From the account creation page, click “Nutanix” to use your AHV infrastructure. Select the on-prem datacenter you created earlier as your datacenter. Click “Create.”

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  3. Navigate to your freshly-created account. On the Sandbox page of your Dashboard, you will see that your Sandbox is “under maintenance.” The most recent Xi Frame server components are likely being installed at this time. When it’s ready, the status will update to “running.”

Note

You can also monitor the status of the Sandbox by navigating to the “Status” page of the account Dashboard.

  1. Click the “Start Session” button to enter your Sandbox.

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You can now manage your Xi Frame account and VMs from the standard Xi Frame interface.

Deleting an AHV Cloud Account

Xi Frame administrators can deactivate an AHV Cloud Account from Frame when they wish to disassociate or delete an AHV Cloud Account registration from their customer or organization entity. Once the AHV Cloud Account is deactivated, the AHV cluster administrator can terminate the corresponding Cloud Connector Appliance (CCA) VM(s) and Workload Cloud Connector Appliance (WCCA) VM through Prism Central.

In order to disassociate an AHV Cloud Account, please follow the following steps:

  1. Terminate any Accounts that are using the Cloud Account which needs to be deleted. This can be done by clicking the ellipsis and click Update to Terminate a Frame account. When a Frame account is terminated, the workload VMs including the Sandbox, Utility Server(s), Backups and production VMs will be terminated.
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  1. After deleting the Frame accounts, access the Cloud Account (from Organization or Customer entity wherever it is associated) and click on the ellipsis. The Deactivate menu item can now be selected to deactivate the AHV Cloud Account on the customer or organization entity.
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  1. The AHV Cloud Account will disappear from the Cloud Account list after successful deactivation.
  2. If there are no other Cloud Accounts created under the Organization, then the Organization can be removed by clicking the ellipsis(3 vertical dots) and clicking “Update” and then click “Terminate” from the menu bar at the top. (If there are any Accounts still associated with this Organization, then the option to Terminate will not be available). Click “Terminate” to remove the Organization.
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  1. Now, access Prism Central of the associated AHV cluster and delete the Cloud Connector Appliance (CCA) VMs and Workload CCA VM.
  2. Under Images, delete any images which were added for Cloud Connector Appliance(CCA).

Troubleshooting

  • To troubleshoot CCA issues, admins can review logs or access network configuration via AHV’s VNC console.

  • If the CCA page does not display the “Prism Central URL” field, verify the following:

    • Ensure that there is a 0.1 GB attached disk on the CCA.
    • Ensure that a “volume group” is not attached to the VM.