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 (sign up through https://my.nutanix.com/)

Setup Overview

The entire process for setting up Xi Frame on AHV is straightforward. The first set of steps will likely take an hour or so, but should only take about 15 minutes once you’re more experienced.

  1. First, securely download all required components.

  2. Prepare your Nutanix cluster.

  3. Install the Xi Frame Agent onto your existing image to create a gold master image.

  4. Create the Xi Frame Cloud Connector.

    Note

    The Frame Cloud Connector creation process will be 100% automated with the release of Prism Central 5.11. For now, the simple manual process is outlined below.

  5. Log into your Xi Frame Cloud Connector Appliance with your Prism Central credentials to configure it. Select your cluster, network, and Sandbox (gold master image) template.

  6. Connect your cluster to Xi Frame.

  7. 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. Click on the hamburger menu icon in the upper left portion of your Prism Central interface.

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

  8. Click on the “New Category” button.

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  9. 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.)
  10. Click “Save.”

  11. Next, we will upload the required resources. Navigate to the “Quick Access” section from the Prism Central Dashboard and select your cluster. A Prism Element instance will open in your browser.

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

  13. Under the “General” section of the “Settings” menu, click “Image Configuration.” Click on the “Upload Image” button.

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  14. Complete the form that appears and upload the required files (Windows ISO, VirtIO, and the Xi Frame Cloud Connector Appliance).

    ../_images/ahvprep12.png

Warning

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.

Create a Gold Master Image

The first step required to set up Frame on AHV is to 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.
  2. 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.

Note

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.

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

  2. 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
    
  3. Once Sysprep is finished, the machine will automatically power off.

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

  5. Stop the VM.

  6. 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.

Note

If you would like to create more than one master image, please create all master images before moving on to the CCA steps below.

Frame Cloud Connector Appliance Setup

Requirements

The Frame Cloud Connector Appliance must be able to:
  • communicate with Nutanix Prism Central API (HTTPS/443).
  • communicate with the Frame backplane via the Internet (outbound HTTPS/443 and WSS/443).
Frame Workloads need to be placed in a VLAN that:
  • has a DHCP server with sufficiently large IP range to account for the number of VMs (concurrent users).
  • can communicate with the Frame backplane via the Internet (outbound HTTPS/443 and WSS/443).
  • can accept remoting connections from end users that are on a corporate network (inbound HTTPS/443 and WSS/433).

Setup

  1. Create a new VM for the Xi Frame Cloud Connector Appliance (CCA) in a VLAN that meets the requirements listed above.

    ../_images/ahvsetup1.png

Note

For use cases with up to 500 concurrent users, Frame recommends configuring your CCA with 1 vCPU, 2 cores, and 4 GB RAM.

  1. Mount the CCA onto the virtual CD-ROM and select the CD-ROM as the primary boot device.

    ../_images/ahvsetup2.png
  2. Attach a 100 MB (0.1 GB) disk to the VM using the “Add New Disk” function. Do not use the “Add Volume Group” function.

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  3. Save the VM with the preferences specified and power it on.

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By default, the CCA will try to acquire an IP address from a DHCP server. To set a static IP, use the console to access the CCA VM.

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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.

    ../_images/ahvconnect1.png

Note

Be sure to download and mount the ISO for the Xi Frame CCA to the CCA VM. Use a dedicated service account for this step of the setup.

  1. 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 into your “My Nutanix” account 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 reach out to support@fra.me if you need to make any changes to your CCA.

  1. Log in to your Xi Frame account to check the 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 contact support@fra.me 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. Click on the ellipsis listed to the right of your cloud account and select “Edit.” From the account edit 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.”

    ../_images/ahvconnect12.png

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.

Troubleshooting

  • If you accidentally delete your Cloud Connector Appliance, please reach out to support@fra.me for further assistance.

  • 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.