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  • Writer's pictureJJC Systems

Create and Manage Session Host Image for Azure Virtual Desktop

Introduction: Azure Virtual Desktop (formerly known as Windows Virtual Desktop) is a cloud-based virtualization service provided by Microsoft. It allows organizations to host and deploy virtual desktops and applications on Azure. One of the key components of Azure Virtual Desktop is the session host image, which serves as the foundation for creating virtual desktops. In this blog post, we will explore the process of creating and managing session host images for Azure Virtual Desktop:

1. Understanding Session Host Images: A session host image is a customized virtual machine (VM) that serves as a template for creating multiple virtual desktops. It contains the operating system, applications, and configurations required by end-users. With a session host image, you can easily provision and scale virtual desktops, ensuring consistent user experiences across the environment.

2. Creating a Session Host Image: To create a session host image, follow these steps:

  • Set up a VM: Begin by deploying a VM in Azure with the desired operating system version and specifications.

  • Install prerequisites: Install any necessary software, updates, and configurations required for your virtual desktop environment.

  • Optimize the VM: Perform optimizations such as disabling unnecessary services, optimizing disk space, and configuring security settings.

  • Install applications: Install the applications that will be available to end-users on their virtual desktops.

  • Sysprep the VM: Use the System Preparation (Sysprep) tool to generalize the VM by removing unique identifiers and preparing it for image creation.

  • Capture the VM: Capture the VM as an image using Azure tools like Azure Image Builder or Azure PowerShell commands.

  • Create a virtual machine image: Finally, create a virtual machine image from the captured VM image, which will serve as the session host image.

3. Managing Session Host Images: Once you have created a session host image, it's important to manage it effectively to ensure seamless deployments and updates.

  • Versioning: Maintain version control for session host images to track changes and updates over time. This allows you to roll back to previous versions if necessary.

  • Patching and Updates: Regularly update and patch the session host image to address security vulnerabilities and ensure optimal performance.

  • Image Customization: Customize the session host image as per changing requirements. This includes installing new applications, updating configurations, or making any necessary adjustments.

  • Image Validation: Validate the session host image periodically to ensure it is in good working condition. This can be done by deploying virtual desktops from the image and testing their functionality.

  • Image Deployment: Deploy the session host image to Azure Virtual Desktop to provision virtual desktops for end-users.

4. Best Practices for Session Host Images: Consider the following best practices when creating and managing session host images:

  • Start with a minimal base image: Begin with a clean and minimal OS image to reduce the size and complexity of the session host image.

  • Automate image creation: Use automation tools like Azure Image Builder or scripting to streamline the image creation process and ensure consistency.

  • Separate data from the image: Avoid including user data or personalization settings in the session host image. Instead, use user profiles or FSLogix to separate data from the image.

  • Regularly update and patch the image: Keep the session host image up-to-date with the latest patches, updates, and security configurations.

  • Leverage image management tools: Take advantage of Azure tools and features to simplify image management, such as Azure Image Builder, Azure Automation, and Azure Resource Manager templates.

Conclusion: Creating and managing session host images is a crucial aspect of Azure Virtual Desktop deployment. By following the steps outlined in this blog post and implementing best practices, you can efficiently create, customize, and maintain session host images for your virtual desktop environment. Effective image management ensures a consistent and reliable experience for end-users, simplifies updates and deployments, and enhances the overall efficiency of your Azure Virtual Desktop infrastructure.

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