Creating a WVD Session Host in the Azure console

Before you launch into creating host pools in Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD), you’ll need to do some preparations. I’ve detailed those previously here:

Moving to the Cloud  – Part 1

Moving to the Cloud – Part 2

Moving to the Cloud – Part 3

What you need for Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD)

Creating a WVD host pool in the Azure console

this article will show you how to add hosts (i.e. Virtual Machines (VMs)) to the host pool you have already created.

Open the Azure portal and navigate to Windows Virtual Desktop in your tenant and you should see the above screen.

Select the option for Host pools from the menu on the left as shown.

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You should now see a list of Host Pools already created. You’ll need to have at least one host pool to continue, so if you don’t have one yet, you’ll need to go and create it.

Select the host pool you wish to add hosts machines (i.e. VMs) to.

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In this case, I selected Host Pool P2 and see the above screen which should also see some similar. You will note that this Host Pool currently has no Session Hosts in it. To add a Session Hosts (i.e. a VM), select the Session hosts from the menu on the left as shown above.

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Select the +Add button on the right as shown to add a new host VM.

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You’ll now be stepped through a host creation wizard. There generally won’t be anything you can change on this initial page, because the settings are determined already by the Host Pool. So, select the Next: Virtual Machines > button, at the bottom of the page, to continue.

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Select the Resource Group and the Location (i.e. data center) for the host machines. I’d suggest that you keep all of these together in the same data center.

Next, select the Size of the VMs you wish. Have a think here. Any machines you also add to this Host Pool will need to match any machines you add to this pool down the track. So, have a think about how machines you are likely to need in total before you select the size of the VM you want.

Now select the total number of VM’s you wish to create at this time. Again, start small and grow if you need to is the suggestion. That helps keep costs down. You can also enter a Prefix that will be added to each host as it is created. This make it easy to keep track of which hosts below to each pool. My best practice if to use an identifier that let’s you know what pool this host is part of.

When complete, scroll down for more options.

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Next, you’ll need to select where to get the image to put on hosts (i.e what initial operating systems and any additional apps). You can use your own custom image if you wish, but you’ll need to have it prepared beforehand. Here a standard one from the gallery is selected.

Then, select the type of hard disk you wish for the hosts.

These hosts need to live on an existing VNET and Subnet that need to have been set up prior. Again, it’s important that this VNET, and other resources live in the same region. If you mix regions, then some of the resources may not show in the wizard. Best practice again, is to keep all of the WVD infrastructure together in the same region.

If you wish to access these hosts directly from the Internet via something like RDP, you can give them a public IP address. This can be handy for troubleshooting but is not recommended best practices as they will be exposed to attack when running. By default, hosts in a pool are only accessible via the WVD service.

Scroll down the screen for more options.

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If you have configured a sub domain or want to use specific OU’s in your domain for these these new hosts, you’ll need to set the Specify domain or unit option to Yes and add the appropriate configuration.

In my case, as I detailed here:

Moving to the Cloud – Part 3

I set up Azure AD Domain Services, specifically for WVD. Best practice, when I did that, was to create a subdomain like:

ds.domain.com

Thus, I needed to select Yes, here and enter the whole subdomain into the field that appears. You don’t necessarily have to do that, it all comes down to how you have configured your networking. But make sure you put the right entry here or adding hosts will fail.

The last fields on this page ask you for an account to be used to join the hosts to the domain. This can be the source of plenty of pain and frustration. My advice, is to test and ensure that this account actually can manually logon to Azure without MFA and also can actually add machines to the domain. Remember, this join account can’t have MFA enabled due to the automated nature of the join process about to take place. This may require manually adding a VM to the domain using this account, to verify before completing this wizard. Also, be aware that if you get the wrong details and continue with the wizard, not only will the attach fail but the account you are using might get locked out! So, lots to be aware of here and I highly recommend double checking everything as this is the most common point of failure in my experience. Remember, once the hosts are joined you can disable the login for your join account to keep it secure.

When you have made all your selections, press the Next button at the bottom of the page to continue.

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Add any tags you wish on this screen and then select the Next button at the bottom of the screen to continue.

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Azure will then evaluate your selections and let you know if there are any issues that require attention.

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If the validation passes, you should see a green banner at the top of the page as shown and the Create button at the bottom will become available. Select this to continue.

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You should then see the deployment process begin as shown above.

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It will then continue on, through the various stages and take around 10 minutes to complete. That may vary depending on the amount and size of hosts you wish created.

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If all goes as expected, you should then be greeted with a successful deployment page as shown above.

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If you look at the hosts you just created in the Host Pool, you may see their status as Upgrading as shown above. This shouldn’t take long to complete.

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and a few minutes later, the host status should be Available as shown above.

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If you click on any individual host, you should see a summary screen like that shown above.

That completes the process of adding hosts (VMs) to the Host Pool. The next step will be to give users access to these machines which I’ll cover in a upcoming article.

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