In itopia's Cloud Automation Stack (CAS), Collection Pools allow you to create unique sets of RD Session Host servers and configuration settings for different workloads and users. Each Collection Pool lets you define the following:
- Whether to use persistent or non-persistent user profiles
- The regions in which to deploy the Session Host servers
- The disk image to use for the Session Host servers
- The size and capacity of RD Session Host servers
- Server autoscaling and Dynamic Uptime settings
- Session timeouts and other client connection options
When users are created (or imported) in CAS, they are assigned to a Collection Pool. Users can access their Collection Pool resources in several ways; refer to Connection Options for CAS RDS Deployments for more information.
Collection Pool Features and Settings
When you create a new deployment in CAS, the CAS Deployment Wizard walks you through configuring your first Collection Pool. To configure additional Collection Pools, log in to the itopia CAS Admin Portal and navigate to Cloud Desktops → Collection Pools.
To create a new Collection Pool, click Create. To view or change the settings of an existing pool, click on the Collection Pool name.
The sections below will describe the settings available for Collection Pools. Note that some Collection Pool settings cannot be changed after the Pool is created.
Provide the basic details for your Collection Pool.
- Name: Provide a concise, descriptive name for your Collection Pool. This is used to identify your Collection Pool in the CAS Admin Portal. End users will see this name in the RD Web Portal and RD Web Client. This setting cannot be edited once the Collection Pool is created.
- Description: Provide a helpful description of the Collection Pool. This is displayed only in the CAS Admin Portal.
Collection Pool Type
CAS supports multiple Collection Pool types, offering different user experiences based on the requirements for your workload. For more information, refer to Dedicated Collection Pools in itopia CAS. This setting cannot be edited once the Collection Pool is created.
- Shared Collection Pool: Multiple users share a single User Session Server (RD Session Host). Users are connected to any server in the collection.
- Dedicated Collection Pool: Each user is assigned a dedicated User Session Server (RD Session Host). Users always connect to their assigned server.
When creating a new Collection Pool, administrators have several options for configuring user profile behavior. This setting cannot be edited once the Collection Pool is created.
- Users have persistent profiles - Session Hosts in the Collection Pool are configured with FSLogix Profile Containers. When users log in to different Session Host in the Collection Pool, they will have a unified, "roaming" profile with their documents and settings. If users are moved to a different Collection Pool that also has FSLogix Profile Containers enabled, their user profile will be preserved. Note that profiles do not roam across regions; if a user connects to the same Collection Pool in different GCP regions, each region will maintain its own profile. This behavior cannot currently be changed from the CAS Admin Portal but may be manually reconfigured; contact itopia Support for more information.
- Users have non-persistent profiles - Users' profiles are erased each time they log out of their Cloud Desktop, including any documents and settings stored in their profile (i.e. on their desktop or their My Documents folder). If users are configured with mapped drives or other document syncing applications such as Google Drive File Stream or Dropbox, content in those folders is not affected.
- Do not configure user profiles - CAS will not configure the behavior for user profiles. By default, users will maintain a unique local profile on each Session Host to which they connect. Select this option if you plan to configure your own roaming profile solution using group policy objects (GPOs) or third-party software.
Each Collection Pool can be deployed across multiple regions. When creating a new Collection Pool, you will have the option to select the GCP regions to include in the Pool. For each region, CAS will create an RD Collection with identical settings, and users will have access to the RD Collection in each region. When users connect through the MyRDP Portal, they will be directed to their nearest region; refer to the Nearest Connection Point documentation for more information.
- GCP Region: Add one or more regions to which to deploy the Collection Pool. You cannot add or remove regions to a Collection Pool once it has been created.
- Region is active: When a region is active, the MyRDP portal will route users to the region. Mark a region as inactive if you are performing maintenance or the region experiences a service interruption.
NOTE: Your RDS deployment must be configured to support multiple regions during initial configuration in CAS. It is currently not possible to add or remove regions to your deployment.
Each Collection Pool can be configured with a unique set of Autoscale parameters. With Autoscaling, you can specify the number of users per Session Host, as well as the instance size (CPU and RAM) for each Session Host VM.
- Users per server: Using this value, CAS will provision the appropriate number of Session Host servers based on the number of users assigned to the Collection Pool. As users are added or removed, CAS will create or delete Session Host servers as necessary.
- Machine type: Select a predefined GCE VM instance type, or select Custom to provide your own sizing.
- Enable GPUs on Session Hosts: Enable this option to attach a graphics processing unit (GPU) to each Session Host in the Collection Pool.
- GPU Type: Select the GPU type to attach to each Session Host. The available GPUs will vary depending on the GCP region(s) and machine type you have selected.
NOTE: GPUs can incur significant cost and are subject to GCP availability and quotas. Additionally, GCP offers two types of GPUs: compute-acceleration and graphics-acceleration. To learn more about GPUs in Google Cloud, please refer to Google documentation.
Custom Collection Sizing
Custom Collection Sizing allows administrators to define the number of concurrent users for each region in a Collection Pool. If Custom Collection Sizing is disabled, CAS will calculate the number of required Session Host servers based on the total number of users assigned to the Collection Pool. However, if all users will not be connecting to the Collection Pool simultaneously, you can use Custom Collection Sizing to set the number of concurrent users that CAS should target for its Autoscale configuration.
For example: you have an RDS deployment with 100 users, and you want to create a new Collection Pool for two regions; the first region, us-east4, will host approximately 75 users, and the secondary region, us-central1, will host 25. You want each Session Host to serve a maximum of 25 users.
When you enable Custom Collection Sizing, you can specify these limits in the Collection Pool, and CAS will automatically create the appropriate number of RD Session Hosts based on the sizing you specify. Therefore in this example, CAS will create three Session Hosts in us-east4 and one Session Host in us-central1. If you don't specify per-region limits, CAS will create enough Session Hosts in each region to serve all 100 users in the deployment.
Custom Collection Sizing also applies to deployments in only one region. For example, if you have 1000 users in the deployment but only need to support a maximum of 500 concurrent connections, you can enable Custom Collection Sizing and specify 500 users; CAS will build and size your Session Hosts for 500 users. You can change the Custom Collection Size at any time, and CAS will create or delete Session Hosts to match the number of users you specify.
Boot Disk and Boot Image
Each Collection Pool can use a unique disk image to provide different Session Host experiences for end-users. For example, you can prepare two different disk images-- one for your Accounting team and one for your Design team - that have different applications and settings defined. You can assign each disk image to a different Collection Pool to ensure each team gets the best user experience on dedicated servers for their needs.
- Image: Select the GCE OS image to use for the boot disk. You can select public images (such as Windows Server 2019) or any custom images that you have imported into CAS.
- Type: Select whether to use Standard, Balanced, or SSD disks for the boot disk. Standard disks have the lowest cost and provide adequate performance for common workloads; SSD disks have the highest cost but excellent performance for demanding workloads.
- Size: Specify the size, in gigabytes, for the boot disk on each Session Host.
NOTE: When you change these settings for an existing Collection Pool, CAS will ask whether to redeploy existing Session Host servers with the new disk images. If you choose to redeploy, CAS will gradually shut down Session Host servers, reconfigure them with the new image or disk type, and then power them back on; this process will take some time and may impact the user capacity of your Collection Pool. When making your selection, CAS allows you to schedule this change for a future date.
The Dynamic Uptime feature allows CAS to shut down and power on Session Hosts as required based on the number of active users. A detailed explanation of the feature is available in Understanding the Dynamic Uptime Feature.
- Enable Dynamic Uptime: When enabled, CAS will automatically shut down and power on Session Host servers based on the number of active user sessions.
- Excluded servers (per region): Specify the number of Session Hosts that will be excluded from Dynamic Uptime calculations. Use this setting to allocate "always on" servers to handle sudden surges of user logons. The minimum value is 1.
GCP Monitoring (Stackdriver)
Collection Pools also simplify the installation of Google Cloud's Stackdriver agents on Session Hosts. In each Collection Pool, administrators can choose to separately enable the the Stackdriver Monitoring Agent and Stackdriver Logging Agents on Session Host servers. These agents can then be configured in the Google Cloud Console to provide metrics and alerting based on custom criteria.
To learn more, please review How to Use Stackdriver Logging.
Client Connection Settings
Each Collection Pool allows administrators to configure basic client connection settings, including:
- User session timeouts for active and disconnected sessions
- Local device redirection settings
- End-user (non-admin) access to the Windows Task Manager
Additionally, servers for each Collection Pool are created in a dedicated organizational unit (OU) in Active Directory. Administrators can define group policy objects (GPOs) and link them to the OU for specific Collection Pools to further customize the RDS experience for each Pool.
CAS allows you to specify custom GCP metadata labels for all Session Host VMs in a Collection Pool. Metadata labels can be used in a variety of ways in Google Cloud such as for billing reports and crafting custom policies. Add as many custom GCP labels as you wish; these labels will be applied to Session Host VM in the Collection Pool.
NOTE: CAS also supports assigning GCP metadata labels at the deployment level, which are applied to all Collection Pool VMs and infrastructure VMs. You can find this setting from your CAS dashboard, under Settings → General Settings.
Create or Update
If you're creating a new Collection Pool, click Create; if you're updating settings on an existing Collection Pool, click Save. The Collection Pool will appear in the list of Collection pools with an orange status icon. When the status icon is green, you may assign the Collection Pool to users; they will be configured to use the new Collection Pool the next time they download an RDP connection file from the MyRDP Portal.