itopia Cloud Automation Stack (CAS) now supports creating and managing Dedicated Collection Pools as an alternative to Shared Collection Pools. With Dedicated Collections, each user assigned to the Collection Pool gets their own, dedicated Cloud Desktop host server instance.
Dedicated Collection Pools are available for RDS deployments built on Windows Server 2016 and later.
Dedicated vs. Shared Collections
Dedicated Collections leverage the same underlying Microsoft Remote Desktop Services infrastructure as Shared Collections. The key difference is that a Shared Collection hosts multiple Cloud Desktops on each host server, whereas Dedicated Collections deploy only a single Cloud Desktop to each host server.
Dedicated Collections offer an experience that is more similar to "traditional" VDI, where each user is assigned a specific host machine and there is a 1:1 mapping of users to hosts. In contrast, Shared Collections allow a user to connect to any host in the collection, and administrators can define higher ratios of users:host, such as 5:1 or even 20:1 depending on the workload.
In both Collection types, administrators can configure persistent or non-persistent profiles. This means that users in either Collection type can still have access to their personal documents and settings, or they can be configured with profiles that reset after every logoff.
When should you use Dedicated Collection Pools?
Dedicated Collection Pools are most useful if there is a specific application that requires users to always connect to the same host. For example, some users may use software whose license is bound to their host ID, or certain management software may be designed to expect that users will always login to the same host computer.
Dedicated Collection Pools may also be a solution for workloads that require high performance, such as 3D rendering with GPU-enabled hosts. Because Dedicated Collection Pools maintain a 1:1 mapping by default, there is no additional configuration necessary to ensure that each user receives a dedicated host computer.
For most standard workloads, Shared Collection Pools will offer greater cost savings by providing higher user-to-CPU density. Shared Collection Pools also offer greater resiliency for server failures, as users can connect to any host in the Collection Pool, whereas in a Dedicated Collection Pool they can only connect to their assigned host.
Features and Limitations
Dedicated Collection Pools offer many of the same features and configurations as Shared Collection Pools such as using custom images, configuring session settings like clipboard access and session timeouts, and selecting the host server machine type.
Where they differ is that the Collection Pool's Autoscale feature does not apply when users are assigned to servers in a 1:1 ratio. Therefore, Autoscale settings are not available in a Dedicated Collection Pool; a new host server is added to the Collection Pool for each user that is assigned to the Collection Pool.
When considering the use of Dedicated Collections, it is important to consider the following:
- Dedicated Collections can only exist in a single GCP region. Because each user is assigned a specific host computer, it is impractical to replicate that host computer across multiple regions, when it can only be used in one region at a time. In contrast, Shared Collection Pools can exist in multiple regions because the Collection's users can connect to any available host, so any hosts that are powered on can be accessed by users in that region.
- If a user's dedicated host is unavailable (that is, if it is powered off or it suffers a failure), the user will be unable to connect until a new host is provisioned for them.
- Dedicated Collections do not currently support Dynamic Uptime.
- When the deployment is configured to use persistent profiles, Dedicated Collection Pools use FSLogix Profile Containers for storing user data and settings, regardless of whether the deployment is configured to use FSLogix or User Profile Disks (UPDs). If a user is moved between a Dedicated Collection Pool and a Shared Collection Pool that uses UPD, the user's profile will not be migrated.
Creating a Dedicated Collection Pool
When creating a new Collection Pool, the option to select the Collection Type allows you to choose whether to configure the Collection Pool as a Dedicated Collection or a Shared Collection. Note that the Collection Type can only be configured when creating a new Collection Pool; editing an existing Pool will not let you change the Collection Type.
The remainder of the settings can be configured as you would configure a Shared Collection Pool.