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The First 7 Things to Configure in a New Nerdio Manager Deployment

Provisioning with Nerdio is an exciting experience. A whole new virtual environment is created and ready to be explored, configured, tested, and deployed. However, we find that partners often jump ahead and don’t set themselves up for success. This article discusses the first 7 things to do in a newly provisioned Nerdio environment to allow for a smooth and seamless deployment.

This list is in sequential order, so following along from point 1-7 is best practice.

1. Linking Your Domain

By default, Nerdio provisions with a Federated domain that looks something like where XXXX is the four digit ID associated with your account. This domain is assigned as the default domain and all users get the UPN applied upon import and creation. Understandably, this can create conflicts when importing users from the existing environment, or creating new ones. To avoid this, we recommend linking your primary domain and setting it as default. 

To link your primary domain, login to the Nerdio Admin Portal (NAP), then navigate to the “Onboard” section and select “Domains” from the drop down. Once there, select “Add Domain” and go through the process of verifying the domain. After the domain is verified, select “Set as default”.

2. Turning On Backups

This section goes without saying and I know is best practice. However, amidst the excitement of getting everything configured in a new environment, this step often gets put on the back burner until it is too late.

The process for tuning backups on is very simple. First login to the NAP, go to the “Backup & DR” section and select “In-region backup.” It will take a few seconds to load, but once it’s loaded turn the switch to “ON” and then manually force a backup on each of the servers. This provides a fresh image of the environment to fall back on if something goes awry during the initial configuration. 

3. Syncing Office 365 & Importing Users

Importing users is a pretty straight forward process:

  1. If your existing environment is already using AD Connect, you’ll want to follow THIS article to ensure the correct PowerShell modules are installed. 
  2. Then follow the instructions HERE to stop the current on premise AD sync, clearing the immutable ID’s, and re-syncing with Azure AD.
  3. After the steps above have been completed THIS article walks through the Import process.

Nerdio Tip: When importing users, a password reset is necessary. This is a Microsoft limitation and is part of user import process. We recommend gathering a list of the user’s current passwords, and then leveraging Nerdio’s Bulk Add/Update tool to reassign the old passwords after the import. 

4. Configuring the Golden Image (GI) and Pool Template

This step will take the most time, and it’s better when broken into three phases.

Phase 1 – Configure/Install environment wide settings/applications on the GI. This is the standard image for your environment. All pool template VMs & individual users’ virtual desktop sessions will get created based on the GI. We encourage admins not to make very specific user customizations to the GI. It should contain applications that are common to all, or most, users in the deployment. For more information on configuring the GI, check out THIS article.

Phase 2 – Configure/install user specific settings/applications on the Pool Template. The template is where most of the customizations begin. It’s the standard for every session host within that specific pool. This is where you set things like the VM series size (CPU and RAM), drive capacity (OS disk size and performance), unique applications and settings specific to the members in that pool. 

Phase 3 – Assign users to the pools and configure the scale settings on the pools. Scale settings should be set specific to the user count and use case.

For further details on pool logic and configuration, see THIS article.

5. Configuring VM Series Size for Use Case

We find that partners tend to be a bit hesitant when it comes to modifying the VM series size in their environment. As a reminder, we like to assure our partners that we are here to empower them, not limit them.

We provision a new environment with the minimum requirements for testing. We do not provision based on the recommendations for a production deployment. We do this to limit the initial cost associated with the environment and the understanding that most partners don’t “Go Live” in their first week in a new environment. As a result, we help manage cost on the front end. All servers in a new deployment will be either A or B series VM’s.

With that, our recommendation is to, at the minimum, run FS01 on a D2sv3, DC01 on B2ms, & the pools on a D2sv3’s. Something we do like to point out, don’t assign a B-series VM to a server with an SSD drive. Due to the limitations of the B-series it won’t actually leverage the added IOPS and performance of the SSD drive. This means you’ll be paying extra for the solid state when the B-series VM could never actually utilize the added capabilities of the SSD.

At the end of the day we cannot anticipate the needs of each environment and monitoring/tracking will need to take place to determine the best resource allocation (tracking can be done via an RMM tool, or by logging into each session host and monitoring Task Manager). This is especially true in the first 1-2 weeks. In that timeframe we recommend waiting to implement scale settings in order to keep things in the environment controlled. Once the VM series sizes have been appropriately adjusted, and usage patterns have been tracked, scale settings can be implemented to help optimize cost savings. 

Nerdio Tips:

  • If your domain is “Managed” you won’t need the PRX01 server. In that case, the drive size can be reduced to an HDD (S10) and the VM can be powered off to save on cost.
  • You can check if your domain is “Managed” by going to the Nerdio Admin Portal, Onboard>Domains and checking for “Managed” or “Federated” in parentheses at the end of the domain suffix.

6. Cleanup the Environment

In the initial provisioning, Nerdio assigns 4 test users. Those users are designed to help navigate the environment, and provide parity to a live deployment. They can be modified and adjusted at your discretion. We do recommend having one “Admin” account that’s been granted “Domain Admin” rights (follow this article for instructions) and is part of the IT Department AD Group. That user can then be leveraged to login to DC01 & FS01. 

During the provisioning phase of a deployment Nerdio leverages one M365 license. Post provisioning that license is assigned to the AndyIT user, along with a dedicated desktop. To cut on cost, and recover the license, you can remove the dedicated desktop from Andy IT, and also strip the license. 

Final Thoughts

In relation to VM series size and scale settings, we recommend in the first week or so to turn off scale settings on the pools and overcompensate with the resources. The last thing you want is for the client to be unhappy in their new environment due to slow performance. Just make sure that during the initial week or two you have an RMM tool installed and monitoring performance. Once you’ve gathered consistent usage patterns from your client you can then implement scale rules and Reserved Instances. 

So that’s it guys. The first 7 things to configure in your new AVD deployment. If you get these all dialed in you’ll be set for a smooth migration, deployment, and end user experience.


Multi-Cloud and On-Premises Deployment with Azure Stack HCI (Coming Soon)

Deploy Azure Virtual Desktop in Azure and extend the session host VM placement to on-premises and other cloud using Azure Stack HCI. Nerdio Manager automates deployment of session hosts, AVD agent installation, and full integration into the AVD deployment in Azure.

Create a brand new Azure Virtual Desktop environment or allow Nerdio Manager to discover an existing deployment, connecting to existing resources, and manage them.

Deploy Nerdio Manager from Azure Marketplace and configure a new AVD environment with an easy to follow, step-by-step configuration wizard. First group of users can access their AVD desktop in less than 2 hours.

Service providers, system integrators, and consultants can leverage Nerdio Manager’s scripted AVD deployment template. Create complete environments with desktop images, host pools, and auto-scaling in minutes.

Create and manage AVD environments that span Azure regions and subscriptions. Quickly link Vnets and resource groups and manage AVD deployments world-wide from unified portal.

Link multiple Azure tenants under the same Nerdio Manager instance and manage AVD deployments that span Azure AD tenants. User identities and session host VMs can run in separate tenants for maximum flexibilty and security.

Deploy and manage AVD environments that span across sovereign Azure Clouds. Cross-sovereign cloud support allows identity (e.g. users and groups) to be in one Azure Cloud, while session host VMs are in another Azure Cloud.

Management of workspaces, host pools, app groups, RemoteApps & custom RDP settings

Administer every aspect of AVD with Nerdio Manager including workspaces, host pools, application groups, RemoteApp publishing, RDP properties, session time limits, FSLogix, and much, much more. Every Azure service that AVD relies on can be managed with Nerdio Manager.

Deploy and manage AVD session host VMs. Hosts can be created manually or with auto-scaling, deleted on-demand or on a schedule, re-imaged to apply updates, run a scripted action, resized, put into or taken out of drain mode, and more.

Manage user sessions across the entire AVD environment, within a workspace, host pool or on a single host. Monitor session status, disconnect or log off the user, shadow or remote control to provide support, or send user an on-screen message.

End users have the ability to log into Nerdio Manager with their Azure AD credentials and manage their own session, restart their desktop VM, or start a session host if none are started in a host pool. (Ability to resize and re-image own desktop is coming soon.)

Create, link, and manage Azure Files shares including AD domain join. Synchronize Azure Files permissions with host pools, configure quotas, and enable SMB multi-channel. Manage file lock handles and configure Azure Files auto-scaling to increase quota as needed.

Create, link, and manage Azure NetApp Files accounts, capacity pools and volumes. Configure provisioned volume size, monitor usage, and use auto-scaling to automatically adjust volume and capacity pool size to accommodate the needed capacity and latency requirements.

FSLogix configuration can be complex and overwheling, but not with Nerdio Manager. Create one or more FSLogix profiles with all the needed options, point at one or more Azure Files, Azure NetApp Files, or server locations and select from VHDLocations, CloudCache and Azure Blob storage modes.

Multiple identity source profiles can be set up and used automatically on different host pools. Active Directory, Azure AD DS, and Native Azure AD are all supported. Choose the appropriate directory profile when adding a host pool and all VMs will automatically join this directory when being created.

Create a copy of a host pool with all of its settings: auto-scale config, app groups and RemoteApps, MSIX AppAttach, user/group assignments, VM deployment settings, etc. Save time by creating host pool “templates” that can be cloned to any Workspace, Azure region or subscription instead of starting from scratch.

Apply user session time limits at host pool level. Automatically log off disconnected sessions, limit the duration of idle sessions, control empty RemoteApp session behavior and more.

Assign Azure AD users to personal desktops to ensure the user will log into a pre-configured VM. Un-assign personal desktops from users who leave the organization and re-use these VMs for new users.

Pre-configure custom Azure tags for all Azure resources associated with each host pool. Tags can be used for charge-back and cost allocation by host pool.

When creating session hosts using NV-series VMs NVIDIA and AMD GPU drivers are automatically installed.

Move existing host pools from Fall 2019 (Classic) object model to Spring 2020 (ARM) object model. Choose to whether to move or copy user assignments. Existing session hosts are automatically migrated or new ones can be created in the ARM host pool.

Automatically enable and configure AVD integration with Azure monitor. Zero configuration required. Azure Monitor Insights for AVD can be used instead of or in conjunction with Sepago Monitor.

AVD personal desktops to Windows 365 Cloud PC migration (Coming Soon)

Migrate users from AVD personal desktops to Windows 365 Enterprise Cloud PCs using an existing image and user assignment. (Coming soon)


Cloud PC License Usage Optimization (Coming Soon)

Cloud PC device lifecycle management

Cloud PC user group assignment

Intune primary user management on Cloud PCs

Migrate AVD personal desktops to Cloud PCs (Coming Soon)

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