Product Documentation

Servers

A Provisioning Server is any server that has Stream Services installed. Provisioning Servers are used to stream software from vDisks, as needed, to target devices. In some implementations, vDisks reside directly on the Provisioning Server. In larger implementations, Provisioning Servers get the vDisk from a shared-storage device on the network.

Provisioning Servers also retrieve and provide configuration information to and from the Provisioning Services database. Provisioning Server configuration options are available to ensure high availability and load-balancing of target device connections

To configure a Provisioning Server and software components for the first time, run the Configuration Wizard (the Configuration Wizard can be re-run on a Provisioning Server at a later date in order to change network configuration settings).

After the Provisioning Server software components are successfully installed, and the wizard configurations have been made, servers are managed through the Provisioning Services Console.

Tip:

When configuring PVS servers, ensure proper firewall isolation is observed so that the deployment provides a robust security boundary around all servers, including the SQL server and disk storage, so that network access outside the security boundary is restricted to prevent viewing of weakly authenticated or unencrypted data flows.

At a minimum, isolate only those PVS server instances that communicate with one another on their unauthenticated intra PVS server communication channels. To achieve this, configure hardware firewalls to ensure that packets cannot be routed from outside this boundary to servers within the boundary. Extend this firewall protection paradigm to the SQL server and disk storage components where configurations do not have appropriate SQL server and disk storage links. This should prevent unauthorized users from targeting these additional components.

Provisioning servers in the console

A Provisioning Server is any server that has Stream Services installed. Provisioning Servers are used to stream software from vDisks, as needed, to target devices. In some implementations, vDisks reside directly on the Provisioning Server. In larger implementations, Provisioning Servers get the vDisk from a shared-storage device on the network.

Provisioning Servers also retrieve and provide configuration information to and from the Provisioning Services database. Provisioning Server configuration options are available to ensure high availability and load-balancing of target device connections.

To configure a Provisioning Server and software components for the first time, run the Configuration Wizard (the Configuration Wizard can be re-run on a Provisioning Server at a later date in order to change network configuration settings).

After the Provisioning Server software components are successfully installed, and the wizard configurations have been made, servers are managed through the Provisioning Services Console. The Console is used to perform Provisioning Server management tasks such as editing the configuration settings or the properties of existing Provisioning Servers.

Provisioning Servers appear in the Console main window as members of a site within a farm. To manage Provisioning Servers that belong to a specific site, you must have the appropriate administrative role (Site Administrator for this site, or Farm Administrator).

Note:

In the Console, the appearance of the Provisioning Server icon indicates that server’s current status.

In the Console, Provisioning Servers are managed by performing actions on them. The following actions can be performed. To view a list of actions that can be performed on a selected Provisioning Server, choose from the following options:

  • Click the Action menu in the menu bar.
  • Right-click on a Provisioning Server in the Console.
  • Enable the Action pane from the Views menu

Note:

Actions appear disabled if they do not apply to the selected Provisioning Server (refer to “Management Tasks” for task details).

Showing Provisioning Server connections

To view and manage all target device connections to the Provisioning Server:

  1. Highlight a Provisioning Server in the Console, then select Show connected devices from the Action menu, right-click menu, or Action pane. The Connected Target Devices dialog appears.</span>
  2. Select one or more target devices in the table to perform any of the following connection tasks:
Option Description
Shutdown Shuts down target devices that are highlighted in the dialog.
Reboot Reboots target devices that are highlighted in the dialog.
Message Opens the Edit Message dialog to allow you to type, and then send a message to target device(s) highlighted in the dialog.

Note: When selecting Shutdown or Reboot, a dialog opens providing the option to type a message that displays on the effected devices. The Shutdown or Reboot options can be delayed by entering a delay time setting.

If a message appears confirming that the target device was successfully shut down or rebooted, but the icon in the Console window does not change accordingly, select the Refresh button.

Balancing the target device load on Provisioning Servers

To achieve optimum server and target device performance within a highly available network configuration, enable load balancing for each vDisk.

  1. Right-click on the vDisk in the Console, then select the Load Balancing menu option. The vDisk Load Balancing dialog box appears. For details, see Servers.
  2. After enabling load balancing for the vDisk, the following additional load balancing algorithm customizations can be set:
    • Subnet Affinity – When assigning the server and NIC combination to use to provide this vDisk to target devices, select from the following subnet settings:
      • None – ignore subnets; uses least busy server. This is the default setting.
      • Best Effort – use the least busy server/NIC combination from within the same subnet. If no server/NIC combination is available within the subnet, select the least busy server from outside the subnet. If more than one server is available within the selected subnet, perform load balancing between those servers.
      • Fixed – use the least busy server/NIC combination from within the same subnet. Perform load balancing between servers within that subnet. If no server/NIC combination exists in the same subnet, do not boot target devices assigned to this vDisk.
    • Rebalance Enabled using Trigger Percent – Enable to rebalance the number of target devices on each server in the event that the trigger percent is exceeded. When enabled, Provisioning Services checks the trigger percent on each server approximately every ten minutes. For example: If the trigger percent on this vDisk is set to 25%, rebalancing occurs within ten minutes if this server has 25% more load in comparison to other servers that can provide this vDisk.

Note:

The load balance algorithm takes into account the Server Power setting of each server when determining load.

Load balancing will not occur if:

  • Less than five target devices are using a particular server.
  • The average number of target devices using all qualifying servers is less than five.
  • The number of target devices that are booting on a given server is more than 20% of the total number of devices connected to the server (preventing load shift thrashing during a ‘boot storm’).

Load balancing is also considered when target devices boot. Provisioning Services determines which qualified Provisioning Server, with the least amount of load, should provide the vDisk. Whenever additional qualified servers are brought online, rebalancing will occur automatically.

To implement load balancing in a HA network configuration

  • Assign a power rating to each Provisioning Server on the Server Properties’ General tab.
  • For each vDisk, select the load balancing method and define any additional load balancing algorithm settings on the vDisk Load Balancing dialog box. For details, see Servers.

Note:

Target devices that are not using a vDisk that is in HA mode will not be diverted to a different server. If a vDisk is misconfigured to have HA enabled, but they are not using a valid HA configuration (Provisioning Servers and Store , target devices that use that vDisk can lock up.

To rebalance Provisioning Server connections manually

  1. In the Console, highlight the Provisioning Servers to rebalance, right-click then select the Rebalance devices menu option. The Rebalance Devices dialog appears.
  2. Click Rebalance. A rebalance results message displays under the Status column.
  3. Click Close to exit the dialog.

Checking for Provisioning Server vDisk access updates

To check for updates to vDisks that the selected Provisioning Server has access to:

  1. Right-click the Provisioning Server in the details pane, then select Check for updates.
  2. Select the Automatic… menu option.
  3. Click OK on the confirmation message that appears. The vDisk is automatically updated or is scheduled to be updated.

Disabling write cache to improve performance when using storage device drives

Disable write caching to improve the performance when writing from a Provisioning Server to storage device drives such as an IDE or SATA drive.

In Windows, to disable write caching on the server hard drive for the storage device on which your vDisks are stored:

  1. On the Provisioning Server, open the Control Panel. Select Administrative Tools>Computer Management.
  2. Double-click the Disk Management node in the tree.
  3. Right-click the storage device for which Windows write caching will be disabled.
  4. Select Properties, then click the Hardware tab.
  5. Click the Properties button.
  6. Click the Policies tab.
  7. Clear the Enable write caching on the disk checkbox.
  8. Click OK, then click OK again.
  9. Close the Computer Management window, then the Administrative Tools window.
  10. Right-click the Provisioning Server node in the Console, then click Restart service. Alternatively, you can also re-run the Configuration Wizard to re-start the services, or manually restart the services through the Windows Control Panel>Administrative Tools>Services window. (At the Services window, right-click on the Stream Service, then select Start from the shortcut menu.)

Providing Provisioning Servers with access to stores

For each store, select the Provisioning Servers that can access that store:

  1. In the Console, right-click on the Store, then select the Properties menu option. The Store Properties dialog appears.
  2. On the Servers tab, select the site where Provisioning Servers that should be able to access this store exists.
  3. Enable the checkbox next to each Provisioning Server that can provide vDisks in this store, then click OK.