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05: PolicyPak and VMware Horizon View – Dedicated VDI

You already know that VMware Horizon View enables your users to have their own unique “full desktop” available to them, remotely or locally, and run any application they need to. Users really get their “own operating system” and applications just “run perfectly” because they’re really running on their own operating system.

But you still have a major problem: Users get the apps they need, but you’ve got zero control over how your users’ applications are configured.

That’s where PolicyPak comes in.

In this demonstration see PolicyPak working inside your dedicated VDI sessions ensuring that your application settings are set dynamically and always ensured.

PolicyPak and VMware Horizon View – Dedicated VDI

Hello, everybody, and welcome. This is Jeremy Moskowitz, former Group Policy MVP and Founder of PolicyPak Software. In this series of videos, I’m demonstrating how PolicyPak is the missing tool for your VMWare Horizon Suite implementation.

Now in this particular video, we’re going to be talking about how PolicyPak can help you manage the applications when you’re using dedicated pools. I’m going to log on as a guy called “westsalesuser8.” In doing so, I’ll be able to pick a pool that he has access to. In this video, I’m going with my “Dedicated” pools. We have other videos for the floating linked clones, but in this one I want to talk about dedicated pools.

When it comes to having dedicated VDI machines, you are at a distinct disadvantage because when a user makes a settings change, that settings change will stay with them for the end of time. Until you’ve refreshed the machine, and then they’re very frustrated with that refresh experience. When you add PolicyPak to the mix, you’re able to dictate precise settings for your applications and guarantee them so you know users won’t get into hot water.

Here we are at a user’s dedicated VDI desktop. When they’re on their VDI desktop, there’s really a huge variety of things that they can do to get themselves a) into hot water but b) you might want to ensure that particular IT settings are guaranteed and dictated.

For instance, say in “WinZip” you might want to guarantee a particular set of configuration. You might want to guarantee “Minimum password length” is “11” instead of leaving it up to chance or letting them do things like this, and now they’ve worked around your settings. Just to prove a point, a user unchecks some checkboxes, lowers the security on a particular application, and that stuff is maintained. There’s nothing in the box that VMWare provides that will enable this to be maintained.

Same thing for settings like “Mozilla Firefox.” If you want to dictate particular settings from Firefox or any of your other applications. This is where PolicyPak kicks in. By way of example, if we go to “Options” here, you might want to set a universal “Home Page” or guarantee particular “Security” settings. Again, there’s nothing preventing a user from just working around your settings, and now you’re less secure.

This is where PolicyPak kicks in. Let’s go ahead and go to our Group Policy management station. For all of our “West Sales Users,” we can “Use PolicyPak to Dictate Winzip Settings.” We’ll do WinZip here on the user side. I’ll go to user side “PolicyPak/Applications/New/Application.” PolicyPak ships with over 100 preconfigured applications. I’m just going to be using “PolicyPak for WinZip 14 and Later” for now. I’ve got a bunch of the other snap-ins snapped in here, but I’m going to just pick WinZip here and go right for it.

I’m going to set this to “16” character passwords. While I’m here, I’m going to check all four of these checkboxes. I’m going to “Hide corresponding control in target application” and “Disable corresponding control in target application” for user configuration changes. You can also right click over tabs and “Disable whole tab in target application.”

For an extra set of security, you can also “Perform ACL Lockdown,” which will prevent even registry savvy users from being naughty and working around your settings in the registry, or if it’s a file-based application, where the file lives.

I’m going to do that on the user side. On the computer side, you see here I’ve got my dedicated VDI machines in their own OU. This is perfect. I’m going to right click over that and “Create a GPO in this domain, and Link it here…” called “Manage Firefox for my Dedicated Pool.”

If you want to, what I’m driving at is that on the user side they could have their user settings roam with them to virtual machines or real machines. And here, because I’m associating this particular Group Policy Object with just this particular OU that contains the machine accounts for the VDI session, you can dictate settings just for when they’re in the VDI.

We’ll just go over to computer side, go over to “PolicyPak/Applications/New/Application” and we’ll go ahead and pick “PolicyPak for Mozilla Firefox.” If we want to set the “Home Page” to “,” and we’ll right click over and we’ll “Lockdown this setting using the system-wide config file.” We’ll go over to “Security” here, and we’ll “Lockdown this setting using the system-wide config file” these guys as well, make sure that these are set. You saw me work around these as a user, but with PolicyPak I’m going to dictate those settings.

Let me go back to my dedicated desktop here. Before I run GPUpdate, I’m just going to show you before picture and after picture. We’ll go over to “WinZip” here. We’ll see the before picture shows that the user has been naughty and they’ve worked around your configuration changes and things are really low security.

Then if we go to “Mozilla Firefox,” well, there’s nothing really set here yet. If we go to “Firefox/Options,” they’ve worked around those security settings too. I guess they’ve been naughty there, and there is no “Home Page” set.

Now because PolicyPak works alongside Windows and Group Policy, the next time Group Policy refreshes either when they log on or when Group Policy is updated in the background, that’s when this kicks in. Because of that, it’s always ensuring that these settings are consistently refreshed over and over again.

Let’s go ahead and run “WinZip” here for starters. Go to “Options/Configuration…” here, go to “Passwords” and there we go. We’ve dictated the settings. In fact, you can see I’ve ensured that some settings are guaranteed as policy, but I’ve made others as preference. When I click “OK” here, it’s guaranteed to reapply however when the application is rerun. So PolicyPak is consistently working, and you’re going to see this in the next video again when we make the machine offline with local mode. So PolicyPak is always working.

Regardless, you can also go to “regedit” here as a standard user. Again, I’m not an admin; I’m just some standard guy. If he goes to “HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Nico Mak Computing/WinZip/Policies” here, you can see PolicyPak is locking this down. Because of that, a user tries to be naughty and tries to really, truly inadvertently work around your setting or there’s a script or some other nasty thing happening and it tries to change that portion of the registry, PolicyPak is always working and locking it down so users can’t work around it.

Let’s go ahead and go over to my “Mozilla Firefox” here. What we’re going to do is we go to “Firefox/Options.” There it is, “” as we expected, and the settings are set there as well. Just to prove a point, I really want to prove that this is dedicated, so I’m going to create a “New” “Rich Text Document” here called “Hello World 2.” “Hi!”

Now what I’m going to do is I’m logged on as the guy “westsalesuser8.” What I want to do is I want to log off and I want to log back in as westsalesuser8 and show you that the PolicyPak settings will work with both what we saw in the last video which is floating linked clones and in this video which is dedicated VDI machines.

We’ll go ahead. We will pick our “Dedicated” machine here. Broker is doing its thing, “Welcome.” “Persona Management” as we saw in the last video will do a fantastic job for the settings that the user has made their own, but PolicyPak runs and will ensure that any setting that you want to change dynamically will always be set and changed dynamically.

There it is, “Hello World 2.” We’ll go ahead and run “WinZip” here, and we shall see. Go ahead and go to the “Options” here, and you can see the settings are set there just the way we expect. If we go to “Mozilla Firefox” here, we will also see that the Firefox settings are dictated using PolicyPak.

That’s it. That gives you an example of how to use PolicyPak alongside your VMWare Horizon View dedicated VDI machines. If you have any questions about this, we’re happy to help and look forward to getting you into a trial soon.

Thanks so much.

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  • 27-Jun-2019