Tutorial: Create a host pool with the Azure portal

Important

This content applies to Windows Virtual Desktop with Azure Resource Manager Windows Virtual Desktop objects. If you're using Windows Virtual Desktop (classic) without Azure Resource Manager objects, see this article. Any objects you create with Windows Virtual Desktop (classic) can't be managed with the Azure portal.

Host pools are a collection of one or more identical virtual machines (VMs) within Windows Virtual Desktop environments. Each host pool can contain an app group that users can interact with as they would on a physical desktop.

This article will walk you through the setup process for creating a host pool for a Windows Virtual Desktop environment through the Azure portal. This method provides a browser-based user interface to create a host pool in Windows Virtual Desktop, create a resource group with VMs in an Azure subscription, join those VMs to the Azure Active Directory (AD) domain, and register the VMs with Windows Virtual Desktop.

Prerequisites

You'll need to enter the following parameters to create a host pool:

  • The VM image name
  • VM configuration
  • Domain and network properties
  • Windows Virtual Desktop host pool properties

You'll also need to know the following things:

  • Where the source of the image you want to use is. Is it from Azure Gallery or is it a custom image?
  • Your domain join credentials.

Also, make sure you've registered the Microsoft.DesktopVirtualization resource provider. If you haven't already, go to Subscriptions, select the name of your subscription, and then select Azure resource providers.

When you create a Windows Virtual Desktop host pool with the Azure Resource Manager template, you can create a virtual machine from the Azure gallery, a managed image, or an unmanaged image. To learn more about how to create VM images, see Prepare a Windows VHD or VHDX to upload to Azure and Create a managed image of a generalized VM in Azure.

If you don't have an Azure subscription already, make sure to create an account before you start following these instructions.

Begin the host pool setup process

To start creating your new host pool:

  1. Sign in to the Azure portal at https://portal.azure.com.

  2. Enter Windows Virtual Desktop into the search bar, then find and select Windows Virtual Desktop under Services.

  3. In the Windows Virtual Desktop overview page, select Create a host pool.

  4. In the Basics tab, select the correct subscription under Project details.

  5. Either select Create new to make a new resource group or select an existing resource group from the drop-down menu.

  6. Enter a unique name for your host pool.

  7. In the Location field, select the region where you want to create the host pool from the drop-down menu.

    The Azure geography associated with the regions you selected is where the metadata for this host pool and its related objects will be stored. Make sure you choose the regions inside the geography you want the service metadata to be stored in.

    A screenshot of the Azure portal showing the Location field with the East US location selected. Next to the field is text that says, "Metadata will be stored in East US."

  8. Under Host pool type, select whether your host pool will be Personal or Pooled.

    • If you choose Personal, then select either Automatic or Direct in the Assignment Type field.

      A screenshot of the assignment type field drop-down menu. The user has selected Automatic.

  9. If you choose Pooled, enter the following information:

    • For Max session limit, enter the maximum number of users you want load-balanced to a single session host.

    • For Load balancing algorithm, choose either breadth-first or depth-first, based on your usage pattern.

      A screenshot of the assignment type field with "Pooled" selected. The User is hovering their cursor over Breadth-first on the load balancing drop-down menu.

  10. Select Next: VM details.

  11. If you've already created virtual machines and want to use them with the new host pool, select No. If you want to create new virtual machines and register them to the new host pool, select Yes.

Now that you've completed the first part, let's move on to the next part of the setup process where we create the VM.

Virtual machine details

Now that we're through the first part, you'll have to set up your VM.

To set up your virtual machine within the host pool setup process:

  1. Under Resource Group, choose the resource group where you want to create the virtual machines. This can be a different resource group than the one you used for the host pool.

  2. Choose the Virtual machine region where you want to create the virtual machines. They can be the same or different from the region you selected for the host pool.

  3. Next, choose the size of the virtual machine you want to create. You can either keep the default size as-is or select Change Size to change the size. If you select Change Size, in the window that appears, choose the size of the virtual machine suitable for your workload.

  4. Under Number of VMs, provide the number of VMs you want to create for your host pool.

    Note

    The setup process can create up to 400 VMs while setting up your host pool, and each VM setup process creates four objects in your resource group. Since the creation proces doesn't check your subscription quota, make sure the number of VMs you enter is within the Azure VM and API limits for your resource group and subscription. You can add more VMs after you finish creating your host pool.

  5. After that, provide a Name prefix to name the virtual machines the setup process creates. The suffix will be - with numbers starting from 0.

  6. Next, choose the image that needs to be used to create the virtual machine. You can choose either Gallery or Storage Blob.

    • If you choose Gallery, select one of the recommended images from the drop-down menu:

      • Windows 10 Enterprise multi-session, Version 1909 + Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise – Gen 1
      • Windows 10 Enterprise multi-session, Version 1909 – Gen 1
      • Windows Server 2019 Datacenter - Gen1

    If you don't see the image you want, select Browse all images and disks, which lets you select either another image in your gallery or an image provided by Microsoft and other publishers.

    A screenshot of the Marketplace with a list of images from Microsoft displayed.

    You can also go to My Items and choose a custom image you've already uploaded.

    A screenshot of the My Items tab.

    • If you choose Storage Blob, you can leverage your own image build through Hyper-V or on an Azure VM. All you have to do is enter the location of the image in the storage blob as a URI.
  7. Choose what kind of OS disks you want your VMs to use: Standard SSD, Premium SSD, or Standard HDD.

  8. Under Network and security, select the virtual network and subnet where you want to put the virtual machines you create. Make sure the virtual network can connect to the domain controller, since you'll need to join the virtual machines inside the virtual network to the domain. Next, select whether or not you want a public IP for the virtual machines. We recommend you select No, because a private IP is more secure.

  9. Select what kind of security group you want: Basic, Advanced, or None.

    If you select Basic, you'll have to select whether you want any inbound port open. If you select Yes, choose from the list of standard ports to allow inbound connections to.

    Note

    For greater security, we recommend that you don't open public inbound ports.

    A screenshot of the security group page that shows a list of available ports in a drop-down menu.

    If you choose Advanced, select an existing network security group that you've already configured.

  10. After that, select whether you want the virtual machines to be joined to a specific domain and organizational unit. If you choose Yes, specify the domain to join. You can also add a specific organizational unit you want the virtual machines to be in.

  11. Under Administrator account, enter the credentials for the Active Directory Domain admin of the virtual network you selected.

  12. Select Workspace.

With that, we're ready to start the next phase of setting up your host pool: registering your app group to a workspace.

Workspace information

The host pool setup process creates a desktop application group by default. For the host pool to work as intended, you'll need to publish this app group to users or user groups, and you must register the app group to a workspace.

To register the desktop app group to a workspace:

  1. Select Yes.

    If you select No, you can register the app group later, but we recommend you get the workspace registration done as soon as you can so your host pool works properly.

  2. Next, choose whether you want to create a new workspace or select from existing workspaces. Only workspaces created in the same location as the host pool will be allowed to register the app group to.

  3. Optionally, you can select Tags.

    Here you can add tags so you can group the objects with metadata to make things easier for your admins.

  4. When you're done, select Review + create.

    Note

    The review + create validation process doesn't check if your password meets security standards or if your architecture is correct, so you'll need to check for any problems with either of those things yourself.

  5. Review the information about your deployment to make sure everything looks correct. When you're done, select Create. This starts the deployment process, which creates the following objects:

    • Your new host pool.
    • A desktop app group.
    • A workspace, if you chose to create it.
    • If you chose to register the desktop app group, the registration will be complete
    • Virtual machines, if you chose to create them, which are joined to the domain and registered with the new host pool.
    • A download link for an Azure Resource Management template based on your configuration.

After that, you're all done!

Next steps

Now that you've made your host pool, you can populate it with RemoteApp programs. To learn more about how to manage apps in Windows Virtual Desktop, head to our next tutorial: