Posts Tagged ‘VDI’

VCA4-DT and VCP5 Exam Reviews

January 6th, 2012

With 2011 wrapped up and the holiday festivities over with, I decided to kick off 2012 by sitting a few new VMware certification exams.  Before I get into the details of the exam experience, I must extend my sincere appreciation to the new testing center I tried out – New Horizons Computer Learning Center in Eagan, MN.  It’s a new facility, friendly staff, state of the art equipment, AND THEY ALLOW COFFEE IN THE EXAM ROOM!  I’m locked on to this facility for all future exams.

Ok, VMware Certified Associate 4 – Desktop, otherwise known as VCA4-DT.  Thursday morning, 70 questions, multiple choice, 90 minutes if I remember right. Time isn’t much of a factor on this exam as it has been in past exams I’ve sat.  Unfortunately I failed by a narrow margin. 289/500 (300 is the passing mark).  Not passing was a bummer since I’ve only failed one other exam and that was 14 years ago.  The reality was that I hadn’t had enough View Administrator seat time to recall what was being tested.  I can’t go into specifics but I will say that having a photographic memory of the View Admin console will go a long way to get by this exam.  I’ve managed a tiny View 4.6 and now 5.0 environment in my lab but I haven’t spent countless hours in the console on a day to day basis which is what I think is really required.  That makes sense – after all it is an Administrator role based exam.  My hope was that brushing up on the blueprint objectives and reading Mike Laverick’s Administrating VMware View 4.5 book cover to cover the night before the exam would have been enough to get by.  It wasn’t.  No fault to Mike of course, his was a fine book.  I planned short on the preparation, rolled the dice, and.. well you know by now what happened.  It was a humbling experience but at the same time it’s an effective method to learn more.  After I get back from Dell Storage Forum London I’ll plan on hitting the lab and ultimately finishing the exam the proper way.  After that, I’ve got my sights set on VMware Certified Professional 4 – Desktop (VCP4-DT) which I may already be better prepared for.

On to the VMware Certified Professional 5 or VPC5.  Friday morning, 85 questions, multiple choice, 90 minutes.  I reached the end of the exam with 14 minutes left to review marked questions – I had quite a few.  I don’t know why – I rarely change my answer when reviewing questions.  I mark the questions with the intent that there may be a better answer which comes to me later on in the exam but it rarely happens and I believe statistics prove that on average, first instinct is going to be the better or correct answer.  I’ll be honest, dwelling on yesterday’s fail did a number to my confidence level but I had no choice but to push forward studying the blueprint for a solid 8 hours last night into the wee hours of the morning.  Granted, the VCP5 exam should be higher on the difficulty level, but the infrastructure content maps quite a bit better to my expertise that VMware View administration does.  I had seen some comments from others that the VCP5 exam didn’t contain much along the lines of Configuration Maximums type questions.  Based on that, I didn’t spend much time in the vSphere 5 Configuration Maximums document.  I brushed up on HA, DRS, and although I have little hands on working experience with the appliance based bolt ons like the vCenter appliance, vDR, VSA, or Auto Deploy, I tried to pick up as much as I could on those areas.  On exam difficulty, the content came easier to me based on familiarity.  For most of the exam I was pretty well within my comfort zone.  As a Technical Marketing Product Specialist at Dell Compellent, the storage related questions aren’t quite the level of difficulty they once were.  There was a pretty good blend of easy/medium/difficult questions, and also a few which I felt were worded poorly enough such that I knew the correct answer either way, but interpretation of the question is going to determine a right or wrong answer.  Results on this exam were better – 406/500 (300 passing).  There were plenty of questions on the other vSphere products I talked about earlier such as the vCenter appliance, vDR, VSA, and Auto Deploy. While I feel I did answer a few of those questions correctly, the remainder is likely what accounts for the majority of the points I missed on the exam.  By the way, if you’re not using vSphere Update Manager on a regular basis to assist in upgrading your environment, you should be, and you’ll want to know that product for this exam as well.

Have a great weekend and for those attending Dell Storage Forum London next week, I hope to meet up with you.

Enabling VMware View PCoIP Copy/Paste

November 22nd, 2011

Last month, I started the thread VMware View 5.0 copy/paste operations problem on the VMware Community forums looking for some expertise on a problem I ran into with View 5.0 and PCoIP. I could use the copy/paste function successfully going from my desktop PC to the VDI session. However, the problem was that I could not copy/paste in the opposite direction from the VDI session to my desktop PC. I tried the following entries in the .vmx file of the VDI session:

isolation.tools.copy.disable = false

isolation.tools.paste.disable = false

Update 8/18/15: VMware KB describing VM and host level configuration Clipboard Copy and Paste does not work in vSphere Client 4.1 and later (1026437)

The added configurations above didn’t resolve the issue in any way so I removed them. As the forum thread progressed, some individuals recommended using the VMware View provided GPO templates. Taking a look in the directory c:\Program Files\VMware\VMware View\Server\extras\GroupPolicyFiles\ on the View Connection Server, I found several Active Directory Group Policy templates.SnagIt Capture

The required policy can be found in the pcoip.adm template. It’s called Configure clipboard redirection (note that for this to work, virtual channels must not be disabled. You can read more about View PCoIP General Session Variables here). I configured the policy for Enabled in both directions and applied the computer portion of the policy to the OU where the VDI session computer account object lives (I disabled the user portion of the GPO).

After forcing GPO updates on the VDI session and reconnecting a few times, copy/paste still didn’t work from the VDI session to my desktop PC. It wasn’t until after a reboot of the VDI session that the policy took effect and copy/paste worked bidirectionally.

Special thanks goes out to the community members who helped me get this sorted: wponder, srodenburg, SrinivasM, cmarkus, and Linjo. You and all of the others who make up the VMTN Community are an asset to VMware and to those seeking assistance.

Linked-clone lifecycle in VMware View 4.5 and later

November 16th, 2011

Remote connectivity to the lab is key when I’m on the go – a situation I find myself in more frequently.  In years past, the remote solution was hardware/software VPN endpoints, and then Citrix Presentation Server. Given my involvement with VMware, for the past year plus I’ve been a full fledged, trial by fire, eat my own evangelist food, View hobbyist.  What’s not to like about it?  It’s VMware based.  It’s secure.  It supports multiple connectivity protocols.  And it works absolutely great with my iPad (well, I’m talking about the remote desktop connectivity via PCoIP, not so much the Adobe Flex admin console for the View Connection Server).

One HUGE feature that View has touted since version 3.0 is Linked Clones which carry with it the positive attributes of space efficiency and fast provisioning.  Linked Clones are where some of the more advanced features and capabilities start to appear, such as View Composer.

VMware KB Article 1021506 has some great information in it surrounding linked clones, View Composer, Active Directory machine account passwords, and some of the common operational processes tied to it such as guest provisioning and customization, Refresh, Recompose, and Rebalance.  I find it to be a great reference.

A few excerpts on the operational pieces along with my notes:

Active Directory machine account passwords

While a linked clone is powered on and the View Composer Agent is running, the View Composer Agent tracks any changes made to the machine account password. In many Active Directory environments, the machine account password is changed periodically. If the View Composer Agent detects a password change, it updates the machine account password on the internal disk that was created with the linked clone. During a refresh operation, when the linked clone is reverted to the snapshot taken after customization, the agent can reset the machine account password to the latest one.

Refresh

In View 4.5, a refresh triggers a revert operation to the snapshot that was taken after customization was completed. This approach allows View to preserve the customization performed by Sysprep.

jgb: A Refresh should be run on a regular basis to reclaim valuable shared storage space.  As linked clone guests in the pool continue to run on an ongoing basis, storage consumption grows for each VM, much like a snapshot of a VM which is left open for a long period of time.  However, in this case, much of the data is transient and disposable which is what a Refresh will purge.  This data is stored on what’s called the Disposable Disk. The Disposable Disk contains data such as the Windows pagefile, Windows temporary files, Temporary Internet Files, and VMware log files.  It is not uncommon to run this Refresh on a nightly basis.  This is of particular importance on arrays which support auto tiering and especially sub LUN tiering at the block or page level because this meta data will most likely be consuming Tier 1 storage.

Recompose

A recompose operation lets the administrator preserve the View Composer persistent disk and all user data inside this disk while changing the OS disk to a new base image and snapshot. With recompose, an administrator can easily distribute OS patches and new software to users.

jgb: Net result is the deployed VMs in the pool are deleted and redeployed to the pool for the assigned users.

Rebalance

The rebalance operation redistributes linked clones among available datastores to take advantage of free storage space. In View 4.5, there is no other supported way to move linked clones from one datastore to another.

VMware View Client for iPad 1.2 Released

October 23rd, 2011

Back in September during the VMworld 2011 US time frame, I wrote New View Client for iPad Sneak Peak at VMworld 2011 which talked about an upcoming release and some of the new features to be expected for VMware’s tablet based View client.  I saw a tweet from Tedd Fox tonight that the new client has been released.  In checking the Apple App Store, indeed it has.

The new version is 1.2 and it boasts the following features and updates:

  • Optimized for VMware View 5 with improved performance
  • Support for iOS 5 including AirPlay
  • Presentation Mode for use with external display and AirPlay
  • Embedded RSA soft token simplifies login to desktop
  • Background tasking to move between Windows and iOS apps
  • Updated look and feel
  • Integrated online help
  • Buffered text input for multibyte text entry
  • Now in French, German, Japanese, Korean, Simplified Chinese
  • Bug Fixes

SnagIt Capture

Requirements: Requires iPad iOS 4.2 or later.

I just upgraded and right away I noticed the new interface as well as some advanced finger gestures I hadn’t seen before (these may or may not be new).

The next thing that I noticed was that I could multitask!  This is the feature I’ve wanted the most personally.  I can now stop in the middle of a session, switch to another application or exit out to the iPad desktop and the View desktop connection remains established when I go back to it.

If you have in iPad, go grab your free copy.  I don’t have an Android but I’m hearing a version was released for that platform as well.

Thank you VMware and Thank you Tedd!

New View Client for iPad Sneak Peak at VMworld 2011

September 3rd, 2011

Wednesday night I bumped into VMware Product Manager Tedd Fox at the Palazzo pool side party. You may remember Tedd as the man behind the VMware View Client for iPad. He invited me to stop by the VMware EUC booth for a look at “something”.  The following day I met up with him at the booth.  He grabbed his second generation iPad, I rolled camera, and he showed me some never before seen footage of the next release of the VMware View Client for iPad expected to be released within the next few weeks to both iPad generations.

This particular release sports security minded features as well as enhancements to improve ease of use.  Following are some notes on what Ted talked about during the demo of his production environment:

  • Blurred thumbnails of previously opened desktop connections
  • Certificate checking
  • Three native levels of security: High, Medium, and Low
  • Embedded RSA Soft Token
  • The above keyboard toolbar has been modified to display most of the commonly used function and arrow keys above the keyboard instead of on a separate “floater” which consumed valuable display real estate
  • Plugging in the video out dongle converts the iPad into a Macbook pro sized trackpad and keyboard
  • Release expected within the next few weeks in the App Store
  • Will be compatible with Apple IOS 5
  • An Android version (minus presentation mode) will be made available at the same time, in addition to Cisco Cius

Following is a video capture of the demo and below that a static image of presentation mode trackpad and keyboard:

Tedd didn’t have video dongle at the time of the interview but he did follow up with an email showing what presentation mode trackpad and keyboard looks like on the iPad:

SnagIt Capture

I’d like to thank Tedd and VMware for their time and the exclusive demo.  As a gen 1 iPad owner who already has gotten a lot of mileage out of the View Client for iPad + View 4.6 and now 5.0 beta, I’m pretty excited about this release and future developments.  The iPad and other comparable tablets are convenient for conferences such as VMworld because of apps like the one Tedd develops.  Just Enough Device to access email, access my calendar and schedule, access my home lab remotely while in a VMworld session.

Pulse Check and New Sponsor – Tintri

August 15th, 2011

Hello VMware virtualization enthusiasts!  The month of August has been intense as VMworld 2011 approaches.  I’ve been working on a few projects which need to get out the door before the the big event.  Unfortunately I’ve had no time to polish vCalendar 3.0 such that it’s ready by show time.  As usual, I’ve been collecting the new content throughout the past year but it’s nowhere near ready for presentation.  The good news is that it’s coming but it may not be until mid September or October.  AND… I’ll still plan on releasing the 2.0 PDF version at no cost.  If you’ve been counting on the new vCalendar, thank you in advance for your patience.

I’ve still got a lot of content in the queue to write about here on the blog.  A lot of it vSphere 5 related.  I’ve also been picking up a lot on SRM 5.  I’ll probably get back into the regular writing schedule after VMworld.  It’s a busy time for VMware and their partners.  I’ve always been busy around VMworld but now that I work for a partner, it’s a new level of busy.

Before I get back to it, I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce a new blog sponsor: Tintri.  They are in the business of providing VM-aware storage without complexity and performance bottlenecks.  Tintri offers 8.5TB of usable storage in a 4u single-datastore footprint.  You’ll find their banner on the right edge of this blog.  Check them out online or stop by their booth at VMworld 2011 in Las Vegas.  Last but not least, you can follow them on Twitter – @TintriInc.

Virtual Bridges Slashes VDI Storage Costs with Latest VDI Gen2 Solution

July 20th, 2011

Press Release:

Virtual Bridges Slashes VDI Storage Costs with Latest VDI Gen2 Solution

VERDE Adds New Features Including Cache I/O Storage Saver and Integrated Endpoint Management

 

AUSTIN, Texas (July 20, 2011)Virtual Bridges, Inc. today announced enhancements to VERDE, the industry’s first “VDI Gen2″ solution. Key additions include a new cache I/O storage saver that removes CAPEX hurdles long associated with VDI, and integrated endpoint management that delivers on the promise of desktop management infrastructure solutions.

Industry analysts have cited storage costs as one of the top 10 inhibitors for organizations looking to implement VDI. Unlike competitive solutions that focus on storage capacity (terabytes needed), VERDE StorageSaverTM uses cache I/O technology to reduce the number of Input/Output Operations Per Second (IOPS) required, the single most important metric in VDI desktop performance. Additionally, Copy-on-Write and Copy-on-Read features reduce external storage requirements by using local disks. On average, VERDE’s storage-related costs are one-third of other VDI solutions.

VERDE also now integrates PC Life Cycle Management (PCLM) policy and patch management into the virtual desktop. This includes integration with IBM’s PCLM solution, Tivoli Endpoint Manager built on BigFix technology, to ensure consistent policy across both physical and virtual desktops. VERDE is also now a management component within BigFix and other PCLM vendor frameworks including Novell zCM, Microsoft SCCM and more.  The result is smarter, faster endpoint management that also reduces risk and complexity.

Other VERDE highlights include:

  • Integrated Third-Party Application Management streamlines the deployment of applications inside the Gold Master with unified policy management and improves overall manageability; works with application virtualization solutions, including VMware ThinApp, Novell SPOON/ZenWorks, Cameyo and InstallFree.
  • Enhanced HA Clustering increases high availability of VERDE with automatic ClusterMasterTM (CM) failover in less than two minutes for any candidate without manual intervention; improves manageability by simplifying installation updates and eliminates the need for third party tools; adds cluster-wide licensing and unattended cluster-wide install/upgrade, offering native CM fail-over.
  • Enhanced Desktop Use Case Coverage extends support beyond traditional productivity/power users who do not need to install their own images, to cover a wide range of users scenarios including:
    • Long Life Dynamic Desktops – Improves security of the virtual desktop for VERDE LEAF users, such as traveling sales executives, who sporadically connect to the corporate network but often use public networks in airports or coffee shops.
    • Static Desktops – Provides greater control for fully persistent users, such as developers or engineers, who need to manage their own applications.
    • Non-Persistent Desktops – Provides ease of use without the need for customization for those who do not persist user data, such as workers at call centers or kiosks.
    • Dynamic Desktops – Continues to deliver robust user experience for productivity and power users who do not need to install their own images, but expect to have persistence for personal settings and documents.

“This release of VERDE is a true collaboration with our customers, tackling their biggest challenges including storage, endpoint management and third-party application management,” said Jim Curtin, CEO of Virtual Bridges. “VDI Gen2 continues to deliver significant advancements to make VDI easier and more cost effective than ever.”

As the first VDI Gen2 offering, VERDE features core capabilities that include online, offline and branch VDI, a Gold Master provisioning model, a Distributed Connection brokering architecture, flexibility to run both Windows and Linux desktops, branch-level VDI at LAN speeds, the ability to span both on-premises and hosted deployment modes and desktop portability on a USB stick.

Virtual Bridges has been named a “Major Player” in desktop virtualization by IDC, a “Cool Vendor” in Personal Computing by Gartner, an MIT Sloan CIO Symposium Innovation Showcase finalist, and one of 15 desktop virtualization vendors to watch in CRN’s Virtualization 100.

For more on VERDE visit http://www.vbridges.com/products/.

 

About Virtual Bridges

Virtual Bridges VERDE is the industry’s most comprehensive desktop management and provisioning solution that leverages virtualization to deliver desktops either on-premises or in the cloud. The VERDE solution lets enterprises transform their desktop TCO by simplifying desktop management, improving security and compliance by centralizing the administration of desktop images and data, and increasing the organizational agility by quickly providing desktop and application access to users on any client machine (PC, Macintosh, Linux, thin client, home computer or on a portable drive) at any time.