Posts Tagged ‘VDI’

New Diskeeper White Paper: Optimization of VMware Systems

June 28th, 2011

diskeeperDiskeeper Corporation reached out to me via email last week letting me know that they’ve released a new white paper on optimizing VMs.  I’m making the three page document available for download via the following link:

Best Practice Protocols: Optimization of VMware Systems (416KB)

Application Troubleshooting Tools and Tips for VMware ThinApp

May 11th, 2011

Well over a year ago, I was introduced to a fantastic repository of VMware ThinApp tools, tips, and troubleshooting methods.  While some of the content may be dated (it was created nearly a year before I came across it), I suspect the bulk of it is still relevant to some degree today.  It comes to us from VMware’s ThinApp blog by a gentleman named Dean Flaming.

Application Troubleshooting Tools and Tips for VMware ThinApp

See also:

How to Make a ThinApp Application Package

Application virtualization is an integral VDI component with the encapsulation power, streaming, and flexibility it has to offer.  VMware was not first to market with the technology but they recognize these benefits and have integrated ThinApp application delivery into VMware View, strengthening the desktop portfolio.  Give it a try – it’s pretty cool stuff!

Test Drive the VMware View App for iPad

May 1st, 2011

Nearly two months ago, the VMware View app was released by VMware for the iPad and I wrote about it here.  Since then, many in the community have been curious as to what the end user computing experience was like.  They have iPads and of course they have free access to the View app but they lacked a VMware View environment to connect to, particularly a remote over-the-internet scenario using View 4.6 5.0 5.0.1 GA and PCoIP.

Early on I worked with a few individuals on a 1 on 1 basis, providing access to a test VDI desktop intance in my lab.  They tested for up to a week and demoed for upper management in the company.  When testing was complete, they went on their way.  After a few iterations, I decided that there was some value in what I was doing, but the continuous setup and retirement of accounts isn’t something I wanted to continually track.  As a result, I’ve set up a persistent VDI instance in my View 4.6 5.0 GA lab which can be accessed any time using generic credentials from your iPad by following these steps:

How to connect:

Step 1) Grab yourself an iPad if you don’t already have one (1st or 2nd generation both work).

Step 2) Connect your iPad to the internet.  Be sure TCP/UPD 4172 ports are not blocked.

Step 3) Get yourself the VMware View for iPad app:

SnagIt Capture

Step 4) Provide the following connection specifications in the VMware View for iPad app:

Snagit Capture

 

Step 5) If you’re prompted for credentials at Windows 7 logon, use the credentials shown above.

Step 6) Enjoy but do try to limit the duration of your connectivity.

Environment:

The Windows 7 test VM provides basic desktop application access.  Bandwidth from the VDI lab standpoint is 16Mpbs down, 2Mbps up.  On your end, that’s 2 down, 16 up.  It is the internet; performance and speeds will vary.  By design, one user session is allowed at a time.  There is only one desktop instance.  The idea is to use the session for a few minutes to get a feel for the client experience.  The session is not for long term or production use.  No warranties, use at your own risk, etc.  In reality, the longer you maintain connectivity, the more chance you have of being interrupted by another user requesting to use the desktop.  If you’re trying to log on and you receive a message stating “The View agent reports that this desktop is currently logging off a previous session.”, you are probably interrupting someone elses session.  Try again later.  If you are currently in a session and it abruptly ends, it is likely the result of someone else submitting a logon request – sorry – At this point I do not know how to prevent the session interruptions which is essentially a “following” feature which would commonly be used in a health clinic.  If you have any ideas, please share in the comments section below.

To maintain a safe environment, web browsing and access to some other areas of the OS has been disabled.  All activity is logged.  The VM will reset at regular intervals in an effort to restore back to its original clean starting point.

Updated 9/18/11:  The environment has been upgraded to View 5.0 GA

Updated 11/6/11:  Thanks to the notification of a few friendly folks, I found out the environment was no longer functional. In short, the computer password for the VDI workstation was out of sync.  I’ve fixed this an enhanced the environment for longer term use which should prevent future implosions.  The demo environment now supports two concurrent demo sessions using the same credentials. In addition, each demo session is deleted upon a disconnection and a new VDI workstation is built.  This is all done by the addition of VMware View Composer to the environment.

Updated 3/28/12:  The environment has been upgraded to View 5.0.1 GA

Xangati Delivers First Solution for Managing VDI to Operational Scale

March 22nd, 2011

Press Release:

Xangati Delivers First Solution for Managing VDI to Operational Scale

New Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) Dashboard Leverages Powerful Performance Health Engine to Ensure Optimal End-user Experience

SnagIt CaptureCupertino, CA – March 22, 2011 – Xangati, the recognized leader in infrastructure performance management, today introduced the Xangati VDI Dashboard, the industry’s first solution designed to comprehensively track all key infrastructure components that affect VDI performance, giving administrators the confidence and ability to successfully implement large-scale VDI deployments.  Leveraging Xangati’s powerful real-time memory-based analytics engine architecture, the Xangati VDI Dashboard tracks and continuously monitors activity of all VDI components within the infrastructure without requiring any agents. The new dashboard also includes a performance health engine that automatically and visually alerts administrators in real-time about the precise location of performance issues.

By providing a solution that covers components in and outside of the virtual infrastructure (VI), the Xangati VDI Dashboard gives administrators comprehensive “cross silo” awareness into all critical elements linked to – including clients, desktops, networks, servers, storage, applications and VDI protocols – which ultimately provides a positive VDI user experience.

“The ultimate success of VDI projects depends 100 percent on the ability to provide users with the same level of application performance and availability that they are accustomed to in conventional desktop environments,” said Alan Robin, CEO of Xangati. “However, prior to the release of Xangati’s solution, VDI administrators were flying blind to the source of end-user performance issues not linked to their VDI software – oftentimes leading to stalled implementations and cancelled projects. Xangati is the first to market with a solution to tackle these challenges head on through a UI structured specifically for VDI support, an agent-free model, and a rapid installation process that provides immediate download to value.”

“Xangati has once again demonstrated its talent for developing and delivering innovative infrastructure performance management solutions that are needed to help businesses successfully implement and benefit from emerging and transformational technologies, such as VDI,” said Bernd Harzog, analyst of virtualization performance and capacity management at The Virtualization Practice. “Its new dashboard not only gives the highest level of visibility into all the moving parts in the VDI ecosystem but also extends its real-time and continuous monitoring to include proactive, system-generated health alerts and visual recordings about performance issues.”

Through relationships and support from VMware and Citrix, Xangati has designed the Xangati VDI Dashboard to fully complement both VMware View and Citrix XenDesktop environments.

Xangati VDI Dashboard: Breakthrough Features

Real-time Performance Health Engine

The cornerstone of the Xangati VDI Dashboard is its patent-pending performance health engine that analyzes the health of VDI in an unprecedented four microseconds. Relying on Xangati’s memory-driven architecture, the performance health of the VDI is being continuously monitored across a broad spectrum of performance metrics to the unrivaled scale of 250,000 objects (which can include desktops and clients). In contrast, other performance management architectures are database-driven and unable to keep apace of dynamic interactions to scale that are fundamental to VDI.

The output of Xangati’s performance health engine is a real-time health index that is linked to the health of every client, desktop, network link, host, VDI protocol and IT server that can impact VDI end–user experience. In real-time – as an object’s health shifts – the health index changes to reflect the urgency of the performance issue. Moreover, the performance shift will trigger a real-time alert, which is uniquely paired with a DVR-recording.

The DVR-recording will show exactly where the performance problem stems from and present contextual insights about what is driving the sub-optimal performance. For instance, a specific user community is seeing obvious delays in screen presentation due to a high latency network link. These DVR recordings capture issues that are often outside of a VDI vendor’s software framework and can be passed to the appropriate IT function, e.g. to the storage team when storage latency is at the heart of the performance issue.

All VDI Operations in a Single Pane of Glass

For the very first time, a VDI team can see in one pane of glass all the critical components that sustain the VDI, as well as the desktops and their clients. Through this structure, the Xangati solution is the only purpose-built dashboard framed to replicate how a VDI administrator seeks to run their operations. Additionally, the VDI dashboard incorporates Xangati’s visual trouble ticketing model that allows end-users to initiate DVR recordings when they are experiencing issues. In this manner, the VDI administrator can see, for example, that a user’s poor VDI experience on an iPad is due to a highly congested WiFi network.

In contrast to other solutions marketed as VDI-focused, the Xangati solution can populate itself with incredibly rich data without requiring guest software agents. It is this agent-free model that allows Xangati to be deployed rapidly, even during proof of concept phases, as well as when an enterprise wishes to scale their virtual desktops into the thousands or tens of thousands.

School District Earns an A+ in Performance with Xangati’s VDI Dashboard

Manchester Essex Regional School District (MERSD) turned to VDI last year as a way to enable faster provisioning and deployment of new desktops and reduce its operational costs. MERSD is an early adopter of the Xangati VDI Dashboard and is maximizing VDI benefits through the capabilities of its performance health engine.

“In order to keep our schools’ virtual computers running while school is in session, we must be able to quickly and accurately identify performance problems – ideally before they occur,” said Stephen Kwiatek, network administrator for MERSD. “Having a Health Index that alerts us to potential issues takes a huge load off of our shoulders by giving us an automated way to monitor the VDI infrastructure. This is a tremendous advantage in providing our staff and students with the highest quality of computing and the success of our VDI initiative. The Xangati VDI Dashboard is absolutely unique as a real-time window into our virtual world.”

Pricing and Availability

The Xangati VDI Dashboard is available immediately and can also be downloaded for a free two-week trial via the Xangati website. Priced at just $25 per desktop in a starter kit of 100 desktops, the Xangati VDI Dashboard enables a company to implement a VDI initiative for just $2,499 – making it one of the most affordable options today. For more information about the new Xangati VDI Dashboard and to start a free trial, go to http://xangati.com/VDI_dashboard.  

About Xangati

Xangati, the recognized leader in Infrastructure Performance Management (IPM), provides unparalleled performance management for the emerging and transformational data center architectures impacting IT today, including server virtualization, cloud computing and VDI. Its award-winning suite of IPM solutions accelerates cloud computing and virtualization initiatives by providing unprecedented visibility and real-time continuous insights into the entire infrastructure. Leveraging its powerful precision analytics, Xangati’s health performance index provides a new way to view and manage performance – in real-time – at a scale previously not possible.

Founded in 2006, Xangati, Inc. is a privately held company with corporate headquarters based in Cupertino, California. Xangati has been granted numerous technology patents for its unique and comprehensive approach to Infrastructure Performance Management. Xangati is a VMware Technology Alliance Partner and certified Citrix Ready Partner and supports VMware View and Citrix XenDesktop, as well as other virtualization environments. For more information, visit the company website at http://www.xangati.com.

VMware View Client for iPad Released

March 9th, 2011

SnagIt CaptureThere’s an old saying which goes “The best things in life are free”.  Even better are those things which will forever remain free.  Such is the case with the new VMware View Client for iPad, announced and made available this morning!  By the time you read this, the bits will already be available for download in the Apple App Store.  GET IT NOW!

Development efforts for the new client stem from VMware Product Manager Tedd Fox who is no stranger to iPad Apps.  Tedd also lead the development and is on the patent for the Citrix client for the iPad.  Tedd’s policy?  “I never charge for clients”.  So long as Tedd is at VMware, this client (and future versions, of which there are going to be many, rapid fired) will be free.

Following are some notable product features, frequently asked questions, as well as current limitations (and from here on out I’m going to refer to the VMware View Client as the vVC in the interest of less typing [by the way, I just made that up so if VMware adopts vVC, you heard it here first folks]):

  • The vVC for iPad will compete with Wyse PocketCloud.  A few of the differences between the two apps are:
    • vVC is purpose built for the VMware View use case and associated connectivity.  I think this will be important to keep in mind as the product is run through its paces and feature requests start to roll in.  VMware is going to pay more attention to feature requests which tie to its use with View and align with the VMware Enterprise Desktop architectural and strategic direction.
    • Instead of a hockey puck like cursor, the vVC sports a rendered track pad on the iPad surface.  VMware believes this no nonsense approach leads to a better user experience. The track pad, as well as other dockable modules such as function keys, can be moved around the display or hidden.
    • Wyse PocketCloud = $14.99 plus additional bolt on feature costs
    • vVC = $FREE
    • Other than the price tag, protocol is the biggie:  vVC supports PCoIP only.  Whereas PocketCloud supports Terminal Services/Remote Desktop RDP, View (RDP) and VNC.  We’ll see if this drives VMware View 4.6 upgrades/deployments which boast the required PCoIP gateway feature.  Alternatively, I’m assuming vVC PCoIP via VPN tunnel will also work with VMware View versions 4.6 and prior.
  • The vVC is currently available for iPad only with Android tablets targeted mid year.  There are no plans to support the smaller 7″ range of devices.  Tedd explains “the app just doesn’t feel right on smaller devices.”  No comment as of yet on HP TouchPad futures.
  • iPad 2 compatibility?  The honest answer is nobody knows at this time.  Nobody but Apple has an iPad 2 today.  vVC will likely work on the iPad 2, but there is a chance it won’t.  With future versions of vVC scheduled to come fast and furious, I doubt the wait would be long for full functionality on iPad 2, if it doesn’t already work out of the gate on March 11th when iPad 2 is released.  What we do know is that PCoIP does not currently support cameras, iPad 2 or otherwise.
  • Video and Audio:
    • vVC will support unidirectional audio. However, due to lack of Teradici integration, there will be no bidirectional audio support for this release.
    • 1024 x 768 video out is supported with the Apple VGA adapter (sold separately).
  • vVC supports connectivity to multiple brokers and multiple sessions, but not simultaneously.  Not until there’s a compelling use case.
  • There is no iPad multitasking support in the GA version but it is being worked on.  Wyse PocketCloud doesn’t have this either, or at least it doesn’t work for me as sessions are always disconnected when I multitask.
  • Dock keyboard and Bluetooth keyboard pairing support.
  • Local/LAN printing from the VDI session is supported, Apple/Air printing is not.
  • The VMware View for iPad VMTN community forum has been created at:

So enough socializing.  Feast your eyes on some candy captured by an iPad running the new View Client for iPad.

The vVC is launched and prompting for a broker.  The only information needed to get up and running with this app is a View broker URL and credentials:

photo-4-print

Previously visited sessions are available for selection along with a thumbnail of the desktop.  I believe the way this works is that the thumbnail is captured when the previous session is disconnected.  I don’t believe this is a dynamic representation of what’s currently displayed on the desktop.  The latter wouldn’t be very practical if desktops were locked or screen saver enabled:

photo-1-print

Wyse PocketCloud and iPad users in general will find the finger gestures familiar.  Comparing the two apps, there are both similarities and minor differences in how the gestures map to functions.

photo-2-print

Displayed here are some floating modules:  the track pad and two sets of function keys.  Also visible at the top is a pull down menu for the vVC:

SnagIt Capture 

Not much to say here so I’ll add some evangelism:  I’m so pumped about a free VMware App that I’ll probably forget about Enterprise Plus and per VM licensing for at least a day:

photo-print

Here’s a demo video from VMware which showcases some of the features:

Apple has strict protocols for its App Store.  Nobody outside of the development company gets pre-release copies or BETA software.  Nobody outside of VMware has had their hands on this app yet, including myself, so I write this piece from information gathered from those at VMware who have developed and worked with the product quite extensively already.  As I stated before, I’m overwhelmed with confidence in Tedd and his passion for client technology and from what I’ve seen, this client looks very promising.  I’m looking forward to grabbing this app ASAP and I wish Tedd and VMware a very successful launch.  I also look forward to the future releases and features Tedd promises.  After all, upgrading apps on the iPad isn’t nearly the bummer that Windows or other platform application upgrades are what with the reboots, compatibility issues, etc.  I’ll end with another quote from an old friend of mine who used to commonly say “What do you want for free?”  In this case, it would seem VMware has done a pretty good job with the GA version of vVC.  At this time I couldn’t ask for much more but ask me in a few weeks once I’ve had some seat time with it.

GeekFest 2010

October 29th, 2010

Are you looking for something fun and exciting to do in November? How about a free technology event with a tie to virtualization? Nexus Information Systems, a regional leader in sales and service of hardware, storage, networking, and managed services, has cooked up something for you!

On Wednesday November 10th, Nexus is hosting an all day event called GeekFest 2010 at their offices in Minnetonka, MN. Here is what they are saying about it:

The day is comprised of different technologies and industry sessions focused around challenging data center solutions and services. GeekFest is a FREE event where you can register to come and go to just individual sessions or register for an all-day pass. Attendees to GeekFest will be exposed to the newest technologies from both industry-leading and up & coming providers.

What else is cool? GeekFest 2010 has a special guest moderator Greg Schulz of Storage IO who is a 25+ year technology veteran, storage industry analyst, and vEXPERT.

The uber agenda looks like this:

  • 8:00am – Session #1 Registration “Multi-vendor storage panel breakfast”
  • 8:30am – Session #1 Start
  • 11:00am – Session #1 End
  • 11:30am – Session #2 Registration “Emerging technologies lunch”
  • 12:00pm – Session #2 Start
  • 1:30pm – Session #2 End
  • 2:00pm – Session #3 Registration “Beyond VMworld & shadow installs of Thinapp and other VMware Technology”
  • 2:30pm – Session #3 Start
  • 4:30pm – Session #3 End
  • 5:00pm – Game Night!  Maybe it will look something like the following 😀

dh04w

Nexus Information Systems is located at:
6103 Blue Circle Drive
Minnetonka, MN 55343

I hope to be there and I hope to see you there as well! Don’t forget to register.

Putting some money where my VMware mouth is

February 15th, 2009

I came home this afternoon from a Valentines Day wedding in North Dakota to find that my one and only workstation in the house (other than the work laptop) had a belated Valentines Day present for me:  It would no longer boot up.  No Windows.  No POST.  No video signal.  No beep codes.

DSC00473

I was feeling adventurous and I needed a relatively quick and inexpensive fix.  I decided to take one of the thin clients I received from Chip PC via VMworld 2008 plus a freshly deployed Windows XP template on the Virtual Infrastructure and promote this VDI solution to main household workstation status for the next few weeks.  The timing on this could not have been better.  The upcoming Minnesota VMUG on Wednesday March 11th is going to be VDI focused.  I guess I’ll have more to contribute at that meeting than I had originally planned on.  With any luck, Chip PC will be in attendance and we can discuss some things.

The thin client:  Chip PC Xtreme PC NG-6600 (model: EX6600N, part number: CPN04209).

Specs:

  • RMI – Alchemy Au 1550, 500MHz RISC processor (equivalent to 1.2GHz x86 TC processors)
  • 128MB DDR RAM
  • 64MB Disk-On-Chip with TFS
  • 128-bit 3D graphics acceleration engine with separate 2x8MB display memory SDRAM
  • Dual DVI ports each supporting 1920×1200 16-bit color.  Supports quad displays up to 1024×768
  • Audio I/O
  • 4 USB 2.0 ports
  • 10/100 Ethernet NIC
  • Power draw:  3.5W work mode, .35W sleep mode
  • OS:  Enhanced Microsoft Windows CE (6.00 R2 Professional)
  • Integrated applications (Plugins – note plugins are downloaded at no charge from the Chip PC website and are not, by default, embedded or included with the thin client – just enough OS concept)
    • Citrix ICA
    • RDP 5.2 and 6
    • Internet Explorer 6.0
    • VDM Client
    • VDI Client
    • Media Player
    • VPN Client
    • Ultra VNC
    • Pericom (Team Talk) Terminal Emulation
    • LPD Printer
    • ELO Touch Screen
  • Compatibility
    • Citrix WinFrame, MetaFrame, and Presentation Server 4.5
    • MS Windows Server 2000/2003
    • MS Windows NT 4.0 – TS Edition
    • VMware Virtual Desktop Interface using RDP
  • Full support of both local and network printers:  LPD, LPR, SMB, LPT, USB, COM
  • Support for USB mass storage (thumb drives – deal breaker for me)
  • Support for wireless USB NIC (not included)
  • etc. etc. etc.

DSC00474

Truth be told, this isn’t really a promotion in the sense that I had already performed extensive testing on it.  I hadn’t even taken the thing out of the box yet other than to register it for the extended warranty.  I’ve had only a little experience on these devices as I have an identical unit in the lab at work which I’ve spent a total of 30 minutes on.  To the best of my knowledge, this is the Cadillac unit from Chip PC.

I don’t have any fancy VDI brokering solutions here in the home lab and I’m not up to speed on VMware View so the plan is to leverage Thin Client -> RDP -> Windows XP desktop on VMware Virtual Infrastructure 3.5.

I think this is going to be a good test.  A trial by fire of VDI (granted, a fairly simple variation).  I spout a lot about the goodness that is VMware and now I’ll be eating some of my own dog food from the desktop workspace.  I’m a power user.  I’ve got my standard set of applications that I use on a regular basis and I’ve got a few hardware devices such as a flatbed scanner, iPod Shuffle, USB thumb drives, digital cameras, etc.  I should know within a short period of time whether or not this will be a viable solution for the short term.  Also add to the mix my wife’s career.  She uses our home computer to access her servers at work on a fairly regular basis.  Lastly, my wife sometimes works from home while I’m away at the office or traveling.  It’s going to be critical that this solution stays up and running and continues to be viable for my wife while I’m remote and not able to provide computer support.

So where am I at now?  I’ve got the VDI session patched along with my most critical applications installed to get me by in the short term:  Quicken, SnagIt, network printer, and Citrix clients.  I’ll install MS Office later but for now I can use the published application version of Office on my virtualized Citrix servers.  I’ve been listening some Electro House on www.di.fm on the VDI and music quality is as good as it was on my PC before it died, although it doesn’t completely drive my 5.1 surround in the den.  Pretty sure I’m getting 2.1 right now.  Oh well, at least the sub is thumpin.  Shhhh… the thin client is sleeping:

DSC00478

So what else?  As long as I’m throwing caution to the wind, I think it’s time to take the training wheels off VMware DPM (Distributed Power Management) and see what happens in a two node cluster.

2-15-2009 10-53-10 PM

Based on the environment below, what do you think will happen?  CPU load is very low, however, memory utilization is close to being over committed in a one host scenario. Will DPM kick in?

2-15-2009 10-53-59 PM

Most of my infrastructure at home is virtual including all components involving internet access both incoming and outgoing.  If the blog becomes unavailable for a while in the near future, I’ll give you one guess as to what happened.  🙂

No matter what the outcome, vmwarenews.de aka Roman Haug – you are no longer welcomed to republish my blog articles.  Albeit flattering, the fact that you have not even so much as asked in the first place has officially pissed me off.  You publish my content as if it were your own, written by you as indicated by the “by Roman” header preceeding each duplicated post.  Please remove my content from your site and refrain from syndicating my content going forward.  Thank you in advance.

Update: Roman Haug has offered an apology and I believe we have reached an understanding.  Thank you Roman!