Wednesday, December 11, 2013

vCAC 6.0 GA

VMware vCAC 6.0 is a game-changing release that enables IT to deliver infrastructure, applications, desktops and virtually any kind of IT service in a simple yet highly configurable and rich self-service experience. It is also a significant step in converging the original vCAC and Application Director products.

This new release contains a wealth of new capabilities to help IT departments become brokers of services and accelerate their customers' journey to IT as a Service. Some of the major new vCAC 6.0 features include:

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Being Thankful

With Thanksgiving upon us, I wanted to take a few minutes to blog about what I am thankful for this year.

But first, let me give you a little background and set the stage for this past year. 

In August of 1990, fresh out of high school, I started at the Paul Revere Insurance Company in Worcester, Massachusetts. My first position was sorting mail for the customer service department. I decided to delay college (it has been delayed for 23 years now) and my starting salary in August of 1990 was a generous $14,000.00 a year.  That pretty much covered my car payment, car insurance, gas, and my weekend expenses.

I walked around in my dress shirt, dress pants, and tie (corporate policy even for mail clerks) with my standard issued mail cart delivering correspondence to customer service representatives, managers, and executives.

In a short period of time, I was promoted to an associate customer service position. The early 1990’s were an interesting time to be in corporate America. Individual contributors that were part of the day-to-day operations didn’t have cubicles, instead 6-foot high walls zoned off the department and all our desks were jammed together. There was no privacy, and even worse was the fact that smoking was allowed in the office. Every day I would come into the office and sit next to Liz and Holly; they were two pack a day chain smokers. My introduction to cloud computing was the cloud of cigarette smoke hovering over my dumb terminal. By the end of the day my eyes were watering and my cloths smelled like I had been at the Philip Morris convention.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

What's New in vSphere 5.5

There are several enhancements in the new vSphere 5.5 around scalability, performance, availability, and user interface.

  • vSphere configuration maximum increases
  • Virtual Machine Compatibility ESXi 5.5 (vHW10)
  • vCenter Appliance maximums
  • Expanded vGPU and GP-GPU support
  • Graphic acceleration for Linux guests
  • Enhancements for CPU C-States
  • Hot-pluggable SSD PCIe devices
  • Support for Reliable Memory 
  • Support for database clustering technologies
User Interface
  •  Increased platform support
  • Enhanced usability Experience


The vSphere configuration maximum increases make it so there isn't a workload that the vSphere platform cannot virtualize. From Tier1 enterprise applications to next-generation applications, they can all take advantage of the new configuration maximums without any issues. In addition, the new Virtual Machine Compatibility 10 will support a new virtual-SATA controller that can support up to 120 disk devices which is a 2x increase from vSphere 5.1. At VMworld, VMware was giving away bumper stickers that read vSphere Loves Applications. Indeed!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

EMC VSPEX for End-User Computing

EMC provides a great whitepaper that delivers general sizing guidelines and best practices for end-user computing virtual desktops with their next-generation VNX storage architecture called EMC VSPEX. The new version was just recently released in October 2013; and provides sizing guidelines for up to 2,000 virtual desktops using VMware Horizon View 5.2.

VSPEX helps with server virtualization planning and configurations by incorporating extensive interoperability, functional, and performance testing by EMC. The 500, 1000, and 2000 virtual desktop environments are based on defined desktop workloads.

One important design consideration is that every virtual desktop deployment is unique, rarely do I come across two customers with the exact same requirements, VSPEX doesn't replace the need to do a full VDI assessment with a tool like Liquidware Labs' Stratusphere Fit and Lakeside Software's SysTrack MVP.

The VNX storage series provides both file and block access with a broad feature set, which makes it a great choice for end-user computing implementations.

VNX is a flash-optimized hybrid storage array which delivers automated tiering to provide the best performance for highly accessed data, while intelligently moving less frequently accessed data to lower-cost disks.

Friday, November 15, 2013

A Lesson in VDI Sizing

I thought it would be helpful to do a post on VDI sizing, and show the importance of leveraging SSD in the storage design. I am going to be using some general estimates, but let me encourage you to always conduct an assessment to determine the current and predicted resource utilization of your users' desktops. You should use a tool like Liquidware Labs' Stratusphere Fit and Lakeside Software's SysTrack MVP.

For our example, I am going to size out the infrastructure for 300 users which are mostly composed of knowledge workers. We are going to be going with two pools, one is for consultants and the second is for sales.

For our virtual desktops, we are going to go with a Windows 7 with the applications consisting of Microsoft Office, IE, Firefox, Adobe Reader, and proprietary sales and consulting software. Our configuration is going to be 2 vCPU and 2048 MB of memory per desktop.

Virtual Desktops
  • 2 vCPU per virtual desktop
  • 200 MHz average CPU per virtual desktop
  • 120,000 MHz required for 300 virtual desktops
  • 18,000 for virtualization overhead
138,000 MHz total required for 300 virtual desktops
  • 2,048 MB of memory per virtual desktop
  • 614,400 MB required for 300 virtual desktops
  • 30 percent sharing benefit 184,320 MB
430,080 MB total required for 300 virtual desktops
Now lets focus on the host servers, in our example we are going to use Hewlett Packard DL360P Generation 8 servers. We are going to use two physical processors with 8 cores that are 2.7 GHZ, and 131 GB of memory. We are going to estimate the number of hosts required based on the above desktop calculations.
Hewlett Packard DL360p Gen 8 Hosts 
  • 16 cores per ESX host
  • 2700 MHz per core
  • 43,200 MHz total per ESX host
  • 80 percent maximum host CPU use
  • 34,560 MHz available per ESX host
  • 138,000 MHz/34,560 MHz = 3.99
4 hosts required per CPU usage
  • 131,072MB total per ESX host
  • 80 percent maximum host memory use
  • 104,858 MB available per ESX host
  • 430,080 MB/104,858 MB = 4.10
5 hosts required per memory usage

Friday, October 25, 2013

Why does de-dup and thin provisioning matter in VDI?

VMware released a new Horizon View Large-Scale Reference Architecture document. The document was based on real-world test scenarios, workloads, and infrastructure system configurations using VCE Vblock Specialized System for Extreme Applications. This Vblock is composed of Cisco UCS server blades and EMC ExtremeIO flash-based storage array.

This VCE Vblock is specifically intended for solutions like VDI because the flash-based array ensures performance and responsiveness that is required by virtual desktops to provide a respectable user experience.

The VCE Vblock Specialized System for Extreme Applications uses EMC XtremIO storage arrays as primary storage for Horizon View virtual desktops and EMC Isilon NAS to store user data and Horizon View persona data.

The environment was scaled to support 7,000 users. They used a View POD design with a Management block and a Desktop block. The Desktop block consisted of 8 pools; six of the pools had 1,000 desktops and two of the pools had 500 desktops.

VDI Port Mapping

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

VMware Aquires Desktone

In a very interesting move, VMware has committed to DaaS with the acquisition of Desktone. This will help VMware in its effort to develop a complete end user computing suite. This acquisition will immediately make VMware the leader in the DaaS platform, and starts to address some short comings it had against its primary rival Citrix.

Desktone provides the only virtual desktop platform built for delivering desktops and applications as a cloud service.

“Desktone is a leader in desktop-as-a-service and has a complete and proven blueprint for enabling service providers to deliver DaaS,” said Sanjay Poonen, executive vice president and general manager, End-User Computing, VMware. “By bringing Desktone’s innovative platform in house, VMware can accelerate the delivery of DaaS through its network of over 11,000 VMware service provider partners while helping to shape and lead the future of the industry.”

“The combination of VMware and Desktone’s global partner network will allow customers in all regions to benefit from the economies of scale provided by DaaS,” said Peter McKay, president and chief executive officer, Desktone. “With the Desktone platform already certified with the VMware vCloud® technology, VMware vSphere® and VMware Horizon View™, customers will be able to quickly modernize and move their desktop infrastructure to the cloud and open new possibilities for customers, users and service providers.” 
Companies are now facing a different reality. In particular, they have employees that bring their own devices to work. VMware sees an opportunity to bring a broad portfolio of end user computing solutions to its customers.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Horizon View 5.2 Pod Design Overview

The Horizon View components fit together within a physical architecture, based on the concept of building blocks and pods. This scalable approach allows IT professionals to build out a solution as users migrate to virtual desktops.

A Horizon View pod integrates five 2,000-user building blocks into a View Manager installation that you can manage as one entity.

By taking this approach, you can be fairly user-agnostic and deploy additional blocks or pods with varying performance characteristics, geographical locations, or access mechanisms as required.

A typical Horizon View deployment can consist of 500 to 10,000 virtual desktops hosted across a single or multiple ESXi clusters managed by a management building block. In the following example, each ESXi host has two CPUs with eight cores, providing 16 cores in total and 128 desktop virtual machines per host. The building block has two clusters with 1024 desktop virtual machines in each cluster.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Zerto Virtual Replication

Zerto Virtual Replication 3.0 was designed to provide replication at the hypervisor level. Zerto Virtual Replication provides a business continuity (BC) and disaster recovery (DR) solution in virtual environments, enabling the replication of mission-critical applications that also provides automation of failovers and recoveries.

Zerto has moved physical array based replication to the hypervisor which follows the trend of abstracting hardware functionality to software for the software-defined datacenter. Their solution dramatically simplifies disaster recovery designs, and gives IT professionals the option of using cloud DR solutions from one of Zerto's cloud partners.

The Zerto components include:

  • Zerto Virtual Manager (ZVM): A Windows service, which manages everything required for the replication between the protection and recovery sites, except for the actual replication of data. The ZVM interacts with the vCenter Server to get the inventory of VMs, disks, networks, hosts, etc. and then service the Zerto GUI within vSphere Client console for the user to create and manage protected virtual machines. The ZVM also monitors changes in the VMware environment and responds accordingly. For example, a VMotion operation of a protected VM from one host to another is intercepted by the ZVM so the Zerto GUI will update it accordingly to the user. 
  • Virtual Replication Appliance (VRA): A virtual machine installed on each ESX/ESXi hosting virtual machines to be protected or recovered, to manage the replication of data from protected virtual machines to the recovery site.
  • Zerto Cloud Connector (ZCC): A cloud connector routes traffic between two networks belonging to different organizations, such as between a customer network and a cloud provider replication network, in a secure manner. Using a ZCC means that a cloud provider does not need to go through complex network and routing setups to ensure complete separation between a customer network and the cloud provider network.
  • Zerto vSphere Client console plug-in: A plug-in in the vSphere Client console that enables managing recovery using Zerto Virtual Replication from the console.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

vExpert Chili

In the spirit of the new football season I thought I would post my vExpert chili recipe.

2 lbs lean ground beef
1 lb beef sirloin, cubed
4 (15 oz) cans of kidney beans
3 onions, minced
2 tsp black pepper
12 bay leaves
4 cloves of garlic
2 (6 oz) cans of tomato paste
4 cups of water
2 cups of dark beer
8 tbsp of chili powder
1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper
5 tbsp distilled white vinegar
3 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tsp ground allspice
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp salt
1 cup of brown sugar
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups shredded colby cheese
  • Brown ground beef in skillet with onions
  • Drain fat
  • Add and brown beef sirloin
  • Combine remainder of the ingredients
  • Cook over low head for 3 hours
  • When ready to serve, top with colby cheese and serve with tortilla chips

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

VMware Horizon Suite Insights

I wanted to post some insight I gained from VMworld around Horizon Suite and end user computing (EUC). VMware's focus is to provide a cost effective and performance driven solution for virtual desktop infrastructure. Some of this will be provided by new capabilities that are coming with vSphere 5.5.

vSphere 5.1 was the first vSphere release to provide support for hardware-accelerated 3D graphics—virtual graphics processing unit (vGPU)—inside of a virtual machine. That support was limited to only NVIDIA-based GPUs. With vSphere 5.5, vGPU support has been expanded to include both Intel- and AMD-based GPUs. Virtual machines with graphic-intensive workloads or applications that typically have required hardware-based GPUs can now take advantage of additional vGPU vendors, makes and models.

There are three supported rendering modes for a virtual machine configured with a vGPU: automatic,
hardware and software. Virtual machines still can leverage VMware vSphere vMotion technology, even across a heterogeneous mix of vGPU vendors, without any downtime or interruptions to the virtual machine. If automatic mode is enabled and a GPU is not available at the destination vSphere host, software rendering automatically is enabled. If hardware mode is configured and a GPU does not exist at the destination vSphere host, a vSphere vMotion instance is not attempted.

Monday, August 26, 2013


It has been a great first couple days at VMworld; on my first day I had the pleasure of meeting up with Greg Stuart before the VMworld reception. He was just getting there from the vOdgeball benefit event (sporting the vExpert team shirt). I can't thank him and the sponsors (Nutanix, Veeam, and TrainSignal) enough for giving me the opportunity to attend this year's 10th anniversary VMworld.

At the VMworld reception on Sunday evening, I was also able to meet one of my blog sponsors Fara Hain from Zerto. This was a picture from the Zerto booth with Fara, Chris Wahl, and Alaistar Cooke.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Horizon View on LG Spectrum 4G

Here is a picture of my LG Spectrum 4G running Horizon View with Unity Touch and Liquidware Labs Profile Unity. All the applications were installed with ProfileUnity FlexApp.

Horizon Workspace 1.5 Design

Horizon Workspace 1.5 provides end users with a web portal that allows them to access web applications (SaaS), mobile applications, ThinApps, user authored documents, and entitled virtual desktops. The beauty of the solution is that secures your applications and data in your datacenter, while allowing users to access work components from multiple devices from anywhere.

The Applications page displays applications that have been enabled for your use. From this page, you can securely access these applications without reentering your sign in credentials.

If you use a computer running Windows, you can access both Windows and Web applications. VMware ThinApp packages that your organization enabled for you display in the Applications tab. If you are not working on a computer running Windows, Windows and ThinApp packages are not displayed.

You can access your Web applications from any device.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Top Skills to Boost Your Career

Top virtualization skills to boost your career - An infographic by the team at TrainSignal, which is now Pluralsight

Showing Business Value with a Private Cloud

Whether people love it or hate it, there is a distinct value to moving toward a private cloud. Even if you only adopt certain aspects, cost transparency is a common-sense approach that helps business leaders understand their investments in infrastructure technology and helps IT professionals become more strategic partners to the business. Comparatively, the traditional role of IT just executing tasks for the business and not being able to show their underlying value to the company is a risky proposition as public cloud adoption begins to mature. It is past time that IT professionals embrace their role as service providers for their organizations.

In the past, companies looked to reduce internal expenditures by turning to co-location, outsourcing, and hosting providers. This was driven by the pains of not understand the benefit of technology and trying to reduce costs; owning and operating a data center is an expensive proposition. It requires spending capital on data center superstructure, IT infrastructure, and personnel to manage operations.

I want to share an approach that is simple, uses your current investment in your VMware infrastructure, and can provide a tremendous amount of value to your organization.

Here are some of the key aspects that make up a Private Cloud:
  • On-demand
  • Self Service
  • Pooled resources
  • Elastic
  • Measurable
  • Standardized
  • Automated
  • Resilient

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Social Media

Recently, a friend of mine asked me about blogging, in particular why I bothered blogging and does it help a person’s career. A blog is an excellent hub for your social media presence, and helps to engage your peers, customers and other audiences.

Technologists are a passionate group; in comparison in the Winter I am an avid skier, when the leaves start to turn shades of scarlet, yellow and orange and the wind starts them on their annual ballet toward their seasonal sleep on the ground, a skier starts to itch to get on the slopes. They start attending Ski Expos and going to the latest Warren Miller ski films. If you want to see a passionate group, go to a Warren Miller film at the beginning of ski season and listen to the cheers and jeers as the professional skiers perform amazing tricks and teeth clenching crashes.

It is the same for the technology community, they are a passionate group, they like to involve and support each other. Furthermore, just like the skier in autumn, it is remarkable to see the excitement build as VMworld draws near.  Everyone is sharing the sessions they are eager to attend and the après-VMworld events they will be joining.  This isn’t just individuals, this goes for vendors as well, technology vendors are great sponsors to the blogging community and to the après-VMworld events.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

VMware Introduces Horizon Workspace 1.5 and New VMware Ready Devices

Yesterday, VMware announced the release of VMware Horizon Workspace 1.5, I plan to have this up and running in my lab in the next couple weeks and I will provide an overview of the changes.

"VMware is making it easier to support the mobile workforce by introducing the general availability of VMware Horizon Workspace™ 1.5, which offers a highly integrated mobile management platform. This release simplifies the experience for both the end user and the IT administrator who must support the mobile worker. Adding to the single, aggregated workspace that combines data, applications and desktops are features such as:
  1. A single integrated management interface to support Android devices alongside all other components of the workspace with the integration of VMware Horizon Mobile™
  2. Support for mobile applications to allow admins to entitle and manage applications
  3. Policy management engine to consolidate, model, and rationalize policies across all components
  4. Support for the Oracle database
  5. Revised iOS applications – files and applications in two separate applications
  6. Localization in French, German, Japanese and simplified Chinese
  7. Performance improvements and fixes
The variety of mobile device models, operating systems and applications brought into the enterprise by users can create a management nightmare for IT. Specifically, Android is a difficult platform to manage due to the large number of device-specific operating systems. Horizon Workspace helps IT standardize the management of Android devices using a single, integrated management platform to easily apply and enforce corporate security policies across all devices using a single solution.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Computer Training for the IT Professional

I have been using TrainSignal for a couple of months now, and I find the content exceedingly beneficial. As a technical architect working for a systems integrator, it is a requirement to have a broad understanding of technical capabilities so I can assemble the infrastructure building blocks that provide business value for my clients. That can be extremely challenging, especially when you are not focused on a specific core competency every day. 

But let's face it, understanding the capabilities of technical solutions isn't just  the purview for IT professionals that work for system integrators and technology companies; it provides a tremendous amount of value for technical architects of Fortune 2000 companies and system engineers for SMB organizations. TrainSignal's content offers foresight into the solutions available from vendors like VMware, EMC, Microsoft, Citrix, and Veeam; before making the capital investment into the technology. It isn't a substitute for a solid proof of concept, instead it dovetails hands-on experience by providing the knowledge, skill, and best practices vital for deploying a successful IT solution such as desktop virtualization.

When you log into TrainSignal, you are provided with an easy to navigate dashboard that provides your Course Progress, New Courses, and Popular Courses.

Friday, July 12, 2013

VMware Horizon View 5.2 Feature Pack 2

VMware just released Feature Pack 2 for VMware Horizon View 5.2. VMware is trying to release Feature Packs on a quarterly basis to bring new innovations to their customers quicker then the annual major releases. I think the Real-Time Audio-Video component is a great new add to the line-up.

What's New in This Release

VMware Horizon View 5.2 Feature Pack 2 includes the following new features:
  • Flash URL Redirection - Customers can now use Adobe Media Server and multicast to deliver live video events in a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) environment. To deliver multicast live video streams within a VDI environment, the media stream should be sent directly from the media source to the endpoints, bypassing the virtual desktops. The Flash URL Redirection feature supports this capability by intercepting and redirecting the ShockWave Flash (SWF) file from the virtual desktop to the client endpoint.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Virtualization 2.0

Virtualization 2.0, the transformation of leveraging your virtual infrastructure to become a more integral part of the business. I am not talking about improving capital expense by consolidating physical hardware, it is the conversion of IT operations moving away from executing tasks to delivering services to the business. It isn't an easy change; let's face it, we have been working under a traditional mindset of just building the infrastructure from a planned budget to support growing business capabilities for 20 years. But, that change is starting to gain momentum. Granted, it is slow, but it is happening at many large corporations.

Remember, the personal computer didn't provide business value in the early 90's until there were business processes in place to take advantage of its capabilities. In matter of fact, the first personal computers that started being deployed in early 1990 with Windows 3.0 were excessively expensive for the activities it could perform for a business. A Dell 310 computer with a cutting-edge 10-megahertz 386 chip, a 90-megabyte hard disk and a VGA monitor was $5,398. However, as those processes were built out, the operational savings made the adoption of the personal computer and the client-server model to compelling not to embrace. It was no longer necessary to have mainframe computer operators in the datacenter process all the work, instead the work could be brought down to the task workers on the floor. Word processing and spreadsheets enabled the average business user to perform more complex work, and the drive to a paperless workplace was in motion.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Multi-Site VDI Deployment with ProfileUnity

Today, as I was talking to one of my colleagues, I started to think about the possibility of delivering a multi-site stateless VDI solution that maintained a personal user experience. In this design, we are going to assume a Site A and Site B location, they both have stateless pools fronted by a global load balancer.

Typically, setting up this design works well if you don't need to deliver a feature-rich personalized desktop experience, it would be better for locked down kiosk style machines. But, if we employ Liquidware Labs ProfileUnity, we can replicate the datastore hosting the profile, user-authored data, and FlexApps to Site B.

Then you are going to say, "Mr. Gaudreau, when the user logs onto their virtual desktop pool in Site B they are going to pull their profile information across the WAN from the Site A datastore!" Which, normally, is correct; but we are going build in two different ProfileUnity configuration files into our respective desktop pools and point our GPO to execute them locally (check out my previous post).

First, open up the Guided Configuration file found on C:\ProfileUnity on the Parent Image in the Site A pool.

Below is a picture of my Guided Configuration policy file on the Parent Image, this was created by the guided configuration wizard from the ProfileUnity 5.5 Configuration Management web portal. You will notice the mapping to the SITEA server.

Monday, June 24, 2013

ProfileUnity Configuration

Local Execution

As I discussed in my last post, I don't like to rely on a solid network connection with Active Directory for script execution, this is something learned early in my career when I supported my organizations corporate login scripts. Instead, I prefer to copy the login script folder from the netlogon share down to the client.

In order to take advantage of this with ProfileUnity, you need to make some changes to the ProfileUnity GPO settings. First, let's open Group Policy Manager by selecting Start - All Programs - Administrative Tools - Group Policy Management.

From there, edit your ProfileUnity GPO.

Select Computer Configuration - Policies - Windows Settings - Scripts (Startup/Shutdown). Change the Script Parameters to C:\ProfileUnity\Startup.vbs //b.

Next navigate to User Configuration - Policies - Windows Settings - Scripts (Logon/Logoff). Modify the Script Parameters to C:\ProfileUnity\Logoff.vbs //b.

Thursday, June 20, 2013


First, I want to extend my heart-felt thanks to vDestination, Veeam, Nutanix, and TrainSignal for selecting me to go to VMworld 2013. It really is an honor to be going this year.

Being in pre-sales and doing consulting requires you to travel frequently. When I am on the road, I often listen to audio books and podcasts. Today, as I was driving to the office, I was listening to The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman. In the book, Thomas talks about two different individuals, a girl that is just starting out her life full of dreams and an old woman at the end of her life full of memories. He then talks about how the young girl is very much like developed countries, they are full of dreamers and individuals that want to make the world a better place; individuals that believe that they have limitless opportunities. In countries that are under-developed, they typically are filled with people that are looking in the past at their memories and their past accomplishments. They spend so much time looking back, that is hard for them ever to turn their head and see what is ahead.

I thought about this a little, it really describes individuals in IT as well; as the people in our industry grow older, I find that several of them look back at their past and aren't always passionate about the future. The wick that provides the fuel for their dreams is growing short and the light is growing dim, they have become stuck in a rut. They don't dream about how far this amazing industry can take them. Instead, they reflect back on their career, both good times and bad, and clutch on to those memories. They are biding their time, waiting for the day that they can finally retire and move on with the next phase of their lives.

LiquidWare Labs ProfileUnity - Install and Configure

For a feature rich persona management solution, I recommend a tool like Liquidware Labs ProfileUnity with FlexApp. ProfileUnity is a cost effective, yet robust user profile and application management solution that decouples the user profile, user authored data, and applications from the operating system making them universally portable and compatible with any Windows operating system. Using a tool like ProfileUnity with FlexApp, in conjunction with Hoizon View and Horizon Mirage, can provide a comprehensive desktop management solution.

This is a complete solution, not just focused on virtual desktops, but also includes physical desktops and laptops. This provides users the familiar, personalized desktop environment they have come to expect on any device from anywhere.

My first post is going to focus on installation of ProfileUnity, my subsequent post will discuss implementation best practices.


The ProfileUnity Management Console requires Microsoft .NET Framework v4.5 or later. You have two options when downloading ProfileUnity. The options are ProfileUnity without .NET Framework and ProfileUnity with .NET Framework.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Horizon View RACI Document

It is no secret that designing a VDI infrastructure is a complex undertaking, but one aspect that certainly needs to be considered is how the environment will be supported. In small to medium sized business, a majority of the IT departments support all aspects of the infrastructure, but in enterprise organizations technical competencies are supported by different organizations and divisions.

Will the server infrastructure be supported by the server team or the end-user computing team? How about the master desktop images and pools?

A key to the success of a VDI project is developing a RACI document. A responsibility assignment matrix (RACI) is developed by listing the activities along the left column of a table and the roles across the top. A matrix is then developed to identify which roles are responsible, accountable, consulted and informed within the process. A RACI model ensures that end-to-end accountability is identified for the process activities and ensures that gaps are identified and can be corrected.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

VMware Horizon Suite Licensing

VMware has updated their licensing model for the Horizon Suite to include a concurrent option; the list price is $500.00 a concurrent user compared to $300.00 for the named user bundle. Personally, I love the Horizon Suite, but if I were going to deploy this for 500 users it would cost me $250,000.00 not including support. If you add in 3 years technical support, which costs $166.00 a user, we are adding another $83,160.00 in the overall licensing costs for a total of $333,160.00.

When Horizon Suite was first introduced and I saw the price, I thought it was a fantastic deal for an additional $50.00; until you look at the Named User pricing model and how it changes Horizon View to Named User licensing. With Named User, you can't specify Joe Smith that is using a thin client in a call center consumes a View license and Jane Brown in application development with a traditional endpoint gets a Mirage license. Instead, the Named User is bundled all the products whether they are using them or not. So, even though it is $100,000.00 cheaper, you could have a lot of wasted product licenses if your business partners aren't using the entire suite.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Horizon Mirage 4.2 released

by Hanan Stein, Product Management, End-User Computing VMware

Today, VMware is pleased to announce the launch of the latest edition of VMware® Horizon Mirage™: the Horizon Mirage 4.2 release. In Horizon Mirage 4.2 VMware has made major storage performance improvements which greatly reduces the time it takes an endpoint to finish centralization. How significant is the impact you ask? Great question! Unfortunately, the answer is that it depends heavily on your environment, but we are quite sure that it will reduce the time significantly in environments where the storage is the bottleneck.  So we could have published “X% improvement achieved in the lab” we will try to share performance improvement data from real world deployments if our customers give us permission to publish it!

What’s new in VMware Horizon Mirage 4.2?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Mirage Endpoint Protection

VMware Horizon Mirage not only acts as a layered deployment mechanism for centralized IT administration of physical devices, it is a comprehensive endpoint protection solution. Changes made to the endpoint device are synchronized with the centralized virtual desktop (CVD) on an hourly basis. These changes are then rolled up into snapshots. Each snapshot contains only the incremental changes to the original desktop image since the previous snapshot. This protects mission critical data for your business users which includes user-installed applications, user settings and data, and machine state. Execution is local to the device, and your business users can work online or offline; they are not tied to the network. The snapshots are automatically uploaded to the datacenter while users work without interruption. While a user is disconnected from the network, user changes to the endpoint are flagged for upload when re-connected.

This gives IT professionals the ability to restore all or part of the desktop.

Friday, May 31, 2013

VMware vExpert 2013

On Wednesday, I found out I was awarded the VMware vExpert designation for 2013. It is such an honor to be recognized by Vmware. It is an award that recognizes individuals who share their passion for virtualization and technology through contributions to their community and their willingness to share their expertise with others. For me, this is an extremely gratifying award, as I have written in the past, I enjoy inspiring high school kids into becoming the next generation of IT professionals.

I’ll admit that when I first signed up to speak to kids, I didn't fully appreciate what I was doing. However, it only took that one volunteer event to show me just how many young people there are in our community who need a role model, someone to inspire them. 

I wrote about this topic last year; in 10 to 15 years most the people I know in information technology, from infrastructure support to developers to IT leaders, will be near the end of their careers or retired. Scary! No really, it is very scary. A recent conversation I had with one of my colleagues reflects this sentiment; "I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Only a couple more years before I retire." Fortunately, if history serves us right, when the market place opens up due to the significant retirements (estimated at 10,000 to 12,000 a day for the next 12 years) there will be a flood of ambitious young individuals diving into the IT job pool to take advantage of the burgeoning salaries. But will they have the skills required?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

VMware Horizon Suite Licensing

Licensing of users is according to which Horizon bundle or suite you purchase:


Any product purchased with a bundle or suite inherits the license type of the bundle or suite. Thus, ThinApp purchased within the Horizon View bundle is licensed per concurrent user, and ThinApp purchased within the Horizon Suite or Horizon Mirage bundle is licensed per named user.

Horizon View desktops within the Horizon Suite are licensed per named user, even though Horizon View desktops purchased with the Horizon View bundle are licensed per concurrent user. If VMware View concurrent-user licenses were purchased previously outside of the Horizon Suite, then placed on the Horizon Workspace, the Horizon View desktops remain licensed per concurrent user.

For more information go to the VMware KB: Horizon Suite 1.0 Licensing.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

School Testing

When I was in elementary school, each year, we were administered a standardized test called the “California Test of Basic Skills” or CTBS.  This test involved using “number 2” pencils and filling out a form with boxes from A to E.  I remember thinking that if I didn’t know the answer, I should guess “C” because it’s in the middle.  Today, I can’t remember the last time I actually used a pencil.  However, many schools still use this antiquated way of administering standardized tests to students.

This is all about to change in the next couple of years.  According to the San Jose Mercury News, California, as one of 45 of the 50 states in the U.S. participating, will move toward a broad state-led program called the “Common Core State Standards Initiative.”  This initiative requires the standardization of testing across states by the 2014-2015 school year to ensure consistent performance assessments.  Quoting the article:

“Multiple-choice, fill-in-the-bubble tests alone simply cannot do the job anymore, and it’s time for California to move forward with assessments that measure the real-world skills our students need to be ready for a career and for college,” said California School Superintendent Tom Torlakson.

These next generation assessments will be computer-based and Pearson TestNav™ is a leading test delivery platform in K-12 schools that delivers over 4 million tests annually.  VMware is pleased to announce that our VMware® Horizon View™ desktop virtualization solution has received “TestNav Qualified” certification, ensuring that TestNav tests administered using Horizon View are delivered securely, error-free, and with a good user experience.

Read the entire article here on VMware's blog site.

Mirage Windows 7 Upgrade

Mirage is unique in its ability to perform an in-place upgrade of the operating system from Windows XP to Windows 7. After you have created your corporate Windows 7 Base Layer image, then you stream down that Base Layer to the business user endpoint devices. Now, if you have a very large environment, you will use collections to deploy the Windows 7 Base Layer image to a segment your user population. These can be static collections based on site location, floors, or departments.

As the core image streams down to the endpoint device, the user is still able to continue to work on their current Windows XP operating system.

Before the new Windows 7 Base Layer image that has been staged on the endpoint device is deployed, the Mirage Server takes a pre-deployment snapshot of the device.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Horizon Mirage

Today, I want to talk about one of my favorite products in the Horizon Suite, Mirage. VMware Mirage provides several capabilities to physical workstations and persistent virtual desktops.  These capabilities include centralized image management through logical layers. Endpoint protection with desktop backups to network storage on an hourly basis that has daily, monthly, and yearly snapshot recoveries. And finally, one of the most critical aspects for the 45% of companies that haven't moved to Windows 7, an automated migration from Windows XP to Windows 7.

Don't forget, on April 8, 2014 there will no longer be patches deployed to one of the most porous operating systems. In order to get patches, you need a $500,000.00 support contract with Microsoft and each patch is $50,000.00.

Overall, VMware Mirage provides centralized management capabilities for physical desktops similar to the way VMware View provides centralized management for virtual desktops. The goal is to lower the amount of operational support provided by your end user computing IT professionals by centralizing device management in the datacenter. Additionally, you will be delivering enhanced capabilities to your business partners.


After you install the Mirage client on an endpoint device and register it with the Mirage server, it starts to backup the endpoint. Because Mirage uses deduplication and compression, network traffic is minimized and storage for each client is typically between 10 to 15 Gb in the data center. Deduplication is done at the file, chunk, intra-file, and inter-file level. Full desktop indexing ensure that only changes are sent across the network to storage, and a global shared index further improves transfer efficiency.

Mirage tracks desktop changes for automatic synchronization when connected to the Mirage server, and shows an indicator for files pending synchronization. Furthermore, users can download missing files on demand.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Tuning Virtual Desktops for Video Playback

Several clients, especially in the academia, require decent playback of streaming video. For schools, course material is starting to be delivered as an interactive online learning subscription to provide online skill assessments, supplement curriculum instructions, and provide instructional videos to bolster learning skills. VMware Horizon View is tuned for optimal video performance over network links that have up to 150 ms of latency. Before you invest in hardware, there are a few settings you can perform to try and help video performance. If you are running your VMware View environment on a local area network, we can tune PCoIP to improve streaming video.

For virtual desktops using VMXnet3 NICs, you can significantly improve the peak video playback performance of the View desktop by simply setting the following registry setting to the Microsoft recommended value:

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Boston VMUG

I will best speaking about View Horizon and End-User-Computing at the Quincy VTUG on May 9th and the Boston VMware Users Group at the Boston Convention Center on June 19th. Come out and say hello!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Monday, February 25, 2013

VMware Horizon View 5.2 Limits

Andre Leibovici from posted the new maximums and limits for Horizon View 5.2. With the new version of View, VMware has increased the hosts per cluster from 8 servers to 32 servers using a VMFS datastore. This was a limitation for both VMware View linked clones and with VMware vCloud Director fast provisioning. The limitation didn't exist for NFS storage, but there weren't many people that deployed VMware View on NFS storage.

This should affect the overall View pod design, not drastically, but we should see a reduction in the number of clusters from 8 for 8,000 desktops to 4 for 8,000 desktops. Why does this matter? In my previous role as an IT manager, it all came down to the bottom-line. How can I save capital expense? By eliminating the amount of clusters and going with 16 servers per View block, we are able to reduce the N+1 requirement by 4 physical servers. 4 servers typically cost me $25,000.00 in a scale-up model. That is $100,000.00 in infrastructure savings, cha-ching!

Lets look at it from a density stand point, if you were getting 128 virtual desktops per host (8 instances per core/16 cores per host), you gain 128 extra virtual desktops per cluster which amounts to 512 virtual desktops in the View pod scenario depicted below.

Not only does this save money, but by reducing clusters it makes the environment easier to manage. With a 10,000 desktop View pod deployment, you were typically working with 10 clusters, which should be reduced to 5 clusters with Horizon View 5.2.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

View Horizon 5.2

You would be surprised the number of clients moving to VDI solutions. Almost every discussion I have had over the past month is related to the need of simplifying operational support of desktop environments, supporting multiple client devices, and securing the client data in the data center. View Horizon Suite is a great move forward for VMware!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Thursday, February 7, 2013

VMware View Stateless Infrastructure

Server-hosted virtual desktops are gaining popularity to meet several business challenges. Companies are leveraging VDI solutions to simplify operational support as the industry moves from a device centric deployment model to a user centric deployment mode. This, in part, is being driven by senior level management and sales teams that want to use devices like tablets and ultra-books when they are on the road. Also, VDI solutions are being leveraged for the externalization of technical support and to secure business information in the data center. Common examples for implementing a server-hosted virtual desktop solution include enterprise desktop replacement, remote user access, corporate acquisitions, outsourcings, and disaster recovery planning.

Although there are several key factors driving organizations to adopt VDI deployments, the capital costs have made the acceptance slow. 40% to 60% of the cost of a VDI implementation is related to storage infrastructure. We are going to look at VMware’s reference architecture to implement a stateless VDI architecture that uses high performance local solid-state drives in the host servers instead of the storage array to reduce costs and improve performance.
This design isn’t for everyone, but it can reduce capital costs if you are deploying stateless desktops for call centers and kiosks.

Linked Clones
VMware View with View Composer uses the concept of linked clones to quickly provision virtual desktops. View Composer uses a parent image to create a pool of linked clone virtual machines. A parent image is a tuned desktop that will be used to create new replica images. Each linked clone acts like an independent desktop, with a unique host name and IP address, yet the linked clone requires significantly less storage. All files available on the parent at the moment of the snapshot continue to remain available to the linked clone. The operating system reads all the common data from the read-only replica and the unique data that is created by the operating system or user, is stored on the linked clone.

Solid-State Architecture
Stateless architectures have many advantages, such as being easier to support and having lower storage costs. The virtual desktop is typically deleted or refreshed after each use, offering a highly controlled environment. Because we are using solid-state disks local to the hosts, the virtual desktops will be stateless; they will be a member of a floating-assignment pool of linked cloned virtual desktops. The nature of these desktops is similar to a kiosk environment, except we are going to leverage persona management to personalize the user experience.

View Persona Management
With VMware View 5, VMware introduced View Persona Management. View Persona Management facilitates implementing a floating-assignment pool for those users who want to retain settings between sessions. It preserves user profiles and dynamically synchronizes them with a remote profile repository. Previously, one of the limitations of floating-assignment desktops was that when end users logged off, they lost all their configuration settings and any data stored in the View desktop.

Each time end users logged on, their desktop background was set to the default wallpaper, and they would have to configure each application's preferences again. With View Persona Management, an end user of a floating- assignment desktop cannot tell the difference between their session and a session on a dedicated assignment desktop.

 Tiered Storage

Sizing storage for VDI is one of the most complicated and critical components during the design and implementation process. Because we are leveraging local SSD, the replica and the OS data need to stay together. Unlike tiered storage in the SAN array, it can’t use a Dedicated Replica Datastore for the read-only replica base image. This means the storage footprint in the local solid-state drives needs to stay very small to provide capacity for the replica base image and the linked clones.

The user profile data and home directories can be stored on 7.2k near-line SAS disk, while the replica base image and linked clones will be stored on the local solid-state drives. Replica disks are created as thin provisioned clones from the Parent Image. If the Parent VM has 50 GB allocated and 30 GB consumed, then the replica disk is equal to the amount of utilized storage which is 30 GB. In order for this to work, it is recommended that you have a basic parent image for your deployment that uses memory reservations to minimize the disk footprint. If your swap and video swap file are too large, then this architecture will require larger SSD drives than your host may accommodate. I suggest that you use the VMware View Optimization Guide for Windows 7 to tune your Parent image.

The formula for calculating your capacity is the parent image + replica disk + delta disks. You calculate your delta disks by (VMs per datastore *(delta size + swap + video swap + suspend + log) +10% overhead). If you set your Refresh OS Disk on Logoff to Always, the OS disk is refreshed every time the user logs off and it should remain relatively small, I would plan for 512 MB to 1 GB in size for the delta.

Infrastructure Resiliency
If a host, drive, power supply or similar component fails; the high-level design provides the redundancy necessary to provide a user with a new desktop. A stateless design has different requirements for high availability compared to traditional virtual desktop deployments. In the past, redundancy designs would be based on advanced virtualization features within vSphere like High Availability (HA), Distributed Resource Scheduling (DRS), and live migration with vMotion. With stateless usage of the local datastores, these features are no longer needed.

Why aren’t they required? The reason they aren’t required is because the failure of a host is seen by the VMware View Connection Servers. In the case of a server failure, the broker will simply allocate a new desktop for the user after successful authentication. View Persona Management will facilitate moving the user settings to the new session.

Careful planning of the pools needs to be considered. You need to make certain you have enough overhead the pool to ensure there is capacity for a host failure. If you are deploying 300 virtual desktops over 4 physical hosts, you need to add 25 additional desktops per host pool to support the resiliency necessary to ensure all the desktops are active after a node failure.

A successful server-host virtual desktop deployment enables businesses to deliver virtual desktops to multiple devices while securing company data in the data center. Storage is a critical component to the success of any VDI deployment. From a user’s perspective, good performance of a virtual desktop is a lossless experience as they transition from a physical device to a virtual desktop. Therefore, the correct way to implement a storage design is through careful planning that maximizes performance and balance out cost.
VMware’s reference architecture to implement a stateless VDI environment with local solid-state disk is a great solution for call centers and kiosk environments, but a more robust solution is needed for environments that are using their server-hosted virtual desktop infrastructure for knowledge workers and power users.

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