Proud to announce that Architecting EUC Solutions book is now available

It’s been a long journey over the past year, but I’m proud to announce that the Architecting EUC Solutions book is finally available. The book focuses on helping you develop your design for modern EUC solutions. It touches briefly on the strategy and roadmap phases of these projects also. The chapters are created so that each one covers a different topic and they range from all of the EUC solutions, operations, infrastructure and all parts required for a design.

The content in the book is very vendor neutral and is not a blueprint on how to write a VMware Horizon or Citrix XenDesktop design. Instead, it takes an approach of educating architects on what questions to ask and how to evaluate alternatives. Then apply these to the solution of your choice.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00067]

I would like to thank Sean Massey for helping by contributing some content for the book and Kees Baggerman for stepping up as a technical reviewer for the book. I hope that if you read the book, that you enjoy it and it’s able to help you on your design journey. If you are not into EUC but are looking for design related content, you may still find some helpful chapters as there are not that many books on IT architecture.

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Monitoring VMs on Nutanix AHV

When managing virtual machines on a Nutanix Acropolis Hypervisor (AHV) cluster there will be a point when you need to monitor a VM or just out of curiosity. This post is going to focus on explaining what data and charts are available to help admins understand the health and performance of a VMs on AHV.

Much like the managing VMs post in the series the monitoring of VMs will be focused on the VM based view within Prism. I have chosen the table view and a sample is shown in the image below. The table provides a list of the VMs that are presented 10 at a time, you can click through them or use the search field to quickly find the VM you are looking for. The table provides basic details such as VM name, the host the VM is running on and the IP address. It also provides the CPU and memory assigned to each VM and then provides a number of storage related metrics. These stats are all available for each VM running on the cluster. The lower portion of this view provides a number of charts that I will go into next.

monitor vm table

 

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Managing VMs on Nutanix AHV

In this post I will take a quick tour through the process of managing virtual machines running on Nutanix Acropolis Hypervisor (AHV). This will touch on the basics and the most common tasks that admins are performing on VMs that already exist. All VM management tasks will be performed from within Prism the single management interface for Nutanix clusters. The VM view within Prism is where the majority of VM-based tasks are performed. A table based view provides an easy to consume method of finding and managing your virtual machines. When selecting a VM, just below the table will be a group of actions that can be taken. These are highlighted in the image below.

These actions are as follows:

  • Enable NGT – Nutanix guest tools, provides VirtIO drivers, Nutanix VSS provider and other services. Similar to VMware tools for vSphere people.
  • Launch Console – Opens a console session to the VM
  • Power Actions – Power off, on, restart actions
  • Take Snapshot – ad-hoc snapshot of the VM
  • Migrate – Use to live migrate a VM to a different host
  • Pause – pause a running VM
  • Clone – Creates a new VM from the existing VM
  • Update – Change VM settings
  • Delete – Delete a VM

manage vm actions

 

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VMware announces App Volumes 3.0 with healthy dose of new features

It looks like VMware is preparing some new EUC nuggets for everyone to consume soon. Today marks the announcement of App Volumes 3.0 and with other events planned in February there seems to be other news coming also.

1av-new-features

 

AppToggle – This feature introduces the idea of app cloaking or the ability to hide applications within a layer if the user is not entitled to them. This provides the option for organizations to create fewer application layers containing multiple applications rather than a larger amount of layers with single apps. In the briefing it was explained that VMware is not just simply hiding the application from the user, they are preventing individual apps from being layered on at the time of the layering being attached to the OS based on individual user entitlements. This sounds pretty interesting and I look forward to getting some hands-on time with this feature.

AppCature with AppIsolation – This feature is integrating ThinApp with the App Volumes capture process. Through a CLI in your capture VM you can enable the application to be isolated, which creates a ThinApp package as part of the process. This allows for applications to enjoy the benefits of isolation where needed and have it all happen in the same workflow. In the past you were able to separately create ThinApps and then include them in a layer, VMware is streamlining the process here.

AppScaling with Multizones – This feature is about working on improving the recovering and multi-site alternatives that App Volumes can support. In the past I’ve been pretty critical of several VMware products for not having a mature story around DR and Active-Active designs. I won’t know if this is a solid alternative or just a good enough one. What is now possible is the ability to use external file servers as the central point to pull AppStacks from. The external file servers has an association with each vCenter server and allows for flexibility in dealing with multiple sites. The idea allows for designs to use DFSR or NAS devices and take advantage of their replication functions, rather than build a replication engine into App Volumes.

Linux-based management VM – The previous versions of App Volumes required Windows for the install of the management console. This new version moves this to Linux which aligns with what VMware is doing for other products and allows for opening up API’s and the unified console story.

Other misc features to mention

  • Layer merging – the ability to merge multiple AppStacks into a single layer (Stack).
  • CLI – A command line interface has been added, which would primarily be used in the capturing and building of AppStacks.
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Radical VMware EUC business ideas

We are almost a month into 2016 and the stream of 2015 recap and 2016 prediction articles and blog posts have finally stopped. But out of these and some recent thoughts, I came up with a few radical ideas for the VMware EUC business unit.I’m well aware that these have pretty much no chance at coming true, but I thought they would make for some interesting conversations. Who knows maybe the right person will read this and it will all come true.

I’m well aware that these have pretty much no chance at coming true, but I thought they would make for some interesting conversations. Who knows maybe the right person will read this and it will all come true.

 

Create an open alternative 

Divorce VMware EUC products from only working on vSphere as the hypervisor platform. This does not mean that the pair is not a good match, it just means that it could be a great opportunity to open up to other hypervisors. Today this is the approach that Citrix offers by supporting multiple hypervisors and offering their customers the choice of platform to deploy on. This flexibly helps by allowing others to drive innovation and offer different cost alternatives when it comes to licensing. With VMware working on building Project Enzo as the future of EUC, which is being built from the code from the Desktone DaaS product. The original Desktone product supported multiple hypervisors, so the code and support was already there to start with.VMware Workspace can still work closely with VMware on vSphere integrations, but they would be focused on using API’s and should be loosely tied to specific vSphere versions. Today if you deploy the whole horizon suite stack with vSphere and maybe even VSAN. Well if you need to update vSphere for a bug or new feature or want the latest VSAN release a hypervisor upgrade is required.

VMware Workspace can still work closely with VMware on vSphere integrations, but they would be focused on using API’s and should be loosely tied to specific vSphere versions. Today if you deploy the whole horizon suite stack with vSphere and maybe even VSAN. Well if you need to update vSphere for a bug or new feature or want the latest VSAN release a hypervisor upgrade is required. A Horizon upgrade usually forces a hypervisor upgrade usually forces a Horizon upgrade unless it’s just a maintenance release. These updates may also force a database version update if you were lagging in your SQL version already. As the stack continues to grow the cascading dependencies has gotten very long and upgrade one later can force a number of other upgrades that you were not interested in doing.

By offering a more open integration with vSphere this could be reduced, also by support other hypervisors you open up a number of other alternatives. VMware has been focused on trying to build the ultimate EUC product suite offering and giving customers a single vendor to deploy. But the reality is that most customers usually are still deploying at least another vendor for profile management (UEM) and monitoring tools. It’s a long a hard process for a single company to build a perfect product suite offering. This does not mean VMware should stop trying but by offering

It’s a long a hard process for a single company to build a perfect product suite offering. This does not mean VMware should stop trying but by offering a all VMware and an open alternative they can give customers the ultimate choice. By having more freed around the

By having more freed around the hypervisor VMware Workspace could build their next generation management layer in any cloud service. This means that they could host or allow customers to build Enzo management layers in AWS or Azure rather than being stuck with VMware Cloud offerings that are not as widely adopted. Below are the current VMware suite offerings, there are a number of options and you can see as you move up there are a large number of products.

Below are the current VMware suite offerings, there are a number of options and you can see as you move up there are a large number of products.

vmware suites.001

 

The open alternatives would allow customers to seek out the best products in the supporting products and not have to pay for VMware legacy products when they want other alternatives.

open suites.001

 

Spin out EUC Business unit

The idea here is that VMware would spin out the EUC business unit into it’s own private or publicly traded company. This idea would make the first idea a lot more feasible. We will call this new entity VMware Workspaces, nobody better register that domain name before I get the chance.

VMware workspaces would own the Horizon (Apps & VDI), App Volumes, UEM, Mirage, workspace, ThinApp, and AirWatch products. They should probably also own and control the Workstation and Fusion products since they are desktop related also.

The new entity can still work closely with the VMware hypervisor team and other teams to continue to build integration between the core products and the EUC products. But the new VMware workspace company is free of any legacy core data center baggage and roadblocks that keep them from innovating and moving to market faster. I think this new freedom could greatly benefit the existing products, processes and allow for the new entity to advance their solutions faster.

VMware Workspace would also be free to offer integrations with 3rd party solutions and provide greater options for customers to build solutions from as discussed earlier. They would still have an all VMware option, but by offering the open option the product licensing can be reduced.

I also think that a separate EUC entity would be free to innovate without having to conform to legacy VMware products. A good example around this would be EUC monitoring. The existing vROPS monitoring tool is heavily deployed for core VM management, but does not do a great job for EUC monitoring. It also is very polluted when you are forced to load different management plug-ins to support different platforms. By being free to create their own monitoring tool a better product could be released.

In the past, this probably would not even be possible, but in the last 2 years VMware has built a great leadership team in the EUC business unit. Along with acquiring several products in this time period they have also grabbed up some excellent leaders, ones that are better to lead a company rather than a business unit. The executive team for a future VMware Workspace entity could be Sanjay Poonen as CEO, Harry Labana a VP, Noah Wasmer a VP, Shawn Bass CTO. Also with growth of the EUC product sales and AirWatch purchase there is now probably plenty of revenue to support a separate entity.

 

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Everyone in the US does not have good internet options!

This topic may come to a surprise to many or maybe not. I apologize to my regular readers as this is a bit off topic. We live about an hour or so outside of Chicago and about 8 miles past the last major suburb. This is not the end of the world, or well maybe it is for technology and communication companies. But for our family, it makes sense because we like the space that crowded neighborhoods cannot provide. I can ride motocross in the backyard, shoot guns and archery, the wife has plenty of space to garden and I don’t have 5 neighbors staring at me while I grill hamburgers. But for these luxuries I live in the 1990’s when it comes to internet service.

The need for better internet with faster speeds and no bandwidth limits is only getting greater each year if not faster. I have not been able to watch a Youtube video without it buffering for 10 years. If we get a new game for PS4 or Xbox One and it requires an update of 1-2gb or more this might force us to wait days before playing. Oh and all this with the console companies wanting to get rid of physical media and go only to downloading games. Using streaming TV and movie services is also extremely difficult.

Sure I’ve tried every possible solution that might exist and so has all of the other people that suffer from these same problems. But the telco, cellular and cable companies do not care about what I would call the “Reverse 1%” when it comes to internet options. There are several cellular companies that provide decent 4G LTE service in our area but to get enough bandwidth to make it usable on a monthly basis would cost hundreds and hundreds of dollars.

We were customers of a new service called Karma and they offered 4G LTE server with a 5Mb cap but unlimited bandwidth per month. Well that only lasted a few months before the idiots running things over there decided to change things. You can read about it here. They took what was a pretty good option that made it unusable for the people that really needed it. It was good enough that we even paid for two accounts there, one of which was a Christmas gift for our kids. The gift of sort of usable internet, it’s what every kid wants as a present in 2015. This Karma screw up and years of pain is what motivated me to write this.

There is a business opportunity here for someone and they are ignoring it. Back in the early DirecTV days they were not allowed to sell satellite TV service into areas that you could get cable in, until the laws changed. Companies like Verizon, ATT, Sprint, T-Mobile ext. could do the reverse of this. Offer a 4G LTE service with unlimited bandwidth to people in areas that have no or only terrible internet options for a reasonable rate. This does not seem like rocket science, and you don’t have to offer it en masse to others that have good options already. I don’t expect 1Gb internet for $10 a month, but would be willing to pay $150 for unlimited 4G LTE without speed limits.

Sure we could move and after this long it’s something that we are considering. But to find another area that we like that also has good internet will require some time and effort. This problem won’t go away for everyone else because not everyone can or is willing to move. So common man, let’s get this fixed. It’s 2016 and everyone should be able to binge watch their favorite show from Netflix.

bush-hates

 

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Migrate VMs from vSphere to Acropolis Hypervisor – AHV

When it comes to building out a new Acropolis (AHV) cluster you are either starting out with new VMs or looking to migrate existing VMs from a vSphere environment. I have covered the process of creating new VMs in the “Creating VMs on AHV” post in this series. But if you are moving from vSphere to AHV, then there are two challenges that must be planned for. The first one is what will the conversion process look like and second, what will the migration process look like. With each of these are multiple choices and it will be up to the project team to decide which is the best choice for the project. There are likely other options that I might not mention here either.

Converting vSphere VMs

The task of converting a vSphere VM to a VM that runs on AHV is not that different than other hypervisors or even the P2V days when you were moving from physical servers. You have a VM that is in a vSphere format and must be converted to a different format. It will also have VMware tools and drivers installed into the operating system. After the conversion these will need to be cleaned up, just like they would be when migrating to other platforms.

For this there potentially two viable candidates. The first would be grabbing the virtual disk file (VMDK) from a datastore and using the image management feature in AHV to import and convert the disk. There would still be cleanup to be done, but it’s a simple one-off way. This method would not be ideal for doing a bunch of VMs, it however might be a simple method if you just have a hand full of template VMs that you want to populate on the new cluster.

The second and leading choice is to use the following method. In short with this method you are installing the VirtIO drivers in advance, think of them as the drivers that VMware tools install. Storage vMotion the VMs to a shared Nutanix datastore, power off the VM and create a new VM on AHV using the vDisks that were moved over. A fellow Nutant and VCDX has already created a detailed blog post about converting a vSphere VM to run on AHV. You can read the full details here as written by Artur Krzywdzinski.

In the future I would like to see something like Double-Take offer a solution that would offer help with these cross-platform conversions and migrations. This is something they have working for cloud migrations today. I see this becoming a common task in the future and demand is only going to increase for organizations wanting to move workloads between different resource pools whether they are on-premises or off-premises and very few of these moves will support a single VM format.

 

Migrating the VMs

The conversion process was just covered for what is available at the time this was published. I also touched on the option of sharing out a datastore from the AHV cluster to an existing vSphere cluster. This would allow you to Storage vMotion any VMs to that shared datastore before shutting them down to complete the conversion process. This method will likely be the most heavily used, since its familiar for other legacy types of migrations between old and new infrastructure.

A second option is available if both the vSphere and AHV clusters are running on Nutanix gear. You can create a Protection Domain (PD) on the vSphere cluster to replicate all of the VMs to the AHV cluster. This will get the data over to the AHV cluster in an efficient manner, this would be a great option if moving between sites also.

 

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