VMware releases Horizon View Feature Pack 2

As VMware is working hard to continue the improvements in their End User Computing (EUC) products, they have released the second feature pack for View. This pack brings some enhancements and new features. Lets hope there is some even better news coming at VMworld this year.

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.
  • Real-Time Audio-Video – Real-Time Audio-Video allows Horizon View users to run Skype, Webex, Google Hangouts, and other online conferencing applications on their virtual desktops. With Real-Time Audio-Video, webcam and audio devices that are connected locally to the client system are redirected to the remote desktop. This feature redirects video and audio data to the desktop with a significantly lower bandwidth than can be achieved by using USB redirection. Real-Time Audio-Video is compatible with standard conferencing applications and supports standard webcams, audio USB devices, and analog audio input.
  • Unity Touch improvements – You can now add a favorite application or file from a list of search results, and you can now use the Unity Touch sidebar to minimize a running application’s window. Requires users to connect to their desktops from VMware Horizon View Client for iOS 2.1 or later, or VMware Horizon View Client for Android 2.1 or later.

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About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design

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My wishlist for a VMware EUC suite to be created

After talking to a number of customers about the vCloud suite lately and my normal EUC projects I have come to the conclusion that I would like to see VMware offer a Suite of products around their desktop related offerings. I think that this would be desirable for many reasons.

Would be great to see VMware offer the ability within a suite of offering per socket licensing for these EUC products. This would allow companies to design their View deployments to scale very dense helping reduce the licensing costs. I’m sure there will be resistance to this type of licensing since many of these products lend themselves to a per user type of cost.

I have compiled a list of products below that could be offered in two different EUC Suites. The Standard Suite offering customers the ability to implement solid VDI designs with the Enterprise Suite offering customers the ability to utilize the pending full suite of VMware desktop offerings.

VMware EUC Enterprise Suite

  • VMware View Premier
  • vCOps for View
  • Horizon Suite (Application Manager, Data and Mobile)
  • Mirage

VMware EUC Standard Suite

  • VMware View Premier
  • vCOps for View
  • Horizon Application Manager

 

 

 

 

About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design

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VMware announces updates to their End User Computing vision

On the second day of VMworld 2012 San Francisco the keynote from Steve Herrod the CTO of VMware gave the world a peak at what exciting things are coming soon in the End User Computing (EUC) arena. During the general session Dr. Herrod showcased updates to existing products and spoke about several projects that are in development. This provide a pretty clear vision on where VMware is heading and the types of features and technology they will be providing.

I have to admit that I spend a good amount of time working with our customers on VDI solutions, so I am a bit focused on desktops. But what I saw today has me very excited about what is coming from VMware around the EUC area. The features and products that I saw tied in with conversations that I’ve had with customers recently that need these types of products.

To start off we got a glimpse in how VMware intends to use the Mirage product that was acquired when they purchased Wanova this year. To set the base Mirage allows you to use a central desktop image and push this out to physical desktops, much like what VDI brokers do with virtual desktops. But this is for the physical side of desktops. What does this mean for companies? Well if gives you the ability to central manage actual desktops but still gain many of the benefits that customers are seeking with VDI. Mirage is going to be an option added to VMware’s desktop portfolio that will give customers another option for the users that might have wanted to use Local Mode for checking out desktops but it was not a perfect fit.

The one part of Mirage that I was excited about was the ability to take my Mirage based desktop image and import it into View and let the user connect to it from View as another option if something should happen to their physical end point. This is great and something that I think sets VMware apart from other desktop products.

The rapid desktop program was also discussed in the session. This program is a partnership between VMware and hardware vendors that aims at helping SMB customers deploy View solutions faster and easier. These vendors are packaging servers with View already installed from the factory that aim at just having the customer import a desktop image and then being provisioning desktops.

Next up on the list of things announced was something being called Project App Shift. This was something that I had not yet heard about and was really surprised. App Shift aims at making it easier to use desktop applications on a tablet or touch based device. Functions like copy and paste are made easier and focused on touch based usage. This will go a long way at improving the user experience of applications and desktop consumed on these types of devices.

Then came the real bulk of the news that focused on VMware Horizon. Since last year VMware was positioning Horizon as an app manager that would allow you to assign applications to user desktops. But after today its very clear that Horizon is going to be the focal point of VMware’s EUC strategy.

Horizon has been renamed into VMware Horizon Suite and will be the access portal or broker to all desktop services from VMware. The Horizon Suite will still be used as an application assignment tool, but will also be able to assign and present View desktops also. I will cover the presenting of a View desktops a little later in this post. The project Octopus app that VMware has been developing is being pulled into the Horizon Suite and will no longer be a separate product. The goal here is to provide a complete solution and not a bunch of parts.

To go along with SaaS apps and ThinApps that Horizon can present today, VMware will be allowing mobile apps to be presented from the Apple and Google app stores. One thing that really surprised me was the ability to assign and present XenApp applications through Horizon is coming. I really like this ability because XenApp has a huge presence in the market and is a great solution for some use cases. I think its wise for VMware to not ignore this ability. Horizon Suite is in Alpha development mode now and VMware hopes to release a Beta version in Q4.

Next up is something that I get asked about all the time from customers and that is App Blast. This is the ability to present a Windows application in an HTML 5 browser session. Although VMware did not talk about using App Blast for presenting apps in this session you could read between the lines that it must be coming soon. What they did talk about is using App Blast to present View desktop sessions to your browser rather than using the traditional View client. This offers another option for presenting desktops to your customers.

Lastly we got a more detailed look at Horizon Mobile, which is the work that VMware is doing with mobile phones. The Android version that we saw in the past allows the phone to run a VM on your phone that could be your work phone image. This would allow your company to check out an image that you can run side by side on your own device. What we saw today is what they have planned for Apple IOS devices. Since they don’t have the freedom to take the same approach with Apple devices they are using Horizon to create secure containers that Apps will run within. These secure containers will allow companies to pin lock applications for access and dis-allow copy and past from corporate apps to personal apps on the phone. This would allow copying sensitive data while using apps on your IOS device.

In closing there was a lot of news to digest and my head is still spinning thinking about all the cool things that VMware has on the Horizon. Pardon the Horizon pun.

 

 

 

About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design

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New storage features in vSphere 5.1

With the announcement of vSphere 5.1 at VMworld yesterday some more detailed information is becoming available around the new storage features included in vSphere 5.1.There are some really great stuff on this list that has not gotten much notice yet. I really like that many of these features are now supported in both View and vCloud director.

  1. VMFS file sharing limits – The previous limit for number of hosts that could share a single file was 8 for block storage, in 5.0 it was raised to 32 hosts for NFS datastores. In vSphere 5.1 the limit for block storage or VMFS datastore has been raised to 32 hosts also. This is compatible with both VMware View and vCloud director, the primary use for this is linked clones.
  2. VAAI updates – The use of VAAI NAS based snapshots for vCloud director is now available, this was previously available to only View in vSphere 5.0. This allows hardware based snapshots for faster provisioning of linked clones in both products.
  3. Larger MSCS clusters – The previous limit of 2 node MSCS clusters has been raised to allow for up to 5 node MSCS clusters with vSphere 5.1
  4. All Paths Down update – The timing out I/O on devices that enter into an APD state has been updated to address hostd from being tied up.
  5. Storage Protocol enhancements – The ability to boot from software FCOE was added to vSphere 5.1.  Jumbo frame support has been added for all iSCSI adapters with UI support. Full support for 16Gb Fibre Channel HBA adapters that can run at full speed. In vSphere 5.0 16GB adapters could be used but had to run at 8Gb speeds.
  6. Storage IO control (SIOC) updates – SIOC will not figure out the best latency setting for your datastore as opposed to the manual setting in vSphere 5.0. By default SIOC is not turned in a Stats only mode so that it wont take any action but will be collecting stats for your before you configure  settings.
  7. Storage DRS (SDRS) enhancements – vCloud director can now use SDRS for initial placement of Fast provisioning linked clones for managing free space and IO utilization. This is an update from the previous free space method that vCloud 1.5 used and had no support for SDRS.
  8. Storage vMotion enhancements – Storage vMotion performs up to 4 parallel disk migrations per Storage vMotion operation.

 

About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design

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Some security questions around VMware View and VDI

After working on a bunch or larger VDI projects last year there was usually several conversations with the security teams of these enterprises that don’t seem to get much press in the VDI world. Lets face it, VDI is new for most of us but it is a total shift for your security team to wrap their heads around this new portable desktop idea. In today’s world the security team is used to their being a hard drive in a PC that captures the activities of the employee for the life of that computer. So if some event takes place and they need to investigate or do forensics on the PC all is there, even if someone tried to cover their tracks.

So the default response of these security team members when you talk VDI and ask what do they need kept from a Windows desktop to be able to do their work? Is they need everything!! Well that does not mesh up with the idea of linked clones, floating pools and the idea of a layered desktop image.

When VDI is done right you are separating the images into layers that include the operating system, applications and user profiles. These layers are then presented back to a user upon login and looks like a personalized desktop for them. But with this method the actual operating system (OS) is some what disposable, meaning that you are reading from a master copy or golden image that is read only. This golden image is shared by all of the users and allows for the desktop to be refreshed at each logoff or on a regular basis keeping the desktops clean. This also allows for easy patching of your virtual desktops, but that is enough of a VDI lesson.

The really fun conversations happen with security when they find out that desktops are created and destroyed automatically and things like page files and temp folders that they are used to have around for the lifetime of the PC are being trashed and recreated on a regular basis. But if you work closely with your security team and find out how their tools work and what parts of an OS or user profile need to be preserved a plan can be formulated and factored in when creating your VDI design.

There are other factors and processes that security is concerned about besides forensics. They will need to adapt the process that cover what is done when an employee is let go for example. Since there is not a desktop that can be held until the process is complete, you will need a method to freeze their VM in time and not allow it to be used by others.

These are all very important conversations and processes to be considered when creating your enterprise virtual desktop design. Make sure to include all necessary teams that will have a stake in your new environment and invite the security team to the table earlier rather than at the last minute. I know nobody likes to talk to those security guys but addressing their questions and concerns earlier will prevent them from putting the breaks on your project in the final stages, until you are able to adapt and meet their demands.

About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design

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VMware Service Manager as a front end portal to VMware View sugguestion

Something that I get asked about often when working with customers on their VDI designs is a portal to request virtual desktops. Much like “The Cloud” IT organization seeking more automation when it comes to virtual desktop environments. All the major vendors are adding automation around the creation of the desktops within the pools of desktops and have been for some time now. But the business people that are consuming the virtual desktops want a portal or store that they can go to check out or request a desktop.

To give an example a marketing manager hires 3 new people and needs to have them added to the VDI environment. There may be forms to fill out to request or maybe its a ticket that needs to be submitted to request the desktops. But it would be much simpler if he could go to a web portal and fill in the new user details and make a couple of selections from options provided and BANG! a few minutes later he gets an email saying the desktops are ready and this is how his people can connect to them.

Now I don’t think this is that far off of an idea and with VMware already having the right tools to make this happen. I think that with a little hard work and the use of VMware Service Manager something like this could be created. Now some of you might have not heard of Service Manager (SM) before or maybe you’ve heard the name but don’t understand what it does. It seems like SM is a bit like Orchestrator in that people have heard the name but no one is using it. If you search the web there are almost no blog post written about SM and very few videos about SM even by VMware.

As of today I’m not sure if this would be possible in the current version of Service Manager or if it would require VMware to add this as a new feature. But it would be a good selling point for a misunderstood product that is not much different than a Unicorn right now. As of today SM has replaced VMware Request Manager as the tool used to provide VM request management for vCloud designs. So if a user wants request management in their VMware cloud they need to use SM. So this is right in the same ballpark and would be a big competitive advantage that Citrix is not offering right now.

I plan to try and setup SM in my lab soon and see if this is possible with the current version and provide any feedback on whether I was successful or not.

About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design

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