My VMware Horizon Suite presentation from Chicago VMUG June 2013

On June 5, 2013 I was lucky enough to be able to present a session at the Chicago VMUG meeting. There was a very good turn out for the meeting. Around 180 users registered and around 100 people in the room for the presentations. I was asked to present a session on VMware Horizon Suite, the End User Computing (EUC) offering that is getting a ton of press from VMware and media. This is right up my alley as I work as an Architect for a Ahead VMware partner in Chicago and Horizon is on fire as of late. There have been a large number of requests for briefings and consulting services in this space since Horizon was announced.

During the session I focused on the separate parts that make up the Horizon Suite and what was new with each of the products. Since most people are pretty familiar with at least the base functions of View the sessions mostly covered what cool things View 5.2 brings to the table. The Mirage and Workspace parts of the presentation focused more on educating people in whole about the products since these are either new products or not widely understood by most customers. The session prompted some great questions from the audience which is always a good sign that people are listening and interested.

Later in the day myself, Chris Wahl, Eric Shanks and Nimble storage sat on a panel that took open questions from the audience. During this session there was a large amount of interest in the Horizon Suite which lead to more great questions from the attendees. Overall the VMUG meeting was a great day and I enjoy helping the the Chicago VMUG and when available its always fun to present a session.

You can view my presentation from the session by grabbing a PDF version from here.

If you want to learn more about the Chicago VMUG or find out about meetings or connect with the leaders visit the Chicago VMUG Blog.

 

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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LoginVSI creates a VIP program for vExpert, CTP and MVP programs

If you have worked with any VDI products in the past or have the need to size or design an environment, the ability to test your design under load is important. I have used Login VSI in the past and it was very helpful in testing out different architectures.

Login VSI simulates unique user workloads with realistic user behavior. The user workloads use the same applications as a typical employee such as Word, Outlook or IE and are available in a light, medium, heavy or multimedia version.

Much like VMware, Veeam and other vendors have done already, Login VSI is recognizing leaders in the fields of VMware, Microsoft and Citrix with licenses to use for their own testing. These can help them with lab testing and be used to create valuable content for the community. I have already signed up and look forward to using LoginVSI again in my lab.

The three leading virtualization vendors: Citrix, VMware and Microsoft offer their own dedicated programs for this elite group of specialists. The Login VSI VIP program builds on these programs and offers a number of special benefits to all active Citrix Technology Professionals (CTP), to all VMware vExperts, and to Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals (MVP) for App-V, Remote Desktop Services and Virtual Machine.

What is included in the Login VSI VIP program

  • A free (for non-commercial use) Login VSI Pro license (12 months, 100 user sessions)

  • Your relevant blog posts featured on our website

  • Login VSI goodies (like the “I love a good performance” T-shirt) when we meet in person

  • Direct access to our support, product marketing and development team

 

To sign up for the program visit the LoginVSI signup page. 

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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Building new whitebox servers for VMware home lab

I have needed to get some more capacity added to the home lab for a while now, but have taken my time. I have been gathering up enterprise servers that are a couple of generations old in the past. These have always done me well but have limited amount of memory in them and upgrading them was pretty expensive, not to mention they are very loud. So I decided to go another direction and build a couple of whitebox servers based on common desktop parts. I’ve been watching for sales and collecting the parts to build them. After finding a couple of good deals lately I finally had all the parts need to build two hosts.

Another thing that I had to make a decision on was if I needed a server class motherboard or would a desktop one work. After thinking about it I came to the decision that a desktop motherboard would work just fine and probably save me a few dollars in the build cost. I almost never use the out of band management access to the enterprise servers that I had at this point and since they are just down in the basement, I can easily run down and access them if needed.

I also did not need the ability to use VT-d so a server board was even less important. I simple needed hosts with good power and more RAM. It really comes down to memory for me, I needed the ability to run more VMs so that I don’t have to turn things on and off.

The Why:

This type of lab is important to me for personal learning and testing out configurations for the customer designs that I work on during the days. I have access to a sweet lab at work but it’s just better to have your own lab that you are free to do what you want, and my poor bandwidth at the house makes remote access kind of poor.

I want the ability to run a View environment, vCloud suite and my various other tools all at once. With these new hosts I will be able to dedicate one of my older servers as the management host and a pair of the older servers as hosts for VMware View. This will leave the two new hosts to run vCloud suite and other tools on.

The How:

I have set the hosts up to boot from the USB sticks and plan to use part of the 60GB SSD drives for host cache. The remaining disk space will be used for VMs. Each host will have 32GB of RAM, this is the max that the motherboard will support with its 4 slots. There is an onboard 1GB network connection that is a Realtek 8111E according to the specs. I can report that after loading vSphere 5.1 the network card was recognized and worked without issue. I had a couple of gigabit network cards laying around that I installed for a second connection in each of the hosts.

The case came with a fan included, but I added another for better cooling and air flow. Even with multiple fans running the hosts are very quiet since there are no spinning disks in them and put out very little heat. I could have probably reduced the noise and heat a bit more by choosing a fan less power supply but they are over $100 and was not a priority for me.

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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