What could vCenter Operations for VMware View mean or help with – vCOPs

The world is just now starting to get a glimpse of what vCenter Operations for View could be like. I really hope that this product comes out of the gate with a strong feature set and delivers a big win for VMware. This would really strengthen their VDI offering.

The ability to monitor performance of the connections between the endpoints and the VMs running in the data center is a vital metric that needs to be tackled by VMware. This is something that Citrix is already delivering with XenDesktop and I like what they are doing so far. You can see the latency measurement between the connection and also information like client version, IP addresses and broker that it connected through. All very helpful information for troubleshooting performance and connection issues.

I like the fact that VMware has added counters for Windows that can be monitored using Perfmon inside the OS, and you can always fire this up to look at something. But I think this needs to continue to develop further to make these connection and performance issues easy to continually monitor and troubleshoot. In the preview videos that VMware posted on this blog post are mostly centered around monitoring the infrastructure, this is what vCOPs already does. The last video did show some tasty nugguets about PCoIP monitoring which looks promising. But some type of a client summary page would be very helpful so Admins do not have to drill down into 10 screens to get the picture unless they want that level of detail. It also needs to provide performance monitoring for client connections and end user experience. Below is a list of things that I think would be very helpful in a VMware View deployment to monitor.

  • PCoIP connection latency
  • VM login times
  • Client version
  • Connection server client is connected through
  • Connection type (PCoIP vs. RDP)

 

Below is a sample of what Citrix is offering today with their XenDesktop product. From this session screen you can shadow session which I wish VMware would add into View Manager. Then there are details about latency, connection type, endpoint details, which items are enabled within the HDX/ICA protocol. Overall a pretty good looking and helpful console from Citrix.

The lower part of the same screen shows you some hypervisor and broker health status. There is a simple graph that shows you CPU, Memory and Network usage for the VM that you are looking at.

 

 

 

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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Recent storms have shown the need for VDI

Just this week Chicago was rocked by a monster storm that knocked out power to 800,000 plus customers. This surely impacted a great number of businesses and homes. I personally was without power at home for 30 hours. I was able to continue to work by powering my home with a generator and some trips to the local Starbucks. But what would a business do if they are impacted by an extended outage?

So I ask the people reading this, how would your business be able to respond today if a large group of your end users were not able to work at their office for an extended period of time? This could be due to a power outage, winter storm, pandemic virus or terrorist attack. Would they be unable to complete any work and the business would lose revenue until access to the facility was restored?

These scenarios are great to start conversations about virtual desktops (VDI). Sure there are a ton of other benefits to using VDI, like rapid provisioning, security, compliance and many others. These are all talked about often when VDI is mentioned. But for me the notion that people cannot complete any work due to a non-business related factor in today’s world drives me crazy. Just last night on the news I saw a story about Los Angeles closing the 405 freeway for 30 hours and the panic that it was going to cause. What if your companies workers would be affected by this, would it not be of great comfort for your management to be able to tell workers to not bother attempting to come into the office during this closure and work form the comfort of their home. Sure there are some employees that have jobs that requires them to be in the office or in proximity to customers or equipment, but most knowledge workers do not have this need.

You are now probably asking well I know VDI can provide remote access to desktops but how would it help us in these types of scenarios. Well when properly designed a VDI environment will provide users access to their desktops from any device and any location. This means that if an office worker that does not bring a laptop home each day was told to not come into the office they would be able to work on their corporate virtual desktop from home using a home PC or compatible end point.

 

 

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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Everything you wanted to know about how VMware View local mode or offline mode works

So I’ve been working with a customer on a specific use case that required extensive use of VMware View Local Mode. I will explain more about this in a moment. To sound a bit like a bad TV show, the names in this story have been changed to protect the innocent. First I’ll talk a bit about the customers requirements and then explain how View Local Mode works.

Now on to the customer use case that brought up all these questions and led me to do some deep dive research into View Local Mode operations. The use case that I was looking into was for a consulting firm. They have teams of consultants that work at customer locations 80% of the time and are only in a remote office 20% of their time. There would be 1500 mobile users and 500 office workers who would be working in a connected mode, meaning they are always in an office or a location with a network connection.

    So naturally we talked about several designs that might work for them. There are 2 primary ones that would meet their needs and both would be built with VMware View 4.6.

    Design #1

    This design would use VMware View 4.6 to provide virtual desktops to 2000 users. The office workers are the easy part. They would be provided virtual desktops via Linked Clones and their profiles will be layered with one of the 3rd party profile tools. A few of the tools out today are AppSense, Liquidware Labs Profile unity, RingCube, UniDesk and several others.

    Now the mobile users would be provided persistent desktops from View with the option to check out for Local Mode. This would allow users to check out their desktop so that it will run locally on their laptop. The checkout process will take a while because the first time a user checks out they must download the entire virtual machine. Once checked out they can replicate changes back to the datacenter to keep the copy that is locked in the datacenter up to date. This way if there is a disaster on their laptop they can recover up to the point of their last sync. This method is pretty straightforward to design, the only drawbacks with this method would be the additional disk space required and they will need to be managed like a standard PC when it comes to OS patching. The benefit to this method is by using persistent virtual machines the user only needs to check out the entire VM once, unless they are checking it out on a different end point. This greatly reduces time and bandwidth requirements.

    Design #2

    With this design we are still trying to accomplish the same goal, were just going about it a different way. The connected office workers will be designed in the same manor as Design #1. The difference comes in how we design for the mobile users. In this architecture we want to use the benefits of Linked Clones in VMware View. This will allow us to save on disk space and will take less effort to manage OS level patching. Since there is just a parent image to keep up to date and then all Linked Clones will pull from that image.

    The tricky part comes in with using the Transfer servers and users having to do the initial image sync on check out. Then each time the parent image is recomposed for something like patching every Local Mode user will have to download the entire parent image again. This is a lot of data to pull down for 1500 users across 45 remote offices. So we will need a method to ease this burden.

    The initial idea was hey we can just put the View Transfer servers out in the remote offices and users can pull their data for a local server. Well that turned out to be not possible, I will explain in more detail below. The option that was uncovered was the ability to use a Web proxy to cache data at the remote site that the users data would flow through. This proxy would only be able to cache the parent image data since other disks would be user specific. Once the first user pulled down the updated parent image the proxy would populate the cache and would speed up the process for the next users. You can find out more about this in the View administration PDF guide. The OS delta disk and user persistent disk would still be pulled down from the datacenter across the WAN in this design.

    Facts about VMware View Transfer servers

    A transfer server is a server that will handle the communications for users when they check out or in a View desktop. They will access a compressed version of the parent image being used for the Linked Clone View pool that the user is a member of. If you are allowing a persistent desktop to be checked out the transfer server does not cache these and it will just be pulled directly from the datastore that it sits on.

    • Transfer server must be a virtual server on vSphere & part of same vCenter of View install
    • Transfer servers should be kept in Datacenter near vSphere hosts and storage that contains the parent image
    • They do not cache the delta disks or user Persistent disks, these must be pulled directly from the source
    • You can check out and in desktops via View Security server but speed is slower, around 50% of direct speed
    • After a recompose of parent image you will be required to download entire image again
    • VMware recommends about 20 max concurrent transfers per server. At this point through testing a 1gb network connection will become saturated. So you will need to scale the number of transfer servers based on this. It really depends on how many concurrent transfers you expect to have as there is no assigned users hard limit.
    • If you have multiple transfer servers they will use a repository to store the compressed image, this is just a CIFS or NFS share that all server must have access to.

    If you have more questions about how anything works on this process drop your question in the comments and I will try and get you an answer. I will also try and keep this post up to date as new things are discovered about the Local Mode process.

     

     

     

    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 View 4.5 goes GA and is available for download

    Just a few minutes ago word hit Twitter that VMware View 4.5 is now GA and is available for download. This is great news because View 4.5 offers another big leap in functionality to the VDI product from VMware. The Burton Group has already deemed View 4.5 as being an enterprise ready platform meeting 100% of the criteria for Server-Hosted Virtual Desktop requirements.

    Here are the new features in View 4.5 per the VMware release notes.

    • View Client with Local Mode – Provides the industry’s first integrated offline and server-hosted solution for desktop virtualization, addressing BYOPC use cases.
    • Full Windows 7 support – Provides full support for Windows 7. With View 4.5 and ThinApp 4.6, organizations can migrate to Windows 7 at half the cost and time.
    • View Client for Mac OS X – Enables Mac users to access hosted Windows virtual desktops, extending the BYOPC use cases to Mac users.
    • Integrated Application Assignment – Simplifies the delivery of ThinApp applications to end-users using the View Administrator console.
    • Rich Graphical Dashboards – Simplifies management and monitoring through improved reporting and diagnostics.
    • Role Based Administration – Distributes IT tasks to the right administrator.
    • Integration with Microsoft SCOM and PowerShell – Enables integration into existing management infrastructure to further simplify the management of View virtual desktops.
    • Support for vSphere 4.1 and vCenter 4.1 – Delivers integration with the most widely-deployed desktop virtualization platform in the industry. Takes advantage of optimizations for View virtual desktops.
    • Increased scalability – Allows you to deploy 10,000 virtual desktops per pod and use this modular architecture to scale out across your organization.
    • Tiered storage support – Reduces the cost and increases the performance of storage by enabling you to take advantage of multiple storage tiers, including high performance and locally attached storage.
    • Lowest Cost Reference Architectures – VMware has worked with partners such as Dell, HP, Cisco, NetApp, and EMC to provide prescriptive reference architectures to enable you to deploy a scalable and cost-effective desktop virtualization solution.

    VMware View 4.5 Documentation

    VMware View 4.5 download link

    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 View 4.5 announced at VMworld 2010

    Now that things have slowed a bit at VMworld 2010 for news, I have some time to put together a post about VMware View 4.5. The soon to be released View 4.5 has a bunch of new features and I probably cannot do it justice yet, but will continue to post as I learn more about the product.

    There are two versions of View 4.5 available now with features that I will list below. There is an Premier license that includes the full Suite of VMware VDI related products and the Enterprise edition with covers the base View VDI install.

    So what does VMware promise that View 4.5 can delivery on? It now offers Windows 7 support which can increase speed and reduce the cost and complexity of migrating to Windows 7. Some other important benefits are Simplified Desktop Management and Application Management via VMware ThinApp.

    What is included with VMware View 4.5

    • VMware vSphere for Desktops – #1 Virtualization hypervizor
    • VMware View Manager – Central Management for Desktops
    • VMware ThinApp – Agentless Application Virtualization solution
    • VMware Composer – Create Desktop images and linked clones
    • VMware vCenter Server for Desktops – Management for vSphere Server
    • VMware View Client – Allows access to desktops in Datacenter now with Local mode for offline use
    • VMware vShield Endpoint – Enables offload and centralization of AntiVirus & Malware scanning

    VMware View 4.5 product 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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