Archives For VMWorld

My first day in Barcelona was spent mainly being a tourist and exploring the area near my hotel Plaça d’Espanya. I walked up Montjuïc to see the view from outside the Palau Nacional, twice by day and by night. Walked through some of the Montjuïc Gardens and saw the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc by day and by night, that was quite an experience.

Tomorrow is the first day of VMworld 2014 for me and I will be doing a few labs and attending partner sessions, so there probably won’t be much from me on my blog or twitter until Tuesday, when I intend to be live tweeting and doodling throughout the show.







Here are two doodles that I put together during last nights #cloudtalk regarding #VMworld 2014 

I personally will be attending VMworld Barcelona and I’m hoping to be meeting as many of you there as possible. If you haven’t already registered you can find out more here or register here 

Today was the partner day at VMworld EMEA taking place in Barcelona, this is my third VMworld and my second in Barcelona. With VMworld being back in Barcelona the show seems to have been tweaked somewhat for the better, with the Solutions Exchange being directly above the Sessions and the Hang Out Space, Hands on Labs and General Session, this should hopefully limit somewhat the walking from one side to the other but with the size of the venue this is still going to be inevitable.

Today as usual the show started with the Partner only day but the Hands on Labs being open to all, I started my day taking lab 1309 as a refresher on Mirage, in this lab you follow through many actions in Mirage such as creating and deploying an application layer, upgrading an XP desktop to Windows 7 and reviewing the new web interface. I have sat this lab before on Project Nee but it served as a good refresher, if you are looking to get a better understanding of the Horizon Suite I would recommend the lab.

Passing between the labs and the sessions halls you will pass the VMware time machine where you are able to go back in time to see VMware’s journey to where they are today.

The day offered a good opportunity to catch up with old friends and new faces in the bloggers lounge.

Photo By @JeremyBowman

Whilst in the blogger area I used the opportunity to try one of the labs using my tablet, as Firefox was recommended I actually worked in the lab via a View desktop from my Surface RT, the lab I concentrated on was 1308 which concentrates on the VSAN, this was a really interesting lab for me and I am going to be interested to see how the VSAN progresses out of beta into a finalised product, from both a technical and pricing perspective. If priced appropriately it could certainly offer a serious alternative to traditional shared storage. I didn’t complete the lab due to time but I look forward to coming back to this lab at a later time.

The rest of my day at the show was spent on various partner sessions generally focusing on a firm passion of my end user computing, what is very apparent in end user computing is there isn’t a single solution that fits all use cases and that a hybrid approach is the only way you are going to have a successful end user solution. As such the Horizon suite is looking to fill this gap with View for VDI, Mirage for physical and Workspace brining all the components together including SaaS and data. It was made apparent during the sessions that we can expect some End User Computing announcement during the course of the show.

The partner day finished with the partner keynote focusing on the success of VMware with its partners and how it continues to build on its partnerships and finally a partner appreciation style that took a street theme with street painters and performers, this theme is being taken throughout the show through to the party on Wednesday. It was also announced that VMworld would be back in Barcelona next year during the same week in October.

My evening was spent catching up with lots of friends at the Pernix Data party at beach club boo which offered a lovely beach front location with views over Barcelona, I look forward to learning more about Pernix over the course of the week.

Along with a number of community members I have been tracking my number of steps using my FitBit One the total for today was 20,236 which was approx 9 miles.

I’m looking forward to day 1 and if you see me about please say Hi, I am particularly interested to hear your end user computing stories and compare notes on what does and doesn’t work when it comes to VDI.

With a show as large as VMworld I think it is important to set your agenda and goals prior to attending, as well as the usual networking I have set myself a SMB VDI challenge.

As I find myself working in this space quite often I have decided to use VMworld to gather the thoughts and opinions of as many vendors and attendees that have experience or opinions of VDI specifically with Horizon View in the SMB / SME space.

Whilst there are now a wealth of products on the market that can help you with your VDI deployment sometimes it isn’t clear if these are all applicable to the SMB space, so I am keen to learn what does work and what doesn’t work when you are trying to virtualise your desktops in an SMB / SME environment.

When working in the SMB / SME space, budget is often one of the biggest constraints and this makes the importance of choosing the right components even more important, often solutions that claim the lowest cost per desktop may assume creating a larger amount of desktops than your typical SMB solution. Also making decisions about what is and isn’t really required to make a successful VDI solution are all more imperative.

Below are just some of the questions I will be looking to answer, of course from my own experiences I have my own thoughts on these matters and would love to compare notes, but I am looking to go with a open mind and gather the thoughts of many. I will then be looking to compile a complete SMB / SME VDI resource to share with your all, the must have tips and tricks and an A-Z of the vendors you need to be considering in this area and why.

Example Requirements

Small

100 desktops for a small SMB or as a building block for a larger company. Existing vSphere Essentials + for server virtualisation.

Medium

300 desktops for a medium SMB

Large

800 – 1500 desktops for a large SMB / small SME.

Scale

SMB VDI projects come in all shapes and sizes, from the smallest sub 100 desktop deployments up to the larger 1000-1500 desktops rollouts. But all of these solutions will tend to start with a proof of concept and a gradual rollout. I am interested to know how people move from proof of concept to full roll out and interested from the vendors how to the deal with scaling deployments.

Assessment and Monitoring

Is it needed? Do you know the tricks of the trade to virtualise hundreds of desktops without assessment? Failing finding this magic trick what are the best tools to use and once your desktops are virtualised how do we ensure there continued success?

Storage

I think most people are aware that one of the key components to a successful VDI project is the storage, what does work, what doesn’t work. Is flash a must have and what is the average IOPS per user.

Persona

Just how do you manage the user persona? Is View Persona management good enough or is a dedicated persona management solution a must have, if so what product?

Persistent or Non-Persistent

One of the constant debates when it comes to VDI is persistent or non-persistent, I think we would all like to live the non-persistent dream but is it realistic and if it has to be non-persistent what technologies need to be used to enable this, how is patch management managed, how much storage is required? 

Desktop Optimization

Have you got the secret ingredient to optimizing your View Desktops, did you take a step too far?

Applications

What is the right recipe for dealing with applications in VDI, installation in the golden image or application virtualisation with View or maybe a hybrid approach?

View Configuration

Just how many View Connection Servers and Security Servers are required, how much memory and CPU do these need in the smallest of deployments, what load balancers will bring these components together?

Thin Clients

Are they all the same, does one product really stand out from another?

Deployment Strategy

I am a big fan of utilising departmental champions to ease the deployment of VDI, but what has and hasn’t worked for you?

So if you are a vendor in this space that would love to tell me about your successes and share your must have white papers, or if you work with SMB’s or for an SMB and want to share your experiences I want to hear from you at VMworld. Likewise if you are just heading down this journey lets catch up and compare notes.

I’m really looking forward to VMworld and I look forward to sharing with you all my findings of my SMB VDI Challenge!

Who’s up for the challenge? Contact me on twitter @virtualisedreal or fill out this form

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1OvNKuHJkTWR4xIP7PnCK5quqgUH9k3TnjgeEgpROV1Q/viewform

Vendors Currently on Board

Below is a list of vendors who are up for the challenge and I will be catching with at VMworld.

Name Product VMworld Stand #
Nutanix Converged Storage and Compute G318
Fusion IO NAND Memory and Software Based Storage Solutions S217
Nimble Hybrid Storage Solutions E513
Atlantis ILIO In memory storage technologies S108
Dell Cloud Client Computing Wyse / Dell DVS Solutions D208
SimpliVity’ Building block approach to virtual infrastructures P308

This week VMware have held their annual US event in San Francisco and as usual there have been a mass of updates. In this post I will focus upon vSphere 5.5 and what’s new but we have also seen a number of other releases and announcements in key areas.

To read the full list of what’s new check out the What’s New in VMware vSphere 5.5 Platform document from VMware Here >> http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/vsphere/VMware-vSphere-Platform-Whats-New.pdf

The updates to vSphere are separated into 5 key areas, ESXi Hypervisor Enhancements, Virtual Machine Enhancements, vCenter Server Enhancements, vStorage Enhancements and vSphere Networking Enhancements. Having a quick look through the list their are some updates that I know a number of my customers and colleagues will be very happy about, these include support for VMDK’s up to 62TB in Size, enhancements to single sign on as well as others.

vSphere ESXi Hypervisor Enhancements

There are three key enhancements for the Hypervisor these include the ability to hot add or hot remove PCIe based SSD devices such as Fusion-IO Cards, traditionally this may have been seen as a disadvantage of this type of SSD over SAS or SATA based hard disks. The ESXi Hypervisor is now able to make use of the CPU’s Reliable Memory Technology to ensure the hypervisor is running keys processes such as the hostd and watchdog process in the most reliable areas of memory to minimise issues from memory errors. Finally the balanced policy for power management is now aware of the deep processor power stage known as C-State, previously it has only been aware of the performance stage (P-State) with this increased awareness it will introduce additional power saving benefits and may also increase performance due to the nature of the turbo mode frequencies in the intel chipsets.

Virtual Machine Enhancements

Normally every year we hear how the monster VM can be bigger and better than last years monster VM, this year is no difference but with some introductions that have been long awaited by some.

vSphere 5.5 brings another new virtual machine hardware version, version 10. Included in this version is a new virtual SATA controller, allowing up to 30 devices per controller, so with a maximum of 4 controllers per VM we can now support double the amount of disk devices from 60 to 120 per VM. As to what the use case would be for this number of disks i’m not sure, but if you have one let me know!

In vSphere 5.1 we saw the introduction of support for hardware based GPUs but it was limited to NVIDIA based GPUs, with 5.5 we now are able to use both AMD and Intel based GPUs. There are three supported rendering modes, automatic, hardware and software and vMotion can still be leveraged even across hosts with GPU’s from different vendors. Check out the document linked to above for more detail on this.  For the first time we are also seeing GPU acceleration for Linux in this release as well.

vCenter Enhancements

SSO

One of the biggest improvements that I know the engineers I work with are going to love is the face that SSO has been re-built from the ground up, this was an area of much frustration since the release of 5.1. With 5.5 there is an improved multi-master architecture, built in replication and site awareness. On top of this there is now no database required and a much simplified one deployment model for all scenarios.

When installing you will now be presented with 3 options 

  • vCenter Single Sign On for first or only vCenter server
  • vCenter Single Sign On for an additional vCenter server in the same site
  • vCenter Single Sign On for an additional vCenter Server in a new site (Multisite)

VMware are now also publishing simplified recommendations for vCenter deployment options as follows.

Single vCenter Design Recommendation

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Multiple Remote vCenter Server Design Recommendation

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Mac Support

Another enhancement that I know will be popular with the community is the fact that the web client is now fully supported by Mac OSX meaning you now have remote console support as well as the ability to mount CD-ROMs etc. The usability of the web client has also been improved with support for drag and drop, additional filter support and a new recent items navigation view.

vCenter Appliance

The embedded database within the appliance that has previously been focused at small environments has been re-engineered to allow up to 500 hosts and 5000 virtual machines to be managed. Meaning this limitation to adoption is no longer a barrier, although as I understand it you will still need a Windows VM for the Update manager component which for a smaller environment does limit the desire to implement the Linux based appliance.

vSphere App HA

Whilst vSphere Application HA has been around for some time it has always relied on third party technologies to actually monitor your applications, with 5.5 that has changed. With the new vSphere App HA feature it is possible to monitor and detect an issue with an application service, upon detection the service will be restarted, if that fails to resolve the issue the VM will be rebooted, this is also fully integrated with vSphere alerting to ensure you are aware of any resolved or unresolved issues. To deploy application HA you are required to deploy the AppHA and Hyperic Appliances, the AppHA appliance stores and manages the vSphere App HA policies and the Hyperic appliance monitors and enforces the policies. Once the appliances have been deployed a Hyperic agent is installed in the virtual machines whose applications will be protected by AppHA.

 

The supported services listed in the beta documentation we as follows.

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It is good to see IIS, MSSQL and Apache on this list and it would be good to see MySQL supported in the future. I would also query the possibility of adding Domino and Exchange? Whilst these applications as does SQL have many ways of protecting it itself the ease and simplicity of this solution would particularly be useful for protecting your email services in a smaller environment.

Storage

Probably the most asked for feature for me especially since Hyper-V started supporting larger disks was the ability to create virtual machine hard disks bigger than 2TBs in size, with vSphere 5.5 we now have a vDisk and Virtual Mode RDM limit of 62TB. Whilst I believe there is usually better ways of storing large data for organisational and protection purposes there are still a lot of people that need disks a lot bigger than 2TBs.

A number of improvements to enable the use of MSCS in virtualised environments, again this has been a sticking point with some of my customer in the past with 5.5 the following configurations are now supported.

Microsoft Windows 2012

Round-Robin path policy for shared sotrage

iSCSI Protocol for Shared storage

FCoE for Shared Storage

There is now true end to end support for 16GB FC.

vSphere Replication has been enhanced to allow greater interoperability with storage vMotion and Storage DRS as well as the introduction of vSphere Replication Muti-Point-in-Time snapshot retention meaning we can keen historical recover points at the DR site to allow multiple different recovery options. My biggest gripe with vSphere Replication is the fact it doesn’t allow you to test failover like SRM, whilst I can understand why VMware don’t want to introduce this it still makes this feature unusable for me. Your DR plan is only as good as your last test!

vSphere Flash Read Cache

With vSphere 5.5 a new feature called Flash Read Cache has been introduced allowing performance enhancements for read intensive applications by pooling of multiple locally attached flash based devices into a single vSphere Flash Resource which is consumed in the same way as CPU and Memory are today.

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I will be blogging about this feature in more detail as soon as I can.

Networking

There are a number of updates to networking for the distributed vSwith, check out the document above for more detail.

Conclusions

Whilst many people may have been expecting to see vSphere 6 this year I don’t think the features in vSphere 5.5 will disappoint. I have not seen any updated licensing documents yet to fully understand where the new features will be sitting but we can expect many like the flash read cache to appear top end I would have thought. I will be digging a little deeper into this features as soon as I can as well as the new vSAN beta!

VMworld EMEA Day 2

October 12, 2012 — Leave a comment

The second day at VMworld EMEA started with the Steve Herrod’s keynote speech this time focusing on end user computing a great passion of mine.

The keynote discussed the importance of flexibility and allowing the end users choice in devices to ensure they were able to be more productive.

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Steve Herrod recapped the improvements in the View 5.1 release, going over functionality such as the storage accelerator and enhancements in PCoIP.

He went on to introduce the Horizon Suite, a collection of solutions we have previously seen or been aware of, but now coming together into a comprehensive suite of end user computing focused solutions.

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For the first time we saw Project Octopus renamed as Horizon Data, we will also see tight integration with Horizon Application manager and this will offer the first opportunity for for us to see the HTML5 remoting technology AppBlast in action for tablet users connecting into their View desktop via the Horizon Suite. No dates were announced for the availability of the Horizon Suite but it is currently in Alpha.

The next subject of the keynote was VMware Mirage which has come from the Wanova acquisition, as we have come to expect Vittorio Viarengo, Vice President Marketing for End User Computing came on stage to show us how Mirage works from an end users perspective. The demo entailed a laptop being upgraded from Windows XP to Windows 7 whilst the user was still using it, a simple reboot and the laptop booted into Windows 7 with the applications and data still in place, the desktop was then moved into a view desktop when then laptop was damaged and finally from View to VMware Fusion.

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I really enjoyed hearing about the announcements surrounding end user computing, it proves VMware are no longer a one trick pony in the end user computing space and that this is a serious direction for VMware.

Finally we saw a new addition to the CTOs keynote with the diamond sponsors being invited to stage for a quick fire demo, the audience were then given a chance to complete polls and vote for their favourite demo, with the winner getting a $10,000 to a nominated charity. Dell, Cisco, HP, EMC and NetApp all took part and EMC won with a VVol demo on the EMC vplex by storage god Chad Sakac. EMC will be donating the money to a down syndrome foundation in Madrid. However VMware announced they would also donate to all the other charities.

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Following the keynote I spent a lot of my time in the Solutions Exchange talking to various vendors, I had a long chat with Devin Hamilton of Nimble and it was really great to see how far they have come in the last year, their team has grown substantially, they have recently announced the ability to add disk shelves to their SANs to allow not only grid based expansion but now frame based to allow you to have the flexibility to grow the environment to your needs. They have also worked with a number of partners including Cisco to have their SANs included in many of the VMware Rapid Deployment Program solutions for View. I’m looking forward to doing some blog posts on the Nimble SAN shortly.

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I also spent some time with the guys from Fusion IO, they seem to be doing very well at the moment with their cards being featured in a number of solutions and reference architectures for VDI, one example of this is how it is being utilised in the Nutanix solutions. I will hopefully be working with Fusion IO to do a blog post on using their product in a View solution shortly.

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I was also given the opportunity to speak with David Angwin marketing director of Dell Wyse and Rafeal Colorado Cloud Client Computer Marketing Director to discuss end user computing with Dell. Dell had a very large end user computing presence at VMworld EMEA in my personal opinion this was at the loss of the storage division who had little to no presence at the show which was a big shame especially with all the competitors being heavily represented in that space.

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Dell were announcing 2 major new products at VMworld EMEA the first was its new Desktop as a Service solution now available within Europe from its Slough based datacenter, the solution is built around VMware View and pricing starts at £29 per month. I’m going to be interested to see how this works and how partners will be able to integrate with it to build complete cloud solutions for their customers, watch this space.

The second as mentioned yesterday was the announcement of the new Tera 2 thin client, the new P25 and the unfortunately named for the UK market P45 are now available, with the P25 being dual screen and the P45 being quad screen. They have also expanded support for their T50 ARM SoC thin client to include PCoIP support.

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I was only able to fit one lab in today and that was the delivering optimal performance with VMware vSphere 5.1, there was some good content in this lab but I think it spent a bit too long covering the Java application that we were using to cause the problems that we were then fixing. But overall I felt I recovered ground that I had previously looked at but equally it was good to refresh these skills and there were a number of elements that I was able to take away.

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The focus on the evening was a number of parties, the first being a small Xsigo champagne reception where it was good to catch up with a number of friendly faces on a balcony room near the conference centre. The second being the VMworld party making place in a transformed hall 8 at the Gran Fira venue, the party had an 8 bit computer game theme, there was pedal kart racing, costumes, retro games, pool tables and more. There was also a live band ‘black rock’ who in my opinion weren’t that good, more screaming than singing and didn’t fit well with the theme of the party, I think a good DJ would have gone down better if there wasn’t going to be a big name band. All together I did enjoy the party their was good food, a memorable theme and it was good to catch up with other VMworld attendees.

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Today was the first day of VMworld EMEA in Barcelona after yesterdays partner day. The morning kicked off with a keynote by Pat Gelsinger CEO and Steve Herrod. The keynote started the same as VMworld US earlier in the year with live music and drumming coming from the large VMworld 2012 drums.

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See the video below

During the keynote there were several announcements mostly around the vCloud Suite management, including VMware vCloud Automation manager which comes from the acquisition of Dynamic Ops.

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I really liked the look of this product and it will be interesting to see how in the future it integrates more highly with vCloud director. There were also live demos of vCloud director and its refreshed UI and lots more.

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My first session was regarding Zimbra 8 VMware’s mail and collaboration platform. This session was a little basic but gave a good overview of the latest version and the updated UI. I also liked the UC elements that have been integrated utilising partnerships with Mitel and Cisco.

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After my first session I headed over to the labs via the solutions exchange hall

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My first lab of the day was surrounding vCloud Director, i really enjoyed this lab it gave a good overview not only from and administrators perspective but also as a cloud consumer.

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I spent a lot of my time today in the Solutions Exchange hall chatting to many of the companies. Next generation storage has a heavy presence, Tintri, Nimble, Violin Memory and Fusion IO are amongst the ones I have enjoyed learning more about the most. It certainly is becoming and increasingly crowded market place though.

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Whilst in the solutions exchange it was good to catch up with Dell and see the new quarter height blades unfortunately the Equallogic storage blade wasn’t on display.

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It was also good to catch up with the Embotics and see their latest release of vCommander, they definitely win best USB stick award.

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I stopped by the Teradici stand who were displaying a pre release of RDSH utilising PCoIP for a brokered RDS session. This is something that I think some of my customers would use when available. They also had a collection of the now available tera 2 thin clients available including the 4 DVI Wyse P45

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Probably my favourite session of VMworld so far was VMware View Storage and Thinking outside the box, covering the usage of local flash based storage to bring down the costs of VDI. Wish one fusion IO card they could comfortably get 200 users per box and 500 when pushing to the Max. They also had a live environment white box for us to connect to and test it.

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My final lab of the day was auto deploy where we utilised auto deploy to upgrade a vSphere 5.0 host to 5.1. Most of this was done through the new vSphere web client with the repository configuration etc being completed via Powershell. I haven’t done much with Auto Deploy but compared to my experience with it during previous VMworlds and training courses the improvements in 5.1 seemed to have made it easier to use than ever before.

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Day 2 kicks off tomorrow with a second end user computing focused keynote.