VM Junkie

March 9, 2011

View Client for iPad out – limitatons & caveats

Filed under: view, vmware — ermac318 @ 8:55 am

So a couple posts ago you may recall I made the following statement:

There’s also a few cool bits under the hood that make it work a bit better with things like Teradici’s new firmware 3.3 for their zero clients, as well as some enhancements that will become obvious in the next month or so when another client becomes available (which I’m not sure I can talk about publicly in detail).

What I was referring to, as you may now guess, is enhancements that make the iPad client work. Please note that the iPad client (which has been posted about many times in the last few hours alone since it launched, even on mainstream tech blogs like Engadget) only supports View Agents running View 4.6 or newer. Also, while it does support the Security Server, because the iPad client is PCoIP only (no RDP support) it means if you want to avoid using a VPN on your iPad you will also need the new View 4.6 security server.

Another important note is that this signals the first time that you have seen a View client which is separately released from a particular version of View. The version number on the iPad client is 1.0.1 – not 4.6. This is the start of a larger trend around View client releases: you should see them become more decoupled from the releases of the View Manager infrastructure components.

Now I just wish I had an iPad. =)

March 7, 2011

Windows 7 SP1 support in View

Filed under: view, vmware — ermac318 @ 9:12 am

Some updates for those on the bleeding edge.

When VMware first published the release notes for View 4.6, the following line was in the What’s New section:

  • Experimental support for Microsoft Windows 7 SP1 RC operating systems

Since that time, the release notes have been updated to the following:

  • Support for Microsoft Windows 7 SP1 operating systems

This is a very important change. When the View 4.6 bits shipped and the release notes were published, Windows 7 SP1 was not fully GA (only limited availability) and therefore the official support statement had to be experimental. Once the bits were generally available, VMware updated the release notes to confirm full support. I have also personally confirmed with the View Product Manager that Windows 7 SP1 is fully supported.

Also of note: while View 4.5 does not officially support Windows 7 SP1, this KB article outlines some View 4.5 patches which will make it work. Note that while it does not explicitly call out Windows 7 SP1, the incompatibility between SP1 and View 4.5 is the same – these patches are rolled up into SP1 and therefore SP1 has this issue. Note that there are some limitations around Local Mode, however.

February 28, 2011

Some reasons why you shouldn’t be “all in” when it comes to Cloud…

Filed under: Uncategorized — ermac318 @ 9:45 pm

Where I work I spend a lot of time talking to customers about “cloud,” whatever the hell it means these days. Unfortunately the definition has gotten so polluted as of late (and these Microsoft commercials aren’t helping) that most people don’t know what the heck it means anymore. But what everyone can agree on is no matter what kind of cloud you’re talking about, if it’s not a private cloud of some sort, you’re giving some kind of control or responsibility for your data and your applications to someone else. This sounds great on paper: it’s like out-sourcing my IT! We know how much business folk like out-sourcing. It’s so popular it got its own sitcom!

But recently there have been a couple high-profile events that should give us all pause before recommending people move everything to the cloud. A while back it was the story of a man whose entire Flickr account was deleted accidentally by a support technician, and then apparently Flickr had no backups. Fortunately the story had a happy ending (they restored his stuff) but I’ll bet you that man isn’t storing the only copies of his photos in Flickr, anymore. Then there was work that Gmail went down and deleted mailboxes of more than 100,000 users. Restoration of these is still ongoing. What prompted me to write this blog post, though, was the nail in the coffin of Danger.

You may remember Danger (now part of Microsoft) was in the news before, when they performed what was later reported as an array firmware upgrade without a good backup and lost the cloud data of every T-Mobile Sidekick phone. After finally recovering somewhat from that debacle, Microsoft and T-Mobile have announced that they are shutting down Sidekick service permanently at the end of May. Thankfully, they are working on giving customers ways of getting their data out, but what if they decided it wasn’t worth their time or money?

The Cloud presents a huge business opportunity, but also a huge business risk for customers. That’s why VMware’s vCloud strategy is so critical. I’m not going to repeat the Hotel California analogy (because frankly it doesn’t really jive with the song lyrics, I prefer the “roach motel” analogy) but it’s very important not only to be able to go “all in” to the cloud, but also all out. Otherwise, you and your data could be at the mercy of your cloud provider. What if you’re a Terremark customer who can’t stand Verizon? What if Amazon decides to shut down EC2 next week because it’s not making them enough money anymore? All of these things are real concerns that should give CIOs pause before heaving their critical applications over the wall to let someone else run for them.

I see a lot of people give the analogy that cloud computing makes computing a utility, like electricity. You just pay for what you use!

My retort: How many customers have their own UPS and Generators on-site, because they don’t trust the power company? Be careful with your analogies.

February 25, 2011

View 4.6 and ThinApp 4.6.1 are out!

Filed under: thinapp, view, vmware — ermac318 @ 1:29 am

Good news, everyone!

After an agonizing wait for some of us in the know, View 4.6 is finally out as of an hour ago. This is not a super-huge release, but rather an incremental release that fixes a lot of bugs, but does add a couple pretty important features:

  • The Security Server can now proxy PCoIP connections. This was semi-announced as a feature back when Mark Benson made this post on the Office of the CTO blog.
  • (Experimental) Windows 7 SP1 support. Note that View 4.5 is not compatible with Windows 7 SP1, so don’t go deploying it to all your View desktops before upgrading your View Agents to 4.6!
  • USB improvements. Now (if you’re crazy) you can sync iPods over View’s USB redirection.

There’s also a few cool bits under the hood that make it work a bit better with things like Teradici’s new firmware 3.3 for their zero clients, as well as some enhancements that will become obvious in the next month or so when another client becomes available (which I’m not sure I can talk about publicly in detail).

So with that out of the way, what’s missing? Unfortunately, profile integration, such as any technology from the RTO acquisition, is still not included in View 4.6. We can only hope in the meantime that when the next major version of View comes out, we will see it or something like it included. In the interim, we’ll have to rely on solutions like LiquidwareLabs ProfileUnity, AppSense, or others.

And also as per usual, the new View release is accompanied by a release of VMware ThinApp, although in this case an even more minor update from 4.6 to 4.6.1. Primarily this release adds better support for Office 2010 and virtualized IE7 and IE8, but you can read the official VMware blog posting about it here.

December 21, 2010

Non Tech-related Post: I had an article published

Filed under: Uncategorized — ermac318 @ 11:25 am

Today I had an article published in Escapist Magazine, it’s about an older computer game called Allegiance that was made by Microsoft more than 10 years ago. If that sort of thing interests you, you can check it out here.

I hope everyone has a great holiday, expect more content in the new year!

December 3, 2010

Passed the VCAP-DCA exam!

Filed under: vmware, vSphere — ermac318 @ 1:18 pm

If you follow my twitter, you’ll have noticed that I finally received word that I passed the VCAP-DCA exam! I took the test back on Nov 4th, and had to wait almost a month for my results. But all is forgiven!

Some experiences from my exam:

  • Manage your time well. I actually spent too much time hunting through the provided documentation to answer a couple questions and ended up running out of time. If I had just given up on one particular question and moved on, I might have gotten 2 more right at the end that I couldn’t get to.
  • The blueprint is very important! Make sure you know everything in it.
  • When they say you need to know all the command lines, they’re not kidding.
  • Know your Distributed Virtual Switch stuff well.

Also, I can’t recommend the guides over at vFail enough – they are excellent. Make sure you go there and study before the exam.
Good luck everyone!

October 13, 2010

vSphere Network I/O Control vs. HP VirtualConnect Flex-10 or FlexFabric

Filed under: bladesystem, hp, vmware, vSphere — ermac318 @ 8:48 am

As of vSphere 4.1, VMware introduced a new feature called Network I/O control. Many of the features of Network I/O Control overlap with some of the features of HP VirtualConncet Flex-10 (and subsequently, FlexFabric as well). This article provides a compare and contrast of the two systems and their pros and cons.

HP Flex-10

With HP Flex-10 onboard NICs, you can take a single 10Gb pipe and carve it up into 4 distinct FlexNICs, which appear as their own PCI function in hardware. Using VirtualConnect Server Profiles, you can then specify how much bandwidth you want each FlexNIC to have.

This allows customers in vSphere environments to partition bandwidth between different logical functions in hardware. For example, in the above diagram we could give 500MB of bandwidth for management traffic, 2Gb for vMotion, 4Gb for iSCSI traffic and 3.5Gb for Virtual Machine traffic per FlexNIC. In a FlexFabric environment, one of your four FlexNICs can assume the personality of a FlexHBA, which can act as a Fibre Channel HBA or hardware iSCSI initiator.

Pros:

  • Bandwidth shaping occurs in hardware and is stored in the VC Profile, and therefore is OS independent. For example, FlexNICs can be used by a physical Windows blade.
  • Since the physical NIC function is capped, both ingress and egress traffic is limited by the speed of the FlexNIC you set in hardware.

Cons:

  • Requires Flex-10 or FlexFabric capable blades and interconnect modules.
  • Can only dial up or dial down FlexNIC speeds while blade is powered off.
  • When bandwidth utilization on one FlexNIC is low, another FlexNIC cannot utilized its unused bandwidth.

vSphere Network I/O Control

Introduced in vSphere 4.1, Network I/O Control (or NIOC) is designed to solve many of the same problems as Flex-10. How can I make sure all types of traffic have an appropriate amount of bandwidth allocated, without letting any single network function rob the others of throughput?

By enabling Network I/O Control on a vDistributed Switch (vDS), you can specify limits and shares for particular port groups (illustrated above on the right) or host functions (illustrated above on the left). You can specify that vMotion traffic has a limit of 5Gbps and that is has a share value of 100. You can then specify that your VM traffic has a share value of 50, and your iSCSI traffic has a share value of 50. If all three functions were attempting to push maximum throughput, the vMotion traffic would push 5Gbps (since vMotion is given 100 out of 200 shares), VM and iSCSI traffic would get 2.5Gbps.

An example screenshot, taken with a 1Gb (not 10Gb) NIC.

Pros:

  • Shares allow bandwidth on a single function to utilize the entire 10Gb pipe if the link is not oversubscribed.
  • You can change the speed of a function while the vDS is online and servicing traffic.
  • No special hardware required – can be utilized on rack-mount servers with standard 1Gb or 10Gb NIC interfaces.

Cons:

  • Requires vSphere Enterprise Plus, and requires use of the vDS – NIOC is not available with traditional vSwitches.
  • NIOC can only regulate egress traffic. Ingress traffic will not be affected by NIOC settings.

Conclusions

Both options provide similar capabilities but approach the problem in different ways. While a FlexNIC cannot dial itself up dynamically based on load, it can prevent ingress traffic from overwhelming other functions, whereas NIOC cannot.

The biggest problem with NIOC is that it is only available with the vDistributed Switch, making it challenging for many customers to implement. Not only do they need to be on the most expensive version of vSphere, but they also must then implement vDS, which many customers are not doing or avoiding intentionally due to the added complexity. However, VMware will most likely be targeting only the vDS for future feature enhancements.

In HP Blade environments, it makes sense to utilize the HP VirtualConnect technology as it provides other benefits (MAC address virtualization, server profile migration, and now FlexFabric) beyond just the FlexNIC capability. However, if customers are utilizing competing Blade solutions, or traditional rack-mount servers, then NIOC provides new capabilities to them that they cannot get in hardware.

It is also possible to utilize both solutions in tandem. One could conceivably use FlexNICs to segregate certain types of traffic for security purposes (maybe if your organization doesn’t allow traffic from different security zones on the same vSwitch) and then use NIOC to do bandwidth shaping. Another use case is if you want your Management Traffic to stay on a standard vSwitch, but move all VM/vMotion/etc traffic to a vDS, you can use two FlexNICs per pipe and use NIOC on the larger of the two.

September 27, 2010

Building ThinApp applications for View 4.5

Filed under: Uncategorized — ermac318 @ 8:58 am

Some of you may be playing around with the new version of View’s ThinApp integration, and wondering why you run into this issue:

Streaming option is grayed out

You add your packages, but you can’t select Streaming. Why is this? The documentation tells you to add your packages into the ThinApp Repository along with the MSI installers created by ThinApp. What you need to do is in the package.ini file for your ThinApp application (and by the way make sure you’re using ThinApp 4.6) add the following line:
MSIStreaming=1
What this does is changes the MSI file to not store any files at all, but simply include pointers to the EXE and DAT files next to it. This has the advantage of reducing the space you need (because you aren’t storing the files twice, once on the share and once in the MSI), but also as you probably guessed from the name of the parameter, it makes Streaming work!
So rebuild your packages with MSIStreaming=1 and you should be streaming your virtual apps into virtual desktops in no time.

September 21, 2010

vExpert Panel from VMworld TV

Filed under: Uncategorized — ermac318 @ 9:38 am

Mike Laverick, Stu from Vinternals, John Troyer from VMware and myself all did a panel discussion on the events of VMworld on the last day of the conference. You can check out the replay of it here.

September 9, 2010

View 4.5 is out – Premier includes vShield Endpoint

Filed under: view, vmware — ermac318 @ 8:40 pm

Yes, View 4.5 is out, you can read more about it here on the official View blog. But there’s something important I wanted to point out that a lot of people have so far overlooked, probably because I don’t think VMware ever announced they were doing this until now. At least this is the first I heard of it, but maybe that’s not saying much.

View 4.5 Premier edition (the good one) includes vShield Endpoint protection for all your desktop VMs. This means there is now AntiVirus and Malware protection offload included with the product at no additional charge. If you already own View Premier you now get this for free. That’s a big deal!

Now that the bits are out and I can actually start posting stuff about it hopefully you’ll see some more content around View 4.5 in the coming days.

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