Complexity is one the most important factors and considerations as
people move more of their physical desktops toward virtual desktops.
Complexity inherently introduces risk and increases the chance for
failure and additional cost. One thing I have always said, is we are
building and designing a solution from the ground up to enable a new
way do doing things in a virtual world. We are not trying to retro fit
legacy products to work in a virtual world.
One of the things that impresses me the most about the engineering
talent at VMware is the level of effort and willingness to listen to
customer needs and requirements and wring out the complexity ultimately
simplifying things for the customer. This comes at price to us, it
takes time, effort, willingness to listen, and a desire to provide
customer focused service. All well worth the price.
Recently we worked with an "independent performance consultancy The Tolly Group
to compare the differences of what it takes to get a mission critical
solution such as a Virtual Desktop solution up and running using VMware
View or Citrix XenDesktop in a timely, efficient, cost effective
The pdf can be downloaded here. I couldn't cut text from the pdf (pet peeve), but Jason Boche quotes the findings:
VMware View 3:
Installed more rapidly and with considerably fewer steps and less manual intervention
Provides simpler image management that makes more efficient use of disk
Requires no manual configuration of Microsoft Active Directory or DHCP
Allows management of all VDI functions through a single web-based GUI
Provides equivalent end-user experience on LAN as Citrix for Microsoft Office applications
Just this morning, VMware announced that it will be opening the
source code for the VMware View Client to anyone that wants it. The
move is targeted to allow partners to more easily share advances in
hosted desktop clients based on the most pervasive hosted desktop
system out there – VMware View. The client is licensed under LGPL v
2.1. Some details from the press release:
VMware View Open Client is available under the GNU
Lesser General Public License version 2.1 (LGPL v 2.1) and is
accessible from http://code.google.com/p/vmware-view-open-client/.
Some of the features included in this release support secure tunneling
using SSL, two factor authentication with RSA SecurID, Novell SLETC
Add-On RPM package and a full command line interface. Support for the
source code distribution is available through the VMware View Open
Client community at: http://code.google.com/p/vmware-view-open-client/.
This is an incredible leadership move by VMware to give a kickstart
to the true universal client. Just judging by the numerous joint quotes
from partners in the press release everyone is really excited about
this. Now partners can freely develop on and embed the client into all
sorts of devices from cell phones to set top boxes to PCs and laptops.
It will be interesting to see how much development takes off in this
exciting space. But enough about my excitement. What do you think?
The new View Open Client includes all the major
components needed for someone to take the software, adapt it to their
needs and package up a rich, customized solution.This should really assist all the players in the eco-system to reduce their time to market on solutions.I’m hoping this results in some new and innovative ways to deliver virtual desktops!
Another great use case that I hope we soon see
more of are commercially supported (by the vendor and VMware), turn-key
solution for turning your fat PC into a dumb, highly managed “thin
client’.There are some solutions out there today, but I
would think that this new View Open Client would allow someone to put
together a package to do this easily with out-of-the-box View
integration.The great part is, that a solution someone in
the eco-system puts together using the View Open Client can be
submitted to VMware for formal certification and support!
The way I see it, View is essentially a remote desktop virtualization
technology and with the open client any OS user can take the code to
create, modify and/or customize the end desktop experience. …
As opposed to just saying the project is open source, VMware is also going a step further and hosting the project over at Google Code , which shows a high degree of transparency. VMware isn't hiding much with this release. It build on the fact that the VMware View Manager itself is available under an open source license as well.[Note that while View Manager uses a number of open source technologies, it isn't an open source product itself. –john]
was a time when I personally thought of VMware as a proprietary vendor
and XenSource (now Citrix) as the open source one. That's no longer
entirely accurate though is it?
Composer is what I consider to be one of the most exciting new features
of this release (even though it’s really a separate product). The storage cost associated with deploying virtual desktops has been up to now, one of the largest barriers of adoption. Many
organizations I deal with loved VDI and what it represented in terms of
data security and lowered management costs, but they just couldn’t get
over putting all their desktop storage on expensive, SAN-based storage…. View Composer solves
this problem for the rest of the world as it allows you to
significantly reduce the amount of storage used by employing linked
clones. Composer allows you to identify a “gold image” from which you desktop pool will be created. You then tell Composer what LUN’s to store the VM’s on and then the fun begins. Composer creates a replica on each of the LUN’s you provided and then there, the small linked clones are built. The provisioning is extremely fast and as you can imagine, highly space efficient. …
Composer isn’t just a storage savings tool. It’s also a game changer for desktop management. Now
that you have all these linked clones for your desktop pool, you have
the option to now manage the lifecycle of these desktops from the image. That’s
in contrast to how thing normally work where once a desktop is created
you have to continually patch it and upgrade it to maintain it
(applications, windows updates, virus updates, and security updates). With
the linked clones, we can now simply update the image at the top of the
tree and re-home all the downstream desktops to the new version of the
image. This is called a “Re-Compose” operation Think about the ramifications of that! You
could roll out a new application to 1000’s of users with a few clicks,
with a high degree of certainty by simply Re-Composing your users to a
new version of the master image. Good stuff!! With
the addition of the User Data Drive option which employs Windows
Profile Folder Redirection technology, you can ensure that your user’s
personal settings persist even after refreshing their desktop or even
moving them to a completely new version of their desktop. Heck,
you can even schedule a refresh of your user’s desktops every x days to
ensure that your user’s never experience “Windows Rot” through the
Can I turn 16TB of storage for 1000 VDI users into 619GB, let me show
you how it’s actually done. The release today of VMware View Manager 3
brings to market the long anticipated thin provisioning of storage for
virtual desktops. Previewed in 2007 as SVI (Scalable Virtual Images)
what does this now released View Composer linked clone technology look
like under the hood? How much storage will it actually use? …
He goes through the files and directories created when you use View Composer, e.g.
Using the Add Desktop wizard in the View Administrator you can
create a pool of desktops based on a snapshot from a ParentVM. As part
of the process you have to choose a VM and one of its snapshots. When
this is done a unique replica is created. This process is marked as (1)
on the diagram. Here a copy of the machine is performed, into a new
directory however the disk is thin provisioned. If our original disk
was 15G yet only 2G was consumed, the disk in the replica will only by
2G. This process can take a short period of time as the data copies,
but it is a once off process. This thin provisioned disk is the master
disk that all of the clone VMs will use as their base. You can make
changes to the parent VM, and the replica can not be harmed.
Necessary to understand what is going on — a nice walkthrough before you sit down and try it yourself.
than just reprint the marketing press releases, I thought I would
highlight some of the key new features of View3, give a short
explanation, and add some initial thoughts. As the (borrowed) graphic below shows, “View3” really is the umbrella name that covers all the components of the total solution. View
Manager 3 is the desktop broker that sets up and manages connections
between end users and back-end desktop virtual machines. Let’s dig into some of these features.
Many of our customers who have been thinking about desktop
virtualization or who are current VMware VDM 2.X users are going to
find the new feature set substantially enhances their experience. … VMware View when coupled with VMware ThinApp truly enables the
compute on demand desktop experience many of us have heard about for so
Secondly and more importantly, the ability to build and reference
off a single master image with linked clones is going to save a lot of
time in deployment, management, and disk space costs. …
Third, View is really a multi-purpose front-end load balancer. No
longer is View just the connection broker for virtual machines, it can
be the front end for Terminal Servers and PCs. This is a big
enhancement, many of our customers are going to like. The ability to
use the SSL tunneling provided for under VDM and continued in view is
really going to be a full on security solution for remote office
And last but not least, the feature I have been longing for the most, offline desktop. …
A lot (a mean a whole lot, like 75%) of customers who use Citrix
XenDesktop run it on VMware’s infrastructure. If that’s the case, then
VMware is a much cheaper solution, at only $150 for the edition of View
3 that includes everything.
VMware’s extensions to RDP, plus the ThinPrint stuff they’ve
licensed, means that Citrix does not have as much as an advantage with
I’ve actually been evaluating and testing VMware’s VDM 2.x solutions since the early beta’s were available. I must admit, I very much liked what I saw in the early beta releases. I feel the beauty of VDM is that it is easy it is to deploy, administer, and use. That being said, while I was evaluating VDM, I thought it might be fun to document how to install, configure, and use it. You know, I wanted to document the exact steps I used to install my VDM 2.1 lab environment. I wanted to create a VDM in a Box!
Once I was about 100 pages in to the document I
decided to email a friend of mine who works for VMware to tell him
about what I was working on while "messing around" with VDM and he
ended up asking me if I would be interested in writing it for VMware to
use as a "Reviewer’s Guide". Hence this white paper. VMware’s
goal for this white paper is to give you everything you need to get you
up and running with VDM, as quick as possible, even if you have never
used VDM before. That being said, VMware just posted their version of my VDM white paper for all to download!
Download the VDM 2.1 Reviewers Guide. But Doug’s not done! Back in the day, Doug created the Methodology in a Box, a 900+ page guide for installing and deploying a successful Citrix environment. It was a big boon to the Citrix community, and it’ll be great to get one for the community deploying today’s VDI-style environments. Doug is looking to make this an open collaborative project.
BUT… I’m not done.. I’m still working on my version of the VDM white paper and will soon release it as VDM in a Box 1.0! I
will write more about VDM in a Box 1.0 in the coming weeks so stay
tuned. I will say I’m looking to turn this document in to a sort of
"Open Source" project where the "VDM community" can collaborate on
making it better!!! (If you are interested in collaborating on VDM in a Box please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org)
VMware Project Northstar (formerly Thinstall) Beta 2 release is now available. If you’re a little fuzzy on application virtualization, here is our description:
VMware application virtualization (powered by Thinstall) technology
lets you deploy applications without conflicts quicker then ever
before. Application virtualization extends the reach of desktop
virtualization from the operating system to the application layer and
simplifies the delivery of applications. See how application
virtualization is enabling organizations to ease their Vista migrations
while reducing application conflicts, deployment costs, and empowering
a mobile workforce.
allows administrators to dynamically link Thinstall packages to one
another, making it possible to create separate packages for
interdependent components (such as Java or .NET) and use them across
multiple Thinstall packages.
allows customers to execute updates to virtual applications through a
secure Internet connection, increasing application portability while
reducing security and patch risks to offline and out-of-network
I did a lot of testing with Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.5
(before SoftGrid) and figured out that linkíng virtual applications
works very well for Microsoft Office plugins but when you want to use
it for middleware applications such as Oracle, DotNet Framework or Java
it is not so terrific. In the mean time VMware-Thinstall (Project
NorthStar) is also building a powerfull solution to create an
‘Application Link’ between two virtual applications. I did some
research and tried to package a Thinstalled application which is build
on DotNet Framework 2.0. … The result is great!!
You can download the beta today. The beta portal has a beta license key, release notes, community discussion, and more.
Interested in learning more about application virtualization, VMware’s recent acquisition Thinstall, aka Project Northstar, and how it interacts with desktop virtualization in general? Our desktop team has just launched two new information sources that you may want to check out.
*How will Thinstall and VDI work together? *
In a nutshell, Thinstall makes VDI better. We love that this is the
case and that customers can make their VDI environments better
immediately – without any additional requirements. Customers who
combine VDI and Thinstall will be able to:
Create fewer desktop images by separating applications and desktops. This is a huge time-savings for administrators!
Reduce storage costs. One of the very coolest features of
Thinstall technology is its ability to stream applications directly
into memory – without requiring a local cache – so that VDI images can
be kept clean and small, yet easily configurable.
Improve application compatibility. One of VDI ‘s trademark
strengths is that it allows administrators to take the current image,
as it is now, and place it onto a server for access anywhere. Many of
our customers struggle with application deployment into their current
image – and Thinstall helps tremendously in reducing that complexity.
By avoiding application compatibility challenges, administrators get
the applications they need our to the end-users, on demand, without an
expensive compatibility testing matrix.
Deliver desktops and applications independently. VMware’s
vision is to enable our customers to deliver desktops as a service for
their end-users. It’s a compelling vision, and Thinstall technology
helps accelerate this vision. Customers who combine VDI and Thinstall
will be able to acheive a significantly more agile deployment model for
both OS and applications.
We’ve also started a new weekly podcast series* here at VMware on our podcast page. The initial set of programs will be about topics in desktop virtualization, and this first one is a great introduction to application virtualization (aka Project Northstar) and how it relates to VDI.
I’ve listened to lots of podcasts that are too long, too short, too scripted, or too noisy, and this one is none of the above. Tune in to hear three smart guys from VMware — Tyler Rohrer, Henrik Rosendahl, and
Ed Albanese — chat about application virtualization, why you might want to use it, and how it relates to desktop virtualization.
I’ve never seen anything like this in the industry. … Just when you thought the server-oriented ESX party was raging, over
the last 6-12 months the VDI discussion has become extremely
interesting, especially to larger organizations who are seeing the
potential to save money, deliver better user experiences, improve
security and so on.
If you’ve been around the industry for any length of time,
periodically the thin client discussion comes around. Please, set
aside your cynicism for just a moment — this time it’s different.
Previously, it’s been an IT-driven thing. All the benefits accrued
to IT, and few (if any) to the knowledge workers who had to use the
stuff. There were some nasty compromises that limited thin-client
With VDI, users get clear benefits.
It’s a full experience with no compromises – an XP Pro desktop is an
XP Pro desktop — it’s very hard to detect any meaningul differences.
They get the ability to potentially work on any device (home, office,
etc.) and get a full and consistent desktop experience — no schlepping
files around, etc. …
Don’t over-optimize the environment for cost savings. I’ve talked
to more than a few IT organizations that were trying to get the very
last pennies out of cost savings, at the expense of an improved user
And, surprisingly, many of the policies around desktop usage might
be re-thought at the same time. Like access from outside the firewall,
for example. Or supporting consultants and other business partners
using internal applications. A lot can potentially change here — and
for the good.
Quite humbly, I’ve never seen anything like this before …
He also talks about some of the case studies on our site from a storage guy’s perspective. A good read, as is his whole blog. Also check out the VMware Communities VDI Community for more discussion.
VDM 2 was not a rebranding exercise of slapping a VMware VDM 2 logo on
some legacy product. It was a completely new product built from the
Propero technology acquired in 2005 with the vision of virtual desktop
management in mind. Rather than taking the high road and fastest time
to market a conscious decision was made to build a solid foundation
from which the future of virtual desktop management could safely rest.
First and foremost this release is not vaporware, it is not full
of a bunch of features that do not work as described, it is real and
from my testing all the features work and work very well, of course
that does not mean it is everything to everybody …
[Doug gives a rundown of the components and concepts, not just a cut-and-paste job.]
In the coming days I will release a more detailed analysis about
my experiences throughout the beta and the RTM but for now please feel
free to download it and give it a try yourself. BUT, I will say that I’ve been very impressed with VDM. The
only problem is the VDM client does NOT support 64-bit workstations but
of course there are ways to workaround that issue, which I will
document in the coming days too. 😉
And of course there’s strength in the fact that VDM2 is an actual released product. (Download a 60-day eval) Citrix’s XenDesktop, which is shaping up to be another dominating force in the VDI space is still months away best case.
When Capgemini Outsourcing had obtained an outsourcing contract from office Furniture group Ahrend
last September, it has taken over management of the office ICT
environment and the service desk. As the senior system administrator at
Ahrend I created a VDI pool with desktops. During the transition of all
the hardware from the Ahrend Datacenter in Nieuwegein to the Capgemini
datacenter in Amsterdam, the Ahrend ICT colleagues could easily move
to the Capgemini office without losing their old desktop. There are two
things I really like about VDM2; the first one is the automatic
provisioning and the second one is USB support. VDM2 really made the
transition to Capgemini run a lot smoother.