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Monthly Archives: June 2013

Have You Included Education in Your SDDC Transformation Budget?

By Ryan Dohm, VMWare Professional Services Consultant

This may be the most incredible time in history for emerging technologies and integrated information systems. As a VMware consultant, I see many new and seasoned companies growing larger and more profitable in what most consider “hard economic” times. On numerous occasions I see these environments becoming so advanced and “state-of-the-art” that the support staff fall behind the technology.

Successful companies must upgrade to the latest core systems to be able to run the newest versions of software demanded by their customers. As my peer David Gallant mentions in his article, as Tier 1 applications (database, web and unified communication) advance, they require the latest virtual hardware platforms, plus virtualized servers, network and storage systems. This is pushing the  “standard datacenter” to evolve into the “software defined data center” (SDDC).

Having the latest software and hardware systems in the data center provides many advantages, including:

  1. Faster, more efficient hardware that handles more users with a smaller physical footprint
  2. The ability to run the latest applications, allowing mobile devices and “always-on” resources
  3. Information systems can offer more services with fewer support staff to maintain availability

Unfortunately, more than half of the companies I visit are squandering the advantages of their data center upgrades by failing to adequately prepare the IT staff tasked to run and configure the new hardware/software. Time and again, the technical personnel I interact with request professional training to provide them with the skills they need to successfully support the new environment. Too often they are struggling to keep their heads above water as the vendors implement new software.

While the data center becomes very efficient, the operations side lags behind until management realizes the importance of increasing the budget to train IT staff. In my opinion, the architecting of a new technology should include a plan to educate the staff supporting the new environment after its implementation. This is too rarely the case.

Movement to the SDDC can also be hindered by counterproductive ideas lodged within the technical teams themselves—like the “silo” mentality. In other words, if a problem doesn’t specifically match the support staff’s job description, it is “not their job” to address the issue. (My eyes roll as I type that.)

This “old IT” paradigm must shift to meet the needs of the new SDDC reality. The silos must be rebuilt into a large integrated collection of knowledge resources. The old lines, “this is what I was hired for” and “this is what I am required to do” are now relics of the past. Many technical staff cringe at the idea of change. I encourage them to remember that, with new technology comes new and exciting opportunity. It’s up to today’s technical support staff to become a more versatile asset to their teams—and, luckily, they have many tools to help them do this.

One I’m obviously fond of is VMware’s comprehensive professional services capabilities, which provide timely implementation of solutions, as well as hands-on experience to the operational teams expected to maintain that solution. Although VMware offers an array of pre-defined professional service engagements, it also allows customers to define an entirely custom scope for any services desired. For a comprehensive list of services, please visit www.VMware.com/services/full-services-portfolio.html

Ryan Dohm has worked at VMware for more than a year with the End User Computing team, driving Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, Data Center virtualization and Private/Hybrid Cloud environments engagements.

It All Starts Here: Internal Implementation of Horizon Workspace at VMware

By Jim Zhang, VMWare Professional Services Consultant

VMware has had a dogfood tradition since previous CEO Paul Maritz’ instilled the practice of having VMware IT deploy VMware products for production use internally. As a VMware employee personally, I can understand some criticism to this practice, but I definitely believe it serves to build and deliver a solid and quality product to the market.

Prior to the release of VMware’s Horizon Suite, VMware IT provided Horizon Workspace to its employees in the production environment. It’s very exciting! Right now, I can use my iPhone and iPad to access my company files without being tied to my desk. Also, it is very easy to share a folder and files with other colleagues, expanding our ability to collaborate and also track various file versions. Additionally, with Workspace, I can access internal applications without further authentication after I login to the Horizon portal. Even my entitlement virtual desktops are still there!

While Mason and Ted discuss the IT challenges with mobility computing in this blog, we at VMware understand these challenges because ‘we eat our own dogfood’.  In this blog I’d like to share some of the key sizing concepts of each of the Horizon components and reference which sizes VMware IT utilized to deploy the Horizon Workspace for its 13,000+ employees.

Horizon Workspace is a vApp that generally has 5 Virtual Machines (VM) by default:

Lets go through each VM and see how to size it in each case:

1.  Configurator VA (virtual appliance): This is the first virtual appliance to be deployed. It is used to configure the vApp from a single point and deploy and configure the rest of the vApp. The Configurator VA is also used to add or remove other Horizon Workspace virtual appliances. There can only be one Configurator VA per vApp.

  • 1x Configurator VA is used. 2vCPU, 2G Memory

2.  Connector VA:  Enterprise deployments require more than one Connector VA to support different authentication methods, such as RSA SecureID and Kerberos SSO. To provide high availability when deploying more than one Connector VA, you must front-end the Connector VAs with a load balancer. Each Connector VA can support up to 30,000 users. Specific use cases, such as Kerberos, ThinApp integration, and View integration, require the Connector VA to be joined to the Windows domain.

  • 6x Connector VA is used. 2 vCPU, 4G Memory

3.  Gateway VA: The Gateway VA is the single namespace for all Horizon Workspace interaction. For high availability, place multiple Gateway VAs behind a load balancer. Horizon Workspace requires one Gateway VA for every two Data VAs, or one Gateway VA for every 2,000 users.

  • 4x Gateway VA is used: 2 vCPU, 8G Memory

4.  Management VA: aka Service VA. Enterprise deployments require two or more Service VAs. Each service VA can handle up to 100,000 users.

  • 2x Service VA is used: 2vCPU, 6G Memory (1 for HA)

5.  Data VM: Each Data VA can support up to 1,000 users. At least three Data VAs are required. The first Data VA is a master data node, the others are user data nodes. Each user data node requires its own dedicated volume. In proof of concept or small-scale pilot scenarios, you can use a Virtual Machine Disk (VMDK). For production, you must use NFS.

  • 11x Data VA is used: 6 vCPU, 32G Memory

6.  Database: Workspace only supports Postgres. For enterprise deployment best practice is to use an external Postgres database.

  • 2x Postgres Server is used: 4 vCPU, 4G Memory (1 for replication)

7.  MS Office Preview Server: Windows 7 Enterprise or Windows 2008 R2 Standard required; MS Office 2010 Professional, 64-bit required;Admin account w/ permissions to create local accounts; Disable UAC; Real-time conversion of documents

  • 3x MS Office Preview Server: 4vCPU, 4G Memory

 

If you want to learn more about the real deployment experience and best practices for deploying the Horzion Suite, please contact your local VMware Professional Services team. They have the breadth of experience and technical ability to help you achieve your project goals: from planning and design to implementation and maintenance. Also, be on the look out for upcoming Horizon reference guides being released from VMware soon. Good luck!

Jim Zhang joined VMware in November 2007 as a quality engineering manager for VMware View.  In 2011, he moved to Professional Services as consultant and solution architect.  Jim has extensive experience in desktop virtualization and workspace solution design and delivery.

How Virtualizing Your Desktops Can Help You Protect Sensitive Data

By Jeremy Wheeler, VMWare Professional Services Consultant

As Ted and Mason mentioned in their video post last week, today’s IT staff faces many challenges involving security, cost, risk, and governance. I’d like to address one particular challenge associated with those: how to manage data.

Let’s consider a heavily regulated industry like health care. In a typical healthcare setting, if disaster strikes, hospitals risk losing extremely sensitive patient data, either virtual or physical. In addition to implementing disaster recovery processes and large backup tapes, IT techs always have to ensure patient data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

This is further complicated by today’s trend toward workers using various devices, such as mobile phones and tablets, to perform daily job functions, instead of a doing everything on a single device. Employees need to be able to use the mobile device of their choice, while still being able to securely access their work applications and documents.

VMware knows IT has plenty of things to worry about besides physical end-point devices, so they provides tools to centralize data in the data center. When virtualized desktops are managed from the data center, rather than at the endpoints, IT departments can deliver consistent desktop performance, achieve the agility they desire, and reduce costs at the same time—all because of single-image-management linked-clone technology.

For on-the-move users like healthcare professionals, VMware has solutions such as “follow-me desktop,” which provides physicians with rapid access to their workspace on kiosks across the hospital. Providing users with a single point of entry to their applications and documents is not only more convenient for the user, it’s also easier for IT to manage.

With VMware’s AlwaysOn Point of Care architecture, VMware View pools balance between multiple sites, providing continuous uptime even in the event of a major disaster to a datacenter. This works with a combination of load balancers, such as F5 and provisioning half the resources per pool.

When deploying VMware AlwaysOn Point of Care, companies typically run into challenges with the dynamics required to deploy the solution, especially around communities versus use cases. For instance, check out the chart below, which illustrates three user communities in the hospital setting:

 

For a successful VDI deployment, it is critical to define two categories: communities and use cases. Communities are defined from a high level, followed by use cases. When determining use cases, it’s best to categorize the use cases as power users, knowledge workers, task workers, and kiosk users similar to what  my co-worker, TJ Vatsa, outlined in his blog.Once the communities and use cases have been identified, the next step is to size the VDI environment based on use cases. In clinical use cases, nursing units may need access to applications that doctors won’t need, or vice-versa. Every application uses guest-level resources that, in turn, eventually use host resources. One way to offload these resources is using VMware’s ThinApp technology. Resources involved with deploying a VDI environment consist of compute, networking, storage, and security.

Parent images, sometimes called “Gold Images,” are typically created per use case. If the ER nurses don’t need specific applications installed on their virtual desktop, but physicians do, IT can use two different images.

Application streaming, assisted by VMware’s ThinApp technology, is a great way to save resources from a storage and performance perspective. Administrators can update single applications across an entire infrastructure with no impact to the end-user. A key element I found when deploying Horizon View and ThinApp are “Health-Checks.” Streaming anything across a wire, you’ll need to know how much bandwidth it’s utilizing.

Recently, I did some work for a large hospital and they decided they wanted all their applications streamed. After further investigation, I discovered there was no assessment of the network before making this decision. ThinApp streaming is a great technology, but some key items need to be considered before making the decision to stream. To start with, I typically utilize Wireshark and watch packets while launching an application. The first launch packet size will determine the initial VMware ThinApp cache size. The second launch packet size is the pre-cached ThinApp package size. Once these packet sizes are established, multiply the size by the user-count to determine the needed bandwidth.

Please reference this article for further information on breakdown of use-cases: http://pubs.vmware.com/view-51/index.jsp?topic=%2Fcom.vmware.view.planning.doc%2FGUID-DA16011C-6128-44FC-97DF-0E4FB66A0309.html

For an example of a healthcare case study using VMware technology, view Michael Hubbard’s video blog.

Sizing environments for these types of solutions can be very tricky and proper planning is critical. When implementing a project plan for VDI, it’s necessary to consider disaster recovery within a cluster and between multiple sites. With VMware Horizon View and ThinApp, any origination will have the option to provide continuous uptime. This makes VMware Professional Services for End-User Computing ideal for professional project planning.


Jeremy Wheeler has extensive experience with Vmware products and solutions. He has been in the IT field for 19 years and focuses around Vmware View and AlwaysOn Healthcare.

 

Staying Ahead in the Boom of the Mobile Workforce

Today’s IT department is inundated by new devices, new applications and new ways to work. It used to be that IT defined, provided and supported the device or endpoint; they defined the refresh or upgrade cycle; they assessed, procured and installed all the applications. Users had very little influence or input into what they used at work. Today, that’s all changed.

In this 2-part video blog, Ted Ohr, Sr. Director of Professional Services and Mason Uyeda, Sr. Director of Technical Marketing and Enablement discuss the incredible explosion around end-user computing and the mobile workforce, the challenges that IT faces and what VMware is doing about it.

In this new landscape, we have users with choice, multiple devices and multiple ways for IT to approach the challenges of control vs. agility vs. cost. In Part 2, Ted and Mason highlight VMware’s IT solutions space for the customer, providing users access to the data and applications they need to get the job done

With over 18 years of technology experience, Ted Ohr is the Senior Director of Americas Service Delivery, which includes Software Defined Data Center, Mobility, Project Management and Technical Account Management. In addition to driving services revenue growth in Latin America, he is also responsible for leading all aspects of service delivery, thought leadership and best practices for VMware’s Professional Services business for both North and Latin America, helping to ensure customer success and satisfaction.
Mason Uyeda joined VMware in November 2007 and leads technical and solution marketing for VMware’s end-user computing business, bringing more than 18 years of experience in strategy, product marketing, and product management. He is responsible for the development and marketing of solutions that feature such end-user computing technologies as desktop virtualization and workspace aggregation.