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Category Archives: Other

VMware Named 2016 STAR Award Winner for Innovation in Enabling Customer Outcomes

VMware’s global Professional Services organization has played an important role in enabling customer successes. Over the last five years, as VMwaretsia-award-2-233x300 has evolved from a single product company to a multi-product solutions provider, the maturation, innovation and transformation of its professional services business has driven new and higher levels of business success and customer satisfaction.

The Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA) announced the 2016 STAR Award winners at the Technology Services World Conference held in Las Vegas. VMware Professional Services was named the 2016 STAR Award winner for Innovation in Enabling Customer Outcomes.

Now in its 26th year, the STAR Awards have become one of the highest honors in the technology services industry. The selection process is rigorous, consisting of a thorough evaluation followed by a vote by TSIA’s service discipline advisory board members.

Read the full article on the VMware Radius Blog.

Horizon View 6.2 and Blackscreens

Jeremy WheelerBy Jeremy Wheeler

With the release of Horizon View 6.2 and the vSphere 6.0 Update 1a comes new features – but also possible new issues. If you have an environment running Horizon 6.2 and anything below vSphere 6.0 Update 1, you might see some potential issues with your VDI desktops. VMware has introduced a new video driver (version 6.23) in View 6.2 that greatly improves speed and quality, but to utilize this fully you need to be on the latest vSphere bits. Customers who have not upgraded to the latest bits have reported VDI desktops black-screening and disconnecting. One fix for those difficult images is to upgrade/replace the video driver inside the Guest OS of the Gold Image.

To uninstall the old video driver inside your Gold Image Guest OS follow these steps:

  1. Uninstall the View Agent
  2. Delete Video Drivers from Windows Device Manager
    • Expand Device Manager and Display Adapters
    • Right-click on the VMware SVGA 3D driver and select Uninstall
      JWheeler Uninstall
    • Select the checkbox ‘Delete the driver roftware for this device.’
      JWheeler Confirm Device Uninstall
  3. Reboot and let Windows rescan
  4. Verify that Windows in using its bare-bone SVGA driver (if not keep deleting the driver again)
  5. Install View Agent 6.2

Note: Do NOT update VMware tools or you will have to repeat this sequence unless you upgraded the View Agent.

Optional Steps:

If you want to update the video driver without re-installing the View Agent, follow these steps:

  1. Launch View Agent 6.2 installer MSI (only launch the installer, do not proceed through the wizard!)
  2. Change the %temp% folder and sort the contents by the date/time
  3. Look for the most recent long folder name, for example:
    JWheeler Temp File Folder
  4. Change into the directory and look for the file ‘VmVideo.cab’
    JWheeler VmVideo
  5. Copy ‘VmVideo.cab’ file to a temp folder (i.e., C:/Temp)
  6. Extract all files form the VmVideo.cab file. You should see something like this:
    JWheeler Local Temp File
  7. You can execute the following type of syntax for extraction:
    – extract /e /a /l <destination><drive>:\<cabinetname>
    Reference Microsoft KP 132913 for additional information.
  8. You need to rename each file, so remove the prefix ‘_’ and anything after the extension of the filename. Example:
    JWheeler Local Disk Temp Folder 2
  9. Install View Agent 6.2 video drivers:
    1. Once rebooted in the device manager expand ‘Display Adapter’
    2. Right-click on the ‘Microsoft Basic Display Adapter’ and click ‘Update Driver Software’
    3. Select ‘Browse my computer for driver software’
    4. Select ‘Browse’ and point to the temp folder where you expanded and renamed all the View 6.2 drivers
    5. Select ‘Next and complete the video driver installation.

After completing these steps of re-installing the View Agent, and/or replacement video drivers, you will need to do the following:

  1. Power-down the Gold Image (execute any power-down scripts or tasks as you normally do)
  2. Snapshot the VM
  3. Modify the View pool to point to the new snapshot
  4. Execute a recompose

Special thanks to Matt Mabis (@VDI_Tech_Guy) on discovering this fix.


Jeremy Wheeler is an experienced senior consultant and architect for VMware’s Professional Services Organization, End-user Computing specializing in VMware Horizon Suite product-line and vRealize products such as vROps, and Log Insight Manager. Jeremy has over 18 years of experience in the IT industry. In addition to his past experience, Jeremy has a passion for technology and thrives on educating customers. Jeremy has 7 years of hands-¬‐on virtualization experience deploying full-life cycle solutions using VMware, CITRIX, and Hyper-V. Jeremy also has 16 years of experience in computer programming in various languages ranging from basic scripting to C, C++, PERL, .NET, SQL, and PowerShell.

Jeremy Wheeler has received acclaim from several clients for his in-¬‐depth and varied technical experience and exceptional hands-on customer satisfaction skills. In February 2013, Jeremy also received VMware’s Spotlight award for his outstanding persistence and dedication to customers and was nominated again in October of 2013

VMware Certificate Authority, Part 3: My Favorite New Feature of vSphere 6.0 – The New!

jonathanm-profileBy Jonathan McDonald

In the last blog, I left off right after the architecture discussion. To be honest, this was not because I wanted to but more because I couldn’t say anything more about it at the time. As of September 10, vSphere 6.0 Update 1 has been released with some fantastic new features in this area that make the configuration of customized certificates even easier. At this point what is shown is a tech preview, however it shows the direction that the development is headed in the future. It is amazing when things just work out and with a little bit of love, an incredibly complex area becomes much easier.

In this release, there is a UI that has been released for configuration of the Platform Services Controller. This new interface can be accessed by navigating to:

https://psc.domain.com/psc

When you first navigate here, a first time setup screen may be shown:

JMcDonald 1

To set up the configuration, login with a Single Sign-On administrator account, and the actual setup will run and be complete in short order. Subsequently when you login, the screen is plain and similar to the login of the vSphere Web Client:

JMcDonald 2
After login, the interface appears as follows:

JMcDonald 3

As you can see, it provides a ton of new and great functionality, including a GUI for installation of certificates! I will not be talking about the other features except to say there is some pretty fantastic content in there, including the single sign-on configuration, as well as appliance-specific configurations. I only expect this to grow in the future, but it is definitely amazing for a first start.

Let’s dig in to the certificate stuff.

Certificate Store

When navigating to the Certificate Store link, it allows you to see all of the different certificate stores that exist on the VMware Certificate Authority System:

JMcDonald 4This gives the option to view the details of all the different stores that are on the system, as well as view details, and add or remove entry details of each of the entries available:

JMcDonald 5
This is very useful when troubleshooting a configuration or for auditing/validating the different certificates that are trusted on the system.

Certificate Authority

Next up: the Certificate Authority option, which shows a view similar to the following:

JMcDonald 6

This area shows the Active, Revoked, Expired and Root Certificate for the VMware Certificate Authority. It also provides the option to be able to show details of each certificate for auditing or review purposes:

JMcDonald 7

In addition to providing a review, the Root Certificate Tab also allows the additional functionality of replacing the root certificate:

JMcDonald 8

When you go here to do just that, you are prompted to input the new Certificate and Private Key:

JMcDonald 9

Once processed the new certificate will show up in the list.

Certificate Management

Finally, and by far the most complex, is the Certificate Management screen. When you first click this, you will need to enter the single sign-on credentials for the server you want to connect to. In this case, it is to the local Platform Services Controller:

JMcDonald 10

Once logged in the interface looks as follows:

JMcDonald 11

Don’t worry, however, the user or server is not a one-time thing and can be changed by clicking the logout button. This interface allows the Machine Certificates and Solution User Certificates to be viewed, renewed and changed as appropriate.

If the renew button is clicked the certificate will be renewed from VMware Certificate Authority.JMcDonald 12

Once complete the following message is presented:

JMcDonald Renewal

If the certificate is to be replaced it is similar to the process of replacing the root certificate:

JMcDonald Root

Remember that the root certificate must be valid or replaced first or the installation will fail. Finally, the last screenshot I will show is the Solution Users Screen:

JMcDonald Solutions

The notable difference here is that there is a Renew All button, which will allow for all the solution user certificates to be changed.

This new interface for certificates is the start of something amazing, and I can’t wait to see the continued development in the future. Although it is still a tech preview, from my own testing it seems to work very well. Of course my environment is a pretty clean one with little environmental complexity which can sometimes show some unexpected results.

For further details on the exact steps you should take to replace the certificates (including all of the command line steps, which are still available as per my last blog) see, Replacing default certificates with CA signed SSL certificates in vSphere 6.0 (2111219).

I hope this blog series has been useful to you – it is definitely something I am passionate about so I can write about it for hours! I will be writing next about my experiences at VMworld and hopefully to help address the most common concerns I heard from customers while there.


Jonathan McDonald is a Technical Solutions Architect for the Professional Services Engineering team. He currently specializes in developing architecture designs for core Virtualization, and Software-Defined Storage, as well as providing best practices for upgrading and health checks for vSphere environments

 

VMware App Volumes Multi-vCenter and Multi-Site Deployments

By Dale Carter

With the release of VMware App Volumes 2.9 comes one of the most requested features so far: multi-vCenter support. With multi-vCenter support it is now possible to manage virtual desktops and AppStacks from multiple vCenter instances within the same App Volume Manager.

The following graphic shows how this works:

DCarter App Volumes

With this new feature App Volumes can now be used to support the Horizon Block and Pod architecture with just one App Volumes manager, or cluster of managers.

Now that we can support multi-vCenters, I started to wonder if this new capability could be leveraged across multiple sites to help support multiple site deployments.

After speaking with the App Volumes Product Manager, I am happy to confirm that, “Yes,” you can use this new feature to support multi-site deployments – as long as you are using the supported SQL database.

The architecture for this type of deployment would look like this:

DCarter App Volumes 2

 

I would recommend that App Volumes Managers at each site be clustered. Read the following blog to learn how to cluster App Volumes Managers: http://blogs.vmware.com/consulting/2015/02/vmware-appvolumes-f5.html

Although 2.9 is just a point release, this is one of the biggest features added so far for multi-vCenter support.

To add a second―or more―vCenter instance to App Volumes, follow these simple steps:

  1. Login to the App Volumes Manager
  2. Select Configuration, then Machine Manager, and then click Add Machine Manager
    DCarter App Volumes 3
  3. Enter the vCenter information and click Save.
    DCarter App Volumes 4
  4. Follow these steps for each vCenter instance you want to add.

Dale is a Senior Solutions Architect and member of the CTO Ambassadors. Dale focuses in the End User Compute space, where Dale has become a subject matter expert in a number of the VMware products. Dale has more than 20 years experience working in IT having started his career in Northern England before moving the Spain and finally the USA. Dale currently hold a number of certifications including VCP-DV, VCP-DT, VCAP-DTD and VCAP-DTA.

For updates you can follow Dale on twitter @vDelboy

SDDC is the Future

Michael_Francis

 

 

By Michael Francis

 

VMware’s Transformative Growth

Over the last eight years at VMware I have observed so much change, and in my mind it has been transformative change. I think about my 20 years in IT and the changes I have seen, and feel the emergence of virtualization of x86 hardware will be looked upon as one of the most important catalysts for change in information technology history. It has modified the speed of service delivery, the cost of that delivery and subsequently has enabled innovative business models for computing – such as cloud computing.

I have been part of the transformation of our company in these eight years; we’ve grown from being a single-product infrastructure company to what we are today – an application platform company. Virtualization of compute is now mainstream. We have broadened virtualization to storage and networking, bringing the benefits realized for compute to these new areas. I don’t believe this is incremental value or evolutionary. I think this broader virtualization―coupled with intelligent, business policy-aware management systems―will be so disruptive to the industry that it will be considered a separate milestone potentially, on par with x86 virtualization.

Where We Are Now

Here is why I think the SDDC is significant:

  • The software-defined data center (SDDC) brings balance back to the ongoing discussion between the use of public and private computing.
  • It enables the attributes of agility, reduced operational and capital costs, lower security risk, and a new of stack management visibility.
  • SDDC not only modifies the operational and consumption model for computing infrastructure, but it also modifies the way computing infrastructure is designed and built.
  • Infrastructure is now a combination of software and configuration. It can be programmatically generated based on a specification; hyper-converged infrastructure is one example of this.

As a principal architect in VMware’s team responsible for the generation of tools and intellectual property that can assist our Professional Services and Partners to deliver VMware SDDC solutions, the last point is especially interesting and the one I want to spend some time on.

How We Started

As an infrastructure-focused project resource and lead over the past two decades, I have become very familiar developing design documents and ‘as-built’ documentation. I remember rolling out Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 in 1996 on CDs. There was a guide that showed me what to click and in what order to do certain steps. There was a lot of manual effort, opportunity for human error, inconsistencies between builds, and a lot of potential for the built item to vary significantly from the design specification.

Later, in 2000, I was a technical lead for a systems integrator; we had standard design document templates and ‘as-built’ document templates, and consistency and standardization had become very important. A few of us worked heavily with VBScript, and we started scripting the creation of Active Directory configurations such as Sites and Services definitions, OU structures and the like. We dreamed of the day when we could do a design diagram, click ‘build’, and have scripts build what was in the specification. But we couldn’t get there. The amount of work to develop the scripts, maintain them, and modify them as elements changed was too great. That was when we focused on the operating stack and a single vendor’s back office suite; imagine trying to automate a heterogeneous infrastructure platform.

It’s All About Automated Design

Today we have the ability to leverage the SDDC as an application programming interface (API) that abstracts not only the hardware elements below and can automate the application stack above― but can abstract the APIs of ecosystem partners.

This means I can write to one API to instantiate a system of elements from many vendors at all different layers of the stack, all based on a design specification.

Our dream in the year 2000 is something customers can achieve in their data centers with SDDC today. To be clear – I am not referring to just configuring the services offered by the SDDC to support an application, but also to standing up the SDDC itself. The reality is, we can now have a hyper-converged deployment experience where the playbook of the deployment is driven by a consultant-developed design specification.

For instance, our partners and our professional services organization has access to what we refer to as the SDDC Deployment Tool (an imaginative name, I know) (or SDT for short). This tool can automate the deployment and configuration of all the components that make up the software-defined data center. The following screenshot illustrates this:

MFrancis1

 

Today this tool deploys the SDDC elements in a single use case configuration.

In VMware’s Professional Services Engineering group we have created a design specification for an SDDC platform. It is modular and completely instantiated in software. Our Professional Services Consultants and Partners can use this intellectual property to design and build the SDDC.

What Comes Next?

I believe our next step is to architect our solution design artifacts so the SDDC itself can be described in a format that allows software―like SDT―to automatically provision and configure the hardware platform, the SDDC software fabric, and the services of the SDDC to the point where it is ready for consumption.

A consultant could design the specification of the SDDC infrastructure layer and have that design deployed in a similar way to hyper-converged infrastructure―but allowing the customer to choose the hardware platform.

As I mentioned at the beginning, the SDDC is not just about technology, consumption and operations: it provides the basis for a transformation in delivery. To me a good analogy right now is the 3D printer. The SDDC itself is like the plastic that can be molded into anything; the 3D printer is the SDDC deployment tool, and our service kits would represent the electronic blueprint the printer reads to then build up the layers of the SDDC solution for delivery.

This will create better and more predictable outcomes and also greater efficiency in delivering the SDDC solutions to our customers as we treat our design artifacts as part of the SDDC code.


Michael Francis is a Principal Systems Engineer at VMware, based in Brisbane.

App Volumes AppStack Creation

Dale CarterBy Dale Carter, Senior Solutions Architect, End-User Computing

VMware App Volumes provide just-in-time application delivery to virtualized desktop environments. With this real-time application delivery system, applications are delivered to virtual desktops through VMDK virtual disks, without modifying the VM or applications themselves. Applications can be scaled out with superior performance, at lower costs, and without compromising end-user experience.

In this blog post I will show you how easy it is to create a VMware App Volumes AppStack and how that AppStack can then be easily deployed to up to hundreds of users

When configuring App Volumes with VMware Horizon View an App Volumes AppStack is a read-only VMDK file that is added to a user’s virtual machine, and then the App Volumes Agent merges the two or more VMDK files so the Microsoft Windows operating system sees the files as just one drive. This way the applications look to the Windows OS as if they are natively installed and not on a separate disk.

To create an App Volumes AppStack follow these simple steps.

  1. Log in to the App Volumes Manager Web interface.
  2. Click Volumes.
    DCarter Volumes
  3. Click Create AppStack.
    DCarter AppStack
  4. Give the AppStack a name. Choose the storage location and give it a description (optional). Then click Create.
    DCarter Create AppStack
  5. Choose to either Perform in the background or Wait for completion and click Create.
    DCarter Create
  6. vCenter will now create a new VMDK for the AppStack to use.
  7. Once vCenter finishes creating the VMDK the AppStack will show up as Un-provisioned. Click the + sign.
    DCarter
  8. Click Provision
    .
    DCarter Provision
  9. Search for the desktop that will be used to install the software. Select the Desktop and click Provision.
    DCarter Provision AppStack
  10. Click Start Provisioning.
    DCarter Start Provisioning
  11.  vCenter will now attach the VMDK to the desktop.
  12. Open the desktop that will be used for provisioning the new software. You will see the following message: DO NOT click OK. You will click OK after the install of the software.
    DCarter Provisioning Mode
  13. Install the software on the desktop. This can be just one application or a number of applications. If reboots are required between installs that is OK. App Volumes will remember where you are after the install.
  14. Once all of the software has been installed click OK.
    DCarter Install
  15. Click Yes to confirm and reboot.
    DCarter Reboot
  16. Click OK.
    DCarter 2
  17. The desktop will now reboot. After the reboot you must log back in to the desktop.
  18. After you log in you must click OK. This will reconfigure the VMDK on the desktop.
    DCarter Provisioning Successful
  19. You can now connect to the App Volumes Manager Web interface and see that the AppStack is ready to be assigned.
    DCarter App Volumes Manager

Once you have created the AppStack you can assign the AppStack to an Active Directory object. This could be a user, computer or user group.

To assign an AppStack to a user, computer or user group, follow these simple steps.

  1. Log in to the App Volumes Manager Web interface.
  2. Click Volumes.
    DCarter Volumes Dashboard
  3. Click the + sign by the AppStack you want to assign.
  4. Click Assign.
    DCarter Assign
  5. Search for the Active Director object. Select the user, computer, OU or user group to assign the AppStack to. Click Assign.
    DCarter Assign Dashboard
  6. Choose either to assign the AppStack at the next login or immediately, and click Assign.
    DCarter Active Director
  7. The users will now have the AppStack assigned to them and will be able to launch the applications as they would any normal application.
    DCarter AppStack Assign

By following these simple steps you will be able to quickly create an AppStack and simply deploy that AppStack to your users.


Dale is a Senior Solutions Architect and member of the CTO Ambassadors. Dale focuses in the End User Compute space, where Dale has become a subject matter expert in a number of the VMware products. Dale has more than 20 years experience working in IT having started his career in Northern England before moving the Spain and finally the USA. Dale currently hold a number of certifications including VCP-DV, VCP-DT, VCAP-DTD and VCAP-DTA.

For updates you can follow Dale on twitter @vDelboy

Celebrating Eight Years at VMware

Andrea SivieroBy Andrea Siviero, VMware Senior Solutions Architect

How fascinating!

When you are having fun, you don’t realize how fast time passes by. This has never been truer than for the eight years I have spent at VMware. On the personal side, I have gained two children, changed couple of houses, lost 20 kg and found a new passion for running. On the professional side, I’ve changed roles, from a pre-sales system engineer of the “Virtualization 1.0 Era” to an architect of “What’s Next.”

VMware acknowledges every four years of service with an award. When I celebrated four years, the award was a VASA sculpture comprising these three cubes, recalling the old-style VMware logo:

ASiviero1

VMware 4 Years Award

(To read more about the VASA sculptures and how Diane Green got the idea, click here.)

At eight years, it was a brand new kind of VASA sculpture. There are no cubes anymore, but the design still recalls them in colors and shapes taken from different perspectives.  Moreover, the small squares inside the sculpture are actually eight, like the number of years of the award. An incrementally evolved idea, isn’t it? After all, that’s the essence of VMware.

ASiviero2

VMware Eight Years Award: I was so pleased! 

Then: the Virtualization 1.0 Era and the “Compute Plant”

Of course, more has changed over the past eight years at VMware than just the awards. Eight years ago—in the “Virtualization 1.0 Era”—one of the biggest customer challenges was data center resource optimization and cost savings in the face of an increasing number of separated components needed for evolved applications architecture (i.e. Service Oriented Architecture) and x86 power unrelentingly following the Moore’s law.

ASiviero3

VMware, with x86 virtualization, began to solve the problem by decoupling the hardware from the operating system and applications in a simple and disruptive approach that promised to deliver immense benefits.

ASiviero4

Historical picture from 2007 EMEA TSX

There were three basic ways customers approached virtualization at this time, which led to vastly different outcomes:

–        Reluctant to change: These customers were informed on new IT trends but, not considering virtualization a serious alternative for production environment, they continued to allocate dedicated hardware for each new project, with IT budget demands increasing year-over-year without real business benefits.

–        Taking a tactical approach: These customers invested in virtualization using a project-specific approach to virtual infrastructure, creating different non-standardized silos with sprawling of virtual machines.

–        Making strategic moves to a shared virtual infrastructure:  These customers took a big-picture view, aggregating budgets from multiple projects to build a shared virtual infrastructure that allowed easy redistribution of compute resources while maintaining high levels of governance, increasing availability and agility, and lowering costs.

Slide1

2008 Customer Virtualization adoption strategies

Over the years, VMware introduced new approaches to managing virtual infrastructure, transforming it into a “Compute Plant” where customers could dynamically manage resources. This introduced agility, automation and governance.

ASiviero7

Figure 5 2008 VMware Historical picture: vSphere as a “Compute Plan”

Now: Transforming the Ways IT Provides Services

Now, in the mobile/cloud era, VMware has continued to be the catalyst for the evolution of IT, building disruptive advantages for managing, automating and orchestrating computing, networking, storage and security. This has transformed IT into a provider of services that can be delivered on-premise, off-premise and in a hybrid combination of the two.

ASiviero8

VMware vRealize Suite

What about customer approaches of today? IT goals haven’t changed much over the years, and neither have the three types of organizational approaches to new technologies:

–        Reactive – With IT exhausting resources to maintain existing systems, they’re challenged to support future business results. The need for rapid innovation has driven users outside of traditional IT channels. As a result, cloud has entered the business opportunistically, threatening to create silos of activities that cannot satisfy mandates for security, risk management and compliance.

–        Proactive – IT has moved to embrace cloud as a model for achieving innovation through increased efficiency, reliability and agility. Shifts in processes and organizational responsibilities attempt to bring structure to cloud decisions and directions. More importantly, IT has embraced a new role: that of a service broker. IT is now able to leverage external providers to deliver rapid innovation within the governance structure of IT, balancing costs, risks and services levels.

–        Innovative – IT has fully implemented cloud computing as the model for producing and consuming computing, shifting legacy systems to a more flexible infrastructure. They’ve invested in automation and policy-based management for greater efficiency and reliability, enabling a broad range of stakeholders to consume IT services via self-service. They’ve also detailed measurement capabilities that quantify the financial impact of sourcing decisions, allowing them to redirect resources and drive new services and capabilities that advance business goals.

Moving Beyond a Reactive State of IT

At every stage of the virtualization evolution, there have been strategic, early adopters and those who take a “wait and see” attitude. But as workloads and end-users become more demanding, even the most reticent IT departments will need to shift away from a reactive environment, taking steps to redefine the way that it operates and the technology it leverages for its foundation. I believe in the near future enterprise customers to move beyond a “reactive state” will have to:

  • Continue to invest in private cloud to build the foundation for an efficient, agile, reliable infrastructure
  • Identify processes that can be automated, Involving our technology consulting services to create, expand or optimize their environments while gaining hands-on knowledge for their teams
  • Establish a self-service environment to deliver IT services to stakeholders on-demand across every Business Units.
  • Begin to identify the true costs of IT services.
  • Embrace third-party providers as a source of innovation.

Get ready for more bumps and fun

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” C. Darwin

Evolution of any kind doesn’t happen without bumps and fun. We live and work in a constantly changing landscape, and with VMware we have opportunities every day to influence and be part of the exciting changes that are taking place today and shaping the IT of tomorrow.

Which is what makes it all so fascinating.

See more at: http://www.vmware.com/products/vrealize-business/


Andrea Siviero is an eight-year veteran of VMware and a senior solutions architect member of Professional Services Engineering (PSE) for the Software-Defined Datacenter (SDDC), a part of the Global Technical Solutions (GTS) team. Prior to PSE, Andrea spent three years as pre-sales system engineer and three years as a post-sales consultant architect for cloud computing and desktop virtualization solutions focusing on very large and complex deployments, especially for service providers in the finance and telco sectors.

Analyzing Virtual Desktop Login Time

By Gourav Bhardwaj with Matt Larson

GouravMatt LarsonOften when performing health checks a discussion arises about the login time and what constitutes login time. This article covers some of the common ways to look at login time and its underlying components.  You can look at login time using vCOps for View or a third-party user experience monitoring solution. In this example the login time is demonstrated using Stratusphere™ UX. Experienced system administrators can also use this process to troubleshoot slow login times.

 

 

Review Virtual Desktop login times using Stratusphere UX™

  1. First, ensure you are in the Stratusphere UX Interface.
    Stratusphere UX screen 1
  2. On the Inspector tab, choose Machine Diagnostic Summary, and then click Go.
    Stratusphere UX screen 2
  3. In the Date Range drop-down menu, select Last 24 Hours.Stratusphere UX screen 3
  4. In the results list, sort by Login Delay.Stratusphere UX screen 4
  5. Click the down-arrow next to the name of the machine. Click Drill-down to see machine inspection history.
    Stratusphere UX screen 5
  6. Select the down-arrow next to the hour that contains the slow login time. Click Drill-down to see inspection report details.
    Stratusphere UX screen 6

A lot of information will be provided, including the username of the user experiencing the issues, as well as information regarding processes. One important piece of information used to find what may be causing the slow logins is the CPU System Time(s) field. The graphic below shows VMWVvpsvc running long. This metric indicates some login slowness resulting from the profile being copied from the profile location using VMware’s persona management. This may be the result of a file server being in a location local to the user, but not local to the View environment.

Stratusphere UX screen 7

This information is helpful, as it says that the VMWVvpsvc was running for 94 seconds. We can assume this is mostly during login, but that only accounts for 94 seconds of a 351 second login delay. Clearly, more information is necessary. While turning to logs can be helpful (such as persona management, the system event log, the application event log, and various View and PCoIP logs), they can be time consuming to review, and often the information these logs provide is insufficient.

Using the Windows Performance Toolkit
The Windows Performance Toolkit is a set of tools provided in the Windows SDKs for both Windows 7 and Windows 8. It consists of two high level toolsets: A toolset to gather information, and a toolset to analyze information. Once users and systems have been found to have slow login times, the toolsets provided with the Windows Performance Toolkit can be employed to further ascertain what exactly is causing the slow logins.

Installation
This section details the installation process to get the tools on the system that is experiencing slow login times. This process assumes the use of the Windows 7 SDK. Below are the steps:

  1. Remove Visual C# 2010 – this may or may not be necessary. If the C# version of the vSphere Client is installed on the workstation, then that existing installation of Visual C# 2010 will need to be removed. Not to worry, the SDK puts C# back on there, and there is no impact to the vSphere client or other applications that may use Visual C# 2010.
  2. Install the Windows 7 SDK – this can be done HERE. Launch the winsdk_web.exe file and ensure that at least the Windows Performance Toolkit is selected, and then click Next. Once the installation has completed, move on to the next step.Windows SDK screenNote: In order to analyze Windows crash dumps (AKA BSOD) I keep the Debugging Tools for Windows installed as well.
  3. Install .NET 4.0 – this can be done from HERE. Again, this depends upon whether or not it is installed on the workstation in question.

This completes the installation. The installation can be verified by confirming that the program group exists on the Start Menu, or navigating to the installation directory, which defaults to C:\Program Files\Microsoft Windows Performance Toolkit, and confirm the existence of xbootmgr.exe and xperf.exe as seen in the images below.

Windows Screen 2Windows Screen 3

Using XPERF
The process to use XPERF to gather information regarding slow logins is as follows:

  1. Enable fast user switching in the registry or GPO.
  2. Create a local user account named Test, and add to the local administrators group. (Using an administrative user that is not the problematic user will also work.)
  3. From the console of the problematic workstation, log in as the user with administrative privileges.
  4. Launch a command line with elevated privileges, and navigate to C:\Program Files\Microsoft Windows Performance Toolkit.
  5. Launch the XPERF command:
    1. XPERF Command: xperf -on base+latency+dispatcher+NetworkTrace+Registry+FileIO -stackWalk CSwitch+ReadyThread+ThreadCreate+Profile -BufferSize 128 -start UserTrace -on “Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Core+Microsoft-Windows-Wininit+Microsoft-Windows-Folder Redirection+Microsoft-Windows-User Profiles Service+Microsoft-Windows-GroupPolicy+Microsoft-Windows-Winlogon+Microsoft-Windows-Security-Kerberos+Microsoft-Windows-User Profiles General+e5ba83f6-07d0-46b1-8bc7-7e669a1d31dc+63b530f8-29c9-4880-a5b4-b8179096e7b8+2f07e2ee-15db-40f1-90ef-9d7ba282188a” -BufferSize 1024 -MinBuffers 64 -MaxBuffers 128 -MaxFile 1024
  6. Using fast user switching, switch users, and login as the problematic user.
    1. Once the login has completed, stop the trace using the following command:
      xperf -stop UserTrace -d merged.etl
  7. Gather the merged.etl trace file for analysis.

Using XBOOTMGR
In some cases, it may not be possible to switch users using fast user switching. In many cases, it may be easier to have the user run XBOOTMGR. This tool, when run, reboots the system and tracks both the startup time and the login time. The analysis ends after a set period of time. Gather an XBOOTMGR analysis by performing the following:

  1. Launch a command line with elevated privileges, and navigate to C:\Program Files\Microsoft Windows Performance Toolkit.
  2. Run the following command:
    1. XBOOTMGR Command: xbootmgr -trace boot -traceflags base+latency+dispatcher -stackwalk profile+cswitch+readythread -notraceflagsinfilename -postbootdelay 120
  3. The system will prompt that it is being rebooted. Allow the reboot to occur.
  4. When the VM is started, have the user connect to the View desktop using the View client.
  5. When the user logs in, XBOOTMGR will present the user with a countdown of 120 seconds. Allow XBOOTMGR to collect data.
  6. Once complete, gather the *.etl trace file for analysis. It may take some time to merge the file.

Analysis
The trace file has been created, and now it is time to analyze the results. The analysis toolset available in the Windows 7 Performance Toolkit is slightly different than what is available in the Windows 8 Performance Toolkit.

Performance Analyzer from Windows 7 Performance Toolkit

Open with Performance Analyzer (From the Windows 7 Performance Toolkit)
Windows Performance Analyzer
The graph below shows the processes occurring during the Winlogon Init process. It is easy to see that VMWVvpsvc is running for approximately two minutes.
Windows Performance Analyzer Screen 1

By right clicking on the graph, one can Overlay Graphs from other categories. This graph shows the Winlogon process, as well as the overlay graphs for Boot Phases and CPU Usage. This can be helpful to see which boot phase the processes are running. Additionally, the CPU graph will show whether the process is running long because it has maxed out the available CPU capacity.
Windows Performance Analyzer Screen 2

These overlays can be tweaked by selecting the CheckPoints box in the top right corner of the graph.

CheckPoints Dialog
Windows Performance Analyzer from Windows 8 Performance Toolkit

Open with Performance Analyzer (From the Windows 8 Performance Toolkit).  The icon is shown below:

Windows8

Windows Screen

When looking at the same trace file as before, the graphs show that VMWVvpsvc was running for over 2 minutes. Moving the user files closer (from a network perspective) to the View desktop will help reduce the login time.

References
http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/10128.tools-for-troubleshooting-slow-boots-and-slow-logons-sbsl.aspx

http://www.liquidwarelabs.com/products/stratusphere-ux


Gourav Bhardwaj is a VMware consulting architect who has created virtualized infrastructure designs across various verticals. He has assisted IT organizations of various Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 companies, by creating designs and providing implementation oversight. His experience includes system architecture, analysis, solution design and implementation.

Matt Larson is an experienced, independent VMware consultant working in design, implementation and operation of VMware technologies. His interests lie in enterprise architecture related to datacenter and end user computing.

Look Mom, No Mouse! (Automating the Management of the Management Portal)

By Andrea Siviero, VMware Senior Solutions Architect

Andrea Siviero

The concept of a Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) has impressed me since the first time I deployed it.

vRealize Automation’s purpose-built infrastructure and application service delivery capabilities combined with its Advanced Service Designer and library of vCenter Orchestrator plugins and workflows make automating almost anything as a service relatively easy.

During my work consulting for enterprise-level customers, I’m frequently exposed to new challenges. One customer engagement inspired my fantasy: how to automate the management of the management portal. This looks like a tongue-twister joke, but actually is an interesting question.

SDDC Service Catalog

As soon as you start exploring this sweet idea you find yourself with a REST client opened to interact with your SDDC using APIs, and you can do almost anything!

REST Client

However, there is some downside to this approach, which I would like to simplify with a simple phrase: IT Admins don’t “naturally” talk API. 🙂

Not long ago, I was sitting in a VMware CTO Ambassador session, and suddenly a bright light appeared in front of my eyes: The CloudClient.

Cloud Client

CloudClient is a plugin based architecture with a “command line interface” for traditional provisioning and day two operation support, eliminating the challenges of dealing with SSO / CAFE API and no need to speak JSON (unless you want to).

Providing higher-level “verbs” instead of dealing with myriad of JSON / URIs, makes my job supporting customers a little easier and allows a centralized point to talk not only with vRealize Automation but with the other SDDC components like vCenter Orchestrator/Site Recovery Manager and Application Director.

Moreover, CloudClient provides a Java SDK so it can be easily integrated within a third-party solution, without slowing down the SDDC adoption in the stellar complexity of an enterprise customer.

For instance, you can browse catalog items like in the picture below and request them by simply saying “vcac catalog list.” More interestingly, with the admin account, you can create a new tenant — and adding items to the catalog as easy as chatting with your SDDC.

Cloud Client Catalog View

A Fool With a Tool is Still a Fool

Getting a tool for doing a project is the beginning, not the end, of your journey. Any time a discussion goes toward tools, any tools really, it’s a good idea to challenge the tool itself.

What I mean is that solutions, not tools, help you achieve your business needs,. It’s important to have the right team in place to develop solutions, which will ensure you implement the right tools for your needs.


Andrea Siviero is an eight-year veteran of VMware and a senior solutions architect member of Professional Services Engineering (PSE) for the Software-Defined Datacenter (SDDC), a part of the Global Technical Solutions (GTS) team. Prior to PSE, Andrea spent three years as pre-sales system engineer and three years as a post-sales consultant architect for cloud computing and desktop virtualization solutions focusing on very large and complex deployments, especially for service providers in the finance and telco sectors. 

Success Factors for Deploying EUC

By Ken Copas

Ken Copas

Building out an end-user computing (EUC) environment right means the infrastructure is nearly invisible to end users. But as with anything that appears easy and elegant on its surface, there are quite a few complexities underneath the hood.

While there are many factors to consider, here are a few questions to ask before building out your EUC environment.

Is the Tail Wagging the Dog?

This scenario happens very frequently: The supporting infrastructure is purchased and implemented before a plan and design is performed to determine the appropriate hardware requirements. Best practice is to understand what you’re trying to accomplish from a business perspective first, architect the required supporting infrastructure and design the blueprint with professional services, and then purchase and implement the gear.

Take that same concept and apply it to a proof-of-concept (POC) environment, whether it’s the full Horizon Suite or individual View, Workspace (our unified application publishing platform), or Mirage (our physical and virtual image management solution) components. While it can be fast and easy to install and set up a working POC of these VMware products, this temporary environment is only for the purpose of “kicking the tires.” These POC environments should never be exposed to production users and expected to perform and scale appropriately in a production environment. To use VMware products correctly, again there needs to be a plan and design in place, which requires a great deal of up-front assessment, current environment analysis, and due diligence around your business use cases.

You’ll need absolute subject matter expertise to determine what storage to use (by the way, getting storage right is a key success factor), what’s the aggregate I/O throughput, CPU and memory requirements–all of these decisions play a huge part in how the production environment will perform and scale.

Why Not Pick and Choose?

Here’s a good one: what would happen if you only deployed VDI with Horizon View (our virtual desktop solution) without Horizon Workspace or Mirage?

While in addition to your standard production VDI environment, you would have the capability to run full desktop OS images on a variety of mobile devices such as laptops, tablets or even smartphones, users will most likely encounter issues with screen real estate and experience interface frustrations with mouse and keyboard options.

As I’m sure you are aware, the desktop OS itself can require significant compute, memory, and disk resources that can cause performance issues when using VDI on mobile devices. There are many other factors that can cause performance degradation as well. Adding Horizon Workspace to your EUC environment may give you access to applications in an environment that’s native to your device with improved response time and it can provide an overall better user experience.

How you address questions like these will have a profound impact on user satisfaction with your EUC environment, which at the end of the day is ultimately the key measure of success. So again, be sure to allow the time and attention required for proper plan and design.

What’s your Roadmap?

This is a great question. VMware has a unique holistic view of this space, as well as a comprehensive roadmap, which I have yet to see from any other company. The completeness of vision, in my mind, is huge for customers to consider as they think through potential EUC solutions.

Even if you don’t go with VMware, you need to understand where your vendors are taking you. How does their roadmap address your needs? Look at where that vendor is going to be in two to three years and make sure you fully understand how that company will help you get where you want to go.

Who are your people?

One last piece of the equation is something you shouldn’t take for granted: talent. Standing up an EUC solution incorrectly can mean longer project timetables, missed deadlines, frustrated users, and business disruption. This technology has its own set of potential pitfalls and nuances. Make sure you have genuine subject matter expertise in place, whether in-house or professional services sourced from your trusted advisors.


Ken Copas currently serves as a practice manager for End User Computing Professional Services at VMware. Prior to joining VMware, Ken’s corporate experience includes serving as the practice director of cloud computing and IT services management for GlassHouse Technologies, as a business development executive for IBM and as an IT executive for NetJets, Inc. Ken holds a degree in Computer & Information Science from the College of Engineering at The Ohio State University, as well as a Master’s in Business Administration from the Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University.