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Tag Archives: End User Computing

EUC Design Series: Horizon 7 Strategy for Desktop Evolution to IoT Revolution

TJBy TJ Vatsa


Mobility and end-user computing (EUC) are evolving at a very rapid pace. With the recent announcements made by VMware around Horizon 7 it becomes all the more important to recalibrate and remap the emerging innovation trends to your existing enterprise EUC and application rationalization strategies. For business and IT leaders, burning questions emerge:

  • “What are these EUC innovations leading to, and why should it matter to my organization?”
  • “What is the end-user desktop in the EUC realm evolving into, and are these innovations a precursor to an IoT (Internet of Things) revolution?”
  • “What outcomes might we expect if we were to adopt these innovations in our organizations?”
  • “How do we need to restructure our existing EUC/mobility team to fully leverage the mobility evolution?”

Now there are enough questions to get your creative juices flowing! Let’s dive right in.

The What

Desktop virtualization revolutionized how end-user desktops with their applications and data were securely managed within the guard rails of a secure data center. These were essentially Generation1 (Gen1) desktops that were persistent (AKA full clone) desktops within a virtual machine (VM) container. While the benefit was mainly secure encapsulation within a data center, the downside was cumbersome provisioning with a bloated storage footprint. For instance, if you had one persistent desktop with a 50 GB base image and 100 users, you would be looking at 5,000 GB—or 5 TB—of storage. In an enterprise where we have thousands of users with unique operating system and application requirements, the infrastructure capital expenditures (CAPEX) and the associated operational expenditures (OPEX) would be through the roof.

The preceding scenario was solved by the Generation2 (Gen2) virtual desktops, which were classified as non-persistent (AKA linked clone) desktops. Gen2 desktops relied on a parent base-image (AKA a replica), and the resulting linked clones referenced this replica for all read operations, and had delta disks to store any individual writes. These desktops benefited from faster process automation using a Composer server (AKA desktop provisioning) that generated linked clones referencing a base replica image. This resulted in a significant reduction in the storage footprint and faster desktop provisioning times. This also aided in reducing the CAPEX and OPEX levels incurred in Gen1 desktops. However, the downside of desktop boot-up times was still not fully resolved because they are dependent on the storage media being used. Boot-up times were faster with flash storage and comparatively slower with spinning media storage. The OPEX associated with application management was still not fully resolved despite application virtualization technologies offered by various vendors. It still required management of multiple patches for desktop images and applications.

The panacea offered by the new Horizon 7 has accelerated the virtual desktop evolution to Generation3 (Gen3) desktops. Evolution to Gen3 results in just-in-time desktops and application stack delivery. This means you only have to patch the desktop once, clone it with its running state, and dynamically attach the application stack using VMware’s App Volumes. Gen3 virtual desktops from VMware have the benefits of Gen2 desktops, but without the operational overhead, resulting in reduced CAPEX and OPEX. Here is an infographic detailing the evolution:

TVatsa_Clone Desktop VM

Gen3 desktops pave the way for a Generation4+ (Gen4+) mobility platform that leverages VMware’s Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) platform and the EUC platform into Workspace ONE, capable of tapping into all of the possibilities of mobility-enabled IoT solutions. The potential generated by these solutions is capable of being tapped across various vertical industries—healthcare, financial, retail, education, manufacturing, government and consumer packaged goods—creating an IoT revolution in days to come.

The Why

The innovations listed in the preceding section have the potential of transforming an enterprise’s business, IT and financial outcomes. The metrics to quantify these outcomes are best measured in the resulting CAPEX and OPEX reductions. The reduction in these expenditures not only fosters business agility as in accelerated M&A, but also enhances an organization’s workforce efficiency. The proof is in the pudding. Here is a sample snapshot of the outcomes from a healthcare customer:

TVatsa_Healthcare Customer Diagram

The How

While the mobility evolution and its leap to an IoT revolution is imminent with the promise of anticipated outcomes as mentioned earlier, the question still lingers: How do you align the roles within your organization to ride the wave of mobility transformation?

Here is a sample representation of the recommended roles for an enterprise mobility center of excellence (COE):


Here is the description of field recommendations in terms of mandatory and recommended roles for an enterprise EUC/mobility transformation:

TVatsa_Proposed Org Roles


Given the rate at which enterprise mobility is evolving towards IoT, it is only a matter of time when every facet of our lives, from our work to home environments, will be fully transformed by this tectonic mobility driven IoT transformation. VMware’s mobility product portfolio, in combination with VMware’s experienced Professional Services Organization (PSO), can help you transform your enterprise onward in this revolutionary journey. VMware is ever-ready to be your trusted partner in this “DARE” endeavor. Until next time, go VMware!

TJ Vatsa is a principal architect and member of CTO Ambassadors at VMware representing the Professional Services organization. He has worked at VMware for more than five years and has more than 20 years of experience in the IT industry. During this time he has focused on enterprise architecture and applied his extensive experience in professional services and R&D to cloud computing, VDI infrastructure, SOA architecture planning and implementation, functional/solution architecture, enterprise data services and technical project management.

VMware User Environment Manager 9.0 – What’s New

Dale CarterBy Dale Carter

Earlier this month VMware released a new version of User Environment Manager that brings some new and exciting features, not only to User Environment Manager, but also to the Horizon Suite. To learn about the new features in Horizon 7 you can see my blog here.

Here, I would like to highlight the new main features of VMware User Environment Manager 9.0

Smart Policies

The new Smart Policies offer more granular control of what users can do when they connect to their virtual desktop or applications. With the first release of Smart Policies you will be able to manage these capabilities based on the following conditions:

  • Horizon Conditions
    • View Client Info (IP and name)
    • Endpoint location (Internal/External)
    • Tags
    • Desktop Pool name
  • Horizon Capabilities
    • Clipboard
    • Client drive
    • USB
    • Printing
    • PCoIP bandwidth profiles

For more information on these capabilities, see my more detailed blog here.

It should be noted that to use Smart Policies you will need Horizon 7 View and User Environment Manager 9. You will also need the latest View Agent and Clients installed to take advantage of these new features. Also note that these policies only work with the PCoIP and BLAST Extreme protocols, and not RDP.

Application Authorization (Application Blocking)

This feature gives administrators the ability to white- or black-list applications or folders. In the example below you can see that some applications are allowed and some will be blocked.

Application Blocking

Using this feature with User Environment Managers Conditions will not only give administrators great control over what applications users can use, but also how they can be used. An example would be if a user is on the internal network they have access to company-specific applications; however, if they accessed their desktops from an external network then these applications would not be available.

With a simple check of a box, administrators have a very simple model for enforcing applications that the users are authorized to use, and using conditions in this way could be result in a different set of applications depending on where the user connects from.

Enable Application Blocking

ThinApp Support

When clicking on the DirectFlex tab of an application you will now see the new check box to Enable ThinApp Support for that application.

Enable ThinApp Support

When this is selected you will be able to manage what happens within the ThinApp “bubble” from within User Environment Manager, rather than doing this by setting specific values during the ThinApp capture process, or afterward via a script. This integration generalizes the approach that packagers can take when choosing isolation or encapsulation. It allows them to not have to force the knowledge of each and every configuration during the capture process by setting isolation modes or creating separate packages for different application configurations.

You should also note that you do not need to configure a separate application within User Environment Manager to take advantage of this. If the box is checked the flex agent will notice if the application is natively installed or accessible via ThinApp, and automatically apply the correct settings.

Manage Personal Data

User Environment Manager now has the ability to easily manage personal data. This would include things like My Documents, My Music, My Pictures, etc.

The example below shows how easy this is to configure.

Personal Data Folder Redirection

Office 2016 Support

User Environment Manager 9.0 now supports Office 2016. As you can see from the example below this also includes Skype for Business and OneDrive. Just like with earlier versions these can all be added with the Easy Start button.

File Structure

New User Environment Manager Conditions

As part of the new deep integration with Horizon 7, User Environment Manager has added a number of new conditions that can be pulled from Horizon 7. These include Pool-Name, Tags, and client location – such as internal or external.

Horizon Client Property

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

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

Common VCDX-DTM Questions Answered by a Double VCDX

Travis Wood


By Travis Wood

Last year the VCDX-DTM track was released and Simon Long, Ray Heffer and myself became the first to be certified in this new certification. Since then I have sat on several panels and fielded a lot of questions specific to the desktop certification track, so I wanted to answer some of those frequently asked questions here on how to prepare for this track.

I have a View design, should I submit for VCDX-DCV or VCDX-DTM?

If your design is focused on View and EUC then you will likely be better prepared if you submit for a VCDX-DTM. Whilst you can, and people have in the past, use a View design for DCV, you still need to demonstrate mastery of skills applicable to DCV designs. The criteria for VCDX-DTM is specifically designed to evaluate desktop designs, so this is likely the better option for a View design, and if this is where your core skills are then this will give you better preparation for your defence.

What products are in-scope for VCDX-DTM?

As specified in the VCDX-DTM Blueprint, VCDX-DTM is focused on the VMware Horizon suite to deliver end-user computing solutions. Within this product suite there are a number of products that may be utilized to meet your requirements including Horizon View, Mirage, Identify Manager and vCenter Operations for Horizon. Also vSphere makes up a key component of a desktop virtualization design.

Does the design have to be based on Horizon View?

Whilst the blueprint does not specifically say that Horizon View must be used, it would be extremely difficult if not impossible to cover the required solution areas without it.

Do I need to use ThinApp or AppVolumes?

Application integration is important to a VDI design but may be achieved in different ways depending on your requirements and constraints. These specific products are not required, but you might want to consider how you will demonstrate the application integration that is in your design, and be prepared for questions that may arise in the design or troubleshooting scenarios.

Do I have to use a VMware product for profile management?

Not necessarily – there are many ways to handle profile management and the best solution for your design should be used. But if you do include third-party profile management, do not simply mention it – ensure ALL documentation includes the detail required to design and implement the solution correctly.

Do I need to know about products other than Horizon View?

Even if your design does not use products such as Mirage or AppVolumes, prepare yourself for being presented with business requirements that could be solved using these products – or in other ways. Having a breadth of knowledge of the VMware EUC portfolio will give you greater capability to solve problems presented by the design and troubleshooting scenarios.

Is AirWatch in-scope of VCDX-DTM?

VCDX-DTM is focused on the Horizon Suite, and AirWatch is not a part of Horizon Suite.

Is my design large or complex enough?

There are no specific size or complexity requirements, but the design must be “enterprise-scale.” This is the same requirement that was specified by both DCV and DT; neither size nor complexity at either end of the scale will guarantee success. The panellists are looking for the candidate to demonstrate mastery of the solution areas defined in the blueprint. Choose a design that allows you to do this.

Can I modify my design?

Absolutely! The most valuable advice I got when preparing for my first VCDX is that you can modify your actual design to better demonstrate mastery. This may be adding or removing elements to achieve a better design that will demonstrate your ability to design a solution across all of the solution areas.

Hopefully these answers will help clear up some questions. If you have any further questions please tweet me at @vTravWood.

Travis Wood is a VMware Senior Solutions Architect

New! Making Your Move to the Cloud – Part 2: Best Practices for Building a Migration Plan

In Part 2 of the “Making Your Move to the Cloud” series, Michael Francis and RadhaKrishna (RK) Dasari discuss best practices for building a Cloud migration plan for your organization.migration to cloud

“The primary technological goal of any migration project is to transfer an existing compute resource/application from one environment to another, as quickly, efficiently, and cost effectively as possible. This is especially critical when considering a migration to a public cloud; considerations must include security controls, latency and subsequent performance, operations practices for backup/recovery and others. Though VMware now provides technology in Hybrid Cloud Manager to minimize any downtime or eliminate downtime; these considerations persist. VMware Professional Services often assist customers with assessing their environment and focusing on generating an effective, actionable migration plan to achieve this goal. It adopts the philosophy of spending the time up front in the plan to reduce the time and increase likelihood of success of a subsequent migration project.”

Read the full blog for more information: http://vmw.re/1LhuAQ8 

New! Making Your Move to the Cloud – Part 1: Building a Structured Approach to the Cloud



“If you’re considering moving to the cloud, you no doubt recognize that cloud computing represents the opportunity to minimize overhead and maximize agility so IT can deliver significant value back to the organization. By leveraging a more agile and efficient IT environment that leverages pools of elastic, self-managed virtual infrastructure—consumed as a service at the lowest possible cost—you can innovate more rapidly while maintaining reliability, security and governance for all applications and services under IT control.”

In this new blog post, Michael Francis and RadhaKrishna (RK) Dasari share their approach to the cloud. This four-part weekly series will help continue the discussion about the benefits of the cloud, address challenges, and provide tips and best practices.

Read the full blog here.

App Volumes Writable Volumes Orphaned

JeffSmallBy Jeffrey Davidson

In this blog entry I will talk about App Volumes and how Writable Volumes can become orphaned.

In some cases Writable Volumes can become orphaned as shown below.

JDavidson Writable Volumes 1

This status message can be confusing. The status message makes it seem as if the Writable Volume may be missing, or there is some other issue at hand. However, that may not be the case.

In some cases this orphaned state occurs when the owner user account in Active Directory is disabled, as shown below.

JDavidson Writable Volumes 2

When an account in Active Directory has been assigned an App Volumes—or a Writable Volume is disabled or deleted—the users’ Writable Volume can become orphaned when App Volumes synchronizes with Active Directory. As a result of this process, the status of the Writable Volume changes to orphaned.

Jeffrey Davidson, Senior Consultant, VMware EUC. Jeffrey has over 15 years of IT experience and joined VMware in 2014. He is also a VCP5-DCV and VCP5-DT. He is a strong advocate of virtualization technologies, focusing on operational readiness with customers.


EUC Design Series: Application Rationalization and Workspace Management

TJBy TJ Vatsa


Over the last few years, End User Computing (EUC) and the associated workspace mobility space have emerged to be transformational enterprise initiatives. Today’s workforce expects anytime and anywhere access to their applications, be it enterprise applications or user-installed applications (UIA), and everything in between. These expectations create newer opportunities, as well as newer challenges for the existing processes that are followed by enterprise and application architects. So what are the different facets of these challenges that the architects need to be aware of while analyzing and defining an enterprise application strategy? Let’s dive right in.

The What

Application rationalization is the process of strategizing an available set of corporate applications along the key perspectives of business priority, packaging, delivery, security, management and consumption to achieve a defined business outcome. The tangible artifact(s) The Whatof an application rationalization process is a leaner collection of one or more application catalogs. An application catalog is a logical grouping of application taxonomies based on a user’s roles and responsibilities within an organization, as well as within the enterprise. For instance, a user belonging to the finance department will have access to a department-specific catalog housing financial applications, as well as access to a corporate catalog housing all corporate-issued applications. While a user from the IT department will not need access to key financial applications used by a user from the finance department, they will have access to an IT-specific application catalog that may include applications like infrastructure monitoring. With end-user mobility/computing pervading every aspect of workforce productivity within the enterprise, organizations intend to leverage their existing investments in various application delivery platforms including those from VMware, Citrix, Microsoft and other vendors. The application rationalization process is an enabler of application governance, management and operations leading to minimal applications sprawl within the enterprise.

The Why

Traditionally, managing legacy applications has been a time-consuming and complex process from the perspective of application packaging, provisioning and monitoring. Delivery of such applications has been equally— if not more—complex. Add to that the constraints of application conflicts when it comes to supporting different devices and integration with other App Management 1 App Managementapplications. For instance, the requirement of integrating with the authentication process of an Identity Management (IDM) platform that all mission-critical applications need to support as part of the security directive coming from the Chief Information Security Officer’s (CISO) office.

So, first things first, we need to ask ourselves some of these key questions:

  • What are these applications, and what are the business priorities of these applications?
  • Do all these applications need to adhere to security directives and regulatory compliance directives such as HIPAA, PCI, etc., and if so, how soon?
  • Have the non-adherence risks been assessed, and what are the exceptions?
  • How do we package, provision, deliver, access, maintain, monitor and finally retire these applications?

What this means is that it is very important to make the available application catalog(s) lean in case they have become bulky over a given period of time due to inefficient Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) processes, mergers and acquisitions, emerging business priorities and other factors outside the control of enterprise, application and IT architects/leaders. Furthermore, the application portfolio(s) reflected in these collective catalogs need to be agile to support the ever-changing innovations in the areas of end-user mobility/computing, hybrid cloud, and the emerging Internet of Things-aware applications.

The How

A pragmatic approach to application rationalization relies on a strong foundation of people, processes and technology platforms. It is recommended to start by identifying some of the key application classifications along the lines of Mission Critical (MC), Business Critical (BC) and User Critical (UC) applications, and map these classifications to your user segmentation along the lines of key roles and responsibilities within and across the organizations. An existing organizational level RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed) matrix may come in very handy as part of this process. The information in the table below reflects a sample of how this could be accomplished.

The How

While the people and the processes parts may take multiple iterations, once these applications have been rationalized and the key stakeholders have been identified, we need to define an enterprise Application Management Architecture (AMA) to mature the EUC initiatives within an enterprise. The schematic below lists key components that help develop a mature Application Management Architecture.

App Management 1

What this means is that the AMA needs to address the following capabilities as illustrated in the schematic above:

  • Application packaging and isolation. For instance, whether the applications are natively installed in the base image or whether they are virtualized.
  • A unified application provisioning launch-pad for virtual, Web, Citrix XenApps, RDSH and SaaS applications.
  • Real-time application delivery for just-in-time desktops that would abstract the desktop guest operating system (GOS) from the end-user applications.
  • Unified authentication and application entitlement policy platform that supports Single Sign-on (SSO) and acts as a policy enforcement point (PEP) and a policy decision point (PDP).
  • Application maintenance capability that enables flexible patch management.
  • Application monitoring functionality that provides in-guest metrics for application performance monitoring.
  • Most importantly, supporting EUC mobility by interoperating with virtual, hybrid cloud and mobile platforms.


Now let’s tie it all together. VMware’s End User Computing (EUC) Workspace Environment Management (WEM) Solution includes VMware’s EUC product portfolio in combination with VMware’s experienced Professional Services Organization (PSO). This platform accelerates application rationalization initiatives by additionally providing application isolation, real-time application delivery and monitoring for Citrix and VMware environments. It facilitates comprehensive governance of end-user management with dynamic policy configuration so you can deliver a personalized environment to virtual, physical and cloud-hosted environments across devices. It is your fast track approach to success for your Application Rationalization initiatives within your enterprise where not only the technology—but also the people and processes—are given high priority. For additional information please visit VMware.


Find out more about Application Rationalization from the perspectives of an Enterprise EUC strategy and BCDR (Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery) by attending the following sessions at VMworld 2015, San Francisco.

TJ Vatsa is a Principal Architect and member of CTO Ambassadors at VMware representing the Professional Services organization. He has worked at VMware for the past 5+ years with more than 20 years of experience in the IT industry. During this time he has focused on enterprise architecture and applied his extensive experience in professional services and R&D to Cloud Computing, VDI infrastructure, SOA architecture planning and implementation, functional/solution architecture, enterprise data services and technical project management.

TJ holds a Bachelor of Engineering (BE) degree in Electronics and Communications from Delhi University, India, and has attained industry and professional certifications in enterprise architecture and technology platforms. He has also been a speaker and a panelist at industry conferences such as VMworld, VMware’s PEX (Partner Exchange), Briforum and BEAworld. He is an avid blogger who likes to write on real-life application of technology that drives successful business outcomes.

Real World Sessions for Citrix Architects at VMworld San Francisco

Nick JeffriesBy Nick Jeffries

With a week to go to VMworld US, I thought it would be a good idea to highlight some amazing sessions we have in store for those of you with an interest in server-based computing. Whether you’ve got to roll-up your sleeves and start migrating users off your XenApp 5.0 server soon but don’t know where to start, or maybe you’re a VMware vSphere expert and need some tips on ensuring your architecture includes best practice for VMware Horizon 6 hosted apps – there will be something for everyone.

The first session is EUC5126 – Citrix Migration to VMware Horizon: How to Do It and What You Need to Know on Tuesday, September 1, at 1 PM.

We’ll cover everything you need to know for a seamless migration from Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop onto Horizon 6, including where to start and what to assess up front, the tools available to speed things up, and pitfalls to avoid to make sure you are successful. We’ll also run through a comparison of the various Citrix components in relation to Horizon 6 – great for those of you with years of Citrix experience to get a better understanding of how things line up.

Another great server-based computing-related session is EUC5516 – Delivering the Next Generation of Hosted Applications on Tuesday, September 1, at 5:30 PM.

For this panel discussion we have lined up a group of experts with decades of real-world EUC experience between them, which should make for a lively and interesting discussion. The panel will discuss how technologies such as UEM, App Volumes, ThinApp and solutions from F5 can be used to deliver the next generation of hosted applications and virtual desktops, whether you are deploying VMware Horizon or simply enhancing your existing XenApp infrastructure.

And if you want to explore things further or discuss your Server-Based Computing project in greater detail, come and have a chat with the team at the Professional Services Demo Station between 12–4 PM Wednesday.

See you at VMworld 2015 next week!

Nick has over 17 years experience of both architecting and delivering successful enterprise class solutions. He remains at the forefront of emerging EUC and virtualization technologies and how they can be best used for solving real business problems.  Currently Nick is part of the global EUC Professional Services Engineering team developing new and emerging solutions and services for VMware.

Copying App Volumes AppStacks Between Environments That Use vSAN Storage

JeffSmallBy Jeffrey Davidson

There is an issue copying App Volumes AppStacks (VMDK files) if using Secure Copy (SCP) from one environment to another when using VSAN storage. This is not an App Volumes problem; it is related to the way VSAN stores VMDK data.

Clients will often want to create AppStacks in a test environment, then copy those AppStacks to a production environment, and finally import them into App Volumes. In situations where any of those environments use VSAN storage, you will not be able to copy (SCP) AppStacks (specifically VMDK files) between environments.

In this blog entry I will discuss a workaround to this issue, using an example in which the client has two VSAN environments (DEV and PROD), and needs to copy VMDK files between them.

The VMDK files created by App Volumes are nothing special and are traditionally comprised of two files.

What we normally identify as <filename>.vmdk is a type of header/metadata file. Meaning it only holds information regarding the geometry of the virtual disk and, as such, references a file that contains the actual data.

The file referenced is often called a “flat” file; this file contains the actual data of the VMDK. We can identify this file as it has the naming pattern of <filename>-flat.vmdk

On traditional block level storage these two files are normally stored together in the same folder, as shown in the example screenshot below.


But VSAN storage is different; if you look at the contents of the “header” file you see something similar to the screenshot below. In this screenshot, the section in red is normally a reference to a “flat” file (example: Adobe_Acrobat_Reader -flat.vmdk). In the case where VSAN is the storage platform, we see something different. The screenshot below shows a reference to a VSAN device.


VSAN storage employs object-level storage, which is different from traditional block-level storage. The VSAN objects are managed through a storage policy which, for example, can allow for greater redundancy for some virtual machines over others. Because the reference in the VMDK file points to a VSAN DOM object, it cannot be copied through traditional means (SCP).

To work around this issue you will need traditional block-level storage which acts as a “middle man” to allow the SCP copy of VMDK files between environments. You will also need SSH access enabled on one host in each environment.

The first step is to clone the VMDK you wish to copy from the VSAN volume to the traditional storage volume. Once on traditional storage you will be able to copy (SCP) the two VMDK files directly to a host in a different VSAN environment. After you have copied (SCP) the VMDK files to a destination VSAN environment, you will need to perform a clone action to re-integrate the VMDK with VSAN as a storage object, so it can be protected properly with VSAN.

The diagram below is an overview of the process to copy AppStack (VMDK) files between VSAN environments.


The example below shows the commands required to copy an App Volumes AppStack (VMDK) between environments that use VSAN storage. Before executing these commands you should create a staging area in each environment where AppStacks will be copied temporarily before being copied between hosts for getting re-integrated in the destinations’ VSAN storage.

For example:

In the source environment, create the folder <path to block level storage>/AppVolumes_Staging

In the destination environment, create the folder <path to cloud volumes root folder>/cloudvolumes/staging

Step 1:

SSH into the host where the AppStack currently resides.

Execute the following command to clone the AppStack to block-level storage. Note that after you execute this command there are two files on the block-level storage. One is the header file, and the other is the “flat” file, which was previously integrated with VSAN as a storage object.

vmkfstools -d thin -i <VSAN path to App Stack>/cloudvolumes/apps/<filename>.vmdk <path to block level storage>/AppVolumes_Staging/<filename>.vmdk


vmkfstools -d thin -i /vmfs/volumes/vsan:4a65d9cbe47d44af-80f530e9e2b98ac5/76f05055-98b3-07ab-ef94-002590fd9036/apps/<filename>.vmdk /vmfs/volumes/54e5e55d-97561a60-50de-002590fd9036/AppVolumes_Staging/<filename>.vmdk

Step 2:

Execute the following commands to copy (SCP) an AppStack from one environment to another.

scp <path to vmdk clone on block level storage>/<filename>.vmdk root@<esxi mgt IP>:<path to staging folder>/<filename>.vmdk

scp <path to vmdk “flat” file clone on block level storage>/<filename>-flat.vmdk root@<esxi mgt IP>:<path to staging folder>/<filename>-flat.vmdk


scp /vmfs/volumes/54e5e55d-97561a60-50de-002590fd9036/AppVolumes_Staging/<filename>.vmdk root@<filename>.vmdk

scp /vmfs/volumes/54e5e55d-97561a60-50de-002590fd9036/AppVolumes_Staging/<filename>-flat.vmdk root@<filename>-flat.vmdk

Step 3:

Run the commands below to delete the AppStack from the staging folder on the source environment.

rm <path to staging folder>/<filename>.vmdk

rm <path to staging folder>/<filename>-flat.vmdk


rm /vmfs/volumes/54e5e55d-97561a60-50de-002590fd9036/AppVolumes_Staging/<filename>.vmdk

rm /vmfs/volumes/54e5e55d-97561a60-50de-002590fd9036/AppVolumes_Staging/<filename>-flat.vmdk

Step 4:

SSH into the host where the AppStack has been copied to. In this example the host IP address is

Run the command below to clone the copied AppStack from the staging folder to the App Volumes “apps” folder, and re-integrate the VMDK into VSAN as a storage object.

vmkfstools -d thin -i <path to staging folder>/<filename>.vmdk <path to cloud volumes root folder>/cloudvolumes/apps/<filename>.vmdk


vmkfstools -d thin -i /vmfs/volumes/vsan:265d91daeb2841db-82d3d8026326af8e/6efbac55-f2f7-f86a-033f-0cc47a59dc1c/Staging/<filename>.vmdk /vmfs/volumes/vsan:265d91daeb2841db-82d3d8026326af8e/6efbac55-f2f7-f86a-033f-0cc47a59dc1c/apps/<filename>.vmdk

Step 5:

Run the commands below to delete the AppStack from the staging folder on the destination environment.

rm <path to staging folder>/<filename>.vmdk

rm <path to staging folder>/<filename>-flat.vmdk


rm /vmfs/volumes/vsan:265d91daeb2841db-82d3d8026326af8e/6efbac55-f2f7-f86a-033f-0cc47a59dc1c/Staging/<filename>.vmdk

rm /vmfs/volumes/vsan:265d91daeb2841db-82d3d8026326af8e/6efbac55-f2f7-f86a-033f-0cc47a59dc1c/Staging/<filename>-flat.vmdk
After completing these steps, you will have successfully copied a VMDK from one VSAN storage platform to another.

App Volumes also creates a “metadata” file during the creation of an AppStack, as shown in the screenshot below.


The “metadata” file is a “text” file and should be copied to the destination environment so the AppStack (VMDK) can be imported into the destination App Volumes instance. Because this is a “text” file, it can be copied (SCP) without the cloning process and need for block-level storage as described in steps 1–5 above.

Jeffrey Davidson, Senior Consultant, VMware EUC. Jeffrey has over 15 years of IT experience and joined VMware in 2014. He is also a VCP5-DCV and VCP5-DT. He is a strong advocate of virtualization technologies, focusing on operational readiness with customers.