Archive for March, 2011

h1

Short-Take: VMware View, What’s Up with PCoIP?

March 21, 2011

Isn’t it time you looked at what VMware View and PCoIP have to offer? Now that there is a server off-load card supporting View PCoIP virtual machines, the overhead of display processing opens-up opportunities for denser View servers (or does it?) Here’s what VMware says about PCoIP in the “VMware View Architecture Planning Guide, View 4.6”

VMware View with PCoIP
PCoIP is a new high-performance remote display protocol provided by VMware. This protocol is available for View desktops that are sourced from virtual machines, Teradici clients, and physical machines that have Teradici-enabled host cards.

PCoIP can compensate for an increase in latency or a reduction in bandwidth, to ensure that end users can remain productive regardless of network conditions. PCoIP is optimized for delivery of images, audio, and video content for a wide range of users on the LAN or across the WAN. PCoIP provides the following features:

  • You can use up to 4 monitors and adjust the resolution for each monitor separately, up to 2560 x 1600 resolution per display.
  • You can copy and paste text between the local system and the View desktop, but you cannot copy and paste system objects such as folders and files between systems.
  • PCoIP supports 32-bit color.
  • PCoIP supports 128-bit encryption.
  • PCoIP supports Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption, which is turned on by default.
  • For users outside the corporate firewall, you can use this protocol with your company’s virtual private network or with View security servers.
  • MMR is not supported on Windows 7 clients or virtual desktops.
    • Although MMR is not supported on Windows 7 virtual desktops, if the Windows 7 desktop has 1GB of
      RAM and 2 virtual CPUs, you can use PCoIP to play 480p- and 720p-formatted videos at native resolutions.
      For 1080p, you might need to make the window smaller than full screen size.

If you use PCoIP, the display protocol from VMware, you can adjust the display resolution and rotation
separately for each monitor. PCoIP allows a true multiple-monitor session rather than a span mode session.

  • The maximum number of monitors that you can use to display a View desktop is 10 if you use the RDP display protocol and 4 if you use PCoIP.

RAM Sizing for Specific Monitor Configurations When Using PCoIP
If you use PCoIP, the display protocol from VMware, the amount of extra RAM that the ESX host requires depends in part on the number of monitors configured for end users and on the display resolution. Table 4-1 lists the amount of overhead RAM required for various configurations. The amounts of memory listed in the columns are in addition to the amount of memory required for other PCoIP functionality.

RAM sizing for Multi-Monitor PCoIP sessions

When you consider these requirements, note that virtual machine configuration of allocated RAM does not change. That is, you do not need to allocate 1GB of RAM for applications and another 31MB for dual 1080p monitors. Instead, consider the overhead RAM when calculating the total physical RAM required for each ESX server. Add the guest operating system RAM to the overhead RAM and multiply by the number of virtual machines.

  • Software developers or other power uses with high-performance needs might have much higher CPU requirements than knowledge workers and task workers. Dual virtual CPUs are recommended for compute-intensive tasks or for Windows 7 desktops that need to play 720p video using the PCoIP display protocol.

Maximum Connections for View Connection Server
Table 4-7 provides information about the tested limits regarding the number of simultaneous connections that a VMware View deployment can accommodate.

This example assumes that you are using VMware View with vSphere 4.1 and vCenter Server 4.1. It also assumes that View Connection Server is running on a 64-bit Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise operating system.

Maximum Connections for View Connection Server

PCoIP Secure Gateway connections are required if you use security servers for PCoIP connections from outside the corporate network. Tunnelled connections are required if you use security servers for RDP connections from outside the corporate network and for USB and multimedia redirection (MMR) acceleration with a PCoIP Secure Gateway connection.

Network Bandwidth Considerations
For display traffic, many elements can affect network bandwidth, such as protocol used, monitor resolution and configuration, and the amount of multimedia content in the workload. Concurrent launches of streamed applications can also cause usage spikes.

Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Short-Take: vSphere Client for iPad, Preview

March 18, 2011

I highlighted the installation and use of VMware’s vCenter Moble Access (vCMA) appliance in a post in late February. For the most part, vCMA has not changed much since our initial download back in April of 2009. If you downloaded the OVF early this February and looked at the updated instructions from the “fling” site, you may have noticed the following “curious” statements:

  • Once it powers on, you will need to configure your iPad by going into Settings, the vSphere client (usually bottom left corner of screen, in the Apps section), then you enter the IP address of your mobile appliance.
  • Finally, you can access your environment from the vSphere iPad app by entering your vCenter server info or ESX server info, with appropriate username and password.

vSphere Client for iPad

Having a heads-up from the vExpert team briefing by Srinivas Krishnamurti, Sr. Director for Mobile Solutions and Marketing at VMware, plus earlier press coverage from VMworld 2010 (see below), I knew what this “information leak” was hailing. Fortunately, the offending section (text above) was quickly redacted and VMware managed to avoid spoiling the surprise pending today’s [press release].

However, that was not the only source of “information leakage” prior to today’s announcement: you just had to know where to look. For instance, while looking deeper into the virtual appliance for our vCMA how-to, I found bread-crumbs pointing to more “curious” iPad wanderings. The following “Easter egg” was discovered in the “action-config.xml” file (which we held back under the spirit of the information embargo):

<!-- VCMA iPad Actions -->
 <action name="vcmaAbout" type="com.vmware.vcma.action.VcmaAboutAction"></action>
 <action name="vcmaLogin" type="com.vmware.vcma.action.VcmaLoginAction"></action>
 <action name="vcmaLogout" type="com.vmware.vcma.action.VcmaLogoutAction"></action>
 <action name="vcmaHome" type="com.vmware.vcma.action.VcmaHomeAction"></action>
 <action name="vcmaHostInfo" type="com.vmware.vcma.action.VcmaHostInfoAction"></action>
 <action name="vcmaHostOp" type="com.vmware.vcma.action.VcmaHostOperationAction"></action>
 <action name="vcmaVmInfo" type="com.vmware.vcma.action.VcmaVmInfoAction"></action>
 <action name="vcmaVmQuestion" type="com.vmware.vcma.action.VcmaVmQuestionAction"></action>
 <action name="vcmaVmAnswer" type="com.vmware.vcma.action.VcmaVmAnswerAction"></action>
 <action name="vcmaVmOp" type="com.vmware.vcma.action.VcmaVmOperationAction"></action>
 <action name="vcmaSnapshot" type="com.vmware.vcma.action.VcmaSnapshotAction"></action>
 <action name="vcmaPerf" type="com.vmware.vcma.action.VcmaPerfAction"></action>
 <action name="vcmaSearch" type="com.vmware.vcma.action.VcmaSearchAction"></action>
 <action name="vcmaPing" type="com.vmware.vcma.action.VcmaPingAction"></action>
 <action name="vcmaTracert" type="com.vmware.vcma.action.VcmaTraceRouteAction"></action>
 <action name="vcmaVmsList" type="com.vmware.vcma.action.VcmaVmListAction"></action>
 <action name="vcmaMonitorTask" type="com.vmware.vcma.action.VcmaMonitorTaskAction"></action>

This grouping of action/command definitions identify 17 of 23 vCMA action classes. These classes meant four things to me: (1) the actions are tuned specifically for a non-HTML-only client; (2) the limitations of vCMA’s web interface do not bind the iPad client; (3) there is significant potential for “capabilities drift” between the iPad client the “generic” mobile access client (i.e. HTML) as time goes by (read: richer feature set, user options); and (4) other “tablet” or “mobile” clients can’t be too far behind.

Since it is not feasible to have iPad software previews for vExperts (i.e. via iTunes) for pre-release products, this “pre-view” is based on exposure to product briefing and other pre-launch sources (direct and indirect). We’ll be following-up within the week with actual hands-on experience… That said, here’s what’s going on with VMware and iPad:

vSphere Client for iPad

Today, VMware CIO Steve Herrod announced the launch of version 1.0 of the vSphere Client for iPad (vCiP). The aptly named utility runs on Apple’s current generations of iPad and provides access to many of the basic administrative functions available to vCenter and the standard vSphere Client. This release must be seen as a quick, 1-2-3 punch of mobile and management-centric releases for VMware in the span of two weeks: vCenter Ops, View Client for iPad and now vSphere Client for iPad.

This iPad application is not truly a “native” or “fat” client for vSphere in the “conventional Windows sense.” Instead, VMware’s new app deploys as a web service reliant application (typical of its iPad ilk), and it is accordingly “small, light and elegant.” As you might guess from the [leading] introduction, the “heavy lifting” is actually performed by VMware’s vCenter Mobile Access (vCMA) appliance through the set of new classes (conveniently listed above).

VMware diagram showing (optional) placement of firewall, vCMA, vCenter and vSphere clusters. The use of a VPN connection to your firewall is strongly recommended as vCMA deploys with its web service without SSL enabled.

This illustration depicts the “best practice” recommended deployment for the iPad client by way of a trusted VPN connection. Again, this information was provided to us from Srinivas and his team “pre-launch” and hence was also prior to the recently released enhancements in vCMA (see below). In either case, the connection from iPad to vCenter is always translated through vCMA.

Like the standard Windows “fat” client (now conveniently available as a ThinApp’d zero-install package), the iPad client login requires the following credentials:

  1. The IP address or DNS host name for your vCenter;
  2. A valid user name with rights to access/manage the target vCenter;
  3. The password for the vSphere user.

Unlike the Windows variant, the following must be configured into the iPad’s “Settings” for the vSphere app prior to initial connection:

  1. The IP address or DNS host name for your vCMA appliance (displayed as “Web Server” in “Settings”).

vCMA’s web service is not SSL encrypted, and these credentials could be passed “in the clear.” (see updated post, SSL added to vCMA this Tuesday.) Given this client is targeted for mobile use, the risk of exposure to insecure networks (Internet, public WiFi, etc) without SSL would have created “special” opportunities for man-in-the-middle attacks. However, the use of a mobile VPN connection for the iPad client is strongly recommended, but no longer strictly necessary.

Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Quick-Take: vCMA Updated, SSL now Default

March 17, 2011
vCMA Login Screen, iPhone

vCMA Login Screen

In February, we detailed the installation and first use of the VMware vCenter Mobile Access appliance (version 1.0.41). In that write up, we pointed out that vCMA had some security issues and said the following:

Being HTTP-only, vCMA doesn’t lend itself to secure computing over the public Internet or untrusted intranet. Instead, it is designed to work with security layer(s) in front of it. While it IS possible to add HTTPS to the Apache/Tomcat server delivering its web application, vCMA is meant to be deployed as-is and updated as-is – it’s an appliance.

SOLORI’s blog, 28-Feb-2011

Seems VMware is listening. Yesterday, VMware announced the release and immediate availability of vCMA v1.0.42 with HTTPS/SSL enabled by default. We got this from the “vSphere MicroClient Functional Specification Guide:”

SSL Connections
By default “https” (or SSL certificate) is enabled in the appliance for the vCMA for enhanced security. You can replace the out-of-the-box certificate with your own, if needed. However, http->https redirection is currently not supported.

Other deployment considerations

  1. The vCMA server comes with a default userid/password. For security reasons, we strongly recommended that you change root password.
  2. If you prefer, you can set a hostname or IP address for the appliance.
  3. Using standard Linux utilities, you can change the date and time in the appliance.
  4. You can also upgrade the hardware version and VMware Tools in the vCMA appliance following standard procedures.

SOLORI’s Take: This welcomed change circumvents any additional kludge work necessary to secure the appliance. Using an HTTPS proxy was cumbersome and kludgey in its own right and “hacking” the appliance was tricky and doomed to be reversed by the next appliance update. VMware’s move opens the door for more widespread use vCMA and (hopefully) more interesting applications of its use in the future.

h1

Quick-Take: Buying an iPad2 on Friday

March 10, 2011

New iPad2, launcing in White and Black "on day one"

If you’re chomping at the bit to buy an iPad2 on launch day, the question remains: which one to buy? There seems to be many options and ways to go, but ultimately this will end-up being a personal decision. However, there is an economic and functional rational that you should consider before coughing up nearly $1K on an arguably cool device.

Given the choices of models and network options, this should definitely NOT be an impulse buy, and I hope you look at it in a reasoned – if not somewhat giddy – way. Here are my thoughts for personal acquisition (not for businesses – you guys need to run POC for at least 3-6 months!):

Basically, there are three models: WiFi, WiFi+3G/ATT & WiFi+3G/Verizon, with three flash variants of each – 16GB, 32GB & 64GB – and two color variants of those – black & white. That’s a total of 18 different SKU’s for iPad2. So here’s how the process breaks down to me:

  1. Since WiFi/Bluetooth is the same on all models, choose first between 3G (includes aGPS) or WiFi-only (no aGPS);
    1. Choose carrier between ATT & Verizon (either are month-to-month):
      1. ATT offers two options for iPad2:
        1. $15/month for 250MB/month; with automatic charge of $15/250MB overage;
        2. $25/month for 2GB/month; with automatic charge of $10/1GB overage;
      2. Verizon offers four options for iPad2 WiFi-only + MiFi:
        1. $20/month for 1GB/month; with automatic charge of $20/GB overage;
        2. $35/month for 3GB/month; with automatic charge of $10/GB overage;
        3. $50/month for 5GB/month; with automatic charge of $10/GB overage;
        4. $80/month for 10GB/month; with automatic charge of $10/GB overage;
        5. Note: MiFi device is free only with a 2-year contract.
      3. Verizon offers four plans for iPad2 WiFi+3G:
        1. $20/month for 1GB/month; with automatic charge of $20/GB overage;
        2. $35/month for 3GB/month; with automatic charge of $10/GB overage;
        3. $50/month for 5GB/month; with automatic charge of $10/GB overage;
        4. $80/month for 10GB/month; with automatic charge of $10/GB overage;
    2. Choose memory size; 3G Models will cost according to their memory size regardless of carrier:
      1. $630 for 16GB, black or white;
      2. $730 for 32GB, black or white;
      3. $839 for 64GB, black or white;
    3. Choose color;
      1. Black;
      2. White;
  2. For WiFi-only models, you’ll give-up accurate location (no aGPS) but save money (see MiFi above for mobile access):
    1. Choose memory size; 3G Models will cost according to their memory size regardless of carrier:
      1. $630 for 16GB, black or white;
      2. $730 for 32GB, black or white;
      3. $839 for 64GB, black or white;
    2. Choose color;
      1. Black;
      2. White;
  3. Choose how you want to purchase:
    1. In-store (5PM local time):
    2. On-line (1AM PST):
  4. Enjoy iPad2 nirvana!

SOLORI’s Take: Steve Jobs really wants to see you on-camera and in line. Apple made a point to require retailers to coordinate sale starts at 5PM local time to be able to maximize “free” advertising benefits based on local, mobile news feeds from “high demand queues” at retailers. There’s no discount for purchasing after standing in a retail store line, so why queue-up without compensation just to be part of the iPad2 marketing push? Buy from an on-line retailer (or wait) and avoid the lines.

As for the model and plan, economically the 16GB iPad2 makes the most sense. If you need 3G but have no interest in using your iPad as a navigation unit while you drive, get MiFi and get the benefit of being able to use it with up to 5 other devices (laptop, iPad1, Android tablet, etc.) If you’re replacing your 32GB+ iPad and laptop (good luck) in this purchase, you may go all out, but don’t be surprised when buyer’s remorse sets-in a month or so hence. Then it comes down to 3G variant: ATT has more global reach (see link above), but beware of “data roaming” charges, while Verizon has a bit better $/GB rates (see above).

If you choose to que-up and volunteer for Steve Jobs unpaid marketing army, good luck and stay safe. According to BestBuy’s playbook, you’ll get a “ticket” for the model you want in line. There will only be tickets enough for the actual models they have and they’ll likely only know what that list is one to two hours before 5PM local time. When all tickets are gone, they’ll issue standby tickets for the next day, etc. At BestBuy at least, you’ll need to leave a $100 deposit with your standby ticket and it will be issued in the form of a $100 gift card usable towards your iPad purchase.

[Update: SOLORI’s iPad2 ordered for the lab at 2:53AM CST from ATT on-line – black, 16GB WiFi+3G, 2GB/mo. data plan. Verizon, Walmart, Target all show iPad2 as unavailable on-line and in stores at 5PM.]

[Update: On-line supplies of iPad2 started at 2-3 business day promised delivery and had gone to 2-3 week delivery by 9:30AM PST.]

[Update: 15-Mar-2011 – USPS delivered iPad2 – 2 business days achieved.]

h1

Short-Take: Windows 7 for iPad, Free

March 9, 2011
Windows7 running on iPad

Windows7 running on iPad

Remember that announcement about View 4.6 and the PCoIP Software Gateway (PSG) a week or so back? If the existence of PSG got your imagination drifting towards running Windows7 over PCoIP on your iPad or Android tablet, then some of you are going to be very excited and some of you will have to wait a little bit longer.

Today VMware is taking mobile desktop to a new level by announcing the general availability of the View Client for iPad V1.0 – Android tablet users will have to wait! This is a iPad-native, PCoIP-only client for View 4.6 environments (i.e. PCoIP w/PSG support) with  gesture-enabled navigation and virtual mouse pad. If you liked accessing your View desktop in Wyse’s PocketCloud for iPhone & iPad (RDP mode only), you’re going to love the View Client for iPad because it unlocks the rich, PCoIP goodness that you’ve been missing.

Last week a group of vExperts were briefed on the iPad app by its development team leader Tedd Fox who came to VMware in August, 2010 after nearly 8 years of work at Citrix (co-inventor/designer of Citrix Reciever for iPad & iPhone). To say Tedd knows iPad/mobile and remote app/desktop is an understatement, and VMware has committed to an aggressive “feature update” schedule for the iPad app on the order of every 1-2 months (typical of mobile application norms.)

Needless to say, we had a few questions. Here’s just a few of the responses from our Q/A and demonstration session:

vExpert: Will there be a iPhone link for touchpad control?

Tedd: No. Due to some patent-pending issues, we decided not to tread on that ground.

vExpert: Has it been enhanced for the iPad2?

Tedd: No. It’s [iOS] 4.3 “ready” but nobody’s got an iPad2 so no one knows if there application’s going to work. We’ve tested on dual-core architecture before, just not Apple’s dual-core architecture.

vExpert: Dual-core tested? So there’s an Android app coming?

Tedd: Android app is coming! We’re looking at mid-year for the Android. I just spent a few weeks in China getting that in alpha-alpha mode; so we actually have a UI and everything – we’re just building-up the bits… it’s going to be tablet only. It works on a 7″ right now, but we’re not sure if that’s a useful form.

vExpert: Is that because it’s too small [i.e. 7″ screen]?

Tedd: It’s because of the mouse pad and everything… it just doesn’t feel right – the resolution and everything.

vExpert: Not even with panning and side scrolling [small screen]?

Tedd: Not really. Panning a windows desktop is “okay” for like 10 minutes, after which you develop something like Tourette syndrome with curse words and all. We actually ran tests on that to figure that out, but it could change [given the right demand/use case.]

vExpert: Will it support bi-directional audio?

Tedd: No, uh, uni-directional is definitely on the roadmap so doctors can dictate and stuff like that. Otherwise, we’re going to see how the protocol matches up for [more complex] audio applications.

vExpert: Can we get more information on the Android app?

Tedd: I don’t want to get into the Android client because everything is still “in flux” and we’re still designing it…

vExpert: Will [View Client for iPad] work with bluetooth mouse and keyboard?

Tedd: Yes… You have to go into the iPad settings and pair them… then with you do the three-finger tap on the screen – like to activate the on-screen keyboard – that’s how you activate the bluetooth keyboard [only, no mouse support per Apple policy], and the [on-screen] toolbar drops down to the bottom of the screen… It’s very nice to use.

vExpert: Will it support multitasking, multiple sessions and session swapping?

Tedd: No. We’re working with Teradici on full-multitasking for one of the feature revs this year.

vExpert: It seemed that logging-in and getting to your desktop seemed pretty quick. What would you say?

Tedd: This [demo] is on 3G – by the way – so it’s fairly quick. The only [downside] is if you’re using RSA tokens: you’ve got to read the token and put it in… If the broker policy allows users to save their passwords, then you’d only need the token code.

vExpert: Is there a way to transfer data to/from the iPad from the [View client desktop]?

Tedd: Working on that – that’ll be in the next rev or two. There’s a grey area there with the shared foldering system in iOS – some people are like “yeah, awesome” but if you talk to DoD they’re like “heck no” so we’re working on an elegant solution.

vExpert: What about dropbox or something like that?

Tedd: If we have an internal solution then yes. I don’t want to be [bound by a third party] on our app – I want to keep it as “pure VMware” as possible. If the market screams for it in enough number, then of course I’m going to listen… If it’s allowed in your desktop’s environment [dropbox will work.]

vExpert: How’s the performance of the View client while other programs are in the background on the iPad?

Tedd: You don’t even notice it. If you know me you know I’ve constantly got white earbuds on. One of my test cases was working on a desktop while running on Pandora in the background.

vExpert: Price is free?

Tedd: Yeah, as long as I’m with VMware it will always be free.

Over the course of the demonstration, we saw Tedd put the application through its paces. It’s fast – even on the original iPad. The gesture interface looks well thought-out, has been thoroughly tested – Tedd says “rock solid” – and repeated three-finger abuses [rapid toggling the keyboard] won’t crash the View iPad app. Can’t wait to get it into SOLORI’s lab…

Gesture Help for iPad View Client

View Client for iPad Keyboard (three-fingers to pop-up)

View for iPad soft mouse pad and cursor keys

 

Client support for tap-hold loupe: zoom near mouse pointer.

Related Links:

[Update: View 4.x -> View 4.6 (iPad Client designed for View 4.6 and PSG). Added community blog link, virtual keyboard and loupe screenshots. Remote add -> Remote app. Added link to Andre’s VDI calculator. Clarification on bluetooth mouse support. Related links section with PCoIP off-load.]

h1

Short-Take: vCenter Operations, Launched

March 8, 2011

vCenter Operations Standard, Launced Today

I think “launched” is a good description of a product that represents a company’s first release from a product acquisition that was already somewhat mature. No surprising new features, no trend-setting advanced in interface or integration – just a solid, usable “pane of glass” to improve “visibility” into an existing product set. That’s how I’d describe VMware’s “new” vCenter Operations appliance for vSphere.

The product launches initially as a virtual appliance (similar to VMDR, vMA, vCMA, etc.) that enhances vCenter’s ability to track performance, capacity and changes in the vSphere environment. This initial offering is called VMware vCenter Operations Standard and is priced per-VM (I’ll get to those details later.) vCOPS Standard will be available for download and trial beginning March 14, 2011. Here’s how VMware describes it:

Proactively ensure service levels, optimum resource usage and configuration compliance in dynamic virtual and cloud environments with VMware vCenter Operations. Through automated operations management and patented analytics, you benefit from an integrated approach to performance, capacity and configuration management. You’ll gain the intelligence and visibility needed to

  • Get actionable intelligence to automate manual operations processes
  • Gain visibility across infrastructure and applications for rapid problem resolution
  • Proactively ensure optimal resource utilization and virtual/cloud infrastructure performance
  • Get ‘at-a-glance’ views of operational and regulatory compliance across physical and virtual infrastructure.

If you’re like me, that description won’t make you find a place in your strained IT budget for VMware’s new plug-in. Eventually, VMware will find the right messaging to sell this add-on, but let’s see if it can sell itself, shall we? Located deep within a “related whitepaper” there is an indication of how vCOPS differentiates itself from the crowd of “pretty statistics loggers” and delivers some real tasty goodness. I believe this is the real reason why VMware shelled-out $100M for the technology.

Dynamic Thresholds

Yeah, I thought that too. What the heck is a “dynamic threshold” and why do I care? For one thing, it takes VMware two pages of white paper just to describe what a “dynamic threshold” is, let alone describe how it adds value to vCenter. In short, VMware’s statistics logger applies eight proprietary algorithms to live and historical data to “predict” what “normal” operating parameters are for a specific VM, host, cluster, etc. and then make decisions as to whether or not anomalous conditions exist in the present operating state.

vCenter Operations' stats engine tries to see performance data as a seasoned admin would.

Effectively, VMware’s dynamic threshold takes a sophisticated look at the current trend data just like a seasoned IT admin would – except it does it across your entire virtual enterprise every 12 hours and predicts what the next 12 hours should look like. This “prediction” becomes the performance envelope, hour by hour, for the next 12 hours of operation. So long as your virtual object’s performance stays within the envelope, the likelihood of anomalous behaviour is low; however, when it is operating outside the envelope, outliers are likely to trigger performance alarms.

The following transforms are applied to statistical data every 12 hours:

•    An algorithm that can detect linear behaviour patterns (e.g., disk utilization, etc.).
•    An algorithm that can detect metrics that have only two states (e.g., availability measurements).
•    An algorithm that can detect metrics that have a discrete set of values, not a “range” of values, (e.g., “Number of DB User Connections,” “Number of Active JMVs,” etc.).
•    Two different algorithms that can detect cyclical behaviour patterns that are tied to calendar cycles (e.g., weekly, monthly, etc.)
•    Two different algorithms that can detect general non-calendar patterns (e.g., multi-modal)
•    An algorithm that works, not with time-series or frequently measured values, but with sparse data (e.g., daily, weekly, monthly batch data)

VMware claims this approach – to borrow a recently over-used term – “wins” versus typical bell-shape algorithm approaches many times over. In statistical analysis against real-world VM metrics, VMware says typical bell-shape analysis “barely shows up” and, in the few cases where it “wins” the bell-shape approach does so only slightly. In enterprise applications, being able to present “anomalous behaviour” of related systems in opposition can more quickly lead to root-cause identity. Here, VMware demonstrates how anomaly counts for separate, related application tiers can be compared and correlated visually:

Anomaly count comparison across separate tiers. Note "smart alert" gets triggered early in the process (Enterprise Edition).

Eric Sloof at NTPro.NL has posted a video (7 minutes) and screen shots that shows vCenter Operations Standard in operation. While Eric describes vCOPS as a “great new product,” Kendrick Coleman takes issue with VMware’s price model and questions its true value proposition (at least with the “Standard” edition.)

Do Fries Come with That?

From some of the back-peddling overheard in the vExpert pre-launch conference, VMware’s testing the waters on where the product fits at the low-end. Essentially, this is an enterprise class product offering that’s been paired-down to fit into a smaller IT budget. Like most VMware products, a generous “free” trial period will be granted to allow you to try before you buy. However, the introductory price (i.e. official pricing is not posted on VMware’s site) is set at $50/VM (hence Kendrick’s quandary) for up to 500 VMs (about $25K).

Since VMware intends to offer an inclusive pricing scheme, all registered VMs will need to be licensed into the Standard Edition’s footprint. In the vExpert call, there was “talk” about extending analysis only to specific VMs (and allowing for a paired-down licensing footprint) but that is conjecture today. In a typical enterprise where 70-80% of workloads are non-mission critical, the cost and license model for vCOPS could be an obstacle for some – or at least force the use of a separate vCenter and cluster arrangement. Let’s hope VMware comes-up with a mission-critical license model quickly.

h1

Quick-Take: iPad2 Launched, Features Left on the Drawing Board

March 2, 2011

The iPad2, Available in "Black or White" on March 11, 2011

No doubt that Apple is the 800lb gorilla in the room when it comes to mobile tablets and phones today. With lack-lustre acceptance of the first “official” Android tablet – Motorola’s Xoom – the new aspects of the Apple iPad2, announced today, will surely keep iPad adopters on-board for the next version. Coming March 11, 2011, the new iPad will come in three memory sizes (16, 32 and 64GB) and be available as an WiFi-only variant (802.11a/b/g/n) as well as a Wi-Fi+3G+aGPS variant (UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA/GSM/EDGE or CDMA/EV-DO Rev. A) – both with Bluetooth 2.1+EDR.

Besides coming in a “white” model from “day one,” the iPad2 sports the anticipated Apple A5 dual-core system on chip based on the ARM Cortex-A9 CPU. The 9.7 inch LED-backlit multi-touch display features the coveted IPS display technology that gave the original iPad such great color. Additionally, the iPad2 joins the iPhone4 in the dual-camera club with a front-facing VGA camera (suitable for FaceTime) and a rear-facing HD camera (suitable for 720p, 30 fps video).

Apple's HDMI "mirroring" connector includes pass-through 30-pin port for charging.

Rounding-out the features include HDMI output via proprietary 30-pin to HDMI+30-pin adapter (dongle) supporting video to 1080p. Missing from the “dreamed about” feature list are: high-resolution display, removable media, standard USB ports,  autonomous GPS and near field communications interface. At 0.34 inches thick and 1.33 lbs, the iPad2 shed 0.17 lbs and 0.16 inches in thickness by removing the additional display glass, but it kept the original’s 1024×768 display – a slip behind the standard 1280×800 display profile of Honeycomb-wielding 10″ tablets.

Out of the gate, iPad2 versions will be available for AT&T and Verizon Wireless in the US (although specific launch dates for either carrier are not yet available). The iPad in Business section of the release site looks impressive on the surface. The existing list of business oriented applications for iPad together with the obvious polish of the product represents a real obstacle for its competitors (like QNX-based Blackberry Playbook and Android-based Motorola Xoom).

SOLORI’s Take: The iPad2 represents a conservative update to the existing and wildly successful iPad (over 10M units in 2H 2010). Loyalist iPad users are early adopters, so it’s a no-brainer to predict that 3M iPad2’s will ship in H1/2011 to “iPad1” owners. If it happens, that makes for a solid supply of discarded iPads over the next few months which can actually HELP Apple entrench – giving them an artificial low-end product due to upgrades. Given that there is zero reference to the original iPad on Apple’s site, it’s safe to say that when inventories are gone, iPad2 will be the only game for Apple.

The shortcoming for iPad2 over its Android contenders is physical standards. I mentioned the screen resolution as compared to Android Honeycomb standard, but the Blackberry Playbook comes in under both devices at 1024×600 (last year’s “unofficial” Android tablet standard). While the Playbook is lighter at 0.9 lbs, it’s also smaller (and 0.1″ thicker) – more of a challenger for Galaxy Tab than iPad. Most of the Tegra2 tablets have mini-USB (some have full-size USB) and offer either mini-HDMI or full-size HDMI ports – either on-board or through a docking port. It’s rumoured that Apple has locked-up the IPS display market, but at 1024×768, those opting for higher resolution may turn to Android competitors for more desktop real estate.

Besides matching iPad2 feature-for-feature, Tegra2 Android tablets represent a serious threat (technologically) to iPad2. Another issue is storage: nearly every Android comes with both removable and built-in memory options – something neither iPad or Blackberry offer. In a business world, the ability to quickly exchange data without using WiFi or 3G/4G is huge – especially where remote access applications are concerned. That makes iPad dependent on its wireless carriers and WiFi/hot-spots for data exchange (or docking/undocking to notebook, laptop, etc.) The removable memory feature also allows enterprises to purchase the low-end memory configuration and supplement them with third-party memory or require end-users to supply their own.

Where iPad2 has the biggest advantage is turn-key applications through Apple’s iTunes market, and this is something they’re pressing heavily in today’s marketing message. Forget the clever iPad2 cover, its applications that ultimately make the product valuable to business. If Apple can stay ahead here, enterprise will follow. Unfortunately, Apple may find its “hatred” for Adobe’s Flash a position that could erode its market faster than anything else. Flash could be the great equalizer (or market accelerator) for Android and Blackberry, allowing businesses to rely on web-apps instead of native ones… in the meantime, Google has the clout and growth rate to compel all but the staunchest of application vendors to play both sides of the split market.