Archive for the ‘Virtual Desktop’ Category

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Short Take: VMware View Client for Android, ICS Update

May 17, 2012

An updated VMware View Client for Android devices hit a the street today sporting a couple of enhancements for Google’s Android OS running the relatively new Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) version; other improvements are for View 5.1 deployments only.

Here’s a list of the new features in the update available now on Google Play:

– Support for ICS
– Mouse support with hover, right click and scroll wheel (ICS)
– Updated look and feel and improvements for smaller screens
– New Settings dialog includes security mode settings
– Up to 2x better video playback performance
– Optimized for View 5.1
– RADIUS two factor authentication with View 5.1
– Save password option (administrator approval required) with View 5.1
– French, German, Spanish keyboard support with View 5.1

The update is a 5.32MB download, and is available free of charge.

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Quick-Take: vCenter 5.0 dies within 48-hours of Installation, Error 1000

May 1, 2012

After upgrading a View installation for a client this weekend from View 4.0 to View 5.0 all seemed well. The upgrade process took them from vSphere 4.0U2 to vSphere 5.0U1 in the bargain – about 15-20 hours of work including backups and staging. Testing and the first 24 hours of production went swimmingly with no negative reports or hiccups. (The upgrade process and spectres of dead pilots-turned-production is an issue for another blog post.)

I got a call about vCenter 5.0 dying (and then magically working again before the local admin could get to it – a couple of minutes or so.) Two mysteries, one easy, one VERY frustrating…

Mystery One – vCenter Dies and Comes Back to Life

This was the easy one: the VMware VirtualCenter Server service is set to a “300000 millisecond” recovery delay upon failure by default. The local site admin didn’t have his prayer answered, the system just recovered as planned. (Note to upgraders – set your recovery time to more or less hold-down time as your site needs – probably no less than 120000 milliseconds.)

The VMware VirtualCenter Server service terminated unexpectedly. It has done this 1 time(s). The following corrective action will be taken in 300000 milliseconds: Restart the service.

– Service Control Manager

Why would five minutes (yep, 300000 milliseconds) be a good amount of recovery time? The socratic answer is this: how long will it take for all of the vCenter log and dump files to be written based on your environment? In the case of this issue, the dump file was about 500MB in size with about another 150MB in various other logs. At a “leisurely pace” of 5 MB/sec (let’s assume the worst), that would require about two minutes of “hold time” before restart.

Mystery Two – vCenter Died. Why?

Here’s the problem: vCenter needs to be bullet proof. vCenter’s installer asks  for your environmental size during the installation and sets parameters to accommodate the basic needs. Also, during the SQL upgrade process from vCenter 4.0 to 5.0, the SQL database is set from SIMPLE (the recommended setting for vCenter) to BULK-LOGGING, but just for the duration of the upgrade. After the upgrade it’s reset back to SIMPLE.

Fast forward 48 hours. vCenter is running with a couple of hundred virtual machines in a View environment and is tracking all of that lovely host and performance data we appreciate when dealing with complex enterprise systems. It’s happily responding to View Connection Server’s request for power-ons and power-offs when all of a sudden the worst happens: it crashes!

Suddenly, 10’s of thousands of dollars worth of infrastructure is waiting for a 5 minute recovery interval and View logins requiring VM power-ons wont happen until then. All is not right in your virtual world now, buckaroo! Let’s see if Windows Event Viewer can elicit a solution:

The description for Event ID 1000 from source VMware VirtualCenter Server cannot be found. Either the component that raises this event is not installed on your local computer or the installation is corrupted. You can install or repair the component on the local computer.

If the event originated on another computer, the display information had to be saved with the event.

The following information was included with the event:

Log directory: C:\ProgramData\VMware\VMware VirtualCenter\Logs.

the message resource is present but the message is not found in the string/message table

– Event Viewer, Application Log

Okay, Event ID 1000 – there’s got to be a KB on that one, but seriously, ID 1000 sound pretty generic for me to have a ton of hope. But sure enough, VMware Knowledge Base immediately coughs up KB article 1015101, applicable to vCenter 5.0. Unfortunately, vCenter Server is not installed on an IIS platform, so this is just an empty rabit hole…

Next, let’s have a look at the vCenter Server logs (thoughtfully pointed to in the Event log, above) for vCenter at-or-around the time of failure. Sure enough, there is a gzipped log with the restart time stamp available. A quick glance at the end of the log shows the following “impending doom” quality message:

--> 
--> Panic: TerminateHandler called
--> Backtrace:
--> backtrace[00] rip 000000018013deba (no symbol)
--> backtrace[01] rip 0000000180101518 (no symbol)
 ... 
--> backtrace[60] rip 00000000708f2fdf (no symbol)
--> backtrace[61] rip 00000000708f3080 (no symbol)
-->

– vCenter vpxd-X.log file

But a sobering look above the doomsday report gives us a better idea as to the real culprit: SQL execution failed. What? Did I hear you whisper “kill your DBA?” Before walking down to the DBA and calling him out for leaving you in the lurch, let’s visit the SQL logs to find out (perhaps you will have to talk to the DBA after all if your vCenter admins don’t have access to SQL logs in the environment.) Here’s what my SQL log for the vCenter database said:

05/01/2012 08:05:21,spid62,Unknown,The transaction log for database 'VIM_VCDB' is full. To find out why space in the log cannot be reused<c/> see the log_reuse_wait_desc column in sys.databases
05/01/2012 08:05:21,spid62,Unknown,Error: 9002<c/> Severity: 17<c/> State: 4.
 ...
05/01/2012 08:00:04,spid75,Unknown,The transaction log for database 'VIM_VCDB' is full. To find out why space in the log cannot be reused<c/> see the log_reuse_wait_desc column in sys.databases
05/01/2012 08:00:04,spid75,Unknown,Error: 9002<c/> Severity: 17<c/> State: 4.

– Microsoft SQL Server Log for VIM_VCDB (vCenter)

Note that something to this effect also shows up as a diagnostic message inside the vCenter log – reducing the number of times you need to traipse down to the DBA’s cubby for  a chat. Okay, that cinches it, the DBA’s been meddling in my vCenter database again – probably with some unscheduled and undocumented maintenance. We’re definitely going to have that talk now, right? Nope.

Resolution

Remember that upgrade we did 48-hours ago? As part of the upgrade process, the database is upgraded from the vCenter 4.0’s format to the more information rich vCenter 5.0 format. Along the way, an upgrade process changes the SQL database’s mode from the preferred “SIMPLE” mode to the “BULK-LOGGING” mode so that a failed upgrade can be more easily rolled-back.

Beware:

BULK-LOGGING mode can create a HUGE transaction log during a vCenter upgrade process. There are MANY posts about the TLOG filling-up during these processes, with a consensus that the TLOG needs to be allowed to grow to at least 4x the size of your vCenter database or the process will not complete.

You’ve been warned.

In the case of this upgrade, I happen to know that the TLOG was set to at least 4x of the vCenter database PRIOR to the upgrade process. In fact, during this upgrade (final stage) it grew to 1.5X of the vCenter database size. What was unknown to me – until now – is that the TLOG maximum allowed growth was reset to 500MB when the database was returned to “SIMPLE” mode. During a time of high activity (perhaps processing the last 24-hours of data) the TLOG needed to exceed that amount, couldn’t, and vCenter crashed accordingly. The simple fix is to increase the TLOG limit back to the original settings that works well for the environment.

SOLORI’s Take:

Ouch! Someone feels setup for failure. I never want to hear a customer say: “gosh, everything was great until I logged into vCenter [with the vSphere Client] and then, “all of a sudden” things went sideways” – especially when the cause is that SQL server has been silently modified with setting known to cause it to  choke, subsequently resulting in vCenter coming to a crashing halt.

VMware: if you’re modifying my database parameters POST INSTALL you need to WARN ME or post it in the install or upgrade docs. I’ve combed them and can’t find it… let’s get the upgrade process modified so that the database settings are restored after the database is returned to SIMPLE mode, okay?

Updated 05/02/2012: Corrected intro grammar. Link to TLOG upgrade issue added.

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Short-Take: VMware View PCoIP Client for Android

July 15, 2011

Today VMware released a “Tech Preview” version of VMware’s View Client for Android: a PCoIP-only client suitable for LAN and WAN (via PCoIP Secure Gateway). We’ve had a quick first look this evening when the application appeared on Android Market – a free download – and it looks great. On my NotionInk Adam tablet (NVidia 1GHz dual-core) running Honeycomb 3.0.1 the display updates where just as snappy as my iPad2 running View Client for iPad. The only problem I experienced in the hour or so of working with the client is the lack of three-finger support in the Adam/Honeycomb port to spawn the pop-up keyboard.

The View PCoIP Client for Android supports the same saved desktop icon paradigm as it's iPad predecessor for quick access.

The View PCoIP Client for Android allows for desktop connections to stay active even when the app is not in the foreground - a one-up on the iPad predecessor.

Android View PCoIP Client - Task switching to other Android application

Task switching in View PCoIP Client for Android works just like any other Android application.

Android View PCoIP Client - Retrieving a View desktop from background

View PCoIP Client for Android is easily restored from the background without reconnection delays.

And yes, that last screen shot shows 1-bar on AT&T’s 3G network and it’s totally useable just like on the iPad. If you’re waiting for a rocking View client before plunking down money on that 10.1″ ASUS EEpad Transformer (now with Honeycomb 3.1) and it’s keyboard/mousepad “docking” station (complete with additional run-time doubling battery) then wait no more: Android has arrived. Remember though, this is just a “Tech Preview” and the apple needs a bit more polishing before you go running to your CIO…

SOLORI’s Note: Although the View Client for Android was “optimized” for 1280×800 format, it still had no problem with the more limited 1024×600 Pixel Qi display on my NotionInk Adam. In fact, changes in rotation on the Android seemed faster than on iPad2 and multitasking on the Honeycomb system did no seemed to be affected to a backgrounded desktop.

As another test to compatibility, I tested small-screen PCoIP goodness on my Samsung Fascinate and it rocks! Beware, there is just enough display to be useful with the pop-up keyboard on-screen, however and the scroll-back on the screen with keyboard in foreground made for interesting URL entry while trying to get to Hulu, but audio was clear and frame rates at about 3-5 fps (visual est.) but very clear. Task switching on the single-core Android Froyo device worked flawlessly too.

How did Hulu fare on Honeycomb? Unfortunately it was not up to scratch in full screen, but I found it passable in the embedded mode (Mozilla 3.6). This kind of performance issue will likely be very platform dependent on Android version, CPU, display and vendor tweaks to the Google Android kernel – especially hacked kernels like the NI Adam (tested). Unlike the Apple-controlled IOS, Android leaves a lot of performance enhancements to platform providers and most just pass-on the reference kernel without significant improvement in performance. For a “preview” release, Team Fox at VMware has delivered the goods.

VMware’s official blog post has a quick walk-through video. A User Guide and Release Notes are also available from VMware.

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In-the-Lab: Tweak 2008R2 post-clone for View Transfer Server

April 4, 2011

View Transfer Server supports Server 2008 R2 but does not support the use of the “default” virtual LSI Logic SAS controller. If you’ve already carved-out a cloning template using the LSI Logic SAS template, it is not necessary to create a new template (or fresh installation) just to spool-up a Transfer Server. In fact, it will take you TWO re-boots from clone completion to LSI Logic Parallel replacement.

CAUTION: You must configure the virtual machine that hosts View Transfer Server with an LSI Logic Parallel SCSI controller. You cannot use a SAS or VMware paravirtual controller.

On Windows Server 2008 virtual machines, the LSI Logic SAS controller is selected by default. You must change this selection to an LSI Logic Parallel controller before you install the operating system.

– VMware View Upgrades (EN-000526-00), Page 13

Here’s the process to take you from completed Server 2008/R2 clone with LSI Logic SAS to LSI Logic Parallel – by-passing the Windows blue screen at boot:

  1. Clone your Server 2008/R2 server as normal,
  2. Shutdown clone and edit settings,
    1. Change Options>Advanced>Boot Options to “Force BIOS Setup” on next reboot;
    2. Hardware>Add…>Hard Disk>Create a new virtual disk>4GB, Thin Provisioning>SCSI(1:0)
    3. Hardware>SCSI Controller 1>Change Type…>LSI Logic Parallel
    4. Power-on

      Dropping-in a "dummy" LSI Logic Parallel disk to enable the drive controller for View Transfer Server.

  3. Boot the modified VM and (optionally) confirm new drive and controller
    1. Boot VM
    2. Modify boot order to insure SAS boot priority

      Modify boot order in BIOS to insure that the SAS controller is primary.

    3. (optional) Open Server Manager>Diagnostics>Device Manager
      1. View “Storage controllers”

        Confirming the operational status of both LSI controller types: Parallel and SAS.

    4. Shutdown
  4. Edit settings to modify boot and remove additional disk
    1. Hardware>SCSI Controller 0>Change Type…>LSI Logic Parallel
    2. Hard Disk 2>Remove>Remove from virtual machine and delete files from disk
      1. SCSI Controller 1 will automatically be removed
    3. Save and power-on
  5. Boot disk will now be LSI Logic Parallel

NOTE: In this example, the Server 2008/R2 VM is composed onto a single LSI Logic SAS disk (Hard Disk 1, SCSI controller 0). If your VM template is different, substitute your specific disk and/or controller numbers accordingly.

Nice, simple and now ready to install the View Transfer Server. Now on to the PCoIP Secure Gateway…

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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 ?

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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.]

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Quick-Take: VMware View 4.6 and PCoIP Software Gateway

March 1, 2011

VMware View 4.6 has been released. Andre Leibovici has a nice summary of the PCoIP Software Gateway (PSG) functionality – new in 4.6 – that finally allows PCoIP to be negotiated without external VPN tunnels.

VMware View 4.6 has been just released and as everyone expected this release introduces support for external secure remote access with PCoIP, without requirement for a SSL VPN. This feature is also known as View Secure Gateway Server. VMware’s Mark Benson, in his blog article, does a very good job explaining why tunnelling PCoIP traffic through the Security Server using SSL was never a viable solution because VMware didn’t want to interfere with the advanced performance characteristics of the protocol.

Andre Leibovici – myvirtualcloud.net

Other enhancements in the 4.6 release include:

  • Enhanced USB device compatibility – View 4.6 supports USB redirection for syncing and managing iPhones and iPads with View desktops. This release also includes improvements for using USB scanners, and adds to the list of USB printers that you can use with thin clients. For more information, see the list of View Client resolved issues.
  • Keyboard mapping improvements – Many keyboard-related issues have been fixed. For more information, see the list of View Client resolved issues.
  • New timeout setting for SSO users – With the single-sign-on (SSO) feature, after users authenticate to View Connection Server, they are automatically logged in to their View desktop operating systems. This new timeout setting allows administrators to limit the number of minutes that the SSO feature is valid for.For example, if an administrator sets the time limit to 10 minutes, then 10 minutes after the user authenticates to View Connection Server, the automatic login ability expires. If the user then walks away from the desktop and it becomes inactive, when the user returns, the user is prompted for login credentials. For more information, see the VMware View Administration documentation.
  • VMware View 4.6 includes more than 160 bug fixes – For descriptions of selected resolved issues, see Resolved Issues.
  • Support for Microsoft Windows 7 SP1 operating systems

SOLORI’s Take: The addition of WAN-enabled PCoIP functionality takes VMware’s flagship desktop protocol to the next level. However, considerable tuning at the PCoIP desktop agent is necessary for most WAN configurations. The upside is the solution maintains PCoIP’s UDP basis without tunneling inside TCP.

Since PCoIP has always been AES encrypted by default, this is not really an issue of security but one of performance and delivery. Right-sizing the PCoIP payload for the intended WAN application will be challenging for most, so expect to see PSG use in campus-wide applications where security of PCoIP (UDP) has been difficult.

For a twist on PSG using Internet connections with dynamically assigned IP addresses, check-out Gabe’s Virtual World post – powershell included!

[updated to include links to VMware’s View release notes, and link to Gabe’s post.]

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VMware vSphere Update 2, View 4.x Issues

June 17, 2010

Right on the heels of vSphere 4 Update 2, a flurry of twitter and blog postings suggestion caution if upgrading a VMware View 4.x environment. Now, VMware has updated its KB to include a workaround for those needing to move to Update 2 for the feature and hardware support benefits but can’t afford to break their PCoIP-based View environment: in short, it’s all VMware Tools fault! Seems the SVGA drive in VMware Tools for Update 2 has a problem with PCoIP – preventing desktops from connecting.

Now that makes some sense given the fact that VMware is quite adamant about the ORDER in which VMware Tools, .NET framework and the View Agent must be installed. The current options for PCoIPers out there needing Update 2 are three-fold:

  1. Don’t upgrade VMware Tools;
  2. Upgrade VMware Tools with “Advanced Options” including
    1. For x86 guests:
      /s /v “/qn REINSTALLMODE=voums REINSTALL=WYSE,VMXNet,
      VMCI,Mouse,MemCtl,Hgfs,VSS,VMXNet3,vmdesched,ThinPrint,Sync,
      PVSCSI,Debug,BootCamp,Audio,Buslogic,VICFSDK,VAssertSDK,
      Toolbox,Upgrader,GuestSDK,PerfMon,Common,microsoft_dlls_x86,
      ArchSpecific”
      (line breaks included for formatting only)
    2. For x64 guests:
      /s /v “/qn REINSTALLMODE=voums REINSTALL=WYSE,VMXNet,
      VMCI,Mouse,MemCtl,Hgfs,VSS,VMXNet3,vmdesched,ThinPrint,Sync,
      PVSCSI,Debug,BootCamp,Audio,Buslogic,VICFSDK,VAssertSDK,Toolbox,
      Upgrader,GuestSDK,PerfMon,Common,microsoft_dlls_x64,ArchSpecific”
      (line breaks included for formatting only)
  3. Use RDP (not really an option for PCoIP environments)

If you’re already STUNG by the VMware Tools, the KB has a procedure for back-tracking the SVGA driver after VMware Tools for Update 2 has been installed. Here it is:

For customers that are experiencing the issue and want to continue using PCoIP, use this workaround:

Note: VMware recommends that you have VMware View 4.0.1 installed prior to performing these steps.

  1. Log in to the affected virtual machine(s) with Administrator rights. This is any virtual machine that has the VMware Tools shipped with ESX 4.0 Update 2 installed.
  2. Rename the C:\Program File\Common Files\VMware\Drivers\Video folder to C:\Program File\Common Files\VMware\Drivers\Video-OLD.
  3. From a working virtual machine, copy the C:\Program File\Common Files\Vmware\Drivers\Video folder to C:\Program File\Common Files\Vmware\Drivers\ on an affected virtual machine.
  4. Click StartSettingsControl PanelSystem.
  5. Click the Hardware tab and click Device Manager.
  6. Expand Display Adapters.
  7. Choose VMWARE SVGA II. Right-click on it and choose Properties.
  8. Click the Driver tab. You are presented with the SVGA driver properties.

    The version is 11.6.0.34 (Driver Date 01/03/2010).

  9. Click Update Driver. The Hardware Update wizard displays.
  10. When prompted with the question, “Can windows connect to Windows Update to search for software?”, click No, not at this time and click Next.
  11. When prompted with the question, “What do you want the wizard to do”, click Install from a list or specific location (Advanced) and click Next.
  12. Click Don’t search. I will choose the driver to install and click Next.
  13. On the next screen, you are presented a list of two or more VMWARE SVGA II Versions to choose from. For example:

    VMWARE SVGA II Version: 11.6.0.31 (21/09/2009)
    VMWARE SVGA II Version: 11.6.0.32 (24/09/2009)
    VMWARE SVGA II Version: 11.6.0.34 (01/03/2010)

    Choose VMWARE SVGA II Version: 11.6.0.32 (24/09/2009).

  14. Click Next. The driver begins installing.
  15. Click Continue Anyway when Windows notifies you that VMware SVGA II has not passed Windows logo testing.

    The driver install completes.

  16. Click Finish.
  17. Click YES when prompted to restart your computer.
  18. Verify that PCoIP is now working.

Note: VMware is investigating a permanent fix for the issue so our customers can upgrade to ESX 4.0 Update 2 without experiencing this issue.

– VMware KB1022830, 6/17/2010

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Quick Take – VMware PartnerExchange 2010: Day 3

February 10, 2010

With about 2.5 hours of sleep and the VCP410 test looming, Tuesday took on a different tone than the previous two days. My calendar was full:

  • 5:30 – Wake-up and check e-mail/blog/systems back in CST
  • 7:00am – Breakfast at the VMware Experience Hall
  • 8:30am – Keynote with Carl Eschenbach, EVP Worldwide Sales & Field Ops, VMware
  • 10:00am – ESXi Convergence Roadmap Session
  • 11:15am – View4 Workload Sizing and Testing
  • 12:15pm – Lunch in the VMware Alumni Lounge
  • 1:30pm – vSphere4 Advanced Configuration Topics
  • 3:45pm – VCP410 Test
  • 5:15pm – View Composer Tips, Tricks and Best Practices
  • 6:45pm – Check-in at home
  • 7:00pm – Update blog and check/respond to e-mail

First, the keynote with Carl and the gang was awesome! VMware took a really aggressive attitude towards the competition, including Citrix (virtual desktop) and Microsoft (virtual data center). To sum up the conversation: VMware’s intent on carrying on the Q4/09 momentum through 2011, extending its lead in virtual data center and cloud computing capabilities. But Carl’s not happy with just the traditional server market, and VMware wants to own the virtual desktop space – virtually putting the squeeze on Citrix as the walls close-in around them.

With over 60-70% of net new Citrix VDI builds being deployed on VMware’s ESX servers, it make me wonder why Citrix would drive its XenApp customers to VDI – in the form of XenDesktop4 – by offering a 2-for-1 trade-in program. Isn’t this like asking their own clients to reconsider the value proposition of XenApp – in essence turning vendor-locked accounts into a new battleground with VMware? If the momentum shifts towards VMware View4.x and VMware accelerates the pace on product features (including management and integration) as suggested by Carl’s aggressive tone today, where does that leave XenDesktop and Citrix?

The VMware Express Trailer

The VMware Express Mobile Data Center

The VMware Express: Coming to a City Near You!

VMware introduced its “data center on wheels” to the PartnerExchange 2010 audience today and I got a chance to get on-board and take a look. The build-out was clean and functional with 60+ Gbps of external interconnects waiting for a venue. Inside the Express was a data center, a conference room and several demonstration stations showing VMware vSphere and View4 demos.

6 ton Mobile A/C for Express' Data Center

6 ton Mobile A/C for Express' Data Center

VMware rolled-out the red carpet to the PartnerExchange 2010 attendees. To the right – above the 5-th wheel – is the conference room. All the way in the back (to the left) is the data center portion. In-between the data center and the conference room lies the demonstration area with external plasma screens in kick-panels displaying slide deck and demonstration materials.

The Express' Diesel Generator - Capable of Powering Things for Nearly 2-days

The Express' Diesel Generator - Capable of Powering Things for Nearly 2-days

Up front – behind the cab – rests 6-tons of air conditioning mounted to the front of the trailer. This keeps the living area inside habitable and the data center (about 70-80 sq. ft.) cool enough to run some serious virtualization equipment. Mounted directly behind the driver’s cabin is the diesel generator – capable of powering the entire operation for better than 40-hours when external power is unavailable. Today, however, the VMware Express was taking advantage of “house power” provided by Mandalay Bay’s conference center.

Where the rubber met the road was inside the data center: currently occupied by an EMC/Cisco rack and a rack powered by MDS/NetApp/Xsigo. Both featured 12TB of raw storage and high-density Nehalem-EP solutions. In the right corner, the heavyweight EMC/Cisco bundle was powered by Cisco’s UCS B-series platform featuring eight Nehalem 2P blades per 6U chassis fed by a pair of Cisco 4900-series converged switches. In the left corner, the super middleweight MDS Micro QUADv-series”mini-blade” chassis featuring an eight Nehalem 2P blades per two 2U chassis fed by a pair of Xsigo I/O directors delivering converged network and SAN tunneled over infiniband interconnects.

Still More Capacity for Additional Hardware Sponsors

Two-of-Three Racks are Currently Occupied by EMC/Cisco and MDS/NetApp/Xsigo

It will be interesting to see how the drive arrays survive the journey as the VMware Express travels across the country over the next year. Meanwhile, this tractor trailer is packing 60-blades worth of serious virtualization hardware destined for a town near you. VMware is currently looking for additional sponsors from the partner community to expand its tour; and access to the VMware Express will be prioritized based on partner status and/or sponsorship.

VCP410 Test Passed – Waiting for Official Notification

With the VCP410 test in the books, I’m now waiting for official notification from VMware of my VCP4 status. According to my “Examination Score Report” I should receive notice from VMware within 30-days having met all of the requirements for “VMware Certified Professional on vSphere 4 Certification” and testing above the Certified Instructor minimums.

As a systems and network architect, I found the “interface related questions” somewhat more challenging than the “design and configure” related fare. However, the test was pretty well balanced and left me with well over 25 minutes to go back over questions I’d checked for review and finalize those answers. I logged-out of the exam with 18 minutes left on the clock. My recommendation to those looking to pass the VCP410:

  1. Work with vSphere in a hands-on capacity for several days before taking the test, making good mental notes related to interface operations inside and outside of vCenter
  2. Know the minimums and maximums for ESX and vCenter configurations
  3. Understand storage zoning, masking and configuration
  4. Go over the VCP blueprint on your own before seeking additional assistance
  5. Remember the test is on GA release and not “current” release so “correct” answers may differ slightly from “reality”
  6. Get more than 2.5 hours sleep the night before you take the exam
  7. Schedule the exam in the morning – while you’re fresh – not the afternoon following meetings, etc.
  8. Dig into topics on the VCP Forum online

That about does it for day number three in Las Vegas, Nevada. It’s time to shuffle-up and deal!

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VMware View 4, Certified HCL Tripples in Size

January 26, 2010

In the past month, the number of hardware Thin and Zero clients certified for VMware View 4.0 has nearly trippled. It only seemed fitting to update our list to further showcase the current state of the View “certified” HCL for “hardware” thin clients. The “ThreadX” OS variants include hardware from Teradici (TC1100) to accelerate the PCoIP protocol. 

As of January 26, 2010, the following hardware clients (average price of $526/unit) are “officially” on VMware’s HCL:

OEM Model OS Supports Unit Cost New Since 
    Variant PcoIP (Est. $) Dec-09
Amulet Hotkey DXR4-iP ThreadX Y
(quad-head video)
TBD Y
Astec Technology Co. A3520 Linux Embedded for Thin Client b1106 Y TBD Y
Astec Technology Co. A3580 Windows XPe SP2 Y TBD Y
ClearCube C7420 ThreadX Y $1,160 Y
ClearCube I9420 ThreadX Y TBD Y
DELL OptiPlex FX160 Windows XPe SP2 Y $512 N
DevonIT TC10 ThreadX Y $342 Y
DevonIT TC5 Windows Embedded Standard 2009 Y $299 N
HP GT7720 Windows Embedded Standard Y $799 N
HP t5545 HP ThinPro Y $296 Y
HP t5630 Windows XPe SP3 Y $632 N
HP t5630W Windows Embedded Standard Y $440 N
HP t5720 Windows XPe SP3 Y $410 (refurbished) N
HP t5730 Windows XPe SP3 Y $349 N
HP t5730W Windows Embedded Standard Y $550 N
HP t5740 Windows Embedded Standard Y $429 N
HP vc4820t Windows Embedded Standard Y N/A Y
IGEL UD2-420 ES Windows Embedded Standard N $436 Y
IGEL UD2-420 LX IGEL Linux 4.02.500 N $292 Y
IGEL UD3-420 ES Windows Embedded Standard Y $561 Y
IGEL UD3-420 LX IGEL Linux 4.02.500 Y $412 Y
IGEL UD3-720 ES Windows Embedded Standard Y $561 Y
IGEL UD3-720 LX IGEL Linux 4.02.500 Y $436 Y
IGEL UD5-420 ES Windows Embedded Standard Y $627 Y
IGEL UD5-420 LX IGEL Linux 4.02.500 Y $579 Y
IGEL UD5-720 ES Windows Embedded Standard Y $653 Y
IGEL UD5-720 LX IGEL Linux 4.02.500 Y $605 Y
IGEL UD7-720 ES Windows Embedded Standard Y $1,042 Y
IGEL UD7-720 LX IGEL Linux 4.02.500 Y $925 Y
IGEL UD9-720 ES Windows Embedded Standard Y $953 Y
Leadtek Research Inc. WinFast VP200 P ThreadX Y $715 Y
Praim XP-6700 Windows XPe SP3 Y TBD Y
Praim XP940-I Windows XPe SP3 N TBD Y
Praim XP9400-U Windows XPe SP3 Y TBD Y
Praim XT900-I ThinOX 8.01.14 N TBD Y
Samsung SyncMaster NC190 ThreadX Y $467 Y
Samsung SyncMaster NC240 ThreadX Y $524 Y
Wyse C90LEW Windows Embedded Standard 2009 Y $498 N
Wyse P20 ThreadX Y $585 Y
Wyse R50L SUSE Linux Enterprise TC 10 Y $481 Y
Wyse R50LE SUSE Linux Enterprise TC 10 Y $442 Y
Wyse R90LEW Windows Embedded Standard 2009 Y $640 N
Wyse R90LW Windows Embedded Standard 2009 Y $593 N
Wyse S10 WTOS 6.5 N $252 N
Wyse V10L WTOS 6.5 N $315 N
Wyse V10L Dual DVI WTOS 6.5 N $447 N
Wyse X50L SUSE Linux Enterprise TC 10 Y $671 Y

 SOLORI’s NOTE: The Samsung NC190 and NC240 include integrated 19″ and 24″ monitors, respectively. This combination makes them the most cost and energy efficient PCoIP solutions on the market. If all-in-one products meet your deployment profile, the Samsung units are worth a serious look.

Devices not on this list may “work” with VMware View 4.0 but may not support all of View 4’s features. VMware addresses certified and compatible as follows:

Certified and Compatible Thin Clients:
Certified – A thin client device listed against a particular VMware View release in the Certified For column has been tested by the thin client manufacturer against that specific VMware View release and includes a minimum set of features supported in that VMware View version.

Compatible – A thin client device certified against a specific VMware View release is compatible with previous and subsequent VMware View releases according to the compatibility guarantees published as part of that specific VMware View release (typically two major releases in both directions). However, a compatible thin client may not include all of the features of the newer VMware View release. Please refer to your VMware View Client documentation to determine which features are included.

Unlisted thin clients may embed VMware’s “software client” along with a more general purpose operating system to deliver View 4 compatibility. Support for this class of device may be restricted to the device vendor only. Likewise, thin clients that are compatible with earlier versions of View may support only a subset of View 4’s features. When in doubt, contact the thin client manufacturer before deploying with View 4.