VMware vSphere Embraces OpenStack

VMware’s growing interest on OpenStack is clearly visible day by day. And it got a solid stamp when VMware’s CEO, Pat Gelsinger said on his keynote speech in VMworld 2013 in San Francisco “If you want to run OpenStack, vSphere is the best platform!” Off late VMware has been doing quite a bit of work on OpenStack development, right from having a dedicated OpenStack Team to releasing drivers for different OpenStack services like Nova, Cinder etc. And around the same line VMware partnered with Canonical (The UK based company behind the success of Ubuntu Linux) to provide a comprehensive services on OpenStack. Ubuntu is the most preferred choice for deploying OpenStack as the underlying Operating System. Similarly VMware vSphere has been the market leading Hypervisor but VMware didn’t have a great luck at expanding it’s business on the service provider segment. With all the service providers and Telcos now embracing the cloud business model, it makes lot of sense for them to adopt the open and extensible cloud computing approach. and there OpenStack wins over VMware vCloud. Also without having to embrace OpenStack, VMware has risk of losing it’s existing customer base slowly moving to other alternate hypervisors and cloud platforms. And with OpenStack having the flexibility of using any of the leading hypervisors like ESXi, Hyper-V, Xen or KVM, service providers may opt the Amazon Web Services  model (AWS is built on custom version of Open Source Xen Hypervisor). Also in my opinion, it will give the enterprise segment a smooth transition from VMware vSphere based Virtualized Data Centers to OpenStack based vendor-neutral (well, almost!) cloud deployment.

Let’s now look at some of the key strategies and technologies behind this partnership. And to me, this partnership doesn’t necessarily mean that this works only for Canonical based OpenStack deployment. It’s valid for any OpenStack provider like HP (HP CloudOS is based on OpenStack: http://www.hpcloud.com/why-hp-cloud) or IBM or Red Hat.

image

As you can see from the diagram here, all the Red Blocks are the standard OpenStack components like Nova, Cinder, Swift etc. whereas all the Purple Blocks are of Canonical’s value-addition on top of standard OpenStack framework. These are Maas, Juju & Landscape for Ubuntu Management and Orchestration services. And the Blue Blocks are of different VMware products or technologies like vSphere (Hypervisor & it’s management server), NSX (marketing leading SDN solution, acquired through Nicira), vCenter Datastores (these could be either third party storage and/or VMware’s newly introduced vSAN), vSOM (vCenter Operations Management like vCOPS, Log Insight etc.) and vCAC (vCloud Automation Center, acquired through DynamicOps)

(in case you are not familiar with different OpenStack services, I encourage you to revisit my previous blog post on the same line titled as “OpenStack Havana Components Simplified”)

image

Now in this diagram as you can see, VMware has released individual drivers for the major services of OpenStack. Through vSphere Driver, Nova Compute can talk to vCenter Server. And the same way, through vSphere Datastore driver Glance and Cinder can talk to vCenter Server. And for Neutron Networking services, VMware (actually by Nicira) has a NSX driver to talk to the NSX SDN Controller. And these in turn talk to the vSphere ecosystem or what VMware loves to call as SDDC (Software Defined Data Center).

image

Now in the above diagram, it is depicted how the entire solution architecture diagram may look like. Let’s list down the different possible steps/actions…

1. Ubuntu (Canonical) provides a set of value-added services for simplified management and Orchestration in the form of Juju, MAAS and Landscape. These services help you to deploy OpenStack in much faster, automated and effective way.

2. There are two blocks on the whole diagram, one (Left Column) is for Management Cluster and another one (Right Column) is for Guest or Tenant Cluster.

3. Different OpenStack services like Nova, Cinder etc. may be deployed on either on Physical Servers or on Virtual Machines on a separate vSphere Cluster.

4. You can have a separate vSphere Compute Cluster which will talk to the OpenStack services through Nova Driver (built by VMware) and this cluster will host the different guest OS.

5. At the same time in a mixed environment, you may have another Hypervisor like alternate KVM which can also host some part of the compute workload.

VMware recommends that you should ideally go for IceHouse release of OpenStack, or at least Havana release along-with VMware vSphere latest version 5.5

As I said earlier by taking this approach VMware has adopted a very smart move. This also shows that they want to make it flexible enough to be well-integrated with non-proprietary popular cloud computing framework like OpenStack. This is also beneficial for it’s partner ecosystem, since with the VMware released drivers for OpenStack services, it can be almost safely said that whatever can be integrated with SDDC, that can work with OpenStack now. Well, how mature these drivers and services are going to be and how the industry embraces this relationship only time will tell. But, yes it definitely can open a whole new world of possibilities in Cloud specially for enterprise customers.

(This article was first published at Amitabh’s Personal Blog: www.Amitabh-vWorld.Com)

HP Virtualization Performance Viewer – Online Expert Day – Don’t Miss!

HP Software has recently come out with the next version of HP Virtualization Performance Viewer. With the latest release, vPV has made great strides into performance monitoring of virtualized and cloud environments. Now you can not only troubleshoot performance issues quickly but also discover means to optimize your virtualized environment for greater efficiency, forecast utilization trends of the critical resources and find out the best fit placement for new workloads. With the real time guest OS drill down feature, you can drill down into the virtual machine to find out the application which is causing the bottleneck and obtain fine grain system performance metrics.

Here is a blog that delves deeper into the new features of HP vPV. Feel free to download the product for your evaluation.

With that said, HP Virtualization Performance Viewer team is hosting an online expert day on February 4th 2014. Use this opportunity to ask questions and find out how vPV can simplify performance management in virtualized and cloud environments.

This includes:

  • Visualize performance and identify hotspots across elements and resources in cloud and virtualized environments
  • Quickly troubleshoot problems using workbench workflows and reports
  • Right size the virtual environment for optimal performance with the help of placement and optimization functionality
  • Drill down and troubleshoot guest OS level problems in real time
  • Integrate with HP Cloud Service Automation to see trends and forecast as cloud consumer

What is an Online Expert Day?

Online Expert Day is an event when HP product, R&D, and Support team members and other employees join HP’s online forums to answer your toughest technical questions. Online Expert Days give you a chance to talk directly with the HP Experts.

How does the Online Expert Day event work?

Starting on February 4th at 07:30 AM Central European Time / 01:30 AM Eastern Standard Time / 06:30 AM Greenwich Mean Time, log in to this forum and create new posts to ask your questions.  The Online Expert Day will end on February 4th at 7:30 PM Central European Time / 1:30 PM Eastern Standard Time / 6:30 PM Greenwich Mean Time.

HP Experts will be online for 12 hours in the forum and will do their best to answer your questions. They may need to get some more information from you so please check the box “email me when someone replies”.  An online conversation will be born!

Cloud Automation & Introducing HP CSA

Introducing HP CSA

The importance of Automation & Orchestration to the traditional IT Infrastructure and especially to Cloud is undeniable! And I think going forward the focus will shift more towards the Cloud Automation and Orchestration from usual Data Center Virtualization. That’s why all the major IaaS players from Microsoft, VMware, BMC, Cisco, Dimension Data are putting all their development efforts and business focus on Cloud Automation. While VMware went ahead to acquire DynamicOps, Microsoft further extended the Orchestration and Automation features in it’s System Center Suite and Cisco came up with IAC (Intelligent Automation for Cloud). But here I am going to talk about “Cloud Service Automation” from Hewlett-Packard, which has been a very innovating product and probably was ahead of it’s time. My colleague from HP, Ken Spear wrote an interesting post  titled “Cloud Leadership That Makes A Difference” describing current leadership on the Cloud market, just right after Forrester Wave Research Company had positioned HP’s Cloud Offerings at the Top most position (Dated, November’2013). Ken Won, Director –Product Marketing, HP Cloud Software Products talks to Lisa on different Cloud Management portfolio from HP.

Cloud Management — Automation, Orchestration & Management Solution from HP

 

Now let’s look at what does HP Cloud Service Automation do and the business benefits out of it.

What is HP Cloud Service Automation?

As the name suggests, it automates the day to day or various repetitive Cloud Services and automates them in the form of workflows saving time, effort and cost. IaaS has largely been about deploying Compute and other associated infrastructure resources and managing complex multi-tier applications on top of it. In a large environment this often becomes repetitive, complex, time consuming and involves huge amount of human effort. HP CSA beautifully and intelligently orchestrates these entire processes into simple visual, easy-to-use workflows. CSA along with some other innovative softwares from HPSW (HP Software division) like OO (Operations Orchestration), SA (Server Automation) etc. creates a complete software product portfolio to enable a comprehensive automation solution for the large enterprise customers with facilities like resource management, service offering design and an intuitive user portal. Here in this video below Neelam Chakrabarty from HP Cloud Automation division in California reveals some interesting & powerful features of HP-CSA to Lisa-Marie Namphy from HP Converged Cloud division.

“Power of HP CSA” – A Coffee Talk between Neelam & Lisa from HP Cloud Division

 

What are the typical Cloud Services that a business would like to automate?

Let’s take an example of a popular IaaS Cloud Provider like Amazon AWS. Having opened an AWS account, the immediate thing that you would like to do is creating an EC2 instance, and then assign IP address etc. Now doing this is probably easy for 1 to 5 instances. But what happens if your business grows manifolds with Amazon AWS and there you talk about at least few hundred EC2 instances in a span of one week which gets created at a certain interval. Think about the associated tasks in those EC2 instances and the hassle to perform those tasks manually. Also while using auto-scaling like feature, the instances are needed to be released when there is a lean period, thus also requiring release of other associated services. Carrying out this kind of tasks by an administrator would be very repetitive and a most likely a nightmare.

Think about another situation where there is a constant need of virtual machines to be deployed from a VMware vSphere install base; and not only that, those virtual machines are to be joined to the Active Directory Domain with proper IP Address allocation, CMDB integration to make sure there is entry for the asset management etc. Isn’t this a pretty repetitive task? A VMware Fanboy will promptly reply saying “Well, you can write PowerCLI script for the same” or a PowerShell script for Windows Fanboys. But managing these scripts individually can be very difficult going forward. Also, most likely the end-users or the junior IT support team like a Service Desk Team will not have any scripting language knowledge. And that makes a dependency  for the senior IT resources. We will see how HP CSA can address these problems so easily with a graphical user interface. But before that let’s look at Cloud Life Cycle.

So what is Cloud Life Cycle Management?

Cloud Life Cycle Management can be described as a complete set of activities that span during the span, right from the time IT or the business entity defines an activity which can be termed as a “service” and until the time the service gets it’s retirement phase having delivered the desired result and comes back to the user who has requested for the service. But that looks pretty simple straight-forward process, isn’t it? Well, in reality it is not. Its complex and involves many processes in between. A typical Cloud Lifecycle Management comprises of these following steps (Diagram Courtesy: BMC)

 

Cloud LifeCycle Management Overview

So, essentially (referring to the above diagram) these will be some of the predominant steps in any standard Cloud Life Cycle Management:

1. IT will define a task or activity which can be termed as a “Cloud Service”. Think of it as a menu item in a restaurant.

2. IT creates a “Service Catalogue” which will be then populated with these kind of “Cloud Services”. Think of it as the Menu Catalogue in the restaurant.

3. Then there is a web based “Service Portal” for facilitating the users to choose the service. Think of it as the menu booklet that the waiter in the restaurant hands over to you.

4. The moment user selects any service it triggers the “Service Request Management” and/or “Automatic Provisioning” engines in a CSA like software. These two components determine what kind of a resource (and not only just virtual machines, but also physical servers, storage, network, application etc.) has been requested and based on that it will get the auto-provisioning of the resource done if it’s not in the on-demand pool.

3. The next step works on the Operations, Governance management to make sure the service meets the required performance metrics, compliance regulatory requirements, metering and chargeback.

4. Now as soon as the service comes to the end of its lifespan, it moves to the “Decommissioning” or “Retirement” phase and the result goes back to the user who initially requested the service. All these steps together create a complete life-cycle of a service in a cloud environment and thus it is termed as “Cloud Life Cycle Management”.

Note: The beauty of this entire process is that it is completely integrated with CMDB, thus fulfilling ITIL/ITSM standards and regulations.

Now that we have a clear understanding of Cloud Life Cycle Management, let’s go back to HP CSA and see what’s the standard architecture in a CSA implementation. For that I have included an excellent self-explanatory diagram of CSA Architecture below. This will be the reference for all our discussions going forward on this post.

image

What is Cloud Service Management Console in HP CSA?

Cloud Service Management Console provides the user interface part of the CSA suite for the overall administration and configuration. Similar to VMware vCloud Director (and perhaps as with VMware vCloud Automation Center too), this enables you to create a Provider vDC (Virtual Data Center) and Tenants or Organizations or Consumer Compartments, whatever you may name it. Similar to vCD, you can create a Master Service Catalogue available to all the organizations (or customers) and then Service Catalogues tied to specific organizations. These catalogues include a detailed service offerings which will eventually be subscribed by the end users.

Service Designer in CSA is a brilliant tool which is part of the Service Management Console and helps in creating these services graphically without having you to get into the underlying automation or scripting. Service Designer creates a cloud service based on the type of results expected from a series of actions and tying these actions with each other and with the components associated to them. Think of it pretty much like a sophisticated script that you may have created earlier, but here the same result is achieved via placing the components tied to one another and then making sure respective actions are attached to them. And thus creating a complete action cycle which will produce the desired result. Let’s move to “Cloud Delivery Platform” module now…

What does Cloud Delivery Platform in CSA perform?

Let’s see what are the individual components within Cloud Delivery Platform do…

Just a while back I spoke about “Cloud Life Cycle Management”. “Resource Supply” module is the one which provides the framework for the Cloud Life Cycle Management. Within it’s area of operation, it will organize the service providers with it’s resources or components in terms of offerings which are again presented in the form of subscriptions. Environments facilitate the association of resources and subscriptions to the specific providers.

Service Delivery module helps in creating something called “Service Instances” as soon as there is a subscription request for a particular service. It will also tie up the specific service provider and it’s resources to the service instances. It provides the framework for security and role based access management too.

“Service Consumption” refers to HP CSA’s subscriber-facing functions. Once a service is designed, a Service Business Manager composes a service offering which adds customized subscription options, pricing, and documentation to the design. The Service Business Manager configures approval policies for individual offerings, or for catalogs of offerings. Individual offerings can be published and made visible to subscribers in one or more service catalogs. Environments for provider selection are configured for service catalogs.

Here’s another interesting video which I think is worth your time! Jay Bomze, an independent expert on Cloud Automation has done a great job in explaining CSA.

Jay Bomze, an Independent Cloud Automation Expert demonstrates CSA

 

The CSA saga doesn’t end here, it’s just the tip of the iceberg! More interesting exploration of HP Cloud Service Automation will be continued in upcoming blog posts. Stay tuned…

(This article was first published on Amitabh’s Personal Blog: www.Amitabh-vWorld.Com )

PS: As they say, “Sharing is Caring!”. Spread the awareness through your social network.

OpenStack “Havana” Components Simplified

OpenStack Havana

OpenStack Cloud Computing needs no introduction! It is currently the top most open source project and also the top most Cloud Computing Initiative backed by Enterprise IT giants to start-ups and developer community (see the list of companies: http://www.openstack.org/foundation/companies/) Undoubtedly OpenStack is the future of Cloud Computing! Inspite of taking active interest on OpenStack for quite some time, I decided it is now time for me to burn my fingers in terms of blogging and evangelizing on OpenStack! And the first thing comes to my mind is discussing OpenStack Architecture. I thought why not to start with OpenStack components and how they relate to the similar components in VMware vCloud and Amazon Web Services (AWS) environment. Both VMware vCloud and Amazon AWS have been strong players in the IaaS Cloud world and mostly people are well aware on either of them. So giving an analogy to their terms will give an easy understanding in terms of starting with OpenStack. Here it goes…

OpenStack being an Open Source Project comes out in releases unlike as version changes in proprietary softwares (e.g VMware vCloud v1.5, and then v5.1 and so on…). In a year, there are two releases, every six months. The latest release is known as “Havana” release. It follows the alphabetic order from “A” to “Z”; currently at “H” (the earlier two releases were “Folsom” and “Grizzly”). The next release named as “Icehouse” is due for release early next year.  Every release of OpenStack introduces lot of new features; guess to make it a head to head match with Amazon AWS Cloud. And looking at the pace the way this project is being shaped up and backed by everyone, right from exciting start-ups (like MetaCloud, Piston Cloud, Mirantis, Aptira. MorphCloud etc.) to all the big enterprise giants (like HP, IBM, Cisco, Red Hat, EMC, VMware, Dell…) it will not be exaggerating to say that, probably in next 1 to 2 years it will be as feature rich as Amazon AWS currently is.

OpenStack suite (it resembles a software “suite”) consists of multiple components as you would see mostly in any Cloud Software Suite (for example, vCloud Suite consists of vSphere, SRM, vCOPS, vCloud Director, vCAC, Chargeback etc.). So, let’s explore how the “Havana” feature release looks like.

Havana release consists of these components or services described below with a relevance to VMware vCloud or Amazon AWS for analogy purpose…

openstack-software-diagram

1. “Nova” Compute: Think of “Nova” as vCloud Director in VMware vCloud Suite. I would call it as the “Heart” of Openstack Cloud Computing. This manages all the virtual machines or VMs in Openstack, very similar way vCloud Director does in the VMware Cloud environment. Typically any IaaS (Infrastructure As A Service) cloud environment, the component which does the compute part is the essential element. You can think of it as the chairperson running the entire show along with assistance from other components like Neutron, Glance, Swift, Horizon, Keystone etc.  “Nova” further provides another abstraction layer on top of your Hypervisor (and it does not matter in OpenStack which Hypervisor you use: KVM, Xen, ESXi or Hyper-V); very similar way vCD works in vCloud. This acts as the “Fabric Controller” in a typical IaaS Cloud Architecture. The Fabric Controller can be called as the kernel of any IaaS Cloud Software Suite. Its job is to simply play with the Virtual Machines or VMs provided by your Hypervisor. It provisions, stores, delivers, monitors and commands the virtual machines (VMs) and physical servers that make up the OpenStack Cloud. Nova was initially a NASA initiative and is written completely on the new generation language “Python” unlike Java (in case of “CloudStack”, another OpenSource Cloud Computing Project, now run by Citrix) or C/C++ or .Net. Cloud Users won’t get to interact with “Nova” directly, they will rather do it through “Horizon” dashboard component which we are going to talk next…

2. “Horizon” Dashboard: Most of us have used the Amazon AWS Console (screenshot below)

image

“Horizon” is pretty similar to this. Through Horizon you will interact with different services of OpenStack, like launching an instance (or a “VM”), accessing the underneath storage or files, playing with networking like IP Addresses, setting permissions etc. Horizon primary works as an user interface tool to talk to the more heavy-duty services like Nova, Swift etc. In VMware vCloud, you can think of it as the vCloud Director User Interface Console. To make Horizon work, you need an identity management component for authentication (in OpenStack it is “KeyStone”) and an Image Management System (“Glance”. Glance is equivalent to Amazon AWS’s AMI [AWS Machine Instance] Store) apart from of course Python and Nova. It started initially as a dashboard or console to manage Nova Compute Layer, but eventually has grown today with multiple plug-ins to interact with other services as well.

Real life example has shown that Cloud Providers tend to customize the standard Horizon dashboard (e.g: HP’s Public Cloud based on OpenStack has a customized version of Horizon:  see www.HPCloud.Com) The Horizon Project was initially started by Canonical (Developer and Support provider of Ubuntu Linux). It is now time to move to the networking component of OpenStack. And there goes Neutron…

3. “Neutron” Networking (earlier known as “Quantum”): If you have been a VMware vSphere or vCloud user, you know all the networking terms like vSwitch, Distributed vSwitch, vCNS (“vCloud Networking & Security”, earlier known as vShield Suite). Neutron is pretty similar to them and provides all the services that these components do in vCloud environment. In an AWS environment, all the network related operations that you perform with the launched instances like assigning IP Addresses, Changing DNS settings, DHCP, VPN etc. all can be mapped to Neutron’s work arena in OpenStack. Once a VM has been provisioned by Nova through a request from Horizon web console, the user would like to assign it with a network interface, IP address settings etc. That’s where Neutron works in the background. Because of its pluggable modular architecture different vendors like Nicira (now a VMware company, known for its SDN offering and NSX), Arista Networks (another SDN player, well known for its 7000 series switches) can integrate their solutions with it seamlessly.

4. “Cinder” Block Storage: In Amazon AWS, the block storage is  known as EBS (Elastic Block Storage). Cinder can be called as the OpenStack version of EBS. It is a persistent non-volatile block storage meaning the data is stored in blocks. You can think of it as an additional volume (D: or E: in Microsoft Windows Servers) you would attach or assign to the virtual machine. Remember, it is not the local storage where your OS is installed and boots from (in Windows, it is C: ). There are typically two types of storage in an IaaS Cloud: A) File Level Storage and B) Block Level Storage. Block Level Storage is used to high performance systems like Exchange or SQL Server Databases or to any kind of application which may need rapid growing or shrinking data requirements. Usually these are fast-accessible and high cost storage. All the major storage vendors like HP, EMC.Dell, Netapp and even Software Defined Storage startups like Nexenta’s solutions work with Cinder. There are some interesting case studies how new-age Software Defined Storage from HP’s StoreVirtual and Nexenta’s NexentaStor work with Cinder. With Cinder, you can create, attach and detach a volume to a virtual machine instance. Interestingly, it can also work with Unix/Linux based NFS shares.

5. “Swift” Object Storage: Its equivalent to Amazon AWS S3 (Simple Storage Service). This is usually used for internet services for storing large audio/video files which will mostly be static in content unlike Cinder. Similar to Amazon S3, it is scalable and redundant in nature where files are usually stored in inexpensive disks  replicating across multiple devices and nodes. Rackspace launched this development initiative to replace an earlier similar project called “Cloud Files”.

6. “Glance” Image Service: Its the OpenStack version of Amazon AWS AMI (AWS Machine Instance) and VMware’s VM Templates and vApps. Think of it as a store of pre-configured VMs with applications and settings which you can use time and again while launching an VM instance. It uses a RESTful API for querying and retrieving the images. These images can be stored either on Cinder or Swift storage systems.

7. “KeyStone” Identity Service: Think of it as the Active Directory or RADIUS system in your corporate network. As the name suggests, it provides identity services, like ILM in Microsoft Networking. Although unlike Active Directory (which is token based), it also provides centralized authentication mechanism for the OpenStack Cloud in username/password format as well. Without this you cannot even logon to the Horizon dashboard to start using the Cloud Services in OpenStack. It can in turn connect to your corporate internal network’s Active Directory or OpenLDAP or even Amazon AWS. It uses OpenStack Identity Service API which is implemented using a RESTful web service interface. It works on SSL over HTTP (HTTPS) on TCP port 443.

8. “Ceilometer” Metering & Monitoring Service: If you are familiar with VMware vCloud, you know what VMware vCenter Chargeback Manager is used for. Similar to Chargeback Manager, Ceilometer provides all the billing facilities to determine how much a resource like a VM or Storage or any other service say load balancer has been used and how to charge it to the appropriate business unit or tenant/customer. It provides the metering and monitoring of services for data collection for usage consumption determination and further cross charging purpose. This along with “Heat” was incubated in the earlier Grizzly release and but made part of OpenStack only in the Havana release.

9. “Heat” Orchestration Service: Its the OpenStack IaaS Cloud Orchestration project/service pretty much in line with HP’s Cloud Service Automation (HP-CSA) or VMware’s vCloud Automation Center (previously DynamicOps). It allows the customers to provision a group of cloud services using Amazon’s AWS CloudFormation templates and OpenStack native REST API. This service was not there in Grizzly but now part of Havana.

In the next post we will see how these services interact with each other, stay tuned.

Thanks for your time! Let’s be “Sociable”, please share on your social network

[This article was first published on Amitabh Dey's personal blog: www.Amitabh-vWorld.Com]

VMware Horizon View VDI in BPO Use Cases

After VMworld in San Francisco it has been hectic weeks for me. There were many key inputs that I have received from this great event where 22,500 best of the tech. minds gathered.  End User Computing and VMware Horizon View have always been one of my core interest areas. And I tried as much as possible to attend the best of the EUC sessions there. One of them was Business Process Desktop (BPD).  Previously I discussed about Horizon View Reference Architectures in some of my blog posts: HP StoreVirtual VSA with View | Mobile Secure Desktop Reference Architecture with Horizon View and I was encouraged by the followers of this blog to talk about them more. This time I chose Horizon View BPD Ref. Architecture. Having worked with some of the top BPO’s like GE, Convergys & vCustomer in their technology division in India, I have always experienced huge amount of work that goes in managing user applications and desktops. VMware has come up with the View Reference Architecture for BPOs last year and I see quite a business value proposition on the same. A similar talk was there on one of the VMworld session as well this year. Let’s dig down to it see what it consists of and why this Ref. Architecture makes sense, especially if you belong to the BPO IT community…

The driving factors in case of BPO:

  1. Low cost and yet effective service output from locations like India , Philippines.
  2. Different time zone work.
  3. Ready to go market capability.
  4. Low cost infrastructure availability for the BPO business.
  5. Quality, expertise and efficiency on the particular deliverables.

Usually in BPOs I have experienced these requirements:

  1. Large number of desktops, usually in a number of thousands.
  2. Multiple applications due to different client/customer requirements.
  3. Local data storage
  1. Shift based rotation of work (employees work on different shifts on the same machines for different accounts)
  1. Every shift worker may have different requirement on the same desktop. Say the first shift may work on just Spreadsheet whereas the following shift may work on heavy duty image processing for some insurance clients.
  1. Data security
  1. High availability of desktops and applications
  1. Easy troubleshooting of desktops and applications and low downtime.

We are already aware about the benefit of Virtual Desktops (VDI) and Application Virtualization products like VMware View, Citrix XenDesktop, VMware ThinApp, Citrix XenApp and it is quite natural to map the benefits of these to the requirements of a BPO setup. But here I am going to talk about How To Architect a VMware Horizon View BPO Solution. I also would like to embed a video here by Rory Clements  who is based out of VMware’s Palo Alto office and is an End User Computing Group Manager.

Some of the issues that BPD solution will address for you are:

Security:

A)  Data loss prevention through centralized data storage: Since these are virtual desktops data no more resides on the user end point devices

B) Two Factor Authentication: You really cannot rely on mere password authentication however it may be Kerberos enabled. You need at least two factor authentication.

C) Compliance Adherence: with the use of VMware vCenter Configuration Manager HIPAA like compliance are met. Read more about vCenter Configuration Manager here: http://www.vmware.com/products/vcenter-configuration-manager/ and on HIPAA: http://www.dhcs.ca.gov/formsandpubs/laws/hipaa/Pages/1.00%20WhatisHIPAA.aspx

Uptime: Desktops accessible from anywhere, load balancing function with F5 Big-IP kind of appliances, redundancy to avoid data and production uptime loss.

Remote Management: Desktops pools of thousand and more desktops can be deployed instantly, patch/security management centrally possible, almost no onsite help is required, centralized troubleshooting made easy.

These are some of the standard components that VMware recommends to have while architecting a BPD/BPO solution and I will state the reasons why the recommend so:

Core Horizon View  Components:

1. VMware vSphere (including vCenter Server): This will provide the base core virtualization infrastructure required to host the View Management components like Composer, View Connection server etc. and most importantly your user virtual desktops. This build the core layer on top of which the VDI layer will be built.

2. Horizon View Components:

A) Connection Server/ Horizon View Manager: This will enable the clients to connect to the virtual desktops, create desktop pools, setting up centralized policies, security restrictions etc.

B) View Composer: As the name suggests it composes a pool of desktops from a master desktop image, decouples user data, applications etc. from the OS layer.

C) View Persona Management: Decouples the user profiles from the OS layer and enabled the users to have their own customized profiles available from any desktop, anywhere.

*** Note: You can also use Liquidware Labs ProfileUnity or AppSense instead of View Persona Management for the Profiles Management. Up to you and your business budget.

  1. VMware ThinApp: ThinApp is a small yet powerful and often under-estimated utility to decouple your applications from the virtual desktops. It creates bubbles of applications allowing the application run from anywhere without having to depend on Windows Registry etc. 
  1. VMware vShiled Endpoint Security: This provides the next generation antivirus and anti-malware security solution to the virtual desktops by offloading the key tasks to a virtual appliance instead of loading it to the client component or agent in a traditional AV solution. 
  1. vCloud Networking & Security Edge & App:  For both the virtual data centers and application level security. 
  1. vCenter Configuration Manager: For compliance and regulatory requirements as described above. 
  1. vCOPS for View and/or Liquidware Labs Stratusphere Ux: For Virtual Desktops Monitoring, Validation and Diagnostic Solution. 
  1. F5 Big IP: For load balancing 
  1. Safenet Authentication Manager & Indigo Identityware -InSession: For SSO with RADIUS to enable centralized authentication. 
  1. McAfee MOVE or TrendMicro Deep Security: For Agentless AntiVirus solution customized for Virtual Desktops.

(Some customers use Microsoft Forefront Endpoint Protection as well, however that it not agentless!)

  1. Microsoft DFSR: For Centralized File Server based File Share Replication between site to site. 
  1. Avaya/Cisco/Microsoft Lync/Mitel: For Unified Communication. 
  1. EMC Avamar or Commvault Simpana 9: For backup and restore. 
  1. Teradici PCoIP and Microsoft RDP with Riverbed SteelHead WAN Optimizer (since RDP is not very ideal for WAN environment natively): For Desktop Display Protocol.

You may choose to go for Persistent or Non-Persistent, Floating or Dedicated Pool of desktops depending on the requirement, types of applications used etc. It varies from one customer to another customer in the BPO workspace. So, there is no hard and fast rule.

Also in terms of Application Virtualization, some may choose Citrix XenApp as a natural choice because of it’s long success but then again it comes with few server component to support XenApp as well which will definitely add to the cost factor. So, unless you have very specific application virtualization requirement which ThinApp cannot handle, go for it; or else stick to ThinApp. You can use Liquidware Labs FlexApp too, but again it comes with additional price tag. Using Microsoft SCCM is a complete NO-NO for the virtual desktops due to high IO utilization, up to 30-40%! So, it’s a better practice to apply the patches in the Gold Image and then use the Recompose Function.

VMware Horizon View 5.2 Home Lab: Installing View Composer Server

It is the successor of my previous blog post on “Setting Up VMware Horizon View 5.2 Home Lab”. There I spoke about different components required to set up View Lab and also discussed on how to set up View Connection Server. Here I will show how to set up a View Composer Server. Out of all the components, I guess this is slightly tricky. I have seen most of the novices face issue in setting up a Composer Server correctly.

As told before, View Composer can be installed either on:

A) Windows Server based vCenter Server if you have that installed already in your lab.

Or

B) A Dedicated VM/Physical Server if you want separate the View Composer from the vCenter. Also in the case if you use the vCenter Server Appliance in your environment, you will need a dedicated Composer Server. In my home lab, it is the second case: I use a vCenter Server Appliance.

To setup and use View Composer, you will also need Microsoft SQL Server or Oracle Database. I have gone with Microsoft SQL Server. You have a choice of setting up a dedicated SQL/Oracle Server or go with SQL/Oracle Express Edition. Express Edition is a small scale database installed on any server and eliminates the hassle of creating and maintaining a dedicated database server. Express edition is used mainly for lab or POC purpose. In my case I have gone with a SQL Express Edition installed on a View Composer Server. If you already have a Windows based vCenter Server, you can install the View Composer software and also install the SQL Express Edition there. It is better to use SQL Server 2008 Express Edition, however you can also use SQL Server 2005 Express Edition with SP3. In my case I have gone with SQL 2005 Express Edition with SP3.

Why There is a need of Database (SQL or Oracle) with Composer Server?

View Composer does not include any database of it’s own but it needs some kind of database to store some important informations related to:

AD connections | vCenter Server Connections | Linked Clones | Replicas that are created when desktop pools are created.

Just a word of caution that you for each instance of View Composer Server, you need a separate Composer Database. Let’s now go towards installing Composer and Database interconnecting them.

Step 1. Database Server Installation

Composer Server Installation:

Deploy a new VM from the Windows Server 2008 R2 Template. Give it a static IP, host name (say “View-Composer”) and join it to the lab AD Domain. Reboot and login with Domain Administrator account.

Download and install Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Express Edition from http://www.microsoft.com/en-sg/download/details.aspx?id=21844. I chose to do a full installation of all the components.

After that you need to download the SQL Express Service Pack. I have installed SP3, you can go for SP4 as well. Here is the link: http://www.microsoft.com/en-sg/download/details.aspx?id=14752

Now that you have installed the SQL Express Edition on the Composer Server, it’s time to configure the database.

You need to configure the database now.

Go to Start->All Programs->Microsoft SQL Server 2005->SQL Server Management Studio

Login to Management Studio with IP: 127.0.0.1 in the “Server Name” field and authentication as “Windows Authentication”

Go to the “Databases” section. Right click and create a new database. Give it a name say “ViewComposer”

Now you need to create an ODBC Connection to allow the View Composer Application to connect to this newly created database called “ViewComposer”

Go to Start->All Programs->Administrative Tools->Data Sources (ODBC)

Go to the “System DSN” tab there. You need to create a new System Data Source.

Click on “Add” and select “SQL Native Client” and double click it.

In the Data Source Name put “ViewComposer” and on the server put “View-Composer” and click “Next”

In the next screen select “With Integrated Windows Authentication”

[Note: If you have a SQL Server installed on the same server as Composer Server then it is okay to go with Integrated Windows Authentication. Otherwise if you have a dedicated a SQL Server, you must chose SQL Server Authentication. Or else it will not work]

Make sure the checkbox is selected on “Connect to SQL Server to obtain default settings…” and click on “Next”

In the next screen select “Change the default database to” and choose “ViewComposer” and click on “Next” and then click on “Finish”

In the next screen click on “Test Data Source” and make sure it gives you result “TEST COMPLETED SUCCESSFULLY”.  If it doesn’t give you this, then there is some problem with the ODBC connection or SQL Server. The click on “Next” and “OK”.

Now you are ready to install the Composer Server software.

Install the Composer Server Software (with filename: “VMware-viewcomposer-5.2.0-983460.exe”) on the same server by executing the file name mentioned. It will take some time to get the “Next” button enabled. Be patient.

In the DSN information screen provide the DSN name as “ViewComposer”and provide Domain Administrator credentials on the DSN authentication screen.

Accept the default settings and finish the installation.

It completes the View Composer Server installation.

Next we will move to initial configuration of VMware Horizon View 5.2. Additionally we will also see how to setup and configure View Security, Transfer and Replica Servers…

Stay tuned…

Be sociable and share :)

Setting Up VMware Horizon View 5.2 Home Lab (Connection Server)

In this post we will see how to setup VMware Horizon View 5.2 Home Lab. I know many people are out there who are EUC (End User Computing) –VDI Fanboy like me. Some of you may have already experienced some kind of VDI or Application Virtualization like Citrix XenDesktop or may be Citrix XenApp or Presentation Server or perhaps VMware ThinApp. VMware Horizon View 5.2 is one of the two leading VDI solutions in the market, other one being Citrix XenDesktop.

VDI or Virtual Desktop Infrastructure is the client end virtualization where your desktops are virtualized and hosted/provided via server based sessions, to put it simply. In VDI, all you use is a endpoint client device which could be either a repurposed PC, Laptop/Desktop, Mobile devices like iPad and Android Tablets, Thin/Zero Clients etc. Your desktop OS is not installed on the client device, rather you access the virtual desktop through a virtual desktop client (here VMWare View Client). Your actual desktop is sitting on the Server side in your data center. So, what it takes to learn VMware View 5.2 in your home lab? In the simple steps below, you will find that setting up a View Home Lab is absolutely easy. In fact much easier than other VDI contemporaries.

Assumption:

I assume you have more or less these kind of setup already in place for your VMware vSphere Home Lab:- (in case not, I suggest you to look at my previous blog posts on vSphere Home Lab set-up)

  1. Two ESXi Hosts (either physical boxes or one nested ESXi) with vCenter and an Active Directory Domain Controller. These vSphere Lab can also be very well sitting within VMWare Workstation in a Laptop/Desktop.
  2. Any kind of shared storage (A NAS is not absolutely necessary, I use NFS based Software Defined Storage from Nexenta -Community Edition. It may take little time to set up the initial configuration, but once done it works like a charm! I prefer NFS than iSCSI. Again absolutely my personal choice). You can create a 500GB to 1TB or more shared NFS/iSCSI volume to host your desktop pools.
  3. You have a Windows Server 2008 R2 template. Remember it has to be R2 only (preferably with SP1)

VMware Horizon View 5.2 Components:

A)     View Connection Server: This server will be the first server you will install in a View Setup. This will act as the connection broker for your virtual desktop. So, what is a Connection Broker? A connection broker is like a middle-man sitting between your client endpoint device and the Virtual Desktop Pool hosted on the data center. A connection broker will provide your end point device with a valid virtual desktop when you present your valid credentials like your username and password. It talks to the other components and makes sure a virtual desktop appropriate for you is delivered to you.

B)      View Composer: View Composer is a small software which is installed either on the vCenter Server ( if the vCenter Server is a Windows 2008 based Server) or installed on a separate Windows 2008 R2 Server (if you have chosen to use vCenter Server Appliance, as in my home lab). As the name suggest, it composes the virtual desktops meaning it helps in provisioning the virtual desktop pools when and as requested.

C)      View Client: This is invariably installed on the end-point device irrespective of whether you use Laptop, iPad or Desktop.

(Note: VMware Horizon View 5.2 is so simple to setup that with the above three components only, you can almost accomplish most of the stuffs in a basic VDI environment.)

However there are some additional (optional) components as well and in a full blown set up you can’t ignore their presence and so is the case when you implement View 5.2 on an Enterprise Scenario.

D)     View Security Server: This sits on the DMZ area and acts as a PCoIP proxy. Now what’s this PCoIP? PCoIP is the flagship VDI protocol from a trendsetter company called Teradici. It works on UDP (unlike Citrix ICA/HDX which works on TCP) and delivers the remote desktop experience from Server side to the client end device. Security Server is used so that you don’t need to expose your Connection Servers on the DMZ area to have your remote clients access their virtual desktops from a WAN/Internet scenario.

E)      View Replica Server: Replica Server is nothing but one or more additional Connection Servers which adds up to the Connection Server Pool for load balancing purpose. So, effectively for some reason if the primary Connection Server goes down, you have the Replica Server to handle the connection requests. When you install Connection Server, it asks if you want to install it as a Connection or Replica Server, Security Server or Transfer Server.

F)      Transfer Server: This is something very interesting feature in View! Think of a scenario when you are taking a long distance flight and you want to use a VDI desktop. Traditionally till the time you are connected to the Datacenter, you get your Virtual Desktop, but what happens when you are inside the flight and the connection to your data center is lost? You also lose the connection to your virtual desktop, in a way you can no more use your virtual desktop. But with Transfer Server in place, you can indeed download an offline copy of the entire Virtual Desktop and keep working on it. The moment it regains connection, it will sync back to the data center, a method which is called Checking Out and Checking In. You need a View Client with Local Mode to use this feature. This is also called Offline Desktop or Local Mode feature.

(The below diagram (courtesy: VMware) will give a visual representation of all the different building blocks of View 5.2)

VMware Horizon View Components

Now that you have some basic idea of Horizon View 5.2 let’s setup our View Lab:

Where to get the VMware Horizon View 5.2 Software ISOs: You need to register in My VMWare (https://my.vmware.com/web/vmware/login) and register for a trial to download all the View Components. You will also need Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Express Edition x64-SP1. Download it from: http://www.microsoft.com/en-sg/download/details.aspx?id=25052 Download only the file with name “SQLEXPR_x64_ENU.exe”

Step No. 1. Setting up Connection Server: Deploy a new VM from the Windows Server 2008 R2 Template. Give it a name as “View-Connection”. Thin Provision it’s storage when asked. Give it a 2 vCPU and 2GB RAM allocation. Once provisioned, Give it a Host Name say “View-Connection” and join it to your internal lab active directory domain. Also provide a Static IP and reboot it. After reboot login with the Domain Administrator Account.

Now install the View Connection Server Installer with a file-name like “VMware-viewconnectionserver-x86_64-5.2.0-987719.exe”. When asked select “View Standard Server” as the installation option. Select any recovery password of your choice, but make a note of it. This will later help you to recover your View Connection Server Installation. For Firewall configuration choose “Configure Windows Firewall Automatically”.  For account/group authorization choose “Domain Administrators” account for the lab internal AD domain.

After finishing the setup, a Windows Update is recommended.

(In the next post we will  see how to install the View Composer Server, SQL Server etc.). Thanks for reading & Stay tuned…

And be sociable and share :)

VMUG Singapore – July 2013

Singapore VMUG (VMware User Group) just had another event on last Friday, 12th July-2013 in Pan Pacific Hotel. The event started at 2PM and continued till 6PM and following which there was sponsored beer sessions in a pub in City area. This time it was a bigger event with more number of participants along with some VMware employees and partner employees as well. This was well co-ordinated by Singapore VMUG leader and my friend Benjamin Troch. He managed to pull two good sponsors this time: Nimble Storage and CommVault.

VMUG

The session started with a small key note session by Ben himself after which Sathish Murthy took over the lead explaining the next generation storage solutions from Nimble. Sathish is a Sr. Consultant with Nimble and single handedly manages the technical operations of  Nimble in Asia. And then CommVault took over the stage explaining it’s products and solutions. Following a short break they both gave a hands-on demo of their solutions which was not bad. But I wish the initial sessions could have been more technical. Those sounded bit more of a marketing pitch.

VMware Education came up with a lucky draw prize where one participant was awarded with a free training of VCAP-DCA.

The most important and rather more meaningful session for the day probably was “How to go for VCDX Certification” VCDX is the final or master level certification in VMware Career Path. Three VCDX from Singapore VMware PSO (Professional Service Organization) spoke on how to apply and prepare for it. There were quite a few questions from the candidates and I also had my share in that. I could see the audience was quite engaged in the VCDX discussion. And I think going forward more sessions like this should be conducted.

The next VMUG is scheduled to be in August and coming up with another interesting discussion “vSphere Home Lab”. I plan to share my experiences as well there, specially on the same line as my old blog post “Remotely Accessible High Performance vSphere Home Lab”

Last but not least, thanks to Nimble and CommVault for the after-VMUG beer session! :-)

Look forward to the upcoming one in August…

 

VMware vExpert 2013! Thank you VMware!

I know I am late and this is already a old news by now! VMware has announced the list of awardees for VMware vExpert 2013 award. John Troyer & Corey Romero from VMWare Social Media Team announced the same on May 28th.  By the time I saw it was 29th early morning in Singapore. I had just returned from Kuala Lumpur, I was tired having returned from there having managed a large customer escalation of Hewlett-Packard. As a habit, I opened my Twitter on my iPad just after opening my eyes that morning and the first tweet I saw was by my favourite VDI guy: Andre Leibovici where he mentioned something like “3rd time vExpert in a row and still feels nice!” I was happy to see this as well as felt sad that I didn’t make it since I didn’t get any notification on my Gmail about the vExpert 2013 awardees result. I was almost confirmed I could not make it to the list. Just having controlled my heart-break I saw another tweet by John Troyer himself where he mentioned something like this “Finally the vExpert 2013 awardees list is ready. It was difficult to choose among so many nominations” I followed his link to see who are the known people made it to the list: http://blogs.vmware.com/vmtn/2013/05/vexpert-2013-awardees-announced.html

vExpert_Logo

And to my utter surprise, I see my name listed just below another fav. techie of mine: Frank Denneman. Initially I could not believe my eyes! To convince myself further, I wore my spectacles and checked again and saw yes, it’s indeed my name with my twitter id: @AmitabhPancham [Pancham aka Rahul Dev Burman is my music guru! Don't forget I am a musician too! ;)  ] To be honest, it was beyond my expectation to receive such a prestigious award like VMware vExpert! Thank you VMware for encouraging me and acknowledging my contribution!

vExpert_award

Two people who encouraged me immensely were 1. Iwan Rahabok from VMware, Singapore: @e1_ang and 2. Preetam Zare: @techstarts.

Iwan Rahabok is a popular figure in the VMware community in Asia! He has been doing some incredible job out there in Singapore and has been helping users, customers relentlessly without caring for his professional benefits! In the last VMUG, while introducing myself to the audience, Iwan encouraged me to apply for vExpert. Trust me, I still didn’t think my contributions were commendable enough! Iwan is a vExpert 2103 too!

Preetam Zare, a popular figure with his acclaimed blog: vcp5.wordpress.com (and my ex-colleague from Microsoft, Bangalore) is the one who guided me to my journey to the Virtualization World! Few months back while I was talking to him over phone, he told me that my blog post were thought-provoking and I must apply for vExpert nomination. He is the first one who sent me the vExpert Nomination Form on his own to me as soon as it was out. Thanks Preetam! I am indebted to you! By the way, Preetam is a two-time vExpert awardee now (2012-2013)!

Another person, whom I can’t help but mention is Matthew Hardman ( Twitter: @realhardman ). Matthew is one of the greatest influential speakers I have seen on the local tech world! Great Matt! Keep it up! On couple of occasions, he has been kind enough to share my blog posts with his friends and followers! As always, I am still your fan! When you speak on stage, it’s great to listen!

Last but not least, it’s my friend Prasenjit Sarkar (@StretchCloud), Sr. MTS with VMware, Bangalore and distinguished blogger with his acclaimed blog: http://http://stretch-cloud.info/ who always encouraged me to come with my own blog! If today you see this registered website under my name: http://Amitabh-vWorld.Com it’s becuase of him. Thanks mate!

So, I had applied the vExpert award nomination on the Technical Evangelist path with my personal blog and other supporting stuffs and I am extremely happy to see VMware acknowledged the contribution to significant enough! It gives me more motivation to spread the knowledge and expertise! And I am honoured to be part of the distinguished people and that awesome vEXpert gang! You are simply awesome and doing some kind of great jobs!

With this vExpert 2013 award comes some more surprises and awards which are no less…

Tinri decides to give all the vExpert with a Personalised T-Shirt with their Twiter Id and some *** saying “All the vExperts, You are Rockstars!”: http://www.tintri.com/congratulations-2013-vexperts. Feels nice!

Nutanix gives all the vExperts with a Beer Pint Glass with your name printed on it: http://www.nutanix.com/blog/2013/06/11/recognizing-vexperts-as-evangelists-2/

And last but not least, TrainSignal, the leading IT training provider comes with this award exclusively for the vExpert winners: http://www.trainsignal.com/blog/2013-vexperts-trainsignal This award entitles all the vExpert award winners a FREE access to all the training materials of TrainSignal for one year! This is great!

Thank you for all the people around the world who supported my blog and I promise you to present it to you better this year!

Take Care & Stay Tuned! :-)

Choose Hardware for U’r Next Bare Metal ESXi Host

It’s been quite some time I wrote my last post, have been busy with work and so many other stuffs. One thing which I wanted to really mention in my new blog post is that I wanted to let my readers know that I have finally got time to upgrade my Home Lab with another powerful yet cheap White Box (Physical Machine) 2 months ago. So, currently my Home Lab consists of 2 dedicated White boxes. Let’s talk about the new box. I bought all the parts from a popular computer shop called Bizgram in Singapore.

Here’s the configuration details:

ASUS P9x79 Pro Motherboard supporting 64GB RAM : This is LGA2011 socket MB and if you want to go with as much as 64GB RAM support in a single desktop board then this is the one! This is super fantastic board but it only supports Intel 2nd Generation Sandy Bridge Processor. But there’s nothing wrong about it. There’s hardly any difference between the 2nd generation and 3rd generation processors. And if you want performance with more L2 cache then you should go for 2nd generation processor. And if you want to go for lower ultra-voltage processors then you should go for 3rd generation based Ivy-Bridge Processors. the details review can be found from AnadTech site: http://www.anandtech.com/show/5089/sandy-bridgee-and-x79-the-asus-p9x79-pro-review

Intel i7 3820 CPU 3.6GHz Quad Core (without overclocking): Intel 2nd generation Sandy-Bridge Processor with as high as 10MB L2 cache compared to just 8MB cache of 3rd generation processors.  To compare the processor features, I suggest you to go to Intel ARK Utility Site at: http://ark.intel.com/ or use the ARK app in iOS/Android. I used it extensively to choose the right processor for me. And with Price/Performance calculation I went with this processor. There is a Hexa-Core Intel i7-3970X Processor Extreme Edition as well which offers 6 Cores and whopping 12 logical CPUs, but that’s pretty expensive! USD 1000$! That’s a quite amount. With some additional amount added to the difference amount, I can actually build another cheap White-Box. With overclocking this CPU can go as high as 4.6 GHz easily, I heard. Since I am using it install VMware vSphere ESXi, I didn’t chose delibarately not overclock it. The current processor details is mentioned here: http://ark.intel.com/products/63698/Intel-Core-i7-3820-Processor-10M-Cache-up-to-3_80-GHz

Corsair Vengeance 32 GB RAM (1600MHz) (with RAM cooler): This was one of the best performance RAM available, or probably the best one! It has some built-on cooling facility. I opted to go with 32GB of 1600MHz RAM for the moment, soon going to be extend my new White-Box with 64GB of RAM. Product details can be found here: http://www.corsair.com/vengeance-8gb-dual-channel-ddr3-memory-kit-cmz8gx3m2a1600c8.html

Corsair H80i Hydro Series Cooler: Since I am going to use my Home Lab remotely through a Public IP and hence it needs to be powered on for most of the part of the day, specially when I leave home for work, a high power CPU cooling facility is very much required, I went with this one. Although slightly expensive, but worth it! Product Details can be found here: http://www.corsair.com/us/hydro-series-h80i-high-performance-liquid-cpu-cooler.html

Cooler Master HAF912 Advanced Cabinet with 3 Fan support: This black color cabinet looks like a monster, but I realized it’s worth when it was assembled and the PC started working. It comes with a 3 Fan support and gives me the feeling of ultra-silent PC feeling. Go for it! Product details here: http://www.coolermaster-usa.com/landing/haf912/home.php

ASUS NVIDIA 210 1GB Display Card: Since the LGA2011 socket motherboards don’t have any inbuilt graphics card, I had to go for a bare minimum graphics card. Anyway, I was going to use ESXi on the bare metal hardware, so a 1GB Display card is good enough for me. With Windows 7 as well, this works fantastic! Recommended. Find the product details here: http://www.asus.com/Graphics_Cards/EN210_SILENTDI1GD3V2LP/#overview

TP-Link Gigabit External Ethernet Card-TG3269Since VMware ESXi 5.1 on bare metal hardware doesn’t detect the on-board NIC, I had to go with an cheap-supported external NIC. Having checked the VMTN, I found other people have used it and it works great without any issues on ESXi. So far no issues for me. And yes, the on-board NIC indeed didn’t work for me too! Product details can be found here: http://www.tp-link.sg/products/details/?model=TG-3269

550 watt Power SupplyThis is bare minimum to run the desktop.

I didn’t opt for any monitor, keyboard, mouse, HDD or DVD drive since it was extremely purpose built for ESXi.

I took a just bare metal machine since I run ESXi on a USB key and use shared storage like virtual NAS/NFS. Also I had couple of TB HDDS already with me. This entire bare metal machine costs me 1600 Singapore Dollars.

With this configuration (of course adding a SATA HDD of around 1 to 2TB or a SSD of 250GB) you can use this machine as a single host to build a nested ESXi lab using Autolab: http://www.labguides.com/autolab/

Hope this helps… Feel free to reach out to me if you have further question through Twitter: @AmitabhPancham or GTalk: Amitabh.Dey@Gmail.Com or a just comment on this blog post.

Wish you a Happy Labbing Time! :-)

Why You Should Go For HP LeftHand & VMware View for VDI?

As you have seen in my previous blog posts, I love demystifying VDI Reference Architectures.

Why you should read this Blog Post than the actual Ref. Architecture? 

Usually Ref. Architecture documents are complex, boring and pretty extensive. Except the solution designers and architects people don’t at them unless there is a compelling reason. Through this blog post, I have demystified it, simplified in a lucid style, ease for everyone’s understanding.

HP and VMware Relationship: 

HP is a Platinum Partner of VMware. Most of HP’s hardwares and softwares work with VMware’s vSphere and/or other products and are well integrated. Eg: HP DL series servers, BL series Blades, HP LeftHand VSA, HP 3PAR Storage etc. (there are quite a few!)

As per Gartner, HP is the no.1 vendor to ship VMware ESXi Server Software with it’s Servers and Blades. (Status: as of 2012)

HP & VMware Client Virtualization Relationship: 

Again quite a few to name:

  1. HP Servers and Blades for VMware View and vSphere (which provides the Management Infrastructure on the VDI segment)
  1. HP Thin & Zero Clients are specifically meant for VMware View. These client devices are optimized for PCoIP (PC over IP) Protocol for VMware View. Please see the details here: http://www8.hp.com/sg/en/products/thin-clients/index.html There are at least 7 models of HP Thin and Zero Clients for VMware View VDI solution.

What’s the unique thing in this Reference Architecture?

Most of the VMware View Reference Architectures have some kind of similarity in terms of design. I had previously spoken about Pivot3 and VMWare View Reference Architecture in this post. However, in HP’s case the interesting thing to note is that here HP doesn’t use it’s HP 3PAR SAN Storage or any kind of SAN/NAS type shared storage. Rather it efficiently uses the local storage of HP DL 380 series servers by virtualizing the local storage and present them to the vSphere Layer (without the need of a SAN/NAS) through HP LeftHand 400 VSA. Interesting thing! We will talk more about this in details soon…

Unique Things in this VDI Design:

1. Use of Stateless Virtual Desktops: Stateless Virtual Desktops are not dedicated to any user. As soon as the user logs off the desktop will go back to the pool and will be assigned to the next user.

2. Use of Local SSDs (HP IO Accelerator): HP IO Accelerators (A Breakthrough Product from HP and Fusion-IO) for ProLiant Servers are PCIe card-based direct-attach solid state storage technology solutions for application performance enhancement. Based on MLC and SLC NAND Flash technology, these devices are ideal for low latency workloads requiring high transaction rates and real-time data access such as VDI. In this scenario 785GB Cards are used. See the picture of it below.

HP IO Accelarator

(Pic: HP Fusion-IO Storage Accelerator PCIe Card inside HP Proliant Servers. Pic Courtesy: HP)

3. Hot plug SAS Storage: Each HP Proliant DL380 Gen8p Server used here comes with four 300GB SFF (Small-Form-Factor) 10K RPM (10,000 Rotation Per Minute) Hot Plug (Hot-Plug meaning you can add/remove these drives without taking the server in maintenance mode) Enterprise SAS hard disk drives.

4. HP LeftHand Virtual SAN Appliance Software (VSA) powered by SAN/iQ Software v9.5: HP LeftHand VSA aggregates all the local storage and presents as a Virtual SAN/NAS aggregating a network RAID10 based 1.17TB of Total Storage.

and last but not least

5. HP ProLiant DL380P Gen8 Servers: If not the best, at least one of the top best model servers available today. Intel® Xeon® CPU E5-2680 @2.70 GHz | Dual socket with 8 cores per socket (16 cores total) | 256 GB RAM. There are 3 such servers used in this Ref. Architecture.

6. Single Vendor SLA (since all the components are provided by HP): I believe this is the unique point unlike most of the other View Reference Architectures by Cisco etc.

So, let’s start…

Any typical setup of VMware View will be more or less like this (below in the diagram. Pic courtesy: VMware):

VMware View

HP proposes that like any Standard View Ref. Architecture, the Management Cluster should be separated from the Virtual Desktop Cluster.

The Management Cluster: It is hosted by two separate servers which holds the following
Management Components:

Active Directory/DNS Server | vCenter Server with View Composer | View Connection Server | DHCP Server | 3 VSA Software Appliances. These all components have been placed as virtual machines.

As per this Ref. Architecture each HP DL380p G8 Host is capable of hosting upto 200 virtual desktops, total it to 600 virtual desktops for all the three servers.

Replica Base Image Placement & Linked Clones Placement: on SSD (HP IO Accelerator)

User data, The Parent Base Image & the Swap files of Virtual Desktops Placement: on Shared Storage

Management Components Placement: on Shared Storage

(* The shared storage is the aggregate of all local SAS/SATA drives from each server and culmination of a Virtual SAN by the use of HP LeftHand VSA. HP LeftHand VSA is scalable, fully redundant and highly available.) HP LeftHand presents the shared storage of 1.17TB on RAID10 whereas the individual SAS/SATA drives are configured on RAID5 on the server level with 4 HDDS of 300GB each)

Physical Networking: 2 numbers of 10GBPS 24 port HP 5920AF-24XG switch which offers low latency response.

Virtual Networking:  A DvSwitch (Distributed Virtual Switch) has been configured on the vSphere Layer with 2000 ports and separate port groups for iSCSI, Management Network and Virtual Desktop Traffic. According to the port groups different vLANs have also been configured and used so that traffic isolation can happen on the network level.

Virtual Desktop Base Image: Windows 7 32bit -optimized for lower IOPS consumption. This VM is with 1vCPU, 1GB RAM and 24GB Virtual Disk.

I will not go further describing the validation tests and results in this post. For that and for other further information you should look at the Official HP Link for the Reference Architecture.

So, what do you think about this Reference Architecture? Do you think HP is the mother of all the appliance based VDI solutions like Nutanix, Pivot3 and V3 Systems? Probably yes, or maybe not. I read in one of the interviews by Dheeraj Pandey, CEO-Nutanix that their product idea originated from a similar concept from HP. I may be wrong. I shall wait to hear from you…

Thanks for reading! Take Care…

-Amitabh | Amitabh’s LinkedIn Profile

(PS: This article was first published in Amitabh’s Personal Blog: http://Amitabh-vWorld.Com)

New Features in VMware Horizon View 5.2

I have worked until the release of VMware View 5.1 and after few months VMWare came up with VMware View 5.2 and they rechristened it as VMWare Horizon View 5.2 to keep a uniform naming pattern of all the products under the Horizon EUC Suite. This leads to ask me what’s all that got changed in View 5.2? Having looked at the “What’s New” PDF, this is what I could summarize:

  1. Desktops are accessible through Web Browser now: Thanks to Project AppBlast (now they call it VMware Blast), you can access your virtual desktop via HTML5 browser. Now what’s that HTML5 browser? That’s nothing new, all the predominant browsers in the market like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox are all HTML5 complaint. I have tested this, and it’s one of the coolest feature so far View has introduced. The desktop access (without View Client) is quite good and works as a workaround when you need emergency and occasional virtual desktop access. You still can use the desktop via View Client using PCoIP protocol (or even RDP). This also makes life easier for a guy like me who loves to be with Ubuntu Desktop OS. I can access my corporate virtual desktop via Chrome/Mozilla (although Ubuntu already boasts of a dedicated View Client).

 However to get this feature, you need download, install and enable Horizon View Feature Pack Components. Let      me talk about it in another dedicated post, stay tuned.

  1. Unity Touch for the Mobile Clients: Unity Touch is another cool feature in case you are someone like me who’s an avid iPad (or Android Tablet) user. Traditionally we are so used to the “Start” button, “Task Manager” “Search” etc. on Windows Desktop (Thanks to Microsoft for this slavery of ours!) that whenever we try to access the virtual desktop through an iPad or Andoid based View Client, we seem to always miss these things. VMware understood that to make it more adaptable to the mobile device users, they need to give the feel of the things like “Start” etc. and thus “Unity Touch” was born. You will get a custom track pad much like your notebook on the iPad/Android View Client. It’s still not available for Ubuntu Linux client yet, but I am told that they are going to add this to Linux Client as well pretty soon.
  1. Window 8 Support: Now you can have Windows 8 as your virtual desktop. Although not sure how many would really like to work with a crappy product like Windows 8.  Also the Horizon View Client runs on most of the Windows 8 devices making it more compatible with Windows 8.
  1. Microsoft UCS Support: I think almost every company has implemented Microsoft Office Communicator Server or Lynch Server for the internal messaging,  voice and video conference within the company and partners. You can now leverage all these facilities from View Virtual Desktop as well. Horizon View Media Services also supports Unified Communications for Avaya, Mitel and Cisco.
  1. Rich graphics and media services with 3D Graphics: With Advanced GPU sharing and a combination of Hardware Offload Card and vSphere 3D Graphics Acceleration, you can literally run and do all the rich media services from View Virtual Desktops and also run 3D Graphics quite effectively and smoothly.
  1. Simplified View Administration and Large Scale Management: Now you can manage a pool of 10,000 desktops with a single vCenter in a pod. It also supports 32hosts with NFS along with  pools across multiple VLANs. The experience in the View Administrator console is smooth and much faster in the case of rebalancing etc.
  1. vCenter Virtual Appliance Support: Now View supports vCenter Virtual Appliance as well.
  1. Storage Efficiency: Storage efficiency has been increased in case of View Composer storage usage in the image. Persistent desktops require lesser storage and thus also recomposing like functions get reduced and reduce the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

VMware-PaaS-SpringSource-Cloud Foundry & Pivotal Initiative

VMware has predominantly been a Server Virtualization Company. And it further evolved itself to other solutions like VDI (with VMware Horizon View) and then to Cloud arena with their vCloud Suite. However vCloud is predominantly a IaaS Private and Hybrid Cloud solution. To enter into the PaaS (Platform As A Service), VMware acquired SpringSource, a Java Application Development Framework Company in 2009. SpringSource uses “Lean Software” concept which is said to be apt for Cloud based application development.

In my previous Blog Post titled: “VMware Solutions for Cloud Computing: IaaS” (and few other posts as well, related to VMware vCloud: look for them in the archives) I spoke about the IaaS offering from VMware and promised to come up with a VMware-PaaS related post. SpringSource helps someone to build an application on it’s Java Framework and to be deployed over Cloud based on Open Source Platform. Traditionally application development in an organization used to be very tedious process including months of infrastructural layout building and then development efforts. As a result application deployment time always hampered the immediate business productivity. Spring takes care of all these in terms of providing an Open Source based Java Framework . You no more need to think of underlying infrastructure being used and worry of it being laid out first to start your development related activities. Since it is based on age-old highly successful Java, building any sort of application is possible.

Here is an interesting video on SpringSource:

And then there is Cloud Foundry which is another PaaS initiative by VMware. To simplify Cloud Foundry can be thought of an extension of SpringSource on the PaaS side.  Cloud Foundry is Open Source based (Apache 2 License) and it supports not only just SpringSource Application Development Framework but these as well:

Ruby On Rails

Ruby and Sinatra

Node.js

Grails

(and of course) SpringSource

You can download Micro Cloud Foundry , a complete instance of the entire framework to develop from your virtual machine thus making the development efforts lesser. Also you can easily test your application’s cloud readiness. Since it is Open Source, the vendor lock-in fear is eliminated as well.

Cloud Foundry also supports these services:

RabbitMQ: Messaging Queue for the applications

MongoDB: Open Source, scalable and document based database unlike SQL Server or Oracle.

Redis:  Open key-value data structure server.

vFabric PostGres: Postgres SQL based RDBMS

MySQL: Open Source RDBMS

Recently VMware and EMC jointly announced the much happening “Pivotal Initiative” led by ex-CEO of VMWare, the great Paul Mauritz. Pivotal will concentrate absolutely on PaaS whereas VMware will concentrate on vSphere and vCloud and solutions, technologies around these. Cloud Foundry happens to be now fall under Pivotal Initiative.

The best part of Cloud Foundry and Spring Source is that they smoothly integrate and sit on top of VMware vCloud and Vmware vSphere and thus making it a complete Cloud Solution.

How KPIT Cummins Got Benefited From Private Cloud & DaaS with vCloud & View

I was watching this video on VMwareTV Youtube channel  and quite liked their idea of implementing a Private Cloud Solution along with DaaS (Desktops As A Service or VDI) with VMware Products and Technologies. KPIT Cummins is an Product Engineering and IT Consulting MNC headquartered in India and have their operations across the globe, have offices in 11 countries including USA, UK, Singapore, Germany etc. with an employee base of more than 8000 people.

It seems Cummins have implemented the VMware vCloud Suite along with VMware Horizon View for a Private Cloud and Desktop As A Service solution with VCE (VMware-Cisco-EMC). The common benefits they received after implementing Private Cloud are:

  1. Self Service: Mandar M. (AVP & Head of IT, Cummins) says that the development team of Cummins no longer need to wait for the requisition of Servers and wait them to be installed and ready for use. Rather they use the cloud self service portal and within 15 minutes the Virtual Machine is ready with whatever the required configuration he/she wanted. Also the decommissioning process is pretty straight forward unlike the age-old method. During the requisition time of the Virtual Server, he/she specifies for how long it is needed. After that interval it is automatically decommissioned making the process more efficient resource utilization, less cumbersome process for commissioning and decommissioning of servers for the Development Team.  Mandar says earlier it used to take more than a month to  just to get the server for the developer to start his work and thus a lot of business opportunity was lost from the client unlike now where they can get engaged with the client almost instantly. And naturally it generates immense customer satisfaction.
  1. Desktop as a Service: The success of implementing Private Cloud inspired them to adopt the similar approach on the desktop side as well. They wanted to give their employees, contractors, partners to work from anywhere without compromising security and with any device. From the security standpoint since there data, applications are residing at the Data Center and not moving out to the End Point Devices, it makes a strong case for their customers to do more business with them.

Getting additional virtual desktops instantly for the new team or new joinee makes it smooth experience for the new business team. Rolling out new applications or requirement of additional Storage or Compute or Memory now can be instantly met unlike before where all these required complex approval, purchase order process and procurement cycle.

Shrikant Kulkarni, CIO & SVP of Cummins says time was very precious for them to do more and more business and Private Cloud helped them to achieve things to do more with much lesser time.

Finally Mandar says “Cloud should be the roadmap for every organization, doesn’t matter if it is IaaS, SaaS or PaaS!”

Well, I very much second that, Mandar and that’s the reason I felt this video needs a coverage on my Blog to let people embrace Cloud more openly in their environment.

VMware Announces New Certification: VCAP-DTD (VMware Certified Advanced Professional -Desktop Track Design)

VMware recently announced the release of their advanced certification program for the End User Computing Track or commonly known as for VMWare View Track. As you might have been aware that VCAP (VMware Certified Advanced Professional) was only available for the Data Center Virtualization Track only. And recently they had added VCAP for Cloud track as well. And the final addition is VCAP-DTD (VMware Certified Advanced Professional -Desktop Track Design).

VCAP-DT-DCD

(Courtesy: VMware for the above Picture)

As I have stated before, designing a VDI environment is very different from when you design the Data Center Environment for the Server Virtualization. It requires some additional design consideration like planning for the Storage Tier: where you want to place your Golden Image etc. Do you plan to use SSD or CBRC feature of vSphere is another design consideration. It also states whether you would use a Zero Client or a repurposed PC or a Linux Desktop (saving on the licensing front) or adopt BYOD with iPad and Android Tablets etc. Quite interesting design decisions in deed! Also, how you would design a branch office solution,  Business Process Desktop or Health Care systems and how would tweak PCoIP or RDP for efficient bandwidth utilization makes some more interesting recipes.

VMware says you need to be either VCP-DT (VMWare Certified Professional Desktop Track) or VCP-DCV (VMware Certified Professional Data Center Virtualization) to go for VCAP-DTD. But at the same time VMware  recommends that the candidate should go for “VMware View: Design Best Practices [V5.x]“Official training course before appearing for VCAP-DTD. Although VMware says having obtained your VCP-DCV you can straightway go to VCAP-DTD, I personally feel one needs to have real hands on experience on VMWare View (completely) and partially on VMware ThinApp. It makes things much easier. And as you know it’s much easier to set up a Home Lab of VMware View (Horizon View, as they call it now) than other competitor products like Citrix XenDesktop. There are some wonderful training videos from www.vmwarelearining.com on VMware View which can give you a good start for VMware’s VDI solution. Another  book I strongly recommend is “VMware View 5 Desktop Virtualization Solution” by Jason Langone and Andre Leibovici from Packt Publishing. If you are eBook reader, you can get hold of an Kindle or eBook/PDF copy from their site: www.packtpub.com   Also look for the Blog: http://myvirtualcloud.net by Andre Leibovici (@andreleibovici) (#andreleibovici) I love his Blog on VMWare View, he is the Guru of VMWare View! Also go for Scott Davis’s official blog and videos on Youtube on EUC. He is currently the CTO of VMware’s EUC division.

Another foundation block is VMware’s Offical Self Paced Learning Course from VMware MyLearn Web Site on

  1. VMware View (Overview of VMWare View 5.x) :

http://mylearn.vmware.com/mgrreg/courses.cfm?ui=www_edu&a=one&id_subject=33905

  1. VMware ThinApp (Overview of ThinApp):

http://mylearn.vmware.com/mgrreg/courses.cfm?ui=www_edu&a=one&id_subject=19218

Also awesome learning stuffs lie at the Reference Architecture links at VMware’s Website. Look at my previous post: “Understanding VDI Solutions” http://amitabh-vworld.com/?p=182 and you may refer to the VMware View and Pivot3 Ref. Architecture as well: http://amitabh-vworld.com/?p=55

Good Luck guys on your endeavor on attaining VCAP-DTD!

HP Virtualization Peformance Viewer – HP vPV

Recently the Sr. Product Manager of HP Software Services (Thanks Anil K.) invited me to have a look at HP’s initiative on the Performance Monitoring Solution in the Virtualization segment. Hewlett Packard has developed a wonderful enterprise class Virtualization Performance Monitoring Application, nicknamed “HP vPV” which is offered on a Freemium model. So, this model entitles the use of this excellent product FREE for 200 OS instances (including Hosts and VMs). After which you need to pay a premium to use for additional OS monitoring.

Off-late HP has been putting some serious, sincere efforts to enter into the Virtualization & Cloud Automation and Monitoring market with a range of products. HP vPV is one of them. The product is currently at 1.0 release state and upcoming feature releases are expected with additional features inclusion like support of Xen and KVM Hypervisors. Currently with the use of HP vPV 1.0 you can monitor VMWare vSphere Virtual Data Center and Microsoft Hyper-V based Virtual Clusters from a single console. The product gets installed in few seconds and you can get going to start monitoring your virtualized environment in less than 2-3 minutes. You can either install the software from .zip file or the Linux installer or deploy the virtual appliance which again consumes less memory and disk space compared to other virtual appliances available in the market.

The software uses Apache Tomcat Server and VMware Web Services SDK to pull the information from the vSphere environment. You connect to the VMware vSphere Virtual Data Center by connecting to the vCenter IP and credentials. And to use this software you don’t need to use the Administrative  credential, you can use Read-Only credential as well, making it suitable to be used by your HelpDesk or dedicated Monitoring Team.

I have just taken a demo of the product from the product team and it has indeed exceeded my expectations! I will talk about this product with more feature description and screenshots soon. The product can be downloaded FREE from this link: https://ssl.www8.hp.com/us/en/ssl/dlc/dlc_agreement.html?prodNumber=TF319AAE&siebelid=8-2LVTFCB&lang=en&cc=us&resouce_type=Trial%20Software&cpt_resource_type=&sectionid=software&subbu=TSG.Software&simpletitle=Virtualization%20Management,%20HP%20Virtualization%20Performance%20Viewer%20|%20HP%20Software

The product gives a comprehensive performance charts, graphs, trees, real time data in a colored structured which is easy to understand and identify the usage and bottlenecks without having to looked at the number charts. The unique feature of this product is it’s use of TreeMap structure by which it graphically represent the metrics and analysis reports. This also has an inventory module to help listing out the Virtualization components like how many Datastores, ESXi Hosts, VMs etc (a brief version of popular RVTools). It can go to extreme deep level to give the Administrator a complete picture of his/her Virtualized Data Center. Similar activities can be performed on a Hyper-V based environment as well. I am also told that the future release will include the support of KVM, Xen and OpenStack support making it a True Heterogeneous Virtualization Monitoring Solution.

I have included two screenshots from the Product Documentation Page to give a glimpse of it’s reports.

vPV1

VPV2

 

To know more about the product, visit this product page:  http://h20195.www2.hp.com/V2/GetPDF.aspx%2F4AA4-2928ENW.pdf  or simply visit: www.hp.com/go/vpv. This is truly an enterprise class multi-hypervisor supported monitoring tool. And along with other upcoming automation and monitoring solution from HP, this is can be a real blessing to any Virtualization Administrator or Consultant.

Understanding VDI Solutions

There have been lot of buzz for last few years on Desktops going virtual and accessing desktops and applications over any device, from anywhere. While Application Virtualization existed for more than a decade now (since Citrix Winframe/Metaframe days back in late 90s) and has also been very successful, VDI (termed as Virtual Desktop Interface) took longer time to capture the market and most importantly the attention of corporate audience. When Microsoft came up with RDP Protocol and Terminal Server editions way back in Windows NT Server 4.0, it gained lot of momentum. Around the same time and perhaps slightly before than that there was another interesting project in the Linux community: Linux Terminal Server Project (LTSP). While RDP based Terminal Services gained momentum, LTSP in spite of being an interesting and very promising technology initiative could not gain that much user attention. Perhaps due to the dominance of Windows in the Desktop arena…

And when VMware started it’s flagship ESX/GSX initiatives in the Server Virtualization, customers came up to them to build Virtual Desktops for them. VMware started with the probably the first true VDI initiative as a product called VMware VDM (later developed further and rechristened as VMware View and now called Horizon View). But perhaps VMware didn’t have the long term vision and conviction in Virtual Desktops Business and Citrix made a wonderful use of the opportunity. With Presentation Server/XenApp already established it’s wide presence, Citrix extended VDI offerings with Citrix XenDesktop. Although eventually VMware steered its business focus to End-User-Computing as well and made VMware View (with Teradici PCoIP Protocol) a very matured and enterprise class product, Citrix XenDesktop still holds slightly higher market cap. But in future it will probably be a tie between these two since both of them offer same rich feature-set, support, partner supported joint initiatives.

Having said this let’s start our journey to understand the world of VDI. Do find few links with a brief description here:

VMware VDI Solution: VMware View or Horizon View 5.2

Client Software: Horizon View Client (available for Windows, Linux, iOS and Android platforms)

Application Virtualization used with View: VMware ThinApp

Server-side Hypervisor used: Only VMware vSphere (But it has a very tight integration with vSphere)

VDI Protocol used: Teradici PCoIP Protocol (Micosoft RDP can also be used but PCoIP preferred for optimum performance and better WAN capabilities)

Reference Links related to VMware (Horizon) View:

Overview of Horizon View: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=XpkPNgfl7jE

View Secure Mobile Desktop Solution:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=oGd1G23kXwU

Branch Office Desktop Solution: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=R6xqBi7WZco

Cisco, Nimble Storage, VMware Ref. Architecture for VMware View: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=VSE_XlICSLQ

Pivot3 and View-in-a-box (Converged Appliance Solution): http://pivot3.com/solutions/vdi/ (please look at the .pdf links on the right side of the page)

Nutanix (another Converged Appliance vendor) & View Ref. Architecture: http://go.nutanix.com/TechGuideNutanixVMWareViewReferenceArchitecture_LP.html

V3 Systems (one more converged Appliance vendor) with VMware View: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZkiqtWtq4zc&feature=player_detailpage

PCoIP Protocol Overview from Teradici: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=OSHSA1tnHmg

Excellent Product Documentation from VMware: http://www.vmware.com/support/pubs/view_pubs.html

Plenty of Business and Technical Resources on the Product Page: http://www.vmware.com/products/desktop_virtualization/view/technical-resources.html

There is also an excellent VMware View Overview Training Course by VMwarehttp://mylearn.vmware.com/mgrreg/courses.cfm?ui=www_edu&a=det&id_course=134581 (MyLearn Free Registration is required)

Some wonderful Learning Videos from VMware on VMware Viewhttp://vmwarelearning.com/view/

Worth looking at this Train Signal Traininghttp://www.trainsignal.com/Course/158/VMware-View-5-Essentials

 

Citrix VDI Solution: Citrix XenDesktop 5.5 (current version)

Client Software: Citrix Receiver (available for Windows, Linux, iOS and Android platforms)

Application Virtualization used with XenDesktop: Citrix XenApp 6.5 (current version)

Server-side Hypervisor used: VMware vSphere or Citrix XenServer or Microsoft Hyper-V

VDI Protocol Used: Citrix HDX (earlier knows as ICA)

Reference Links related to Citrix XenDesktop:

Citrix XenDesktop: http://www.citrix.com/products/xendesktop/overview.html?ntref=prod_cat (Product Home Page)

How XenDesktop Works: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYaPkPPp0p0

XenDesktop Features: http://www.citrix.com/products/xendesktop/features.html

Business Reasons to go for VDI/XenDesktop: http://www.citrix.com/products/xendesktop/how-it-helps.html

Citrix HDX Technologyhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYaPkPPp0p0

Citrix  FlexCast Technology & Use Cases: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYaPkPPp0p0

XenDesktop Case Studies: http://www.citrix.com/products/xendesktop/how-it-helps/success-stories.html

Step by Step Guide: http://blogs.citrix.com/2012/11/18/five-steps-for-setting-up-vdi-using-xendesktop-5-6/ [This guide should be a good for POC]

*There is an excellent paid CBT by TrainSignal on Implementing and Administering Citrix XenDesktop: http://www.trainsignal.com/Course/13/Citrix-XenDesktop-5

*There is also a FREE XenDesktop Overview Training by Citrix itself. You need to register here: http://training.citrix.com/mod/ctxcatalog/course.php?id=54

I was hoping to cover some lesser known yet potential VDI solutions in this post, but looking at the growing size of this, I think it deserves an individual post… Stay Tuned, we will talk about them and some other exciting stuffs like LTSP( VDI in Linux World), Microsoft RDSH (Their so called VDI!), Thin & Zero Clients, Server OffLoad Solution from Teradici/NVIDIA and probably a separate post on Converged Solution covering Pivot3, Nutanix & V3…

Difference Between Standard, Advanced and Enterprise vCloud Suite 5.1

In my last post we mentioned that the different components of vCloud Suite 5.1 has been majorly categorized into two categories: Cloud Infrastructure and Cloud Management. Refer to this earlier post: VMware vCloud Solution (IaaS) Further Explained” 

We also spoke on a previous post titled: “VMware Solutions for Cloud Computing: IaaS”   that VMWare is offering it’s vCloud Solution in Three different editions depending on customer’s business requirement, budget etc. Here we will compare these Three different editions:

A) vCloud Standard Suite 5.1

B) vCloud Advanced Suite 5.1

C) vCloud Enterprise Suite 5.1

VMware vCloud Standard Suite 5.1: This is to let the organizations make a move from traditional Server Virtualization to On-premise self manged and self provision capable IaaS Cloud. It consists of:

vSphere Enterprise Plus Edition

vCloud Director and vCloud Connector (Advanced Edition)

vCloud Networking & Security (Standard Edition and doesn’t contain Firewall and Load Balancer like features)

So, as you can see here, the customer doesn’t have the luxury to use advances tools like SRM, vCOps, vFabric, Automation Center etc. But still they can create a fully functional IaaS Cloud with basic setup using the vCloud Standard Suite. This can also be used as a Corporate Cloud Test Bed, say within one business unit. And once the results are satisfactory, it can be upgraded to either of the other two more advance versions.

VMware vCloud Advanced Suite 5.1: This contains all of its predecessor contains. Only exception is here the vCloud Networking and Security software is of Advanced Edition unlike that in vCloud Standard Edition. It has got all the full features of vShield (another name of vCloud of Networking & Security) including Firewall and Load Balancer features. Additionally it also includes vCenter Operations Management Suite (Advanced Edition) for Configuration Compliance | Performance & Capacity Optimization – analytics, dashboards and alerting | Application Awareness etc.

However it does NOT include Application Monitoring function of vCOPS (which is included only in the Enterprise Edition).

But it includes one of the most essential component: vCloud Chargeback Manager. Note it is NOT included in Standard Edition of vCloud Suite 5.1 (see above)

So, to summarize, with vCloud Suite Advanced Edition 5.1 you can create a IaaS Cloud Solution which along with the basic IaaS offerings, also provides SLA centric approach to manage and monitor of workloads. And this offering further assists in creating summary and granular report of physical/virtual resource usage and how to charge the tenants appropriately. This is a major step in terms of Enterprise Cloud where different business units are cross-charged internally as per their usage.

VMware vCloud Enterprise Suite 5.1: The Supreme Edition! It contains everything that vCloud Advanced Suite contains (exception: here the VCOPS is Enterprise version instead of Advanced version where Application Monitoring function is also included!)

vCloud 2

Apart from these, it also includes SRM (Ent. Edition) for BCP/DRP, vFabric Application Director for automatic configuration & deployment of applications, vCloud Automation Center for provisioning & management of standard IT services by users/administrators/developers.

Enterprise Suite will be more applicable to the large Enterprise segment intending to deploy in house clouds or wanting to play as a Public Cloud vendor for it’s customers and clientele list. Not to mention, with a set-up to the different editions, the price factor in terms of licensing fee also goes steep high…

PS: For any edition of vCloud Suite 5.1, your vSphere license has to be vSphere Enterprise Plus Edition only!

(Now we will talk about PaaS Offerings from VMware in the next post, Stay Tuned!)

VMware vCloud Solution (IaaS) Further Explained

In my last post I spoke about IaaS Cloud Solution from VMware and different building blocks of it, also three different editions.  Here I will talk about them a little more and will try to simplify the vCloud Offering a bit more…

To explain further, I have borrowed another diagram from VMware. Please see below:

vCloud 2

So, the  components of vCloud Suite can majorly be divided into two categories:

A) Cloud Infrastructure: This category provides the core infrastructure of vCloud which consists of :

  • vSphere [for providing core Compute, Memory and Storage resources]
  • vCloud Networking and Security [for providing Networking Services like NAT, Routing etc.]
  • Site Recovery Manager [for BCP/DRP]
  • vCloud Director and vCloud Connector [for Provisioning and connecting to other Clouds]

B) Cloud Management:  provides the management functions of the Cloud Suite with the help of components like:

  • vFabric Application Director and vCloud Automation Center [to auto-deploy or self service of IT Services and Applications by users]
  • vCenter Operation Management Suite [for various operational statistics, event management, dashboards etc.]
  • vCenter Chargeback Manager [for resource utilization measurement and billing functionality]

 

In the next post we will compare the Three different editions of vCloud Suite… Stay Tuned!

VMware Solutions for Cloud Computing: IaaS

vCloud

I have borrowed this diagram from VMware to show and simplify the different Cloud Offerings from VMware.

VMware’s Cloud Solutions are complete and comprehensive in the sense it covers all the three layers of Cloud: IaaS, PaaS and SaaS. There is a myth generally that VMware Cloud Solution is only for IaaS. Yes, the major part of VMware Cloud or vCloud as we know has been primarily into the IaaS segment. However going forward we will see in this post what are the offerings from VMware in terms of PaaS and SaaS.

Referring to the diagram, from Bottom to Top, we see that the IaaS layer builds the core infrastructure. It is based on VMware vSphere based Virtual Datacenter along with support of other VMware products like vCloud, Chargeback etc.

The vCloud suite comprises of:

vSphere Enterprise Plus

vCloud Director (vCD)

vCloud Connector (vCC)

vCloud Networking and Security –Standard and Advanced (previously known as vShield Edge and vShield Manager)

vCenter Site Recovery Manager Enterprise (SRM)

VMware vCenter Operations (vCOps)

vCenter Chargeback Manager (vCM)

vCenter Configuration Manager for vSphere

vCenter Infrastructure Navigator

vFabric  Application Director

vCloud Automation Center (Thanks to my friend Benjamin Troch for reminding me this piece of vCloud Suite!)

The vCloud suite comes in three editions: Standard, Advanced and Enterprise Edition and it is up to the customer to choose one of them depending on the type of workload, scalability and functionality required for their Private Cloud.

The major role out of these components are: vSphere, vCloud Director, “vCloud Networking & Security” and Chargeback Manager. I will give a short introduction to all of these components now:

vSphere: This is the building block through which you will virtualize your physical DIY (Do-It-Yourself) datacenter and build a Virtual DataCenter. You will also create an aggregate pool of all the Compute (CPU), Memory and Storage resources so that going forward these can be self-provisioned and managed via a Cloud Solution. In this layer you also build the Virtual Switches and Distributed Virtual Switches (Virtual LANs), Port Groups etc. Here your  management tool is vCenter Server and Physical Servers hosting Virtual Machines (VMs) are ESXi Servers. Here you create all the virtual resources.

vCloud Director: The upper layer is vCloud Director layer which helps in self-provisioning and self management of the virtual resouces that you created in the vSphere Layer. You can call it as a Middleware or Broker or Provisioning Layer, whatever you wish to. This is typically installed either as an Virtual Appliance  (Pre-installed, you just need to do basic configuration) or manually installed on a RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Server) VM with the .bin software. After installation it will provide you with two HTTP consoles, one for Administrators and another for Users. Through this you create all the different parts of a Cloud like, Provider vDC (Virtual Data Center), Organization vDC, vApp, Org Networks, Ext. Network etc. In stead of vCenter, vCloud Director is the Management Tool here.

vCloud Network & Security:  These are nothing but vShield Edge and vShield Manager virtual appliances which provide different standard networking services like Routing, NAT, DHCP, VPN and facilities like VXLAN. Through these you can isolate your tenant’s virtual networks from external world. Here the management tool is still vCloud Director, however you can configure some basic part through the HTTP console of vShield. These are also installed as Virtual Appliances for ease of installation & configuration.

vCloud Connector: As the name suggests it helps you to connect to other VMWare Powered or vCloud API compatible Private Clouds and Public Clouds, thus facilitating a Hybrid Cloud setup. You can also connect your Private Cloud to VMware Partner vCloud and move your workloads (basically VMs) from your Private Cloud to Public Cloud. Unless you are intending to connect to any other Cloud, this is an optional component.

vCenter Chargeback Manager: Very important component of vCloud since it provides the usage report of different vSphere components and accordingly charge back model can be levied to the customer/tenant. Without this you still can run a vCloud but you will not be able to do the financial and operational measurement in terms of usage.

SRM: Site Recovery Manager is used on the vSPhere layer for BCP/DRP (Business Contunity/Disaster Recovery Process) purpose where the VMs of Primary site can automatically restart on the Secondary Site in case there is an outage or so. It can be treated as an optional component.

vCOps: vCOps helps the administrator to create dashboards on the usage, pre-determine issues, get alerts on the issues, capacity planning, optimization etc. Again, an optional component.

vCenter Configuration Manager for vSphere provides continuous configuration and compliance management.

vCenter Infrastructure Navigator  enables application discovery, dependency mapping, and management.

vFabric Application Director provides a multi-tier application service catalog publishing and publishing system.

vCloud Automation Center enables the users/administrators/developers to access pre-defined menus, catalogs, self-service options to request for IT resources and services. This HTTP console will also allow them to manage any already requested-service. To make it easier for your ease of understanding, it is something like AWS Console in Amazon Web Services.

On top of these there is something called vCloud API (Application Programming Interface). As you know, in any Cloud the API plays very important part since the API compatibility defines who can talk to the Cloud and vice versa. The vCloud API currently is limited to mostly with VMWare and it’s partners though but in future  don’t be surprised if it can talk OpenStack or Eucalyptus like Cloud as well. Still a distant dream though…

Next to PaaS (next Blog Post)… Stay tuned…