Time to participate in the Project VRC “State of the VDI and SBC union 2015″ survey

The independent R&D project ‘Virtual Reality Check’ (VRC) (www.projectvrc.com) was started in early 2009 by Ruben Spruijt (@rspruijt) and Jeroen van de Kamp (@thejeroen) and focuses on research in the desktop and application virtualization market. Several white papers with Login VSI (www.loginvsi.com) test results were published about the performance and best practices of different hypervisors, Microsoft Office versions, application virtualization solutions, Windows Operating Systems in server hosted desktop solutions and the impact of antivirus.

In 2013 and early 2014, Project VRC released the annual ‘State of the VDI and SBC union’ community survey (download for free at www.projectvrc.com/white-papers). Over 1300 people participated. The results of this independent and truly unique survey have provided many new insights into the usage of desktop virtualization around the world.

This year Project VRC would like to repeat this survey to see how our industry has changed and to take a look at the future of Virtual Desktop Infrastructures and Server Based Computing in 2015. To do this they need your help again. Everyone who is involved in building or maintaining VDI or SBC environments is invited to participate in this survey. Also if you participated in the previous two editions.

The questions of this survey are both functional and technical and range from “What are the most important design goals set for this environment”, to “Which storage is used”, to “How are the VM’s configured”. The 2015 VRC survey will only take 10 minutes of your time.

The success of the survey will be determined by the amount of the responses, but also by the quality of these responses. This led Project VRC to the conclusion that they should stay away from giving away iPads or other price draws for survey participants. Instead, they opted for the following strategy: only survey participants will receive the exclusive overview report with all results immediately after the survey closes.

The survey will be closed February 15th this year. I really hope you want to participate and enjoy the official Project VRC “State of the VDI and SBC union 2015” survey!

Visit www.projectvrc.com/blog/23-project-vrc-state-of-the-vdi-and-sbc-union-2015-survey to fill out the Project Virtual Reality Check “State of the VDI and SBC Union 2014″ survey.

SBC and VDI terms Demystified

I was getting a bit confused by all the different terms used by vendors like Citrix for ways to present datacenter executed desktops to end-users. This post is an attempt to make clear what vendors and analyst firms like Gartner mean.

Basically there are two techniques to execute desktops in a datacenter and present it to end-users:

Server Based Computing (SBC). Also known as ‘presentation virtualization’ and ‘session virtualization’. Invented by Citrix when it launched WinFrame in 1995. It basically is able to host multiple user sessions on a single operating system. Each user session is able to run it’s own user environment and applications. WinFrame evolved to the current Citrix XenApp. Microsoft acquired the code of Citrix and started it’s own product named Terminal Services. Currently this is called Remote Desktop Services. Both Citrix and Microsoft solutions allow to present individual applications or full desktops.

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). VMware is inventor of the VDI-technology. It introduced Virtual Desktop Manager 2.0 at January 24 2008. This was the first VDI solution on the market which involved to the current VMware Horizon View. Citrix released competitor XenDesktop in 2009.
Using VDI each user session runs on a seperate operating system running as a vitual machine hosted by a hypervisor.
VDI is in most scenarios used to present a full desktop to the enduser. Citrix offers in XenDesktop a way to present a single application in a VDI session.(VM hosted apps)

For VDI  many other terms used. One of the reasons is that VMware has legal rights on the name VDI. To prevent copyright issues some vendors decide to use a slightly different naming. Another reason is because different implementations are used in VDI like server and client operating systems.

  • Hosted Virtual Desktops (HVD). Same as VDI but Gartner uses this to prevent copyright issues
  • Centralized Virtual desktops (CVDs)= Same as VDI. Used by IDC
  • Server-hosted virtual desktops (SVHD)= Same as VDI. Mainly used by analyst firms.
  • Hosted VDI Desktops (1-to-1 Windows 7/8)= VDI. Term used by Citrix.
  • hosted private desktop = VDI. Term used by Citrix
  • Server VDI = VDI . A term used by Citrix. It is VDI delivered by Citrix XenDesktop
  • Personal VM-based VDI= VDI where each user has its own, persistent environment stored on unique virtual disks. Applications  which are installed by the user remain available even when session has ended.
  • Pooled VM-based VDI= VDI in which the user environment is reset after the session has ended.
  • Server VDI Workers (VM/Server Isolation) = VDI. A term used by Citrix. In this configuration virtual machines are running Windows Server as a guest operating system without Remote Desktop Services enabled. Each instance is used by a single end user. In most cases a Windows 7/8 look and feel is applied. Citrix XenDesktop is used to run these Windows Server vm’s. The reason to use Windows Server as a operating system for end users is Microsoft not allowing to use Windows client operating systems in multi-tenant infrastructures with shared hardware.

Server based computing terms

  • Session-Based VDI = SBC. Term used  for Remote Desktop Services of Microsoft
  • Session virtualization= SBC.
  • Presentation Virtualization= SBC
  • Terminal Services= The old name for what now is called Microsoft Remote Desktop Services.
  • Hosted-Shared Desktop (multi-user RDS) = SBC. Term used by Citrix which is in fact just Citrix XenApp running on top of Remote Desktop Services
  • MetaFrame, WinFrame, Presentation Server = SBC. Old names for what is now called Citrix XenApp

some other terms for presenting desktops used are:

cloud-hosted desktops = Also known as Desktop as a Service (DaaS). A  set of applications or a full desktop are consumed by end users. The infrastruture to offer these is managed by a service provicer.

VM hosted apps/ VM hosted applications = Uses Citrix XenDesktop to present a single application to the end user instead of a full desktop. Acts as an alternative for published applications available in XenApp.

Free eBook ‘Software-Defined Storage for dummies’

Fresh of the press and compliments by Nutanix is a free eBook titled ‘Software-defined storage for dummies.

In this 46 pages eBook author Scott Lowe showcases the possibilities of web-scale IT in which powerful software acts as a key driver of datacenter efficiency and flexibility. As the industry buzz grows around this emerging technology, be one of the first to understand the true power of software-defined storage.

 Download the eBook to learn: 

  • How a new era of storage solutions will help your infrastructure become more flexible, powerful, and easy to manage
  • The emerging technologies that make software-defined storage a game-changer in the datacenter
  • Ten key software-defined storage facts that all IT experts need to know

This book was written with and for Nutanix.


Chapter 1:
The Current State of Storage: This chapter introduces you to the challenges of legacy storage.
Chapter 2:
Software-Defined Storage Basics: What is software-defined storage? Also, what isn’t it?
Chapter 3:
Key SDS Principles and Enablers: Find out what technologies make SDS possible.
Chapter 4:
How SDS Benefits Business: This chapter explains the things that your Chief Financial Officer
wants to know about SDS. Which is to say, how to make it
more flexible and more efficient!
Chapter 5: Ten Key SDS Facts: This chapter goes over some important facts to keep in mind as you explore SDS.

Download here.

VMware Horizon View 5.3 is now generally available

At November 21 VMware released VMware Horizon View version 5.3.0.

This release has some interesting features like support for Virtual SAN, and Windows 8.1 & Windows Server 2008 as desktop operating system.

It also features  a new storage overcommit option for linked-clone desktop pool storage.
When customers select the Unbounded overcommit option, they can place as many linked clones on the selected datastore as they desire. This feature is beneficial to customers who use third-party storage technologies (for example, Atlantis Computing VSA), which optimize the space consumed by the virtual disks of the individual virtual machines.

More on the storage optimization features in View 5.3 in this blogpost. 

Release notes are here
Documentation can be downloaded here.
Download the software from MyVMware

What is new in View 5.3? 

VMware Horizon View 5.3 delivers important features and enhancements and resolves some known problems in the previous release. This release of VMware Horizon View adds the following new features and support.

  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Desktop Operating System Support
    Windows Server 2008 R2 (Datacenter edition) is now supported as a desktop operating system. For installation instructions and limitations, see KB 2057605: Using Windows Server 2008 R2 as a desktop operating system in VMware Horizon View.
  • Windows 8.1 Desktop Operating System Support
    Windows 8.1 is now supported as a desktop operating system.
  • VMware Horizon Mirage Support 
    You can now use VMware Horizon Mirage 4.3 to manage View desktops. See the VMware Horizon Mirage Administrator’s Guide for complete information about this feature.
  • VMware Virtual SAN Datastore Support
    When you create a desktop pool in View Administrator, you can now select a Virtual SAN datastore to store desktop virtual machines. Because Virtual SAN is in Beta, this feature is being released as a Tech Preview, which means that it is available for you to try, but it is not recommended for production use and no technical support is provided. The space-efficient virtual disk format is not available on Virtual SAN datastores. If you use Virtual SAN datastores to host virtual desktops, you will not be able to reclaim allocated unused space on the virtual machines.
  • View Connection Server Memory Recommendation Messages 
    If you install View Connection Server with less than 10GB of memory, VMware Horizon View provides memory recommendations by generating warning messages after the installation is complete.
  • vDGA Support
    vDGA (virtual Dedicated Graphics Acceleration) is now supported for View desktops. For linked-clone desktops, vDGA settings are preserved after refresh, recompose, and rebalance operations.
  • Linked-Clone Desktop Pool Storage Overcommit Feature Enhancements 
    The linked-clone desktop pool storage overcommit feature includes a new storage overcommit level called Unbounded. When you select Unbounded, View Manager does not limit the number of linked-clone desktops that it creates based on the physical capacity of the datastore. You select the storage overcommit level for a linked-clone desktop pool on the Select Datastores page when you add or edit a linked-clone pool. SelectUnbounded only if you are certain that the datastore has enough storage capacity to accommodate all of the desktops and their future growth.
  • View Persona Management Supportability Improvements
    Supportability improvements include new log messages and profile size and file and folder count tracking. View Persona Management uses the file and folder counts to suggest folders for redirection in the Windows event log and provides statistics for these folders.
  • Support to Grant Domain Administrators Access to Redirected Folders in View Persona Management
    A new group policy setting, Add the Administrators group to redirected folders, has been added to make redirected folders accessible to domain administrators. For information about the new group policy setting, see KB 2058932: Granting domain administrators access to redirected folders for View Persona Management.
  • VMware Horizon View Agent Direct-Connection Plug-in
    You can use VMware Horizon View Agent Direct-Connection Plug-in to connect directly to a virtual desktop. This plug-in is an installable extension to View Agent that allows a View client to directly connect to a View desktop without using View Connection Server. For more information, see VMware Horizon View Agent Direct-Connection Plug-in Administration.
  • View Composer Array Integration (VCAI) Support 
    The Tech Preview designation has been removed from VCAI. VCAI appears as an option during pool creation when you select an NFS datastore on an array that supports VAAI (vStorage API for Array Integration) native snapshots. The VCAI feature is now supported with select NAS vendors. For a list of supported NAS vendors, see KB 2061611: View Composer API for Array Integration (VCAI) support in VMware Horizon View.
  • Blast Secure Gateway Maximum Connections
    The Blast Secure Gateway (BSG) now supports up to 350 connections to Horizon View desktops from clients using HTML Access. This connection limit applies to a BSG on one View Connection Server instance or security server.

VDI Calculator v3 released with Atlantis ILIO support

Andre Leibovici,  VMware architect in the Office of CTO , released VDI Calculator version 3.

VDI Calculator is a great tool in helping to size a VMware View or Citrix XenDesktop virtual desktop infrastructure. It calculates the number of required hosts, storage capacity and storage IOPS.

The calculator is a Java based application which does not need a download. (but Java installed on your client)

This new version introduces partner support, allowing 3rd party vendors to quickly demonstrate the benefits of their solutions, and allowing consultants and architects to see how those solutions impact their VDI and DaaS requirements. The first partner to be supported  is Atlantis Computing with their ILIO diskless solution.

Atlantis Computing ILIO provides a software appliance which:

  • compress and dedup data so less storage is needed than without the use of Atlantis ILIO
  • rearranges the storage IO traffic by consolidating random IO patterns to  sequential IO reducing IOPS to the backend storage.  Read more here.

The calculator clearly shows the deduplication capability of Atlantis ILIO. Storage capacity is heavily decreased when Atlantis is selected at Sponsored Calculations. However the reduction of backend IOPS is not shown. Both frontend IOPS (IOPS generated by the VMs) and backend IOPS (IOPS written by the storage) are set to zero when Atlantis is chosen.

All calculations in the VDI Calculator are based on published VMware reference architectures and guidelines for vSphere and VMware View.

If you want to know more about the VDI calculator options and features read the Manual at http://myvirtualcloud.net/?p=1927 or check out the VMware View Calculator Video Training at http://myvirtualcloud.net/?p=2551(the video is still based on the old version on the calculator).