The Virtualization Practice

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Windows boot IO and storage performance impact on VDI

With Virtual Desktop Infrastructures (VDI) initiatives adoption being a popular theme associated with cloud and dynamic infrastructure environments a related discussion point is the impact on networks, servers and storage during boot or startup activity to avoid bottlenecks. VDI solution vendors include Citrix, Microsoft and VMware along with various server, storage, networking and management tools vendors.

A common storage and network related topic involving VDI are boot storms when many workstations or desktops all startup at the same time. However any discussion around VDI and its impact on networks, servers and storage should also be expanded from read centric boots to write intensive shutdown or maintenance activity as well.

VMware has updated the vRAM pricing for vSphere 5 to address certain customer issues, and deserves a great deal of credit for acting this quickly and decisively to the feedback that was generated by the initial announcement. However, even with the new vSphere 5 vRAM pricing the question is now raised as to whether competing and less expensive virtualization platforms are acceptable for some entire companies, and some use cases within what used to be 100% VMware shops. VMware has created an opening for Microsoft, Citrix, and Red Hat. As this sorts itself out, the virtualization platform landscape will change – resulting in a minimum in a new focus on tools to manage multiple virtualization platforms.

Performance Management for Desktop Virtualization (VDI) and Presentation Virtualization (SBC)

Ovum’s research found that desktop virtualization currently represents approximately 15% of the business PC market. However, this figure is dominated by the Presentation Virtualization model (12%), typically used in call datacenter-type environments, and has been for the last 10 years. If PV/terminal services are excluded, the next generation of solutions aimed at CIOs, from the likes of Citrix, Quest and VMware, hold less then 3% of the market, showing that many CIOs are holding back from taking the plunge.

I was reading through a recent article about the new Java 7 release, which contradicts Oracle’s current support statement with respect to licensing. The License from Oracle exclusively states Java 7 is only supported on those hypervisors Oracle currently supports: Oracle VM, VirtualBox, Solaris Containers, and Solaris LDOMs except where noted. That last phrase is rather tricky, so where do we find such notes. Is the noted the support document stating that they support Oracle products within a VMware VM? Or is it somewhere else in the license? This leaves out all major hypervisors: Citrix, VMware, and Microsoft. If you cannot find a note saying things are supported, somewhere.

This implies quite a bit for the future of Java support within most PaaS environments being built today. In essence, they cannot upgrade to Java 7. Which means they may fall behind. This would impact OpenShift, Amazon, Google, CloudFoundry, SalesForce, and others.

VMware – A Train with an Engine, 3 Boxcars, and a Caboose

VMware is already the most important, and with vSphere the best systems software vendor on the planet. This is true not only based upon the current success of the vSphere platform, but the quality of the long term strategies in place for vFabric, vCloud, and vCenter. With vSphere 5, VMware can ill afford distractions that detract from the momentum of the attack upon the remaining 60% that is not virtualized. The strategic investments in vFabric, vCloud, and vCenter then call into question of viability of having a desktop virtualization business (View) that is today in product and tomorrow in vision a minor subset of what Citrix is delivering and articulating.

The single most dangerous part of this new pricing (to VMware) is rooted in the following fact. What is left to virtualize is very different from what has been virtualized to date. If what VMware has done is change its licensing around to replace one metric (cores) with another (vRAM) in a manner that would have allowed it to get the same revenue from its existing customers to date, then VMware has totally missed the boat.

RES Baseline Desktop Analyzer is a free, on-line, Microsoft Windows Azure-hosted service that allows you to gain visibility into your existing desktop infrastructure through a real-time analysis of your environment and user base. RES have shown interesting innovation in the presentation of their Baseline Desktop Analyzer. The tool can work well as an initial guide on the state of your current desktop estate. But, it acts as a guide, it can present a scale of the task. To know your desktop environment fully and to know how you will need to take-on a campaign of migration you will need a wider set of information and likely additional tools and support.