The Virtualization Practice

Desktop Virtualization

Desktop Virtualization covers VDI (centrally hosted desktops), Desktops as a Service (DaaS), desktop virtualization via client side hypervisors, and shared server technologies. Major areas of focus include when and where centralized desktop offerings are appropriate and not appropriate, ...
how management of remote desktops combined with management of mobile devices leads to a better managed and more productive end user computing environment, how to deliver the performance that end users require, and the impacts of using remote desktop technologies upon organizational security. Covered products and vendors include the VMware Horizon Suite, Horizon View, Horizon Mirage, VMware ThinApp, Citrix XenServer, Citrix XenApp, Citrix XenClient, and Microsoft Remote Data Services.

VMware has made significant changes to the recently announced vRAM based pricing. The single most significant change is that potential barriers to the virtualization of memory intensive business critical applications have been eliminated by ensuring that no application no matter how big can cause a charge of more than 96GB to be levied against the pool of available vRAM.

One of the reduced criticisms of View, and one of the most frequent weapons used against it, has been the relatively poor performance characteristics of PCoIP across high latency low bandwidth WAN connections. Until today, VMware has been following the standard line of denying there is a problem until you are able to solve it. Now, solution in hand Vittorio Viarengo, VMware’s head of all things desktop (officially Vice President, End User Computing)is willing to share Gartner’s perspective on View’s strengths and weaknesses.

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.

With the announcement of vSphere 5.0, VMware has kept its word on only having VMware ESXi for the physical host operating system. This is the first release of vSphere with just VMware ESXi as an option. I must admit that I was not a big fan of the concept when it was introduced as an option in the 3.x days. I had a very slick automated process in place that was one of my pride and joys at the moment and VMware ESXi was just lagging behind in functionality compared to what I was able to do with VMware ESX. My attitude started to change with the release of VMware ESX 4.1 as presented in an earlier post and now that vSphere 5.0 is announced I must admit that I think VMware has gone about this process of a cutover to ESXi quite well and the functionality that is presented in this release is quite impressive.

Lion updates session sharing feature in Lion – does this mean that native mac terminal services can push out mac os to thin clients. Given the license changes, there may well be over 200 features in the new OS, but Lion is not the release to make Apple a desktop OS that is lord of the jungle of corporate desktop solutions.

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.