Review: Mastering VMware Horizon 6 – With 25% Discount Code

Mastering Horizon 6It was around a year ago when Barry Coombs approached me to see if I would like to be a reviewer on his and Peter von Oven upcoming book Mastering VMware Horizon 6.  I agreed to the project as most of the previous books I had read or reviewed from Packt Publishing had been circa 200 hundred pages and skimmed the surface of the chosen subject.  When I opened the first chapter to provide feedback, I knew this was an entirely different book, in a good way!

Peter and Barry have created the go to book on Horizon 6.  It covers every aspect of the Horizon Advanced stack, including the latest release 6.1.  I’m not entirely sure how they managed this considering the book was started twelve months ago.  But from the readers perspective you know that the information is up to date.

I don’t say the words, they have covered every aspect of the Horizon stack lightly:

  • Horizon View Architecture (Connection, Composer & Security Servers)
  • Persona Management
  • Printing, USB Devices
  • PCoIP
  • Hardware Accelerated Graphics
  • Unified Commuications, Real Time Audio Video
  • Design & Deployment Considerations
  • Backup & Disaster Recovery
  • SSL Certificates
  • Optimising Desktop Image
  • Managing Desktop Pools
  • Fine Tuning End User Experience
  • Application Delivery
  • View Clients
  • Upgrading to Horizon 6
  • VMware Mirage
  • VMware Workspace
  • App Volumes
  • Virtual SAN
  • Troubleshooting

VDI is a complicated product that has probably the most ‘touch points’ on end to end infrastructure than any other.  If we take a users connection to virtual desktop, you need to account for Client Device > View Client > Network > SSL Certificates > Security Server > Connection Server > Active Directory > View Composer > Windows Operating System > User Profiles > Application Delivery

Peter and Barry have all of this covered along with compute and storage resources using their unique easy to digest writing style.

If you are deploying, managing or configuring a Horizon View environment, this book needs to be in your toolkit, I cannot speak highly enough of the content.

Discount Code

Peter and Barry have been kind enough to share a 25% discount code that readers of VMFocus.com can use via Packt Publishing before 16th May 2015.

Go to Packt Publishing add the Mastering VMware Horizon 6 book to your cart and apply discount code MVH25 at the checkout.

Discount Code

Value of VDI Assessments

Disclaimer: This is a copy of the post that I made for TechTarget recently.

The past eighteen months has seen huge investment by VMware within the EUC space, with the arrival of Sanjay Poonen and Horizon (with View) 6 which introduced application publishing in the Advanced edition.  Finally we had an emerging contender to the heavy weight Citrix XenApp.

With this investment from VMware, the past twelve months have seen an increased number of customers looking at virtualising desktops and applications.  The first part of the engagement process is to access whether or not a physical computer is a virtualisation candidate.  To do this we undertake a desktop assessment.

What Is a Desktop Assessment?

First of all, I want to define what is meant by desktop assessment?  From this blog post perspective it is a piece of centralised software that collates information from remote agent’s installed on end user devices which are perceived to be candidates for VDI.

There are plenty of tools on the market from providers such as:

So the question is what value do these assessments bring to a business that is contemplating a move towards VDI?

Different VDI Guest Operating System

The first question is are we staying with the same operating system or moving to a new one?

If you perform a VDI assessment on a desktop operating system which is going to be replaced with a newer version, what value are you really obtaining? Not a lot, the applications will most likely require updating to support the new OS and this in turn leads to different requirements for compute and storage requirements.

Same Operating System

If you are going to have the same operating system you will get more value from the desktop assessment.  However it’s worth bearing in mind that the results from the desktop assessment often over inflate your compute metrics for example:

  • Compute resources used by in guest Anti-Virus are likely to be offloaded to a host based alternative
  • Compute and storage resources for Windows updates will often be negated by VDI tools such as PVS, MSC and Linked Clones
  • Applications installed by the end user will most likely be removed from the ‘master image’
  • VDI ‘master image’ will be optimised with services, widgets and applications being disabled or uninstalled

This can be viewed as a good thing as you can often show a slightly higher consolidation ratio per physical host.

What about Peripherals?

This is where desktop assessments come into their own.  Most IT departments I have spoken to always say ‘yeah we know what applications and devices our users use’, yeah right!

Desktop assessments will inform you what Parallel, Serial and USB devices are connected to the user’s computer.  This gives you the visibility to determine whether a particular user’s device is appropriate for VDI.

What about Licensing?

Desktop assessments are good for capturing what applications are used by users and what devices have what software installed.  However they often fall down in a number of areas:

  • Application dependencies, to determine why you have five different versions of Java installed
  • Often look to see if an executable is launched not whether an application is used to read or edit a document which can have a huge effect on license cost
  • Application readiness and/or virtualisation assessment, will the application work on Operating System ‘x’ and is it capable of being virtualised?

Often this area is overlooked and requires a large effort from a separate workstream outside of the desktop assessment.  Use the information from any desktop assessment as a starting point.

Group Policy

Most desktop assessments rely on an in-guest agent on the end device to capture metrics and pass them back to a central collection repository.  So what happens when you are waiting for that agent to start? The answer is simple nothing, you miss collecting data on anything that happens prior to the agent starting.

When the agent does start, the metrics collected for login time or log off time can be skewed by group policy applied to the computer object.

Ask yourself the question how often is a new OU created for VDI deployments?

What about the storage?

We have already established that the in-guest agent doesn’t start until when the operating system is ready so we have missed boot metrics IOPS.

Desktop assessments have the ability to capture steady state information which is OK as long as there are no other bottlenecks skewing the provided information.  For example:

  • Is paging occurring which is causing disk I/O to increase?
  • Is the limiting factor the hard drive itself and if unleashed from a 7.2K SATA hard drive, what IOPS would be consumed?
  • Are Anti-Virus scans causing peaks in provided disk I/O information?

What is the value?

For me, the value in a desktop assessment for VDI is in the following items:

  • Enables you to take a ‘bird’s eye’ view of what users are virtualisation candidates when items such as peripherals are taken into consideration
  • Provide user classification into different classes for resource consumption e.g. low, medium and high
  • Enables you to determine concurrent login and logoffs which can help determine storage sizing requirements
  • Gives you an insight into what applications are used by users

Final Thoughts

The desktop assessment does have some value in the VDI world, it is not a panacea to provide you everything you need to know on your journey to VDI.

Do I use desktop assessments, yes is the answer.  However it should be mentioned with a limited use case.  Most of the value comes from a pilot and load testing with products such as LoginVSI to determine the density of users per host.

Horizon View License Upgrade Tool

The past eighteen months has seen huge investment by VMware within the EUC space, with the arrival of Sanjay Poonen and Horizon (with View) 6 which introduced application publishing in the Advanced edition.  Finally we had an emerging contender to the heavy weight Citrix XenApp.

With this investment from VMware, the past twelve months have seen an increased number of customers looking at virtualizing desktops and applications, this has lead to an increased conversations about how to upgrade existing licenses and the best route to take depending on what features are required and what license model.

  • Per Named User
    • For virtual environments with staff that need dedicated access to a virtual machine throughout the day
  • Per Concurrent Connection
    • For virtual environments with a high number of shift workers where machines are shared between workers throughout the day (e.g. students, shift workers)

VMware have caught onto the minefield and have released the VMware End User Computing Upgrade Path Tool  which will show you what SKU’s are required to move to Horizon 6.

UpgradePaths

Top 3 Horizon View Flings

viewclientWhat Is A VMware Fling?

A fling is an application that addresses a specific need which isn’t found within a core VMware product such as Horizon View.  It has been created by a VMware employee to resolve or help with an issue.

VMware Flings are not supported so run at your own risk!

Top 3 Horizon View Flings

1. First place goes to Horizon View Event Notifier , when I was implementing a couple of small Horizon View environments, they didn’t have syslog facilities and this came to the rescue.

This tool connects to one or more existing Horizon View Event Database(s) and allows the user to customize which types of alerts to be notified on. It can be run from any Windows based system and it collects and sends the alerts via email (SMTP) to users that are specified during the configuration process. It allows aggregation of alerts across multiple Horizon View Pods and for near real-time alerting of Horizon View alerts that are otherwise very difficult to be notified on.

2. Second place goes to ViewDbChk, if you have used View, then I can almost guarantee you have had some type of provisioning error!  This fling scans for these errors and allows you to choose whether to remove them from the View Database.

The ViewDbChk tool allows administrators to scan for, and fix provisioning errors that can not be addressed using View Administrator. Provisioning errors occur when there are inconsistencies between the LDAP, vCenter and View Composer databases. These can be caused by: direct editing of the vCenter inventory, restoring a backup, or a long term network problem.

3. Third place goes to XenApp2Horizon, not used this yet, but what a useful tool to save the manual migration of apps from XenApp to Horizon!

The XenApp2Horizon Fling helps you migrate published applications and desktops from XenApp to Horizon View. One XenApp farm is migrated to one or more Horizon View farm(s).

The GUI wizard-based tool helps you:

Validate the View agent status on RDS hosts (from View connection server, and XenApp server)

Create farm

Validate application availability on RDS host

Migrate application/desktop to one or multiple farms (new or existing)

Migrate entitlements to new or existing applications/desktops. Combination of application entitlements are supported

Check environment

Identify incompatible features and configuration

Final Word

These flings take time and effort to create, most of which I would guess are done in the VMware Engineers own personal time.  Therefore, i would like to thank the following people for their efforts:

Keep the good work up chaps!

vCOPS for View Licensing

Having not deployed vCenter Operations Manager for View in the ‘wild’ I wasn’t sure of the licensing model.  After some research and help from the community I was able to answer my questions, so thought I would ‘pay it forward’ and put together a blog post.

vCOPS for View

Q. What monitoring does it include?

A.  The ability to monitor the number of Horizon View desktops that you have purchased.  Also included is monitoring of your Connection and Security Servers.

Q. Do I need to purchase vCOPS separately as a management portal?

A. No, this is included

Note The vCOPS portal is specific to View and does not give you the ability to monitor your vSphere environment except for Connection and Security Servers.

Q. I want to use my existing vCOPS to monitor View what version do I need?

A. At least Advanced edition.

Note I changed my Standard vCOPS license to Enterprise on a free trial key and then added the View adapter.  I then reverted back to the Standard license to see what would happen,  Unfortunately, you receive the error message ‘this product is unlicensed or cannot connect to the vSphere Server.  Use a vSphere Client to connect to the vCenter Server and assign a license key’.

vCOPS Error

 Thanks to the following chaps from Twitter for their input:

  • Sunny Dua @Sunny_Dua
  • Michael Armstrong @m80arm
  • Hersey Cartwright @herseyc
  • Thomas Brown @thombrown