The real value of Project VRC

About two weeks ago I attended a session at the VMware User Group meeting here in the Netherlands about Project VRC.  After the presentation I asked myself: ‘What is the value of this project?‘.

For you who don’t know what Project VRC is:

“Project Virtual Reality Check (VRC) is a joint venture of Log•in Consultants and PQR, who have researched the optimal configuration for the different available hypervisors (hardware virtualization layers). The project arises from the growing demand for a founded advice on how to virtualise Terminal Server and Virtual Desktop (VDI) workloads. Through a number of researches, Log•in Consultants and PQR show you the scaling possibilities for Terminal Server environments as well as Virtual Desktops.” http://www.virtualrealitycheck.net/

Don’t get me wrong: What they did was a very good initiative, it showed the performance differences between different hypervisors. Although the results were not that surprising it was good to see the validation numbers of the things we already knew.

I also think that the guys who did the project where totally surprised by the attention vendors and customers gave to the project. It was an outstanding (marketing) tool to show the value of virtualization and especially XenApp on a hypervisor. Because of this attention the whole project got out of hand. Although this was not the goal of the project, vendors and customers used it as a reference guide for vitalizing XenApp. That’s the point where I started to wonder what the real value of the project VRC was.

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Best practices XenApp on vSphere

Based on the real life results when virtualizing XenApp I thought it was about time to summarize some of the best practices for virtualizing XenApp servers.

Why we DO want to virtualize XenApp?

  1. For server consolidation:  vSphere enables scale up XenApp deployments;
  2. For mixing server editions: 32-bit and 64-bit XenApp VMs can coexist;
  3. For management: Better management through flexibility & isolation think about Change Management and VMware DRS;
  4. For high availability and disaster recovery: VMware HA and vCenter Site Recovery Manager;
  5. For less costs for server hardware, maintenance contracts, power, cooling, floor and rackspace.

Virtualizing XenApp servers is very complex. There are a lot more layers involved, like the type of hardware, the capabilities of the processor, the performance of the shared storage, the hypervisor used, the specific settings per hypervisor, operating system settings in a virtual environment, the XenApp settings in a virtual environment, the Workspace management settings in a virtual environment etc, etc.

In the following sections I tried to summarize some of the best practices we use in our projects:

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VMware Communities Roundtable

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Almost every week I listen to the podcast from the Communities Round-table, just to make sure that I didn’t miss anything important.


What is this Communities Round-table? Well, who better than John Troyer, Sr Mgr VMware Communities, can explain what it is.

Each week, we’ll bring together experts and leaders from the VMware Communities and virtualization blogs to discuss the interesting topics in virtualization. Think of this as if it were a group meeting up at VMworld over a pint to chat about the latest news. We record the call and make it available for your pod cast listening pleasure. Listen with the player over on the right, download directly, or use the pod cast feed from TalkShoe.

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Merry X-Mas


The VMGuru.nl crew wishes you a merry Christmas.

VMware licensing management – a proposal for change

A couple of weeks ago I talked to a co-worker who is responsible for selling VMware licenses and other VMware related stuff. As a VMware partner it isn’t always easy to manage the licenses for customers nor selling or upgrading their licenses if they bought them from another partner in the past.

A lot of the times multiple people register VMware licenses. For example, if I am the person that has to request or register licenses I probably will do it with my own VMware account. If I leave the company the licenses still are connected to me as a person. I know you can use a general account and register your licenses with that, but that goes against anything I ever learnt about security and identity management.

If you already have licenses there is also no easy way to ‘push’ them to another account, for example a general account. You can do this through the support desk, but takes all kinds of effort.

From a viewpoint of the license admininstrator it’s hard to keep track of all licenses that a company has for VMware products.

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VMware View sizing & best practices

November 4th we published an article on Virtual Infrastructure best practices and the response was overwhelming. During the last month we received a lot of questions regarding best practices on VDI/VMware View. When I then read a comment from VMware’s evangelist, Richard Garsthagen, that the attention on blogs for VMware View was minimal I thought well let’s extend our View articles/knowledge base.

So, VMware View best practices. First of all check the article on Virtual Infrastructure best practices to create a good understanding for the underlying virtual infrastructure challenges.

So hereby my list of best practices which I gather from VMware KB articles, instructor led VMware View design training and the VMware community:

  • CPU sizing;
  • Memory sizing;
  • Storage sizing;
  • Network sizing.

If you have additions or new insights please reply.

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New articles published for week ending 12/20/2009

In the last week these items are added or edited in VMware’s Knowledgebase at http://kb.vmware.com

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New articles published for week ending 12/13/2009

In the last week these items are added or edited in VMware’s Knowledgebase at http://kb.vmware.com

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Dutch VMUG video extravaganza

Yesterday was the big day for over 600 VMware enthusiasts in the Netherlands because the fifth Dutch VMUG event  took place at the Nieuwegein Business Center.

As usual Eric Sloof from NTPro.nl performed his usual video extravaganza which can be viewed at his website.

Eric created a 24 minute video diary of the whole day and even the VMGuru.nl-crew passes by a few times. At the end, our very own Arjan van ‘t Hoff, wins the lottery taking home a huge beanbag which he had to take home on his bicycle ;-)

So check out the video!

VMUG2009

vCenter Server Heartbeat workshop @ DutchVMUG

DutchVMUG

The last breakout session we attended the XTG vCenter Server Heartbeat workshop, a quick way to get familiar with a new VMware product.

The instructor first introduced us to the product and discussed some installation and configuration hints and tips.

After that we quickly started with preparing and cloning the vCenter Server and installing and configuring the vCenter Server Heartbeat product.

The workshop certainly was useful but in a different way you would probably expect.

After the workshop Anne Jan and I discussed our experiences with the product and we quickly agreed that VMware could have spent more time OEM-ing the former Neverfail product to give it a VMware-like interface instead of the 1980′s Windows 3.11 interface it has now. Besides that the configuration of the product has a very high tweaker-level. In our opinion this is a 0.9 version and in the 1.0 versionVMware should definitely address the interface and configuration look and feel.

Nevertheless VMware vCenter Server Heartbeat does what it is supposed to as we saw during the lab exercises where we did a clean failover and finally caused a BSOD which vCenter Server Heartbeat handled perfectly.

I wonder if customers are willing to pay so much money for a product which isn’t worthy the VMware name based on its ancient interface. I know I will be having a very hard time to convince customers to use this to achieve a very high vCenter protection level even when it’s clear that the use case is definitively there.

VMware Fusion 3.0.1 now available

box_store-fusion3-200x200The VMware Fusion Team has been working around the clock to add new features, improve performance and fix over 50 bugs to give out a very nice product to the Apple loving colleagues.

The new automatic update feature for VMware Fusion helps to keep Fusion updated easily.

Improved 3D & Video Performance: Improved WDDM driver and 3D backend improvements speed up 3D applications from 20-80% on Mac OS X Snow Leopard. Video playback with Windows Media Player on Windows Vista and Windows 7 is greatly improved as well. Try it, you will love it!

Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala): Full support for Ubuntu 9.10 32-bit & 64-bit editions. Just like other Linux virtual machines, they support copy and paste, drag and drop and even Unity!

Even More 64-bit Support: Networking subsystem is now 64-bit native to match 64-bit core engine released initially with VMware Fusion 3 (vmware-vmx).

Easier Move to VMware Fusion: Import standalone VHD virtual disks and Parallels Desktop 5 virtual machines into VMware virtual machines.

Improved Resume Times: For those users who suspend their virtual machines, they reduced the time required to resume your virtual machines.

Check out the announcement post here

VMware Lab Manager 4 by Joep Piscaer

DutchVMUG

Joep Piscaer just finished his VMware Lab Manager 4 presentation at the Dutch VMUG and he he shared it at his website, VirtualLifestyle.nl.

Our blogging colleagues at Virtualistic.nl are busy recording it so it should be online soon on their video blog.

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At the fifth Dutch VMUG Event, I’ve given a presentation on VMware vCenter Lab Manager 4. I’ve uploaded the slidedeck of this (Dutch) presentation to SlideShare, a nifty way to share your presentations.

VMUG Video blog

DutchVMUG

Our blogging colleagues at Virtualistic.nl keep a video blog on their site.

You can watch VMUG keynote and presentation ‘live’ from Nieuwegein (Netherlands) on their website.

Demo Virtualization EcoShell by Eric Sloof

DutchVMUG

EricSloofvideoEcoShell

Gerben Kloosterman put up a video of Eric Sloof while demoing Virtualization EcoShell at http://blog.virtualarchitect.nl

Dutch VMUG Breakout 2 pictures

DutchVMUG
Pictures from Breakout session 2 by Bouke Groenescheij (Jume.nu) can be found here.

Breakouts in sessions 2:
- Virtualiseren van Exchange by Jan Willem Lammers – VMware
- How to monitor, manage & optimize a virtual environment by Danny Claproth – Vizioncore
- Project VRC by Ruben Spruijt – PQR/Jeroen van de Kamp – Login Consultants

Dutch VMUG Breakout 1 pictures

DutchVMUG
Pictures from Breakout session 1 by Bouke Groenescheij (Jume.nu) can be found here.

Breakouts in sessions 1:
- VMware’s latest Virtual Desktop Infrastructure by Rory Clements – VMware
- Managing VMware vSphere 4 m.b.v. de Virtualization EcoShell by Eric Sloof – NTPro.nl
- Why the Virtual Data Center Starts with Compellent by Steven Dahlin – Compellent


Virtualization EcoShell @Dutch VMUG

DutchVMUG

For all the folks that didn’t hear about the EcoShell yet: The Virtualization EcoShell makes it possible to create scripts to automate management tasks for your virtual infrastructure, all from a user friendly user interface.

These scripts can be saved for later use.

This is not only good news for the lazy or time driven admin, but also from the point of making less mistakes. Actions can be run time after time at the same way.

The Virtualization EcoShell divides everything into the following actions:

  • gather
  • filter
  • remediate
  • report
  • integrate

One of the items that is very interesting is vDiagram. vDiagram automagically creates a diagram of the items you want to report, for example which virtual machines are connected to what vSwitch.

Best Practice Filters are a great addition to the Virtualization EcoShell. For example: Give me all virtual machines with a connected CD-ROM drive that prevent VMotions. ESX hosts with NICs slower than 1GBit/s or VM’s with snapshots older than 7 days are part of the best practice filters.

Alan Renouf has put a lot of his PowerShell scripts he posted earlier on virtu-al.net in a PowerPack for the Virtualization EcoShell. vCheck is one of those things.

Eric has given a demo on his laptop. ESXi in a VMware Workstation 7 installation with a couple of virtual machines in it.

Without a line of programming or scripting he connects to the ESX host. Just by clicking he changes the connection of a couple of VMs to a different vSwitch.

If you want to change the code behind actions, no worry. Since everything is based on PowerShell commandlets you can change the code yourself.

Even creating your own PowerPack is very easy. As a demo Eric created a vmug PowerPack with a script he copied from the site from Alan. Sounds good, a vmug PowerPack.

Checkout  http://www.thevesi.org and ofcourse the site of Eric Sloof, ntpro.nl

Books that Eric mentioned in his presentation:

  • vSphere Quick Start Guide
  • Managing VMware Infrastructure with Windows PowerShell
  • VMware VI and vSphere SDK

Twitter aliases to follow:

Scott Herold took the stage after Eric. He showed vRangerPro and the integration with the Virtualization EcoShell. From within the Virtualization EcoShell you are able to make charts from your backup times for example and use this in a monthly report.Even integration with vControl, a workflow application, is very easy from within the Virtualization EcoShell.

Scott is out in the exhibition hall to give more info and demo of the Virtualization EcoShell.

Dutch VMUG Keynote pictures

DutchVMUG
Keynote pictures by Bouke Groenescheij (Jume.nu) can be found here.