VMware Horizon View graphics – vSGA vs vDGA

VDI_Nvidia.pngAs VDI solutions become more and more mainstream for standard office environments, a new challenge appears. We can swap the bulky desktop and replace it with a small thin client, delivering Windows desktops from the datacenter. Enabling a more flexible way of working with free seating, working at home. But how about those ‘special’ users who always get a ‘special’ workstation with high end graphic cards, dual monitor setup working with AutoCAD, Bentley MicroStation, etc? Can we deliver the high end graphics needed for these applications to a VDI desktop also enabling the VDI benefits for these users?

I’ve been researching the possibilities for these users because one of our larger customers would like to do just that. In this post I would like to share some of the results.

Most VDI solutions on the market today, like VMware Horizon View and Citrix XenDesktop, all offer advanced 3D capabilities. VMware was the first company to virtualize 3D graphics with VMware Workstation and Fusion and with VMware vSphere 5.1 introduced this 3D technology in vSphere to be used in VDI use cases. As of 2011 VMware has been working closely with Nvidia to deliver high-end virtual workstations with 3D graphics support in VMware Horizon View by using their Quadro graphics adapters.

When VMware released View 5.0 they introduced SVGA and software 3D rendering which was a huge improvement for VDI graphics and a boost for VDI utilization. With the release of VMware Horizon View 5.2 VMware announced two new graphics features, vSGA and vDGA.

CPU Rendering

VMware introduced software 3D rendering in View 5.0 primarily to enable Windows Aero desktops and applications requiring 3D without requiring a physical GPU. The main advantage of software 3D rendering is that it can run on any server hardware, no special graphics cards or server hardware is required. Because software 3D rendering is in essence CPU rendering [duh] this graphics mode impacts the VDI density on a server. There are no specific benchmarks on the software 3D rendering but because rendering is done on a (shared) CPU and not on a dedicated GPU is not suitable for real high-end graphical applications.

vSGAvSGA.jpg

Virtual Shared Graphics Acceleration (vSGA) uses the physical GPU’s installed locally in each vSphere host to provide hardware accelerated 3D graphics to virtual desktops. vSGA was introduced in VMware Horizon View 5.2 and it offers truly high performance graphics with maximum compatibility and portability. With this feature we can now offer VDI for some of those users with a ‘special’ workstation with high end graphic cards, dual monitor setup working with AutoCAD, Bentley MicroStation, etc.

vSGA allows you the ability to provision multiple VDI desktops to a single or multiple GPU’s. Graphics cards are presented to the VDI virtual machine as a VMware SVGA 3D graphics driver and the graphics processes are handled by an ESXi driver. The VMware SVGA 3D graphics driver is supported on Windows 7 and 8 virtual desktops for 2D and 3D and is used for both software 3D rendering and vSGA and provides support for DirectX v9 and OpenGL 2.1 applications. Graphics resources are reserved on a first come first serve basis so sizing and capacity is important to consider. vSGA is a great solution for users that require higher than normal graphics needs, rendering 1080p video, OpenGL, DirectX, etc.

Because the VMware SVGA 3D driver is used for both software 2D/3D rendering and vSGA a VDI virtual machine can dynamically switch between software or hardware acceleration without the need to reconfigure the virtual machine allowing vMotion even when providing hardware-accelerated graphics using vSGA.

vSGA supported graphics adapters (03-2014):

  • Nvidia GRID K1
  • NvidiaGRID K2
  • Nvidia Quadro 4000
  • Nvidia Quadro 5000
  • Nvidia Quadro 6000
  • Nvidia Tesla M2070Q

(notice the ‘missing K’ with the Quadro adapters, Nvidia K4000, K5000, K6000 are not supported)

vDGAvDGA.jpg

Virtual Direct Graphics Acceleration (vDGA) was introduced with VMware Horizon View 5.2 as a Tech Preview and is fully supported with VMware Horizon View 5.3. vDGA delivers real high-end Workstation Class 3D graphics for use cases where a dedicated GPU is needed and offers a true graphical workstation replacement for high performance GPU computing. Assigning a dedicated Nvidia GPU to the VDI virtual machine reserves the entire GPU to that desktop and enables for CUDA and OpenCL compute. vDGA supported graphics adapters are physically installed in the vSphere host and are assigned to virtual machines using VMware DirectPath I/O.

The number of VDI virtual machines per host is limited to the number of Nvidia graphics adapters in a vSphere host.

Because VMware DirectPath I/O is used vMotion, DRS, and HA are not supported with vDGA. Besides that, vDGA uses the Nvidia graphics drivers instead of the VMware SVGA 3D driver, so a VDI virtual machine cannot dynamically switch between software or hardware acceleration so NO vMotion. And last but not least, because of the nature of the configuration vDGA and Direct I/O assignment it is not a candidate for automated deployment using Horizon View Composer.

vDGA supported graphics adapters (03-2014):

  • Nvidia GRID K1
  • Nvidia GRID K2
  • Nvidia Quadro K2000
  • Nvidia Quadro K4000
  • Nvidia Quadro K5000
  • Nvidia Quadro K6000
  • Nvidia Quadro 1000M
  • Nvidia Quadro 2000
  • Nvidia Quadro 3000M
  • Nvidia Quadro 4000
  • Nvidia Quadro 5000
  • Nvidia Quadro 6000
  • Nvidia Tesla M2070Q

Conclusion

vSGA and vDGA are great new features which offer the 3D graphics and video in VMware Horizon View. It further expands the use cases and users that IT can service with a VDI virtual desktops. In addition to expanding the target use cases, offering 3D capabilities will give users a more graphically rich experience in a VDI user desktop. But there are some caveats to consider.

Using vDGA will give you a true graphical workstation replacement for high performance GPU computing but a a cost. Because of the dedicated pinning of VDI virtual machines to a GPU the desktop density will be low and vSphere and Horizon View features like HA, DRS, vMotion and linked clones cannot be used. I’ve seen and played with this vDGA setup at VMworld 2013 and I was really impressed, 3D gaming, AutoCAD, NO problem!

vSGA will give you a better desktop density and you can still use VMware HA, DRS, vMotion and Horizon View Composer linked clones but at another cost. ‘Limited’ DirectX and OpenGL support, no CUDA support but far better graphics performance than software 3D rendering. vSGA is a great mix/trade of between software 3D rendering and vDGA.

So every solution has it pro’s and con’s but the real question is will you notice? I would advice you to do a Proof of Concept (PoC) to find out which solution fits your needs.

For more information on hardware accelerated 3D graphics please refer to the Graphics Acceleration in VMware Horizon View Virtual Desktops white paper.

View Graphics.JPG

Software 3D rendering vSGA vDGA
Use case Task worker Knowledge worker/ Power user Workstation user
Mode Software shared Hardware shared Hardware dedicated
Dedicated hardware No Yes Yes
Desktop density Very high High Low
DirectX No Yes (9 only) Yes (9, 10, 11)
OpenGL No Yes (2.1 only) Yes (2.1, 3.x, 4.1x)
CUDA No No Yes
Video encode No No Yes
Driver VMware SVGA 3D graphics driver VMware SVGA 3D graphics driver Specific Nvidia client driver
vMotion Yes Yes No
HA Yes Yes No
DRS Yes Yes No
Linked clones Yes Yes No

How to delete an orphaned desktop pool

please_recycle_by_fast_eddie.jpgTime for a new problem in the VMware Horizon View series. After running into problems which forced me to ‘Manually delete protected Horizon View replicas‘ and ‘Link a VMware View desktop to its replica‘, now I encountered an orphaned desktop pool which could not be deleted.

First, What got me into this mess. As I told you last week I was testing a Nvidia Quadro K5000 graphics card when my ESXi whitebox died on me. This also corrupted the one hard drive which contained all my Horizon View desktops. Fortunately the golden images resided on my NFS storage so no harm done, just delete the pools, recreate them and we’re up and running again. Wrong! Because the VDI virtual machines were no longer present, I ended up with an orphaned desktop pool. Similar like you would get when deleting View virtual machines directly from the vCenter client.

When I tried to delete the desktop pools in the Horizon View Administrator I got an error stating internal problems with the Composer server or service.

Composer error.JPG

It’s not much to go on but I checked the View Composer service, Composer logs, Windows domain membership and I even reconfigured Composer in the Horizon View Administrator Server settings. No success. Then I remembered manually deleting the protected Horizon View replicas and I searched for orphaned desktops pools.

I found this VMware KB article: Manually deleting linked clones or stale virtual desktop entries from VMware View Manager and Horizon View (1008658)

This confirmed my suspicion that this had nothing to do with the Composer service but that it was caused by the disappearance of the View virtual machines due to the hard disk corruption. Much like you would get when deleting View virtual machines directly from the vCenter client instead of the proper way, in the Horizon View Administrator console.

To solve this problem and remove the bad entries to be able to delete the desktop pool I had to do the following:

  1. Open up vSphere and connect to vCenter.
  2. Open up the console for the Horizon View Connection Server.
  3. Connect to the Horizon View ADAM database:
    1. Click [Start > Administrative Tools > ADSI Edit].
    2. In the console window, right-click ADSI Edit and click [Connect to].
    3. In the Name field type: [View ADAM Database].
    4. Select [Select or type a Distinguished Name or Naming Context].
    5. In the field below, type [dc=vdi,dc=vmware,dc=int].
      (do not try to be smart and change these to match your own AD domain like I did. This is the distinguished name of the Horizon View ADAM database)
    6. Select [Select or type a domain or server].
    7. In the field below, type [localhost].
    8. Click [OK].
    9. Click [View ADAM Database] to expand.
    10. Click [DC=vdi,dc=vmware,dc=int] to expand.
  4. Locate the GUID of the virtual machine. To locate the GUID of the virtual machine:
    1. Right-click the Connection [View ADAM Database], and click [New > Query].
    2. Under Root of Search, click [Browse] and select the [Servers] organizational unit.
    3. Click [OK].
    4. In the Query String, paste this search string: (&(objectClass=pae-VM)(pae-displayname=VirtualMachineName))
      Where VirtualMachineName is the name of the virtual machine for which you are trying to locate the GUID. You may use * or ? as wildcards to match multiple desktops.
    5. Click [OK] to create the query.
    6. Click the query in the left pane. The virtual machines that match the search are displayed in the right pane.
    7. Record the [GUID] in cn=<GUID>.
  5. Delete the [pae-VM object] from the ADAM database:
    1. Locate the [OU=SERVERS] container.
    2. Locate the corresponding virtual machine’s GUID (from above) in the list which can be sorted in ascending or descending order, choose [Properties] and check the pae-DisplayName attribute to verify the corresponding linked clone virtual machine object.
    3. Delete the pae-VM object.
  6. Check if there are entries under OU=Desktops and OU=Applications in the ADAM database.
  7. Check for entries in both the [OU=Server Groups] and [OU=Applications] and remove both. Removing one entry and not the other from the ADAM database results in the java.lang.nullpointerexception error when attempting to view the pools or desktops inventory in View Manager.

ViewADAM.png

This did the trick. After deleting all references to the old VDI virtual machines and desktop pools, I’ve got a fresh and clean Horizon View Connection Server.

BLAST Windows Apps to your Chromebook

In September 2011 VMware gave us a sneak peek at Project AppBlast and with VMware Horizon View we can use AppBlast technology to access desktops using a HTML5 compatible browse. But as of today we can experience the true power of AppBlast.

Today VMware and Google announced a new service to deliver Windows applications to Google Chromebooks.

Google and VMware today announced that they are working together to make it easier for Chromebook users in the enterprise to access Windows applications and the Windows desktops on their Google ChromeBooks by using VMware’s Horizon desktop as a service (DaaS), which uses VMware‘s HTML5 Blast protocol, it will now be easier for Chromebook users to connect to a traditional Windows experience.

It is possible to remotely access a Windows machine on ChromeOS by using Google’s ownRemote Desktop application or other 3rd party applications but they do not offer the kind of security features that enterprises look for. Another important shortcoming of Chromebooks preventing business use is the ability to run Windows or Windows-based apps. Microsoft Office is still, by far, the leader in office productivity applications, and of course, there are many critical business applications that will only run on Windows systems. So, for Chromebooks to have any hope of becoming a true business device, they must somehow support running these applications that businesses need. Chromebooks were intended to work with web-enabled applications, making Chromebook-type devices more viable, but that day is still far away.

Users will be able to use the new service to access their Windows applications, data and desktops from a web-based application catalog on their Chromebooks. Soon, Chromebook users will also be able to install the service from the Chrome Web Store.

Manually deleting protected Horizon View replicas

computer-trash.jpgTwo weeks ago Sander wrote an article on ‘How to link VMware View desktop to its replica‘.

Unfortunately in my case my server died and because I had to reinstall my Horizon View environment. Because the View desktops were provisioned on another server and on shared storage the  the replicas became orphaned.

During normal operation the View Connection Server creates, manages, and deletes linked clones during View Composer operations. If the Connection Server functions are interrupted, the linked clones create orphaned folders, protected folders and virtual machine objects remaining in the vCenter Server.

The problem now is to remove the replicas because they are protected.

To resolve this issue, run the unprotectentity command to remove the protection from linked clone objects.Run these commands from a command prompt on the vCenter Server from the View Composer directory:
  • 32-bit servers: C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware View Composer
  • 64-bit servers: C:\Program Files (x86)\VMware\VMware View Composer

For View Composer 2.7 and earlier (View 5 and earlier), run the command:

sviconfig -operation=UnprotectEntity -VcUrl=https://<VirtualCenter address>/sdk -Username=<VirtualCenter account name> -Password=<VirtualCenter account password> -InventoryPath=/<Datacenter name>/vm/VMwareViewComposerReplicaFolder/<Replica Name> -Recursive=true

For View Composer 3.0 (View 5.1), run the command:

sviconfig -operation=UnprotectEntity -DsnName=<name of the DSN> -DbUsername=<Composer DSN User Name> -DbPassword=<Composer DSN Password> -VcUrl=https://<vCenter Server address>/sdk -VcUsername=<Domain\User of vCenter Server account name> -VcPassword=<vCenter Server account password> -InventoryPath=/<Datacenter name>/vm/VMwareViewComposerReplicaFolder/<Replica Name> -Recursive=true

Notes: The sviconfig command parameters are case sensitive.

Caution: In View Composer 2.0, if a replica folder is unprotected, it cannot be protected again. Use the UnprotectEntity command as a last-resort troubleshooting procedure and exercise caution when running this command.

Running this second command on my vSphere 5.5/Horizon View 5.2 environment successfully unprotected the 4 replicas> Next I could delete the replicas from disk in vCenter.

Unprotect Replica.jpg
For more information visit:

How to link VMware View desktop to its replica

ChainA while back I was looking at a VMware View environment that had Storage DRS enabled and set to automatic. If I recall correctly, one of the first things the installation document from VMware mentions is not to use Storage DRS in a View enviroment. If you need to rebalance the desktops and replica data on your datastores you can do so with the “Rebalance” option within the View administrator console.

In this enviroment storage DRS had been running like that for some time resulting in desktops and replica’s beeing moved across the datastores and View losing control over the desktops. Creating new pools and migrate the users to newly created pools was done fairly quick and from the View admin console perspective the problem was solved. However the datastores still containedmore desktop and replica folders present than there should have been. So how do you determine if a folder is still in use or not?

The way we checked the folders was through the use of the tables within the vCenter and View Composer database. In this article I want to describe how you can match a desktop name to a replica within vCenter.

desktop to replica

1. First thing you should do is open up the table called “SVI_SIM_CLONE” in the View Composer database and look up the desktop name in the column “VM_NAME”.

2. In the same row as the “VM_NAME” find the column “REPLICA_ID” and remember that value.

3. Open up the table “SVI_REPLICA” also present in the View Composer database and look for the value in “ID” that matches the value you found in step 2.

4. On the same row of “ID” find the value in the column named “REPLICA_MOID”.

5. In the vCenter database open the table “VPX_ENTITY” and use the value of “REPLICA_MOID” minus the “vm-” part to find a match in the “ID” column.

6. Write down the value in the column “NAME” and you have the name that is shown in the vCenter client.

In case that you cannot find the “ID” / “REPLICA_MOID” in the “VPX_ENTITY” table it means that vCenter isn’t aware of that replica. It is likely that there are still some desktops running and are using this replica. Best thing to do is to shutdown those desktops manually and remove them from vCenter / View composer and then remove the replica manually.

Knowing how the tables and columns link to each other can also provide other uses. For example knowing the vCenter name of a replica can help you find all the desktops that are linked to it. The “REPLICA_ID” value in the “SVI_SIM_CLONE” table isn’t unique, if you order the table on the replica_id you can group up all the “VM_NAME” values and thus the desktops related to that replica.

Manually checking the relation between a desktop and it’s replica can be very time consuming, so it might be worth scripting something that can provide a good overview. With powershell you can open up connections to your database and use SQL queries to retreive the data you like and proces it to the information that you need.

Example of a SQL connection script with Powershell:

$connectionString = “Server=$Server;uid=$user;pwd=$pwd;Database=$databaseVcenter;Integrated Security=True;”

$connection = New-Object System.Data.SqlClient.SqlConnection
$connection.ConnectionString = $connectionString

$connection.Open()

$query = “Select ID,NAME From VPX_ENTITY WHERE NAME LIKE ‘replica%’”

$command = $connection.CreateCommand()
$command.CommandText = $query

$result = $command.ExecuteReader()

$table = new-object “System.Data.DataTable”
$table.Load($result)

$connection.Close()

This script connects to a vCenter database and will select all the ID’s and Names from the “VPX_ENTITY” table where the name starts with “replica”. The values found are then put into a table for Powershell that can be used for the rest of the script.

Hopefully the information in this article can help in future endeavours. If you know any other relations between the tables / databases then please let us know, we might be able to describe those to.

VMware Fling – Real-time audio/video test

VMware Labs has released a great new fling, an application with which you can verify and test the real-time audio/video performance. The application includes a player that displays the ‘virtual webcam’ feed, and also loops back the audio if required.

This allows for testing without a third party app (which often requires user accounts such as Skype, WebEx, etc.). The application can also perform load testing by forcing the video and audio stream to continuously run again, without a third party app dropping the call after a period of time.

Features:

  • Displays webcam images at 1:1 resolution
  • Automatically starts streaming images when launched (and audio will be looped back if selected)
  • Ability to loop the audio-in back to audio-out
  • No need to create user accounts to see RTAV
  • Supports the VMware Virtual Webcam and Physical Webcams

Here you can download the real-time audio/video test application.

VMware Horizon View 5.3 is available

At VMworld 2013 in Barcelona VMware announced the new version of their EUC product Horizon View 5.3.

Now it is finally available for download!

VMware Horizon View 5.3 includes a significant number of new or improved features.

  • Direct Pass-through Graphics
    Virtual Dedicated Graphics Acceleration (vDGA) is a graphics acceleration capability that is offered by VMware with NVIDIA GPUs and this is now supported by Horizon View 5.3. This enables customers to deliver high-end 3D-grade graphics for use cases where a discrete GPU is needed. vDGA graphics adapters can be installed in the underlying vSphere host and are then assigned to virtual desktops. Assigning a discrete NVIDIA GPU to the virtual Machine dedicates the entire GPU to that desktop and includes support for CUDA and OpenGL.
  • Windows 8.1 Support
    My experience with Windows 8.1 is not that positive but VMware already included full support in Horizon View 5.3. This comes aligned with the Windows 8.1 client support in vSphere 5.5. Important: Local Mode and View Persona Management features are not supported with Windows 8.1 desktops yet.
  • Multi Media Redirection (MMR) for H264 encoded media files to Windows 7 clients
    VMware added support for multimedia redirection of H264 encoded Windows Media files to Windows 7 client end-points. H.264/MPEG-4 is currently one of the most commonly used formats for the recording, compression, and distribution of high-definition video. When using this Windows 7 endpoints will receive the original compressed multimedia stream from the server and decode it locally for display. This can decrease bandwidth usage since the data over the wire will be compressed video instead of a uncompressed screen information and it also decreases used server resources, because the server no longer use server CPU resources decoding the video content.
  • HTML5 access improvements
    With Horizon View 5.2 it was possible to use a VDI desktop without installing client software by using delivered through HTML5 capable web-browsers. With Horizon View 5.3 VMware has further improved this feature so users can now enjoy sound, clipboard access and a improved graphics performance.
  • Real-time audio-video (webcam/audio redirection) for Linux clients
    With Horizon View 5.3 VMware introduces real-time audio and video support for Linux clients (support for Windows client was already in 5.2). Real-time audio and video does not forward audio and webcam devices using USB. Instead the devices are controlled by the local client, and audio- and video-streams are transferred from the local devices and encoded, delivered back to the guest virtual machine, and decoded.
    Audio delivery is performed from the standard View agent audio-out functionality, which provides better audio quality than with USB redirection.
  • iOS 7 look & feel for iPhone/iPad client
    The iOS client now matches the look and feel of iOS 7, released at the beginning of October.
  • USB 3.0 port support
    Horizon View 5.3 offers USB port redirection support for USB 3.0 client ports.
  • Support for Windows Server 2008 VM based desktops
    Strange but true, Windows Server 2008 R2 is now supported as desktop operating system. Why? Well Microsoft does not offer SPLA licensing for Windows desktop operating systems to allow service providers to create Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) offerings using VMware Horizon View.
    Microsoft does offer SPLA licensing for Windows Server 2008, so this allows service providers to be fully compatible with the Microsoft licensing terms.
    Important to know is that some features are currently not supported with Windows Server 2008 R2, check the release notes.
  • Support for VMware Horizon Mirage
    This is the first step in creating a single desktop image delivery system. Administrators can now utilize VMware Horizon Mirage 4.3 to manage Horizon View virtual desktops. Mirage keeps a centralized and de-duplicated copy of virtual desktops, including user’s applications and data, and is able to re-instantiate them should you have a host or site failure. Mirage can also distribute individual and departmental application layers. With Horizon Mirage IT is effectively able to eliminate the need for complex namespace or application virtualization solutions.
  • VCAI production ready
    View Composer Array Integration is now a fully supported feature. VCAI allows administrators to take advantage of native storage snapshot features. VCAI integrate with NAS storage partner’s native cloning capabilities using vSphere vStorage APIs for Array Integration (VAAI). VCAI speeds up provisioning of virtual desktops while offloads CPU consumption and network bandwidth.
  • Linked-Clone Desktop Pool Storage Overcommit enhancements
    The linked-clone desktop pool storage overcommit feature includes a new storage overcommit level called Unbounded. When selected, View Manager does not limit the number of linked-clone desktops that it creates based on the physical capacity of the datastore.
    Important: note that the unbound policy should only be selected if you are certain that the datastore in use has enough storage capacity to accommodate future growth.
  • Supportability improvements for View Persona Management
    With Horizon View 5.3 View Persona Management feature includes several supportability improvements, including additional log messages, profile size and file and folder count tracking, and a new group policy setting called Add the Administrators group to redirected folders. View Manager uses the file and folder counts to suggest folders for folder redirection.
  • Oracle 11.2.0.3 database support
    In addition to the supported databases listed in the installation documentation, VMware Horizon View 5.3 supports Oracle 11.2.0.3 databases.
  • vSAN for VMware Horizon View
    As of version 5.3 VMware includes vSAN for Horizon View desktops in the Horizon Suite. vSAN reduces storage cost for VDI deployments by using inexpensive server disks for shared storage. It also can improve performance because vSAN uses SSD caching for read and write  and provides intelligent data placement within a vSphere cluster. vSAN is a scale-out converged platform and a hybrid storage solution combining SSD and traditional disks. Because it fully integrates with the vSphere kernel it has very low latency.
    Because VSAN is in beta release, 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.

 

You can download VMware Horizon view 5.3 here!

What’s new in VMware Horizon View 5.3

VMworld 2013.png

VMware just announced VMware Horizon View 5.3 and it includes a significant number of new or improved features.

So what’s new in VMware Horizon View 5.3.

  • vSAN for VMware Horizon View
    As of version 5.3 VMware includes vSAN for Horizon View desktops in the Horizon Suite. vSAN reduces storage cost for VDI deployments by using inexpensive server disks for shared storage. It also can improve performance because vSAN uses SSD caching for read and write  and provides intelligent data placement within a vSphere cluster. vSAN is a scale-out converged platform and a hybrid storage solution combining SSD and traditional disks. Because it fully integrates with the vSphere kernel it has very low latency.
    Because VSAN is in beta release, 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.
  • Direct Pass-through Graphics
    Virtual Dedicated Graphics Acceleration (vDGA) is a graphics acceleration capability that is offered by VMware with NVIDIA GPUs and this is now supported by Horizon View 5.3. This enables customers to deliver high-end 3D-grade graphics for use cases where a discrete GPU is needed.
    vDGA graphics adapters can be installed in the underlying vSphere host and are then assigned to virtual desktops. Assigning a discrete NVIDIA GPU to the virtual Machine dedicates the entire GPU to that desktop and includes support for CUDA and OpenGL.
    Here at VMworld in Barcelona there’s a booth showing this setup and running CAD, gaming and other demanding graphics workloads. If you’re in Barcelona you should check it out (behind the Community Lounge in hall 7.0). We will try and do an article on this setup later.
  • Windows 8.1 Support
    My experience with Windows 8.1 is not that positive but VMware already included full support in Horizon View 5.3. This comes aligned with the Windows 8.1 client support in vSphere 5.5. Important: Local Mode and View Persona Management features are not supported with Windows 8.1 desktops yet.
  • Multi Media Redirection (MMR) for H264 encoded media files to Windows 7 clients
    VMware added support for multimedia redirection of H264 encoded Windows Media files to Windows 7 client end-points. H.264/MPEG-4 is currently one of the most commonly used formats for the recording, compression, and distribution of high-definition video. When using this Windows 7 endpoints will receive the original compressed multimedia stream from the server and decode it locally for display. This can decrease bandwidth usage since the data over the wire will be compressed video instead of a uncompressed screen information and it also decreases used server resources, because the server no longer use server CPU resources decoding the video content.
  • HTML5 access improvements
    With Horizon View 5.2 it was possible to use a VDI desktop without installing client software by using delivered through HTML5 capable web-browsers. With Horizon View 5.3 VMware has further improved this feature so users can now enjoy sound, clipboard access and a improved graphics performance.
  • Real-time audio-video (webcam/audio redirection) for Linux clients
    With Horizon View 5.3 VMware introduces real-time audio and video support for Linux clients (support for Windows client was already in 5.2). Real-time audio and video does not forward audio and webcam devices using USB. Instead the devices are controlled by the local client, and audio- and video-streams are transferred from the local devices and encoded, delivered back to the guest virtual machine, and decoded.
    Audio delivery is performed from the standard View agent audio-out functionality, which provides better audio quality than with USB redirection.
  • iOS 7 look & feel for iPhone/iPad client
    The iOS client now matches the look and feel of iOS 7, released at the beginning of October.
  • USB 3.0 port support
    Horizon View 5.3 offers USB port redirection support for USB 3.0 client ports.
  • Support for Windows Server 2008 VM based desktops
    Strange but true, Windows Server 2008 R2 is now supported as desktop operating system. Why? Well Microsoft does not offer SPLA licensing for Windows desktop operating systems to allow service providers to create Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) offerings using VMware Horizon View.
    Microsoft does offer SPLA licensing for Windows Server 2008, so this allows service providers to be fully compatible with the Microsoft licensing terms.
    Important to know is that some features are currently not supported with Windows Server 2008 R2, check the release notes.
  • Support for VMware Horizon Mirage
    This is the first step in creating a single desktop image delivery system. Administrators can now utilize VMware Horizon Mirage 4.3 to manage Horizon View virtual desktops. Mirage keeps a centralized and de-duplicated copy of virtual desktops, including user’s applications and data, and is able to re-instantiate them should you have a host or site failure. Mirage can also distribute individual and departmental application layers. With Horizon Mirage IT is effectively able to eliminate the need for complex namespace or application virtualization solutions.
  • VCAI production ready
    View Composer Array Integration is now a fully supported feature. VCAI allows administrators to take advantage of native storage snapshot features. VCAI integrate with NAS storage partner’s native cloning capabilities using vSphere vStorage APIs for Array Integration (VAAI). VCAI speeds up provisioning of virtual desktops while offloads CPU consumption and network bandwidth.
  • Linked-Clone Desktop Pool Storage Overcommit enhancements
    The linked-clone desktop pool storage overcommit feature includes a new storage overcommit level called Unbounded. When selected, View Manager does not limit the number of linked-clone desktops that it creates based on the physical capacity of the datastore.
    Important: note that the unbound policy should only be selected if you are certain that the datastore in use has enough storage capacity to accommodate future growth.
  • Supportability improvements for View Persona Management
    With Horizon View 5.3 View Persona Management feature includes several supportability improvements, including additional log messages, profile size and file and folder count tracking, and a new group policy setting called Add the Administrators group to redirected folders. View Manager uses the file and folder counts to suggest folders for folder redirection.
  • Oracle 11.2.0.3 database support
    In addition to the supported databases listed in the installation documentation, VMware Horizon View 5.3 supports Oracle 11.2.0.3 databases.

 

VMware vSAN & vCOPS included in Horizon Suite

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Today at VMworld Europe 2013 VMware announced that VMware Virtual SAN (vSAN) and VMware vCenter Operations Manager for View will be included in the Horizon Suite.

VMware Virtual SAN for Horizon View beta will deliver significantly lower CAPEX and TCO for VDI environments. The bundling of VMware vCenter Operations Manager for View in Horizon Suite, available at no additional cost, offers advanced VDI performance and operations management for large-scale virtual desktop production monitoring, advanced problem warning, faster time to resolution and complete infrastructure coverage.

This is a great step forward and the next step in combining VMware’s server- and desktop virtualization techniques. Important to mention is that vSAN is still beta.

PAR3241 – VMware Horizon View: Finally the Replacement for Server-Based Computing?

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I just visited VMworld breakout session PAR3241 – VMware Horizon View: Finally the Replacement for Server-Based Computing?

Speakers:
Spencer Pitts, EMEA EUC Practice Lead
Edwin Weijdema, Enterprise Architect Imtech ICT

This session is not about a fantastics new feature which blows server based computing right out of the water. It’s about the success a VMware partner can achief in the EUC space with VMware Horizon View and how VMware can help the partner to do so.

The desktop has changed dramatically over the years. In the past we managed PC’s with ‘desktop management solutions’ like Norton Ghost. The only fancy deviation from that were mobile workers with laptops. The applications were all client or server-based and we never heard of clouds and SaaS. The world was simple.

That all changed within the last few years. You’re now not only servicing employees but also contractors, outsources, partners, citizens or students. They use non-owned devices, they use multiple devices, mostly non windows and connect using WiFi, 3G, Internet from all over the world.

But first of all, in this context, what is VDI? VMware differentiates between server based computing and a server hosted desktop. VDI in the VMware sense is a server hosted desktop with a desktop operating system.

VDI is great and it tackles a lot of issues which you encounter in a server-based computing environment, but is it a solution that fits for 100% of the use cases?  It all dependents on the users, applications, etc. This is different for every customer. But if you know how the users work and know which application they use you can judge if VDI is the way to go for this specific customer. VDI is just one of the execution platform which can solve your desktop problems along with sever-based computing, SaaS, FAT clients, etc.

But what slowed the adoption of VDI in the past?

  • Cost of storage (60% + was storage cost overall solution)
    Nowadays VDI storage solutions got cheaper and faster with vendors like FusionIO and with products from vendors like Pernix Data you don’t have to sacrifice VMware features when using local storage.
  • Microsoft licensing model
    This is something we cannot control, VDA unavoidable with a true VDI solution.
  • Density
    There’s a perceived massive density difference between SBC/VDI. This may have been true in the past but now this is a myth. Real world figures now show a 15-25% difference but with far better performance. The achieved density depends on the applications, don not dispense VDI based on these assumptions.
  • No 100% coverage
    Some customers dispense of VDI because it adds another management solution besides their primary desktop solution.

But VMware Horizon View has come a long way.

  • VDM 1.0, released in 2003
    This was not a VMware development but a customer requesting support for a Windows desktop OS running on a VMware hypervisor connecting with RDP.
  • VDM 2.0, released in 2007
    This included the introduction of the Connection Broker. With VDM 1.0 switching desktops or spanning multiple physical server meant specifying a different desktop IP address.
  • View 3.0, released in 2008
    This included View Composer for efficient storage utilization and ThinApp for application virtualization.
  • View 4.0, released in 2009
    This was the first version with support for PCoIP
  • View 4.5 & 4.6, released in 2010
    Included advanced features making View real enterprise ready. It included Application delivery, Windows 7 support, support for mobile clients and increased security.
  • View 5.0, released in 2011
    In this version PCoIP got a complete protocol overhaul and included software 3D graphics and persona management.
  • View 5.1, released in 2012
    Focussed on IOPS reduction, USB revamp, end-to-end monitoring, more and better security and support for more clients.

In the past VDI use cases got stuck between 40-50% but nowadays customers can achieve 90-95% depending on customer workloads.

Imtech ICT uses a true business architecture and translates the customer requirement to a technical solution to achieve the maximum use case and try to hit 100%. The customer doesn’t care about the server, storage, IOPS, bottlenecks, etc. The customer cares about the end solution to deliver their applications to support the core business. To do this Imtech ICT delivers a robust, scalable foundation based on the Imtech Validated Architecture with a FlexPod, build on Cisco, NetApp and VMware. On top of that they deliver a VDI desktop solution. The underlying infrastructure is a ‘black box’ and on top of that they build a VDI solution. The key is that Imtech chose a default solution based on a validated architecture/blue print. They do not design every solution from scratch, they know the required building blocks for the underlying black box. This speeds up the time to market and in the end the total cost of the solution. Picking a vendor  for the VDI platform, picking a hardware vendor and making an architecture that’s proven and repeatable.

VMware provides blue prints like the VMware AlwaysOn Desktop Solution Design and VMware BusinessMobile Desktop in which they do the same allowing partners to do the same as Imtech ICT. The blue prints can be found at the VMware Desktop Solutions website.

To do this you can also use the Gartner segmentation model which uses 7 different worker category templates and define functional requirements in business terms. The model diffentiates between:

  • Productivity task worker
  • Communications task worker
  • Office-based Information worker
  • Campus-based Information worker
  • Content/media worker
  • Traveling worker
  • VIP

The outcome is a graph which a partner can match to a preferred desktop solution like VDI or SBC. It’s not about the technology itself, it’s about understanding the customers needs and profile. VMware is not saying SBC is dead, there’s a use case for both.

Important to note is that SBC is no longer much cheaper than VDI used to be. Major cost for VDI have reduced, given more performance and have become more cost effective. Density has increased with this increased performance and the application landscape has become more demanding, flexing the boundaries of SBC solutions.

How many vCenter Server Desktop entitlements in Horizon View Bundle?

WhatIsInVMwareHorizonViewBundle.pngThe last couple of months we got several questions from customers asking how many licenses they are entitled when they buy a Horizon View 100 pack Bundle. The bundle includes everything a customer needs for a full end-to-end VDI deployment. Horizon View is sold in two packages—as a bundled solution that includes VMware vSphere Desktop and vCenter Server Desktop, or as an add-on to a separate or existing VMware vSphere infrastructure.

So now the question arises for how many vCenter Desktop and vSphere Desktop servers are you entitled if you buy a Horizon View 10 or 100 Bundle pack? We have to dive into the universal EULA from VMware and the specific Product Guide to find an answer for that.

If you go through the universal EULA you will find the following:

12.9 Product Guide. In addition to the above sections, Your use of the Software is subject to the terms and conditions of the Product Guide, which is incorporated herein by reference.

Ok so lets move over to the Product Guide. VMware Horizon View has several components like vSphere Desktop, vCenter Standard Desktop and View Manager. I have highlighted the important parts.

From the Product Guide:

2.1 VMware vSphere 5.5
2.1.2 Product Edition/Suite Specific License Notes

VMware vSphere Desktop
In addition to the general license notes above, if You purchase a license to VMware vSphere as a part of VMware vSphere Desktop, the following terms apply:
You may only use VMware vSphere Desktop to host (i) a virtual desktop infrastructure for up to the number of Desktop Virtual Machines for which You have paid the applicable license fees, and (ii) associated desktop management and monitoring tools. VMware vSphere Desktop is not subject to a processor limitation. “Desktop Virtual Machine” is a hosted Virtual Machine with one of the following Windows operating systems: XP, Vista, 7 and 8.

VMware View Enterprise, VMware Horizon View and VMware Horizon Suite
“Powered On Desktop Virtual Machine” means a Desktop Virtual Machine receiving a remote connection from a device or running locally on a device.
In addition to the general license notes above, if You purchase a license to VMware vSphere as a part of VMware View Enterprise, VMware Horizon View or the VMware Horizon Suite, the following terms apply:

You may only use VMware vSphere Desktop for up to the total number of Powered On Desktop Virtual Machines for which You have paid the applicable license fees. Your use of VMware vSphere Desktop is limited to hosting Desktop Virtual Machines and running VMware products which are included in VMware View Enterprise, VMware Horizon View or the VMware Horizon Suite, or third party connection brokers and desktop management and monitoring tools. Your use of individual features included in VMware View Enterprise, VMware Horizon View or VMware Horizon Suite is limited to that particular product. The use of individual features interchangeably between VMware View Enterprise, VMware Horizon View or the VMware Horizon Suite is strictly prohibited.

3.4 VMware vCenter Server 5.5
Your use of VMware vCenter Server Desktop included in VMware View Enterprise, VMware Horizon View, or the VMware Horizon Suite is limited to managing Servers that are solely hosting Desktop Virtual Machines and VMware products which are included in VMware View Enterprise, VMware Horizon View, VMware Horizon Suite or third party connection brokers and desktop management and monitoring tools. Your use of individual features included in VMware View Enterprise, VMware Horizon View, VMware Horizon Suite is limited to that particular product.

VMware vCenter Server Virtual Appliance
In addition to the general license notes above, the following terms apply to the license to VMware vCenter Server Virtual Appliance provided with this EULA:
You may only download the number of copies of VMware vCenter Server Virtual Appliance that are for You to exercise the license granted to you in Section 2.1.

Q&A

Q: When you buy a Horizon View 100 concurrent user bundle how many licenses are you entitled to use?

A: If you buy a (for instance) 100 concurrent user Horizon View bundle, you receive a special version of vSphere (vSphere Desktop) and a special version of vCenter Server (vCenter Server Desktop) that are restricted to supporting VDI workloads only (i.e. specifically forbidden in the EULA to support or manage standard server workloads). The 100 user license means that you are entitled to run (vSphere Desktop) and manage (vCenter Server Desktop) the virtual machines necessary to support up to 100 concurrent Horizon View connections. If the customer subsequently purchased another 100 concurrent Horizon View licenses and added them to their existing installation of 100 concurrent connections, then the existing installed instances of vSphere Desktop and vCenter Server for Horizon View can then support/manage up to 200 concurrent connections (because the customer has purchased 200 licenses in total). So as many vSphere Desktop and vCenter Server Desktop as needed.

Q: If you want to split the 100 concurrent connections over several deployments like Develop Test Accept is that possible?

A: Equally, if the customer wanted to support their 200 users (connections) via multiple installed instances of vSphere Desktop/vCenter Server for Horizon View, then provided the total number of virtual desktop users across all instances do not exceed 200, then that would also be compliant with the EULA (for instance, they could install five instances of vSphere Desktop and vCenter Server for Horizon View across multiple servers, each supporting 40 users). What matters is the total number of users vs the number of licenses purchased.

Q: How many licenses are delivered by default when I purchase a VMware Horizon View 100 pack bundle?

A: There is no written rule here but what we see is that you get licenses for 5 ESXi servers with 2 CPU per server completed with 1 vCenter Server Desktop.

Q: How do you get more license keys if needed for vSphere Desktop and/or vCenter Server Desktop?

A: We are still trying to get a clear answer here from VMware, there seems to be a order form you will need to fill out but we haven’t gotten our hands on the correct process and form yet!!

 

HorizonView100PackOnevCenterLicense.png

Now if you want to activate a second vCenter Server Desktop you get the above error message.

Summary

  • Horizon Mirage, Horizon Workspace are named user
  • Horizon View is licensed by concurrent connection
    • Concurrent connection defined as a powered on desktop virtual machine receiving a remote connection from a device
    • View Add-ons cannot be deployed on vSphere Desktop that came as part of a View Bundle
  • vSphere Desktop and vCenter Desktop are restricted to desktop deployments and following exceptions:
    • ‘Desktop VM’ is defined as VM with the following OS: Windows 95/98, Windows 2000 Professional, Windows XP Professional, Windows Vista Ultimate, Business or Enterprise, Windows 7 and Windows 8
    • Exceptions to ESX usage: View Manager, vCenter Server, Another Connection Broker, any Desktop VM management and performance monitoring tools used solely for, and/or any other Horizon Family products (including Workspace and Mirage)
    • For mixed server + desktop environments, you must buy a la carte!!
  • Horizon Suite is licensed by both named user and concurrent user
    • Component products within that license metric take on the same license metric

But most important: You are entitled to as many vSphere Desktop servers and vCenter Desktop instances as long you don’t exceed the total number of concurrent connections that are reasonably necessary for you to exercise the license granted to you.

VMworld 2013 USA – Day 3 – Pictures and slides

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The last day of VMworld. Check out the slides of the Best Practices for 3D in Horizon View. We’ll be following up on that here on VMguru.nl with our own tests.

VMworld 2013 USA – Day 1 – Pictures and slides

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Yesterday the show really kicked off! A lot of sessions, some small news is still pretty big, like the coming support voor XenApp published apps in Horizon. Check out the slides at the end of the slideshow.

Cost analysis: VMware Horizon View vs Citrix XenDesktop

View vs XenDesktop

When I’m advising customers on desktop solutions it’s an obvious battle between VMware, Citrix and Microsoft.

Customers are becoming more and more cost aware due to the economic circumstances but the demand for audio/video and real time communication is growing. When Server Based Computing (SBC) is a viable option customers tend to compare Citrix XenApp to Microsoft Terminal Services.

When applications or customer demands require a VDI solution, it’s a battle between VMware Horizon View and Citrix XenDesktop.

Because companies are extremely cost aware nowadays, it’s not only a feature-based comparison but they must also look carefully at cost. Principled Technologies, compared Microsoft Windows 7 virtual desktops hosted on VMware Horizon View 5.2 and Citrix XenDesktop 5.6.

Hosted on the same physical hardware resources and using similar image rendering settings, they conducted scale testing with the Login VSI medium workload.  They found that VMware Horizon View 5.2 supported 174 Microsoft Windows 7 virtual desktop sessions at a cost per user of $483 Citrix XenDesktop 5.6 supported 175 sessions at a cost of $820 per user.

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VMware OS Optimization Tool

FlingIn May 2013 Sander wrote two great articles (post 1, post 2) on optimization of desktop operating systems for use in a VDI environment. Today I ran into a new VMware fling, a VMware OS optimization tool.

The VMware OS Optimization Tool allows you to optimize a Windows 7 operating system for use in a VDI environment.

The VMware OS Optimization Tool helps optimize Windows 7 desktops for use with VMware Horizon View. The optimization tool includes customizable templates to enable or disable Windows system services and features, per VMware recommendations and best practices, across multiple systems.

Since most Windows system services are enabled by default, the optimization tool can be used to easily disable unnecessary services and features to improve performance.

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Passed my VMware Certified Professional 5 – Desktop exam (VCP5-DT)

VMware VCP5 DTMany of you have heard of and probably even hold VCP certification. Five years ago this was the way to stand out of the crowd which was mainly dominated by people holding a Microsoft MCSE certification. Nowadays many IT professionals have a VMware VCP certification and you are just another certified professional in the crowd (although it has not devaluated as much as MCSE).

If, today, you want to stand out, you will have to specialize and VMware has several ways to do this. You can go for the Advanced Professional certification (VCAP) in three different categories:

  • Cloud;
  • Data Center Virtualization;
  • End User Computing.

I personally want to achieve the VCAP certification for Data Center Virtualization and End User Computing this year. Today I made the first step, I passed the VMware Certified Professional 5 – Desktop exam (VCP5-DT) with a score of 460 out of 500. I’m very pleased with this.

The VCP-DT 5 exam is a real in depth test of VMware Horizon View and it really requires you to be an expert at View, ThinApp and desktop virtualization. There is no class requirement for the VCP-DT 5 certification but it does require you to be a VCP 5 before you can take this exam. For this exam theoretical knowledge alone is not enough, you will have to know how it actually works in real life.

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Horizon View in a stretched cluster environment: Can I have that? No!

vmware_horizon_suite logoEver since VMware started selling View as a desktop solution, we’ve had these discussions with colleagues and customers. You probably are familiar with the topic:

Many companies have more than one location, but they all want to manage their IT infrastructure as if it was one. So, if we can throw in a big data-line between those locations with low latency, highly resilient, including rapid fail-over and so on.. can we create one big View desktop pool for all our users spanning all our locations?

The answer is: No you cannot!

“But the bandwidth is 10 Gbps and the latency is very low!”

It doesn’t matter, you still cannot.

“Why??”

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How to license Windows 8 in a VMware Horizon View deployment

MicrosoftAgreementsWaterfallIt is a common misunderstanding that, if you buy software licenses you can do anything with it. You will not become the owner of it, you only get the use right of the software under STRICT CONDITIONS. What you may or may not do with Microsoft software is recorded to the smallest details by Microsoft in several documents, like the End User License Agreement (e.g. Enterprise Agreement), Product Lists and Product Use Rights.

Only a few people read all those documents, but in general nobody reads them all. They just buy the licenses and think are correct or are offered by their IT supplier. Always check with a license expert that what you want to achieve complies with what is possible with the licenses you want to acquire. This prevents disappointment and high costs later on.

I wrote a post on licensing Windows 7 in a VMware Horizon View environment and most things mentioned in that post are still valid also for Windows 8. Below I will zoom into changes or summarize important facts for a complete understanding.

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