Horizon (with) View: 5 phase design framework

In the last couple of weeks I have been presenting about VMware Professional Services, and more specific, the way they handle a View project from start to finish. VMware PSO follows a standardized framework to deliver a successful Horizon View implementation. This framework, in my honest opinion, isn’t rocket science but surprisingly, I hardly see the steps in this framework being taken by customers or partners when they are doing a VDI project.

I would like to share the framework with you so you will understand how we are approaching a larger Horizon View project. And no, this approach isn’t a secret. In fact, there is a public white paper available on the VMware website which talks about this framework and how we used this with a customer, a car manufacturer, to come up with a 2,100 seat, twin data center Horizon View design and implementation.

The framework consists of 5 phases:

View framework



During this phase, one of the steps is to investigate your current environment: you monitor your physical desktop environment so you gather information about RAM, CPU, IO and application usage. Tools to do this in a detailed matter are, for example, Lakeside Systrack and Liquidware Labs Stratusphere. A new and easy tool is the VMware Cloud-Hosted Systrack tool. This will give you a good understanding about resource usage of your employees. These tools will also come up with reports and even a recommendation on how many specific ESXi servers you will need when moving to the virtual world. And yes, I agree, the virtual environment will look different than the physical one, and resource usages will be a bit different but at least your will have a good understanding on resource usage and not completely be in the dark.

Also in this phase is describing/understanding the business needs. This is a very important step because this will be the justification for the project and in the end, the justification for the available budget. You can read the business drivers in the car manufacturer use case.


One of the steps to take in this phase is to organize workshops. Get employees involved as well. Interview them, ask them what they think about the current environment, what can be done differently, better.

Also, build business use case. Describe which groups are present in the organization; what do these groups needs to get from an IT point of view.

Another step is to build a small scale Proof of Concept/Proof of Technology.

Plan and design:


No real need to explain this phase but see below the steps to take within this phase. And do follow them clockwise. To give you an example: I have seen customers buying end point devices first and in the end finding out they didn’t buy the right end points.

Start with Use Case Definitions. Know which groups and users are within your organization and what kind of desktop and apps you would like them to get.

With the Use Cases in mind, you can make a Pool Design easily and with that in mind, you can design View Blocks and Pods, design vSphere, storage and networking. Last but not least, because you know what end users need to get and how they will get it, you know what they need to access everything…the end points.

Build and Test:

In this phase you will build the designed environment. An important step here is load testing. Test the environment and see if your design is working with full load. If it isn’t behaving as expected, this is the time to make adjustments like adding more resources.


And the last phase is to optimize your newly implemented solution, check it is according best practices etc. After that you can bring it into production.

These are the phases we follow during a project. Again, no rocket science but a very structured way of handling a project. Hopefully you think a lot of these steps are open doors/obvious. I just noticed in reality that this framework is just not that common.

Atlantis Computing in a VMware View environment

A couple of years ago, I had the pleasure of being introduced to Atlantis Computing. Atlantis would help solving the storage IO issues customers were facing when implementing VDI. Basically their solution would cache storage IO in memory so that disks wouldn’t be the bottleneck anymore. Nowadays, Atlantis does way more than that and they call it “storage optimization”.

Atlantis ILIO, the product name, comes as a virtual appliance and runs on the VMware vSphere hypervisor. You need an appliance on every ESX host. Traditionally, that appliance sits between virtual machines and storage (local storage and/or shared storage). The appliance is using physical ESX memory for its operation. The appliance caches storage IO and also does inline deduplication. By doing that, it boosts VDI performance, makes you able to run more VM’s per storage device and also, you don’t need a high performance storage device. With ILIO Diskless VDI, you don’t even need physical storage anymore. VM’s are running in memory.

The ILIO solution gives you a couple of possibilities:

  1. When you use ESX servers connected to shared storage, for VDI, you could lower the specs of your SAN. You need less performance and also less disk capacity from your array.  Pick a more mainstream array instead of SSD based arrays. Eventually this comes down to a lower price per virtual desktop. Also, the “fear” around storage with VDI becomes less important. VDI doesn’t need to be difficult anymore.  This solution is a good fit for stateful/dedicated full clone desktops
  2. More and more customers are running stateless desktops on local ESX storage (so no need for a shared storage array for those VM’s). For storage they often chose SSD’s or FusionIO for performance. To save on capacity, you could use ILIO purely for deduplication but also think about the ILIO Diskless VDI option: no storage at all. All VM’s run from ESX memory. The ILIO appliance takes ESX memory and uses it as a datastore.

This week I also heard the following: use local storage for stateful/dedicated full clone virtual desktops. Use ILIO for boosting performance and dedup and also use VMware Mirage as a backup tool, in case an ESX host would fail and to backup local data and apps. Interesting thought, isn’t it?!

Bottom line, there are several solutions which can absolutely help with the VDI storage IO issues. They all have a different price, purpose and maybe even give you additional advantages. Take a good look at these solution and chose which one suits you best and gives you the lowest price per desktop.

View? No thanks, I’ll just use Appblast

The title of this article was one of the statements I heard last week. I also heard another interesting statements: “why use View? I will wait for Horizon”.

Back in February 2012, I published an article about VMware’s End User Computing vision and journey. In my opinion, that vision/journey hasn’t changed and still applies with the recent announcements at VMworld 2012. However, I have the feeling that the vision/journey need to be explained once again and maybe even more often, so people understand the vision and where EUC products fit in that vision/journey.

In a nutshell, VMware’s EUC vision starts with the future platform: The Horizon Suite- The Platform for the Mobile Workforce … applications, data and users in the post-PC era. Be aware that this Suite, or platform, contains multiple products/techniques, which are integrated with each other: View, ThinApp, Horizon Data, Horizon Mobile, Appblast and Horizon App Manager.

I have the idea that some people think they will be able to pick 1 product/technique and standardize on that: “All people will use Appblast for everything. There won’t be any need for VDI anymore”, as an example. That’s not true or even possible in today’s world. There isn’t 1 ultimate vehicle/technique to bring apps and data to any device in a secure and efficient way. A user’s workspace will deliver that user applications and data to any of his/her devices. Different products/techniques will be used to do so, to give that user the best experience to do his/her work on the device of that moment.

VMware calls it the Post-PC era but don’t think the PC, aka Windows is going away soon. Again, Windows won’t be as dominant as before anymore in the enterprise. The desktop (physical and/or virtual) won’t be the only place where users do their work. More devices, different platforms, less OS-dependent apps, but Windows will be there for a long time. That’s the reason for step #1: Optimize. That’s also the reason VMware keeps improving VMware View and introduce cool features like AppShift. Again, although Windows will not be as dominant, it still will be part of an enterprise user’s workspace environment

Now the journey: how do you get to that Post-PC era platform? VMware defined a 3-step journey:

  1. Optimize what you have,
  2. Embrace your/the Cloud,
  3. Escape to your/the Cloud

In my opinion, it doesn’t make sense to skip a step. You cannot “Embrace your/the Cloud until you have “Optimize what you have”. In other words, it doesn’t make sense to get Horizon (Suite and/or App Manager) before you use ThinApp and View. Technically, you could though. You could use Horizon App Manager for SaaS apps, you could use Horizon Data with the Horizon Suite with physical desktops. But, why wouldn’t you “Optimize what you have” first, virtualize applications, virtualize desktops, separate data and apps from physical desktops. Remove silos. Get savings out of that and become more efficient, more agile at the same moment. Then, invest those savings in more Cloud based apps: Saas or web service apps. Use a services broker like Horizon App manager. Distribute ThinApps via Horizon as well. Create a workspace where all techniques come together. Move to the your EUC cloud step-by-step.

“Links” section update Bright-Streams

Today I updated the “links” section on Bright-Streams. Products has been added to the VMware End User Computing portfolio over the last years. I added links to these product/technical resource/blog pages.

I also would like to mention the new whychooseview.com website, VMware launched recently. Videos, blog posts (also 3rd party) and other content is available there. Do check it out.

The updated links cover the following products:

  • VMware Corporation
  • VMware End User Computing
  • VMware View
  • VMware ThinApp
  • Zimbra
  • VMware Horizon App Manager
  • VMware Mirage
  • VMware Socialcast
  • Horizon Mobile

Optimize your Windows 7 virtual desktops for better performance

A little while ago, my German Specialist SE End User Computing colleague, Valentin Allert, sent me a document on how to optimize a Windows 7 virtual desktop in a VDI/VMware View environment, for better performance. He summarized the information he received from within VMware but also information he collected from Proof of Concepts.

Valentin and I wanted to share this information with you:

“There are at least four different areas where optimization can be applied:

  1. The virtual machine settings on vSphere
  2. Inside the virtual machine
  3. Group Policy settings in Group Policy Management Console
  4. Pool settings in View Administrator

1. virtual machine settings:

  • Make sure your golden image/parent VM/master is installed on the latest hardware version of your vSphere platform. Do double check if this HW version is compatible with View Local mode, if you want to use local mode
  • Make sure your VM has an LSI SCSI Controller and not IDE boot device. Especially important for XP, because IDE is the default setting when creating a XP VM
  • If you want to have good Video performance maximize the Video RAM to 128 MB manually
  • If you want to have good multimedia performance, like video, make sure your VM has 2 vCPU’s

2. Inside the virtual machine:

  • We do see customers using their deployment tools and use the same image they use for physical devices, for the new parent VM. Avoid this. Create your parent VM from scratch, so, for example, different hardware drivers won’t be in the VM. Keep the VM as clean as possible
  • Install VMware Tools first and after that, install the VMware View agent
  • In our Windows Optimization Guide for Windows 7, you will find three Text files. Rename 1 of them into .bat. Before you run this file, do read the guide carefully. Check what this script will turn off/disable and make sure this fits in your environment. Then, run the file which fits to your scenario:
  1. If you are updating from an earlier Version and you want to use the same golden Image but want to activate VMware Persona Management only use CommandsDesktopsReadyForPersonaManagement.txto
  2. If you have a fresh installation and a want to use VMware Persona Management use CommandsPersonaManagement.txt
  3. If you have a fresh installation and don’t want to use VMware Persona Management use CommandsNoPersonaManagement.txto

If you want to use AERO with glass etc. you have to delete or REM the following lines in the script:

  1. Powershell Set-Service ‘UxSms’ -startuptype “disabled”
  2. Powershell Set-Service ‘Themes’ -startuptype “disabled”

I always would delete the second line though, otherwise the new View Desktop looks like Windows 3.11 which is not good for user acceptance.

  • Run the script as administrator (yes the right click “run as” command)
  • One settings is most important and unfortunately I couldn’t find a way to set this settings through GPOs:
  1. You must have left Themes activated when running the optimization script (step before). Log on as Administrator
  2. Choose Windows 7 standard theme
  3. Go to advanced settings->performance ->enable adjust for best performance but then activate the last point visual styles again:









  • After that, you could consider creating a default user with these new settings. Follow the official Microsoft steps to do so. Yes, Sysprep is the only supported way.
  • Optionally, create a snapshot and call it first optimization
  • Install the apps you want to have in your master Image
  • Create your final snapshot call it Master 1.0

3. Group Policy settings in Group Policy Management Console:

  • Create an OU where you will deploy your View desktops
  • Create a Group Policy Object for the virtual desktops.
  • Right click, edit -> if you are pre 2008 using adm files go to computerconfiguration -> administrative templates ->right click import/export
  • Delete all default template out of the object
  • Import PCoIP adm files located on your View Server: C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware View\Extras\Group Policy Files\
  • Go to: Computer Settings -> administrative templates -> classic administrative settings -> PCoIP settings
  • Activate -> Not to build to lossless – This settings prevents PCoIP from always build the picture to a lossless condition which is only used in graphical, healthcare or construction scenarios
  • Set Min picture quality 50 / max picture quality 70 / 24 Frames Because of the history of PCoIP we it uses 30 FPS as a default which is way to high if we consider that an Movie has 24 FPS
  • Disable AES 256 and Salsa encryption, if using 5.1 if you are using an older Version disable only Salsa because one of the encryptions has to be activated. 5.1 has three encryptions so you can disable two, earlier version have two encryptions so you can disable one.
  • Disable all features you do not need like maybe Audio or Clipboard
  • Do not play around with settings like bandwidth floor etc. PCoIP has a pretty behavior by itself.

4. Pool Settings in View Administrator:

When creating your first pool with linked clones make sure to have at least these settings, all other settings are depending on your use case:

  • If you are on vSphere 5.x and View 5.1 make sure you have the View Storage Accelerator enabled
  • If you have Video intense workload configure the pool with 4 monitors and max resolution (even if you don not need it)
  • If you have CAD, Google Earth or any other DirectX or OpenGL Apps activate 3D (if you do not have the option you have to disable –allow users to choose protocol-) if you still do not have the possibility to activate AERO inside of the Desktop you have to make sure that the script didn’t disable UXSMS and Themes services (DirectX and OpenGL are working anyway.)
  • Place your Replica on a SSD if you have them. If you have a storage system with storage tiering, with a big cache make sure to create only one replica place it on a small extra LUN (save time and space and the replica will end up in the cache anyway)”

Additional Information:

Mac OS X Mountain Lion and VMware View Client for Mac

As most of you know, Apple released its latest operating system version last week. Mountain Lion is available in the Apple App Store.

I received a couple of questions from customers if the latest VMware View Client for Mac is compatible with Apple’s Mountain Lion. Yes, it is!!

Pat Lee, VMware’s Director of Product Management End User Clients, published an article last week. Take a look here so you know the details.

You can download the VMware View Client for all major platforms here.

Unprotect/Remove a Replica in VMware View

Although you can find information on the Internet about unprotecting a Replica, I do get questions about how to unprotect one once in a while. Below you will find a step by step on how to Unprotect and Remove a replica VM.

First a little bit of background information. When you provision a Pool of VM’s based on Linked Clones, a Replica VM/entity will be created in vCenter. This Replica is based on your Parent VM+Snapshot you point to when you use the “Add Pool” wizard in View Manager. This Replica is the Read-only part for your Linked Clones and in vCenter it looks like; “replica-7e710c51-4844-441a-925d-3f8df484f138” (of course the part after “replica” will be different). This Replica is crucial for your Linked Clone pool and therefor protected in vCenter so an Admin can’t delete it by accident.  Right-click on a Replica and you will see that “delete from disk” is grayed out. When you delete a Linked Clone pool, the replica(s) will be deleted as well. So first of all, the right way of deleting a replica is to delete the pool in View Manager. Personally, I always “Disable Pool” and “Disable Provisioning” for the pool in View Manager before I delete that pool. Sometimes it is necessary to manually unprotect the Replica and delete is. Below you will find the steps I take;

  • Open the vCenter Client and connect to the vCenter Server. Decide which Replica you need to unprotect.
  • In vCenter Client, go to “Home” and “Search”. Search for your Replica. What you will see is the Inventory Path of your Replica. You will need the Data Center name and Folder name later on.


  • Logon to your vCenter/Composer Server -> Start -> Run -> CMD
  • Navigate to the installation path of Composer. Default is;

32-bit; C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware View Composer

64-bit; C:\Program Files (X86)\VMware\VMware View Composer

  • Type; “SviConfig –operation=UnprotectEntity”. This command will show you all options/examples you have around unprotecting VM’s and Replica’s. Before this I copied/pasted a command I used before and which I saved in Notepad. That didn’t work. Apparently the command changed a bit after I upgraded to a newer version. So, for the latest command for your version, follow this step #5.

  • Follow “Example 2”, unprotecting a Replica. Just a couple of comments;

-DsnName=SVI; = the ODBC DSN name of  the Composer data base

-InventoryPath; = “/Your Data Center Name you looked up in #2/vm/The Folder you looked up in #2/replica name

  • Now your Replica is unprotected and you will be able to right click it and delete is from disk.