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

 

Assess:

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.

Discover:

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:

Picture1

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.

Optimize:

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.

Periodical Health Check VMware View environment; It doesn’t hurt

Most of the blogs (and so are mine) are about products, features and what they can do for you. Right now I would to take a moment to share a current experience with a customer and how VMware Professional Services Organisation can help.

A little while ago I was asked to visit a customer because they were experiencing issues with their VMware View environment. Slow vDesktops, disconnected sessions, user not able to logon. What could have been wrong there?

So, initial meeting with a group of people; networking and storage guys, View admins, desktop admins, managers, infrastructure admin etc. The right people were there in the room. It sounds like a small thing but having the right people there gives you a good start. In a short period of time you get the right picture and details.

During the meeting it appeared that the environment had been changed a lot over time; datastores had been created, deleted, changed, VM’s had been moved, a new anti virus vendor had been chosen, new DNS infrastructure, some ESX servers were upgraded, some weren’t, View Agent had been upgraded to a new version in the master images, Connection Servers weren’t and so on and on.

What became really clear is the fact that those changes hadn’t been documented. On top of that most changes were applied without all people knowing about it. So, no one could tell me when a change happened and when some of the issue started. And to make things just a bit more difficult, when issues arose, other changes, and in most cases multiple changes were applied so an improvement couldn’t be related to 1 change.

Now my question to you; is this really an exception or does this happen more often? My answer; well yes this happens more often! A lot more!

Even when everything gets documented and everybody know about the changes, an environment does change over time. The amount of VM’s increase, decrease, new storage/Luns/servers/switches etc etc get implemented. A virtual environment almost is a living organism and it should be. It’s flexible! One of the benefits, right?!

Because an virtual environment (and in this case a View environment) is a flexible, “living organism”, it should get a proactive check up once in a while, even if there aren’t issues.

VMware Professional Services Organisation offers a wide range of Desktop Services. One of them is a View Health Check. The View Health Check is a vSphere and View Health Check because first the underlying platform should be checked and after that the View environment. The environment will be checked if it’s still following our best practices. So vSphere, storage, vCenter, Composer, Databases, vDesktops, performance etc will be looked at. Recommendations will be provided when applicable. You will get a good overview what’s going fine, what needs attention and red flags. Together with the consultant you can make changes so the environment is running according to the best practices again.