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.

App Volumes and RES Workspace Manager: exclusions

Recently, I have done a Proof of Concept at a customer site with App Volumes. What I didn’t know was the fact that this customer was using RES Workspace Manager. Right after we started the PoC, we found out App Volumes and RES didn’t like each other.

Both App Volumes and RES use filter drivers, and these drivers are conflicting. Symptons are; startmenu settings, which come form RES, aren’t coming through. Also, after mounting an App Volumes app stack, no desktop information is flowing back to the RES management console.

To solve this, you have to update your app stacks and your template(s). You have to modify the snapvol.cfg file in your app stack/template and add exclusions for RES.

To update your app stacks, use the update button in the App Volumes management interface, provision the app stacks, log on to the provisioning machine and browse to C:\SnapVolumesTemp\MountPoints\MountPointxyz\snapvol.cfg and edit the file.

To update your template, follow the procedure described in this KB article.

Below you will find the exclusions for RES for as well 32-bit as 64-bit OS’s. After adding these exclusions, App Volumes and RES worked happily together.

#———RES SOFTWARE EXCLUSIONS BEGIN———————————-
#
exclude_path=\Program Files (x86)\RES Software\Workspace Manager\Data
exclude_path=\Program Files\RES Software\Workspace Manager\Data
exclude_path=%SystemRoot%\System32\drivers\appGuard_amd64.sys
exclude_path=%SystemRoot%\System32\drivers\ImgGuard_amd64.sys
exclude_path=%SystemRoot%\System32\drivers\netGuard_amd64.sys
exclude_path=%SystemRoot%\System32\drivers\RegGuard_amd64.sys
exclude_path=%LOCALAPPDATA%\Res
exclude_path=%SystemRoot%\System32\spool
exclude_registry=\REGISTRY\MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\RES\Workspace Manager
exclude_registry=\REGISTRY\MACHINE\SOFTWARE\RES\Workspace Manager
exclude_registry=\REGISTRY\USER\SOFTWARE\RES\Workspace Manager
exclude_process_path=\Program Files (x86)\RES Software\Workspace Manager\Data
exclude_process_path=\Program Files\RES Software\Workspace Manager\Data
exclude_process_path=\Program Files (x86)\RES Software\Workspace Manager\svc
exclude_process_path=\Program Files\RES Software\Workspace Manager\svc
exclude_process_name=pwgrids.exe
exclude_process_name=spoolsv.exe
#
#———RES SOFTWARE EXCLUSIONS END————————————

 

 

Project Enzo: The new, fast, scalable and hybrid workspace solution

Enzo banner

I have to admit, just the name made me curious already. But, after reading about Enzo, seeing the video’s and talking to colleagues, my curiosity went through the roof because everything about Enzo is bold!

Just a couple of statements;

  • From scratch, have the first desktop up and running in an hour,
  • From 1 to 2,000 desktops in 20 minutes,
  • Create 100 desktops in under a minute,
  • No more downtime for app, OS and infrastructure/system updates,
  • Desktops can be placed on premises, in the Cloud or both, and move them back and forth,
  • It will cost less than a cup of coffee…..

So, what is Project Enzo?

Enzo is a new way of building, delivering and managing virtual workspaces (apps and desktops) with a unified, single pane of glass management interface. Administrators can manage these workspaces on premises and in the Cloud, and move the apps and desktops between the 2.

Which components make Enzo?

Enzo

The ground layer is “Enzo Ready Infrastructure”. The can be EVO:RAIL, EVO:RACK or other Hyper Converged Infrastructure appliance from VMware partners which are Enzo enabled. The intelligence that is responsible for the set up, orchestration and automation comes from VMware Smart Node technology. This will be a virtual appliance, pre configured, sitting on the appliances.

The second layer is the desktop layer. Because of new technologies like instant cloning (and I will write a blog about that soon) Enzo will be capable of getting desktops up and running in seconds. Not only cloning will go incredibly fast, but you most likely will save on vm’s because over provisioning of vm’s will be reduced. Just-in-Time desktop means vm’s will be created when users are demanding them. Nowadays, vm’s are provisioned up front most of the time. With “JIT” desktops, other solutions like App Volumes and VMware User Environment Manager come into play to deliver apps and personalize the desktop.

The 3rd layer is the management layer. It is called the Enzo Control Plane. This web-based portal will be delivered to customers as a cloud based service. It will be hosted on VMware’s vCloud Air platform. Via this portal you can set up your Enzo environment, deliver apps and desktops and monitor all components. And because of this hosted portal, you can connect your private environment to public cloud environments and move apps and desktops from 1 to the other.

A public beta will come out this summer. Visit http://www.vmwhorizonair.com/enzo. There you can register for Early Access and get more info on Project Enzo, watch a video and webinar about Enzo.

More info to come about this amazing project. Stay tuned