Look at the HORIZON…

ImageThere is no better moment than a smooth coffee and a quiet ride to get my brain off the track.

Looking outside the window and watching how fast trees are changing in this “winter to summer” transition season that sprint is, is fabulous, and frankly the more i think about it the more i think the folks at vmware have been studying nature and are just geniuses at technology which makes them dangerous and continuously renewers of their own thinking.

 That you were or not to PEX, don’t worry: the wheel hasn’t change! Besides the fact that if you’re not 100% virtualized you’re missing out, ( which i hope you know by now… right?…), there’s is truly a significant shift in the EUC while the datacenter remains leaner, meaner, better

 EUC

First what does it stands for “E.U.C”? Easy End User Computing. Good? good! ok.. 

5 years ago, the EUC, that was still predominantly orchestrated by the “Giant Combo”, Citrix and Microsoft, witnessed the rise of a new player: the tsunami had begun. Evaluating the opportunity in the market space, the virtualization datacenter leader took the battle to another arena, bringing to the consumers what they needed: a full bloom portable desktop on any device . To this day i don’t think no one was ready for what was about to come… the rest is history… like they say…

The virtualization datacenter leader has done a magnificent job at redefining the consumer’s space, and has led the changes we are all seeing, with first of class “BYOD”. 

Two years ago Microsoft and Citrix announced an alliance, the v-alliance (http://www.v-alliance.com) to aligned the wave and strategize together on the EUC: wow! The wave started by the datacenter leader must of been significant enough for the two giants to get together, officially, on a venture to the EUC journey…

In a nutshell, VMware is raising the bar, again, with an integration of products that i had the chance to hear from Dr Steve Herrod while been at PTAB in 2011 and 2012 (http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-herrod/0/398/ab0).

VMware Horizon View 5.2 

A flurry of changes that you could be seeing as an aggregation of past acquisitions made by Vmware. Mirage leading the charge, AppBlast and Horizon are now playing happily together. 

So in a nutshell, and thank you to vmware for sharing a simplified view of the new capabilities:

  • SEsparse Disks Storage efficiency
    Horizon View 5.2 uses a new vSphere capability that implements a new disk format for virtual machines on VMFS that allows for reduction in size and utilization allocated blocks more efficiently by filling it with real data. Unused space is reclaimed and View Composer desktops stay small.
  • Unified Client with View Desktops in Horizon
    When co-installed with Horizon Suite the View Desktop pools are connected into Horizon Suite after they are provisioned. The Horizon Suite provides a single point of access for end users to their desktops, data and applications. Horizon Suite supports SSO brokering user to the available desktops based on entitlement policy.
  • Clientless HTML5 Access to View Desktops & Apps
    Access to View desktops and applications via Horizon is possible from any modern device using a remote protocol delivered through any HTML5 capable web-browser.This is the technology previously code-named AppBlast. It will direct users to existing View desktops leveraging Horizon View Security Server for network routing when available. This is a true install-free access to virtual Desktops.
  • Hardware Accelerated 3D Graphics
    Horizon View 5.2 uses a new vSphere capability that enables shared access to physical GPU hardware for 3D and high performance graphical workloads. Virtual desktops still see abstracted VMware SVGA device for maximum compatibility & portability, but use Accelerated 3D Graphics , enabling truly high performance graphics in a cot effective manner with multiple VMs sharing a single GPU resource. The solution is fully compatible with hosts lacking physical GPUs (for vMotion, DRS, etc).
  • Improved Video Chat with MSFT Lync Support
    Horizon View 5.2 provides Microsoft Lync 2013 client support, including full support for UC VoIP and Video on both RDP and PCoIP. This new feature enable a tighter integration between Microsoft Lync and Office applications with full collaboration capabilities. Some of the features are compresses USB webcam traffic upstream for reduced bandwidth usage,leverages UDP based channel for improved WAN performance, enabling improved performance of USB media devices.
  • Windows 8 Desktop Support
    Horizon View 5.2 now fully supports Windows 8 virtual desktops as guest OS. It also comes aligned with the Windows 8 Client Support.
  • PCoIP New Features
    • Support for MITM (Man-In-The-Middle) network devices
    • PCoIP GPO settings take effect immediately when changed (host side only).
    • Relative Mouse enablement (supported by latest Windows View client)
    • Multi Touch enablement (supported by latest Windows View client)
  •  PCoIP Security Improvements.
    • Port scanners that scan PCoIP Security Gateway now pass successfully.
    • OpenSLL upgraded to a more secure version.
    • Weak SSL ciphers removed.
  •  PCoIP Performance Improvements
    • Image caching supported on Teradici APEX card and Tera2 Zero Clients
    • Improved image cache management and compression
    • Bandwidth reductions in both the LAN and WAN environment
    • Support for vertical offset caching
    • Improved responsiveness and fluidity during scrolling
  • Horizon Based ThinApp Entitlement for View
    Horizon View 5.2 provides a tight linkage of View ThinApp Entitlement to the Horizon Workspace and includes a migration tool to help admins to import the current pool-based entitlements to the Horizon Workspace user/group entitlements. This approach unifies application entitlement across all end user devices & virtual desktops.
  • Large Pools with more than 8 hosts
    The 8 host cluster limit for Linked Clone pools using VMFS has been removed. The new limit is 32 hosts per cluster across the board for all pool types, Linked Clone or not. The added feature may completely change how VMware View deployments are designed and deployed for many customer.
  • Support for 10,000 virtual desktops per vCenter Server
    Horizon View now supports 10,000 virtual desktops per View pod with a single vCenter Server instance. In previous versions VMware had only validated 2,000 virtual desktops per vCenter Server.
  • Multi-VLAN support
    Multiple Network Label Assignment is being introduced with Horizon View 5.2. This is a powerful feature that allow administrators to utilize a single base image and assign it to multiple different VLANS or PortGroups. This first release comes only with PowerShell support; no Admin UI integration.
  • Provisioning, Rebalance, Recompose performance increase
    • More than 2X improvement on end to end provisioning time
    • Significant improvement on pool re-balance time
    • Availability of Rolling Refit Maintain allowing for a configurable minimum number of READY desktops during refit operations that support both automatic and semi-automatic linked clone pools

 So what’s next?

If you haven’t yet looked at the benefits of Horizon View 5.2, take a minute or two to dive into it; these changes are at the core of the user experience and are leading the charge in the virtual EUC.

But you might say: “That’s nice, but my backend won’t follow”

Well, i have a secret to share: it WILL!

We’re all well aware of the IOPS requirement such a deployment would require. And with all the changes in vSphere, more than ever, the storage has to be meaner and better, enhance the latest alignments in the storage space with SSD, Tiering…etc

If you don’t have the opportunity to play with these technologies but still have the chance to have a need of a “Virtual Desktop Infrastructure”, a new trend is taking on the horse power requirement.

 Recently vmware has acquired a new startup: Virsto (http://www.vmware.com/company/acquisitions/virsto.html

While the integration hasn’t yet fully been announced and released, that space was already well fulfilled by Atlantic Computing http://www.atlantiscomputing.com

With a series of products, Atlantis Computing has been focussed on you, you that might not have the backend horse power to sustain a virtual desktop workload, you that has been asked the feasibility to bring to the organization a mobility to the EUC without the appropriate supporting investment… So how do you do this magic… again? 

ILIO

Organizations are becoming highly aware that a Virtual desktop infrastructure will NOT be saving on CAPEX, so if you though about having the same conversation that you had with ESX3.5, forget it! 

We have seen that VDI CAPEX costs can be double that of a physical PC, and with most of the investment (in some cases 80% of the overall investment required) going to the storage infrastructure needed to deliver acceptable performance.

ILIO is a storage virtual appliance: benefits are Storage Optimization, Inline IO De-duplication, IO Optimization and Caching. 

According to SearchVirtualStorage – Atlantis Computing claimed its first version of Atlantis ILIO could offload up to 70% of the writes and 90% percent of the reads of VDI IO workload hitting an array; and Version 2.0 improved the writes offload performance by an additional 20%.

Thank you to Atlantis Computing for providing a simplified explanation of what ILIO is all about and some reference metrics on sizing the solution. I often say it, these are r.e.f.e.r.e.n.c.e.s , so base yourself on that and adjust accordingly. 

ILIO sits on the storage IO path creating and creates a VMDK on LUNS or NFS exports presented by the hypervizor. 

This VMDK file is then mounted by ILIO appliance and presented as NFS export back to vSphere hosts. (ILIO can be deployed per host or in a top of the rack architecture, but I will not get into deployment models here).

IO Caching is done in RAM, precluding IOs from hitting the array when possible. 

ILIO understand NTFS file systems and is able to understand if a given IO is part of a Windows DLL, temporary file or Windows swap file, and will treat them differently. 

As an example, a DLL constantly accessed may be cached for further use, whereas IO that is part of Windows swap may not be put in RAM cache.

ILIO also has an IO coalescing feature that attempts to create large sequential IO blocks to allow efficient disk writes. Most intelligent storage arrays have some sort of IO coalescing mechanism.

The last key feature is the Inline IO De-duplication that performs de-duplication in real-time before IO transactions reach the storage fabric. Because the de-duplication occurs before the IO hit the storage array the load on the array storage processors and spindles is reduced. At the same time, because no duplicate data is written to disk, post-process de-duplication is not required, and the associated IOPS cost is never incurred. 

Architecture

Each ILIO appliance requires 22GB RAM for approximately 65 concurrent VDI users. Count 150MB per additional user for a maximum of 200 users per appliance. Rule of thumb: a full appliance with 200 users required 42GB of RAM.

For a top of the rack architecture multiple virtual servers may be dedicated to ILIO (commonly entire physical servers are dedicated). If an ILIO appliance per host is the chosen architecture additional RAM per host is required, reducing the total consolidation ratio. Either way ILIO will use reasonable amounts of RAM resources – CPU not so much according to my readings.

ILIO complements very well traditional storage arrays offloading IOs and helping organizations leverage existing investments while allowing for higher VDI consolidation. 

For newer storage arrays that support features like Automated Storage Tiering or make use of Solid State Drives, the decision comes down to dollars and could be a little complex to handle.

As always i am happy to hear from you so feel to leave a comment of send me an email.

Happy Sunday folks!

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About florenttastet

As an IT professional and leader, my objective is to help an organization grow its IT department with new and innovative technologies in order to have production at the most efficient level ensuring the right alignment in the deployment of such technologies through a precise Professional Services results in a extraordinary experience for the customer. Team member of multiple projects, I have developed a strict work ethic allowing development of superior communication skills, as well as the ability to multi-task and meet precise deadlines. As an IT veteran with a broad background in consulting, management, strategy, sales and business development, I have developed an deep expertise in virtulization using VMware and Citrix products with a strong skillset on Storage Arrays (HP, EMC, Netapp, Nimble & IBM). I have also developed a Security practice through CheckPoints NGX R65-R66 (CCSA obtained) and Cisco PIX-ASA product line. Specialties: Microsoft infrastructure products; Monitoring HPOV, SCOM, CiscoWorks, Firewalls: checkpoint, PIX and ASA. Virtualization with VMware (ESX through vSphere & View/Horizon), Microsoft (Hyper-V server, VDI and App-V), Citrix (Xenserver, XenDesktop, Xenapp), Storage (EMC, HP, Netapp, Nimble & IBM), Reference Architectures and Converged Datacenters (vSPEX, Flexpod, vBlock, PureFlex & HP Matrix)
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