Archive for February, 2011

VMware’s Project Horizon: What It Is and How Will We Get It?

Manage the User Locally, but Extend Identity to the Cloud

Starting at last years VMWorld one of the hottest topics has been Project Horizon. What was initially billed as an Enterprise App store will be released in three phases.

Phase 1: Secure Identity and Manage SAAS Apps
– Federate AD to Cloud SAAS Apps
– Simplify End User Experience with SSO
– Provision Users to mainstream SAAS Apps

A complementary product to many of your Identity Access and Management suites, Horizon will use a virtual machine placed in your DMZ that is referred to as the Horizon Connector.

Connector acts as a broker between the enterprise and the SAAS services. Secure tokens are used for the communication into the Horizon Cloud. Connectors from the Cloud could begin with Google Apps, Salesforce, Success Factors, Workday, Zimbra, Mozy, and Box.Net. These are done with SAML (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Security_Assertion_Markup_Language) federation. SAML is an open standard that provides high security with no passwords, digitally signed tokens are passed for access. Access and reporting can be done from the Horizon Connector for auditing and license tracking.

Phase 2: Modernize your Windows Environment
– Virtualize your windows apps for isolation and portability
– Secure and Mange the desktop
– Orchestrate Windows App Delivery Options

This phase will bring applications into an app store, very similar to http://myonelogin.com/, with the addition of being able to add in ThinApp applications and Microsoft App-V packages. With a client to be released for desktops Horizon should be able to push icons for applications directly to the desktop after they are selected from the enterprise app store.

Phase 3: Control Your data and Collaboration
– Automatic Data Sync to trusted devices
– Encrypt data across different platforms
– Enable Simplified End User Collaboration

The last phase of this rollout will include being able to allow access to data and transfer/sync user data regardless of platform or applications, either within the enterprise or with SAAS products.

New Desktop Virtualization Certifications from VMware

VMware announced at Partner Exchange yesterday a new certification designed specifically around desktop virtualization. The VMware Certified Associate – Desktop or VCA4-DT is the first of these certifications and the test is being ran in beta at Partner Exchange. According to the education team this is the first of 3 new certifications. There will be a VCP-DT for desktop focused engineers as well as a VCAP-DT for the most advanced desktop focused virtualization architects.

There are no prerequisites for the VCA exam, however VMware recommends taking the VMware View Fundamentals and the View 4.5 Install, Configure and Manage classes. The current requirements for the VCP4-DT will include passing the VCA4-DT and attaining a VCP4 certification.

The test is still in beta, however there is a blueprint on the VMware website (http://bit.ly/erCNUD). The beta test is 110 questions with top is ranging from the CLI commands, to maximum capabilities. Before taking the test you will want to make sure you have worked on View often, including troubleshooting.

VMware Partner Exchange: New Products, Certifications and Competencies

VMware, like many other large corporations, announces new products at their large conferences. So far at Partner Exchange, I’ve seen VMware announce new competencies for its partners, new products to run the cloud, new certifications for technology professionals, and new email collaboration suites. The questions that come to mind are how all of these will impact the consumer, why it matters to the IT manager and how it will affect normal business user. In an effort to sum up the changes and the impacts, I will break each of these down along with why you should care.

Partner Competencies
New competencies include virtualization of business critical applications, cloud computing, security and management. The largest impact for consumers will be the cloud computing and tier one apps. Server virtualization has reached a point where most servers are being built virtually first, 2009 being the first year where more servers were virtual than physical. Competency in tier one applications (Exchange, SQL, and Oracle the major players) gives partners credentials to support essential applications. As an IT staff, the ability to call in a partner expert that knows how to do these large scale virtualization transitions is similar to calling in a plumber to fix a leak versus calling a handyman. The cloud competency certifies that the partner can help any company look strategically and determine how the cloud can be leveraged to help grow the enterprise.

Cloud Management Products
The vCloud Connector was announced yesterday and is a free plug-in for the traditional vCenter client that will allow a user to access the public clouds from within one console. When building out a development or testing environment, a user could leverage the low operating cost of public clouds versus more capital expenditures for underutilized equipment. Operations Manager is another product that was released that leverages public and private clouds and builds on the web based interfaces that VMware has built with the Service Director and View products.

Certifications
The desktop certifications that I wrote about in earlier blog post touches on the need for IT staffs to know how to make a transition between the traditional desktop and the virtual desktops. The move into ‘bring your own computer and tablet’ driven business means that IT staff will need expertise around the products that allow the end user to use whatever device they want while still providing enterprise applications.

Zimbra Suite
The new collaboration suite released this week give enterprises flexibility to look at new desktop applications for email and calendars. The norm has been Outlook but at a substantial Microsoft licensing cost.

The combination of these products, certifications, and competencies and knowing which works when is going to be the key to move IT into the next level and allow enterprise IT shops to become strategic thought leaders.
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PEX Track Session : VMware View

VMware View as a business catalyst. That was the overwhelming focus of the solution track boot camp at Partner Exchange today. I was very excited to hear the product team at VMware go into details about the total cost of ownership and return on investment that comes from a VMware View deployment. Imagine being able to take a physical server infrastructure that costs over $3 to manage for just a single dollar worth of hardware and being able to reduce that to just over $1.

The historical argument has been that it is impossible for the cost to be so much lower when you have to buy server and storage hardware instead of a desktop. Add in the Microsoft licensing and the View licensing and it has to be more expensive.

Not the case. Using some of the industry standard numbers you can get up to a 50% decrease in total cost of ownership. I will make sure to get all the details and get that out in another blog soon.

Cost savings is a great thing, but how is the user experience or the management experience? The ability to split the apps from the desktop and from the profiles allows management staff to customize the user experience for performance. This sounds great, but make sure you get an assessment done first. View is not the solution for every desktop and every application and an assessment can help you see exactly which desktops and which solutions will help you move into a virtual desktop infrastructure.

Once you have the results of your assessment there are a few things that may come in handy:

• Administrators have the ability to throttle PCoIP is now built into some of the View 4.5 adm files. The throttling can give minimum and maximums on bandwidth consumption.

• If you want to avoid the $100/year Microsoft VDA license, you can purchase a barebones PC with Windows licensing, no hard drive and maintain software assurance. This will drop your yearly cost in half since SA is normally about 30% of the cost of the OS purchase.

• USB load across PCoIP will show as more bandwidth than you probably imagine. This sounds like something that might not matter, except when your users want to sync their iTunes all at the same time.

More to come, stayed tuned throughout the week, tomorrow should be some more technical View info.

Blogging Away at VMware Partner Exchange 2011

Partner conferences are the latest way that large companies look to build relationships with resellers and users. Clearpath is a premier partner with VMware and I have the good fortune of making the trip to Partner Exchange 2011, one of VMware’s two annual conferences.

The term partnership is probably one of the more overused words in the IT industry, but there are a few companies that do a good job of making sure that the needs of the consumer, the reseller, and the vendor are all met. VMware has taken the concept of partner to heart. From the customer standpoint, a user can save on both operating and capital expenses and enhance their management by using VMware technologies. For resellers and solution providers, VMware provides resources to aid with both technical and sales solutions. The solution providers and customers build a relationship around the virtualization management that is unparalleled across the IT industry. All of this leads to VMware implementing a development process with customer and partner feedback; resulting in solutions that are easy to sell and helpful to use, a win-win in the IT world.

The Partner Exchange conference promises to provide the extra level of technical knowledge that all customers should expect from their reseller, along with a sneak peek into the future of virtualization and the enterprise. During the conference, I will being posting a series of short blogs that will cover the innovations and advancements released at Partner Exchange. As many of you know my focus is on the endpoint: desktop, mobile and anything else that involves end user interaction, and I will try to stay focused on that segment.

Stay tuned and feel free to post in the comments section of the blogs or on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/mletschin) any questions you would like answered about VMware or any of the exhibitors. I will do my best answer to them or pass them around to the vast technical community meeting here. I may even throw in a surprise video blog along the way if some of the VMware content or an exhibiting vendor looks especially interesting.

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