Archive for the ‘VMware’ Category

Make your own thin client in 30 minutes or less

When repurposing your desktops as a thin client – most users choose to keep a base windows image or replace it with a thin os to get you to your view desktop (ex. VDIBlaster). Both of these cost $, but a new free approach that is easy to do with the instructions below is to make your own thin client. The use of Meego, a very user friendly Linux distribution, combined with the VMware View open Client allows for a free(if you have old hardware) and fast do it yourself thin client. Just follow the instructions below.

1. Download Meego from http://meego.com/downloads

2. Install Meego to the hard drive of any system(it will work as a Virtual machine as well)

3. From the Home menu select Tools, then Terminal

4. Type “su” Password is “meego”

5. Type “sudo yum search firefox”

6. Type “sudo yum install firefox.i586” Substitute the proper package from the search. Select yes to download and install the package

7. From the Home Menu select Application Finder

8. Type Firefox into the search field and open the browser

9. In the browser go to http://lazyfai.dyndns.org/MeeGo/rdesktop

10. Save the rdesktop-1.6.0-7.meego.i586.rpm

11. In the browser go to http://code.google.com/p/vmware-view-open-client/downloads/list/

12. Save the VMware-view-open-client-4.5.0-271013.i386.rpm file 

13. Return to the terminal

14. Type “ls” to list the files in the location you saved them

15. Type “rpm –ivh rdesktop-1.6.0-7.meego.i586.rpm”

16. Type “rpm –ivh VMware-view-open-client-4.5.0-271013.i386.rpm”

17. Return to the Application Finder and type “vm” Open the VMware View Open Client

18. Enter the View Manager DNS Name

19. Enter a Username and Password

20. Select the View Pool to connect to

21. Wait for the machine to connect

22. Start using your virtual machine

VMware View 4.5 Features and Why you should care

VMware View has moved to a next generation of virtual desktops, announcing today the release of the 4.5 version of its flagship desktop platform.  With general availability in mid-September, View 4.5 will allow for full Windows 7 support and better integration between ThinApp and View.  The ability to have role based authentication is also key to this release along with support for vSphere 4.1.  Below is a breakdown of the major new features that have been released today and why you should care…

Enhanced User Experience

  • View Client with Local Mode – If you have a traveling workforce this allows you to check out a machine from the view infrastructure and work without network connectivity.  The checked out virtual machine is fully encrypted and still inherits its policies from the View infrastructure. Active Directory Group Policy is also used to secure these roaming virtual machines.
  • Full Windows 7 support – Rather self-explanatory but Windows 7 is fully supported by View 4.5. With XP going end of life soon, the migration to Windows 7 as a virtual machine using existing hardware is now fully possible and supported.
  • View Client for Mac OS X – Most Mac users would rather not be caught with a Microsoft product on their machines; however in the enterprise this is not always possible.  Now Mac users can access the corporate environment and use Windows resources natively.

Simplified and Integrated Management

  • Integrated Application Assignment – No more need to script application deployment, application installs through Active Directory or use custom location based scripting for some machines.  Now applications can be published to a specific pool through the View interface.
  • Rich Graphical Dashboards – Pictures always make things easier to understand!
  • Role Based Administration – Let the help desk staff manage the PCs while making sure the storage and server admins can monitor the space and resources on your VM cluster.
  • Integration with Microsoft SCOM and PowerShell – Integration with your existing monitoring and management and the ability to use powershell scripting with your systems.  The first step to fully automated deployments.

Best Desktop Infrastructure Platform

  • Support for vSphere 4.1 and vCenter 4.1 – You wanted to upgrade your server infrastructure, now your desktops are not holding you back.
  • Increased scalability – Build machines to your heart’s content.  Up to 10,000 desktops per pod with the reference architectures.
  • Optimized Anti-virus Protection – This takes the load off the desktops and allows for better consolidation numbers.  Use one of the new VMSafe antivirus packages to protect your endpoints.

Lowest Acquisition Cost and Total Cost of Ownership

  • Tiered storage support in View 4.5 – Now you can store your OS disk on the high performance disk, but the users MP3 collection can go on cheap SATA disk.
  • Lowest Cost Reference Architectures – These are a how-to guide for all the major software/hardware vendors.

If you have any questions about migration or deploying VMware View 4.5, fill out the contact us form at the top of the webpage or call (866) 892-3154 and we’ll be happy to assist.

Managing VMware with your Ipad

The world is geared towards being able to work remotely, yet VMware has been less than speedy finding a way to manage the ESX environment from a mobile device. Sure they released the vCenter Mobile Access (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9UxDnV2qaeM&fmt=18), which is great if you are not using a device that has any graphic power. However, why not use something that is easy but still gives an administrator the ability to see their environment and maybe even work with it some?

VManage does exactly that. For $2.99 an administrator can use their iPhone or iPad to connect via WiFi or VPN to their environment and see alarms, stats, and even VMotion machines.  It will even inherit the permissions you set within vCenter so the admins will only see what the primary datacenter admin has given them rights to.

Overall VManage is a really nice product for quick access and knowledge of your VMware environment. Take a look at a short demo that illustrates the ease of using VManage.

Top 10 things to notice when making the move to a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

The sheer number of virtual desktop solutions on the market can be overwhelming for even the most seasoned IT staff, if you combine that with the unknown costs and virtual desktops becomes a non-starter before it even gets on the whiteboard. In an effort to make VDI evaluation and the subsequent roll-out a manageable reality, I have created a 12-step journey into VDI.

1. Analyze your environment/Determine your business case
IT historically jumps towards buzzwords, VDI being one of the more recent ones. Before you embark on a VDI journey you should make sure that you are truly solving a business need. You should document all your challenges, costs, and benefits of your current desktop environment, then compare them to a documented list of features you want in a VDI solution. Be prepared to present this solution to management with supporting costs and timetables. Your trusted reseller can help in determining the features as well as identify common challenges by running a desktop assessment in your environment including looking at your existing desktop hardware and installed software applications. You will be able to access this later to create an efficient practical VDI environment.

2. Categorize your users
In the same way that your accounting staff users require different software and desktop/laptop specifications than your engineering users, the virtual desktop requirements between those user groups will also differ. Separating the users into categories where the categories dictate the same or similar virtual desktop performance requirements (i.e., CPU and memory allocation) and the same or similar software package requirements will go a long way toward making the management of your VDI infrastructure easier (namely your desktop pools…more on this in Step 8 below). Most companies already have an org chart that is either broken down by department or location; this is a great starting point for your user categories.

3. Determine your base image
Now that you have your company broken down into manageable groups you can begin to determine a baseline that all your users or large groups of them will need. In my earlier blog (VDI Glossary) I defined a base image as the minimum desktop and application requirements for a set group of users. This would be used as a starting point for all full desktop deployments. When you analyzed your applications you found that some of the applications were installed on every workstation. These applications are most likely the start of your base image. This image is similar to the traditional “Ghost” image.

4. Create a pilot group
Do you have a small segment of users that are always willing to try out the latest and greatest software? This will probably make up 60% of your pilot group. You should also try to get 20% of your more challenging users, and then 20% of users that are standard for your user base. For the purposes of the pilot, it may be a good idea to exclude users who require the use of custom (non-COTS) applications as there may be unique challenges to publishing/virtualizing these applications. Ultimately the custom apps will need to be addressed, but for the purposes of the pilot, the 80/20 Rule in terms of satisfying the user base is probably a good idea.

5. Interview your pilot group
Your pilot group should not only be used as “Guinea pigs” for the VDI solution but they should also be able to tell you some of their current challenges and needs. Identifying and addressing those needs will create objective results at the end of the pilot. Some common questions to ask would be:
a) Are any of your current applications slow?
b) Do you have any applications that require a lot of processor of memory resources?
c) Can you access your apps remotely? If so, how is the performance? If not, do you want to?
d) Can you access your desktops remotely? If so, how is the performance? If not, do you want to?

6. Determine the first package to try
The questions from your interviews can help a lot at this point. You now have the basics of a requirements document. You know what the users already have and what they want. This is another good time to reach out to your trusted reseller as they should be able to take your requirements document and advise you on the viability of any particular VDI solution (e.g., VMware View, Xen Desktop, Microsoft Terminal Services) as they match up to your business and technical requirements.

7. Build a small test lab
Before you begin to roll out desktops to your users you should make sure your internal IT staff is comfortable with the product you have chosen. After all you will have to manage it after you have it deployed. One of the biggest benefits to virtual desktops should be ease of management. If you build a lab and find it is too hard to manage, start again with a different product.

8. Build your desktop pool
You have now determined a base image, selected how your applications will get published, and found a group of users to begin testing. A few things to keep in mind are the virtual specs of the user desktops, the original assessment should have given you some basic hardware configurations and requirements for CPU and memory that will keep the user performance as-is or better. The base image should also be tweaked to provide the best performance possible. Each of the VDI vendors along with Microsoft have whitepapers on optimizing Windows for virtual desktops, whether it be XP or Windows 7. Next comes the applications, between the interviews and the assessment you should have a list of applications to add to your first pool of virtual desktops. These applications could either be virtualized or added to a new base image. Depending on how you plan to present the applications might change your decision here. If you are only using the apps internal to your network and it is only being used by a few people then building it into an image and create more than one desktop pool would work well. If you find the application is going to be published out to remote users then application virtualization may be the right route, minimizing the need for more than one pool.

9. Determine your profile solution
The single largest pain point for most VDI deployments is dealing with the user data and profiles. My VDI glossary highlighted that the user profiles can contain all the settings that a user would change, to include the desktop background, files and icons on the desktop, and any settings assigned through application installation. Roaming profiles are built into Windows and are free but do you want to manage them? If you already have your documents redirected adding your profiles might not be a bad option. Will the users always be on the same virtual desktops? If so then you might be able to get away with using traditional profiles. Profiles can also be managed by a number of third party profile management packages that allow for the users desktop and icons to show quickly without refreshing the data from the server every time.

10. Rollout to your pilot group
Your pilot group knows you are about to give them a solution you hope will answer their concerns without compromising their productivity. This gives you the advantage that these users normally are anxious to give you all the feedback you could possibly want. Don’t be afraid to change things during the pilot phase. These users know that the virtual desktop infrastructure is still being built and will need tweaks. Don’t move forward though until you feel you have addressed all their concerns. If the solution does not address the concerns then look back at a different option. You don’t want to roll out to your entire company only to find that the one small issue actually impacts ¾ of your executives.

11. Gather feedback
Set your pilot at a specific timeframe and gather feedback from your users on every aspect of their experience, from transition to the virtual desktops to the hardware you used for them to access, to the performance of applications.
12. Begin your full implementation
As with any project you should have a lifecycle that allows you to go back to a step and adjust before moving forward. Once you are at a comfortable point with your feedback it is time for the full rollout.

Many analysts will say that virtual desktops are the future of IT. Hopefully by following the steps above you are able to determine if they are the future of your IT shop.

BYOC: How to Make It Work

How do you save your company money?

That’s easy. Stop buying desktops every few years. Sounds simple, but there is a problem– users seem to need workstations to do work. The answer comes in the “Bring your own computer” policy you are seeing implemented at many of the mid to large size firms around the world. BYOC comes in many different flavors, but the most common seems to be companies setting a price point for computers, somewhere in the $1,200 range, and then giving employees that much of a stipend and having them go buy whatever they want. If they find a good deal they will get a better machine, or use some of their own money and buy something more powerful.

The problems with this concept are rather significant.

  • Users will tell anyone who asks that they are not computer savvy cheap football tops and want the “Help Desk” to fix their computers. Non-standardized hardware creates headaches for IT departments.
  • Company data will be held on computers that users own.
  • New employees need computers as soon as they start. Do you want to give new employee a large sum of money not knowing if
    they will remain with the company?

While it seems that BYOC could save your company money, it also Cheap Barcelona football shirts adds lots of risk. That is why companies have to find a middle ground solution. For most companies, a best-fit solution is to combine a virtual infrastructure with a restricted BYOC policy and the use of thin clients. Let me explain why.

Using virtual desktops allows companies to control the user experience for all business applications. Your company can now provide a machine with the basic operating system, productivity applications, and business applications needed within a single window. Most cheap football shirts companies have multiple systems that need to be accessible from the internet and open security holes. With virtual desktops all those applications would be getting accessed through the internal network with only a few standard ports being open to the internet. This extra protection is sure to be one item that your board members will like to hear about. Virtual desktops also keep the data off the users computers and allow your company to maintain a backup of the data through the same methods IT departments use to maintain backups of server data.

Then, addressing another big concern; how not to give a new employee Cheap Real Madrid football shirts a large sum of money towards a computer without the risk of them leaving within a few weeks or months. This is where thin clients fit perfectly. By maintaining a small selection of thin clients, new users can each be given a thin client to use initially, with the stipend for a computer being a benefit that is gained over time. Since the thin clients will last on average twice as long as the workstations, cost is minimal and saves a great amount of risk. These same thin clients can be used if a user needs to take their BYOC to the store for repairs. Your employees would have the same desktop experience they had on their personal machine and your company would not be without a resource during repair time.

Will BYOC work for every company? I doubt it. Some cheap football kits companies may be concerned their workforce changes too often. Others need machines always placed in specific locations like retail. But for the knowledge worker of today that has blurred the line between work and home, having a business virtual machine on a personal workstation may be the perfect balance to protect the user and the company.

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Location Based Applications with ThinApp and View

Virtual Desktops can be considered both the newest and the oldest craze in IT. As a leading technology integrator, Clearpath has been able keep up with the craze and stay ahead of the curve with multiple deployments around the VMware View suite. One of the best and most underrated components in the View suite is ThinApp.

ThinApp gives you the ability to package applications and stream them from a file server to the users. When combined with the View Connection Broker you can present an entire user experience from the operating system through specific applications assigned from the IT staff. Sounds great, but what if I don’t care about the user and want the applications to always be installed on specific machines? This is especially useful in organizations looking to deploy virtual desktops across kiosk-styled thin clients.

Well, we can now do this through a little scripting and the use of Group Policy ADM files that ship with View. The viewagent.adm file is deposited on the Connection Broker automatically during install and can be imported into a Group Policy Object (GPO) on your domain. The key to the .adm file and accompanying GPO is the ability to run scripting based on the local client. This is effectively accomplished by pulling registry information from the guest VM OS. You have the option of everything from the IP address to the host name or even the MAC address. To illustrate, I’ve pulled together a script that allows you to register a specified application to any machine named accordingly. In this example every machine in the “Blue Room” is named “BlueRoom-XXX” and all the applications in the “Blue” folder will get published to it along with everything in the “All” folder.


 

Const HKEY_CURRENT_USER = &H80000001

Set WSHShell = CreateObject(“WScript.Shell”)

Set objShell = CreateObject(“Shell.Application”)

Set wmiLocator=CreateObject(“WbemScripting.SWbemLocator”)
Set wmiNameSpace = wmiLocator.ConnectServer(“.”, “rootdefault”)

Set objRegistry = wmiNameSpace.Get(“StdRegProv”)

sPath = “Volatile Environment”

lRC = objRegistry.GetStringValue(HKEY_CURRENT_USER, sPath, “ViewClient_Machine_Name”, vMachine)

lRC = objRegistry.GetStringValue(HKEY_CURRENT_USER, sPath, “ViewClient_IP_Address”, vIP)
lRC = objRegistry.GetStringValue(HKEY_CURRENT_USER, sPath, “ViewClient_MAC_Address”, vMAC)

tokens = split(vMachine, “-“)

Room=tokens(0)

Select Case (Room)

Case “BlueRoom”
   WSHShell.Run(“””\appsservthinapp$thinreg.exe”” /q “”\appsservthinapp$All*.exe”””)
   WSHShell.Run(“””\appsservthinapp$thinreg.exe”” /q “”\appsservthinapp$Blue*.exe”””)
Case “RedRoom”
   WSHShell.Run(“””\appsservthinapp$thinreg.exe”” /q “”\appsservthinapp$All*.exe”””)
   WSHShell.Run(“””\appsservthinapp$thinreg.exe”” /q “”\appsservthinapp$Red*.exe”””)
Case “OrangeRoom”
   WSHShell.Run(“””\appsservthinapp$thinreg.exe”” /q “”\appsservthinapp$All*.exe”””)

End Select


 

If your naming convention does not have a “-“ in it or maybe you need to use the second part instead of the first, you would change the following lines:

tokens = split(vMachine, “-“)

Room= tokens(0)

Simply change the “-“to your delimiter and if you need the third part you change the tokens to (2). Machine_1_BlueRoom would then still use BlueRoom as the variable.

If you want to use an IP address as your test and the subnets are different just use the tokens = split(vMachine,”.”). Then Room=tokens(2) would give you the third octet (i.e. if the IP is 192.168.121.3 the variable result would be 121). Remember this is not a number, it is a string, so greater than (>) and less than (<) will not work.

Need more than three options? Just add to the case statement. ThinApp now behaves as a location-based environment as opposed to user and/or OU.

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High-Tech Toys: Running Windows 7 on an iPad

Growing up there was a plaque on my basement wall that read: “The only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys.”

This modern day tech guy loves his toys, and Apple’s iPad is the latest in a string of high-tech toys getting a lot of buzz. Everyone has seen the video of the cat playing games with the iPad, so instead of talking about how it works or how cool the screen is, I am going to focus on the integration with VMware View.

About 6 months ago I picked up the Wyse PocketCloud client for the iPhone and thought it was really cool but I couldn’t really see any business purpose for it other than putting out emergencies and even that would be tough on such a small screen. Then about a month ago I saw an update for the app that said it now had iPad support. A 10” screen could facilitate performance.

In terms of price, I can get a 10” screen on a netbook for around $300, maybe a little more if I add a solid state drive. Then I can add the VMware View client and get connectivity just about anywhere with a full keyboard without carrying around a 20-lb laptop. That would not be nearly as cool though. The iPad is priced at $499 starting with just WiFi, which I think right now is definitely a limiting factor but not one that is overwhelming. You’d normally only use it while you’re sitting on your sofa at home anyway. High price or not, I had to try it out.

The setup is extremely easy. You simply order it from the app store on the device and $14.99 later it is installed on the device. The connection to an existing View environment is almost as easy with just a few caveats. You have to set up a connection to each machine or pool you want to access. That is not at all a show stopper since you still can’t multi-task on the iPad anyway. Once you set the machine you have the option of how you want to view the desktop. This one is personal preference and if you plan to use landscape more than portrait I would change the setting as it really does make a difference when viewing it.

You get all the same features as the iPhone version with two-finger sizing and the extra mouse/all-in-one pointer that makes the touch screen even more useful. Plus if you must have Flash you can use the ThinBrowser feature and access your full browser on the virtual desktop and get Flash sites opened on the iPad. There are a few things to watch out for though. If you think you are going to use your finger to move up and down a page, think again. When you slide your finger it actually moves the whole desktop around. A lock feature would be nice so that you can use the desktop more like the base image. I think it is something you can get used to but for me it was annoying. A second thing to be aware of when using it is if you are in landscape mode and close out of it, the app seems to lock up and part of the screen goes back to portrait and some stays in landscape. If you just exit out and come back in it fixes it all so again not a big deal especially since if you are done you would most likely be exiting out anyway.

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