Horizon 6 – EUC has finally arrived in the VMware camp!

Maybe a bit of an exaggerated title but I cannot say how long I have waited for VMware to make the jump into RDSH (Remote Desktop Session Host) Most people know that instead of embracing it they bash it to death in their documentation, quite how they put a positive spin on that marketing message is a little beyond me, but that’s why I am not in marketing!

So, why am I so excited. Well according to most vendors that I speak with we are an “odd” case. As we are running Citrix XenApp 6.5 and VMware Horizon Suite. They and you may ask why and there is good reason. We ran a POC of VMware View 4 and Xendesktop 5. We were already using XenApp 6.5 and vSphere for our Hypervisor, so you could say that Xendesktop was the logical way to go, well the logical way isn’t always the best way.

For example, I just found Xendesktop to be far to disparate and having all the different admin consoles was just annoying. I also was not sold on the VM hosted apps feature for compatibility, it just meant I had a whole host of extra XP machines to run. ThinApp was far cleaner with less management. It was also annoying that they used different architectures IMA for XenApp and FMA for desktop. I also find that the Citrix architecture is pretty complex and VMware View was a lot easier to deal with and train other people on.

I will admit that until this announcement I was considering my strategy as Citrix were finally planning with 7.5 to unite the platform. But I was very dubious as we saw with 7.1 they ditched XenApp and annoyed a lot of people. Whilst it looks like 7.5 brings Xenapp back into play it’s still based on FMA and as such loads of features are still not there! Nice one Citrix, you made my decision for me!

Time to move my Xenapp 6.5 to Horizon 6! I love the fact that I can run the two side by side, I mean that is seriously cool and incredabily shrude of VMWare. I actually have a hunch that it will be easier to migrate from XA 6.5 to Horizon than it will be to XA 7.5 as that basically means starting again.

obviously the RDSH is not the only new feature but to my mind it is the biggest and has the most impact. Not only to me but to the entire EUC space.

If time allows it I will get another post out with some thoughts on the other new features and I will detail my upgrade path from XenApp as I think that will be interesting.


VMware purchase Airwatch

*Er.. before you read this, please note that I wrote this a few days after the acquisition. I thought I had published it. Clearly not!*

I think I must have missed this one as I only discovered this latest acquisition whilst talking to a member of VMware’s technical marketing team the other day. I don’t usually write anything on this type of news but I thought I would give it a bash and see what happens!

It would seem that mobile device management has been on companies watch lists for a while and in the last year it has clearly attracted some real attention. You only need to look at Citrix buying Mobile Iron and Good and the recent purchase of MAAS360 by IBM to see that.

I was starting to think that VMware were hell-bent on getting Horizon Mobile out to market as their only offering in the mobile space. Don’t get me wrong, whilst having a hypervisor on my phone seems awesome, I am just not convinced that it would work in the enterprise. For starters it’s not available in the UK (at least it wasnt last year when I was looking at MDM) so it’s a limited market, next the phones that listed as supporting the tech was also limited and unless I am just missing the point what would be classed as the real business need for a hypervisor on a phone, I for one don’t see anyone talking about that type of requirement. Anyway that was the point of this post, so I digress and get back to the subject at hand.

In my humble opinion I can only see this as a positive move for VMware, I do wonder if it will supersede Horizon Mobile and if the two can/will co-exist. Horizon Mobile aside, if you consider that VMware appear to want to be taken seriously in the EUC space then offering a MDM solution with-in their suite makes a lot of sense, their biggest rival Citrix has a big presence in this space so why not keep up with the Jone’s so to speak. Again, this is just my opinion but I think that this purchase is more along the right track than say Zimbra or Slide Rocket for example. I never really got those purchases, why would VMware think that providing the applications would be a good idea, especially when their EUC offering at that time was seriously lacking in features.

From an architecture point I think that VMware will need to work quickly to integrate this into the suite. If I looked at my campus then I would envisage having any number of mobile devices accessing my workspace portal and having the ability to stop them at the perimeter and posture, control and deploy a secure container automatically would be pretty cool. I would never have to worry about those devices.

When I asked the Tech marketing guy how it would be licenses and when it would be available he drew a complete blank and said that there was no information to hand. I am not surprised at all but if you don’t ask you don’t get. One will assume that it will eventually be built into the Horizon Suite SKU and I am hoping that existing customers will just get it as part of their current agreement. However that will remain to be seen!

The articles that I read seemed very focused on the commercial aspect of this deal and its a large sum of money, whilst I don’t really have an opinion on that I did think to myself that there must be a few VC’s out there right now with some nice big smiles on their faces!

Coupled this with the DeskTone purchase VMware are clearly here to stay in the EUC space and like it or not I don’t see that changing for quite some time.

You can read more about this acquisition from the horses mouth so speak.

Using vCops in the real world. A few findings along the way.

Ok, I have been using vCops for quite a while and I have mostly come across posts that are showing how to leverage a few of the features but they what I would call the “prescriptive lab” where everything is setup to show you a situation. I think that these posts are great and I know that I used them a lot when I first got into the product. Now, this could just be me being a bit simple but I found that when I scratched below these examples things got complex and there are so many settings and metrics that are not always that clear on how to use them and what to look for. So with that in mind here is a post with a few of my findings. I hope that they may help someone else out there!

Also, I have been a bit cheeky and lifted my notes straight into this post, so it may be a little rough around the edges!


When using non trend views set a lower interval as a VM or Host or Datastore for example must exist for the entire period that you have set to appear in the view and be taken into account.

Non trend views are summary views for example and are controlled globally in the settings and apply to all views.

vcops tips 1

Just a little bit of extra info on intervals. If you select Daily for example with an interval of 12 that would show the last 12 days of data. So interval is determined by the interval type selected. So I thought that if you selected daily and 12 intervals it would show you 2 hour samples through out the day. And like wise, select monthly and 12 and you get 12 points of data collection rolled up and presented. D’oh, talk about over complicating that one!

Demand or Allocation models

In the case of allocation and demand settings there are a few things to know. A container in the case of vCops is a cluster and not the folders that you pull from the VM and templates view. If you select to do both demand and allocation is will show the most restrictive case for the interval that you have set.

vcops tips 2

What we are seeing below is that our effective demand is more containing than allocation as our over allocation rule is set to 5:1 for CPU.

vcops tips 3

When we look at the usage and host usage we see and average usage of 38%, so how can that be? You must remember that is an average so we have to dig a bit deeper and look at the same report at a per host level.

Host 1 – Over by 5

 vcops tips 6

Host 2 – Neutral

vcops tips 5

Host 3 – 1.6 VM capacity remaining

 vcops tips 6

Host 4  – Over by nine

vcops tips 7

Operations Tab

Using the operations tab you can get a breakdown of the hosts real-time work. Looking the CPU chart you can actually see that most hosts are showing a larger bar line for CPU demand when compared to usage.

At this point lets put a quick definition on demand. Demand is basically what the VMs want and would use providing that there was not any contention. So when demand is high and usage is below we have contention occurring. Now this could be from just one or two larger VMS and we can drill down to find out what the cause is. So to use another point in our case in these charts the VMS are looking for more than is available.

So this could be that a number of VMs have too many CPUs assigned and they are showing more demand but having to wait so high co-stp and cpu ready times, or it could be an in balance of VMs that DRS cannot fix or just lots of hungry applications!

You may have noticed that one of the hosts (02) was showing no data and this is due to a problem that has yet to be resolved….

** Note that capacity risk report also shows this info in a nice way. Less detail, more high level.

General Tips

You need to have a policy in place that says what your over commit policy is. This is used to show in summary views how much remaining capacity you have based on that rule.

We have ours set to 5:1 that shows a neutral view to vCentre in terms of number of VMS that we have.

In terms of average VM spec vCops uses its trending information to determine a Small Med and Large profile for our environment

Setting a work week avoids backup traffic for example being classed as an everyday trend.

vCops polls vCentre every 20 seconds for its real-time data. It does not look back at its historical data.

Error – Internal View Composer Error. Contact your Administrator

I came across this little error a few weeks back. I could log into my admin console and no matter what I clicked on in relation to a desktop, or a pool for example I would see the following error message.

Internal view comp error

It’s not a very helpful error and I am the admin, so there was no one else to turn too! I spent a while checking the basics and could see that all servers and services were up, virtual desktops were running but we could not make any changes to pools or carry out any actions, such as a recompose.

I bit more digging and there really was nothing jumping out as being wrong, so I turned to Google. There were not a lot of options/fixes on offer and everything that was listed didn’t fit the bill.

So I thought I would post the fix for this issue as it was pretty simple in the end. The user account that our View services are using for some reason had a password that was set to expire. Clearly this is a bit dumb and was an oversight. A quick AD update to the user account, a close and re-open of the View admin console (WI) and we are in business.

So there you have it. Simple fix.

VMware don’t want to build long term relationships with Customers!

This is my first post in while and its sad to say that its a bit of a rant!

I don’t like to bash vendors and I will be the first to admit that I really like the VMware products and community. I guess that my enthusiasm for those is why I am so disappointed with the recent experience I had with VMware licensing direct.

Now, I won’t disclose who I spoke to in the licensing team and I will say that a certain set of circumstances led to my VAR putting me in direct contact with VMware.

As most of us VMware admins know, VMware is not a cheap platform but I still sell it to my business as a platform that continues to deliver a robust feature rich platform that suits our business model and use cases perfectly.

Cutting to the chase, as our conversation developed it became quite clear that all Bob (not his real name) wanted to do was get was a quick sale on the books and was not interested in trying to resolve my issue with a longer agreement.

What I was trying to ask for was a 3 year deal but at a price that was quoted the previous month, the net difference £1500 pounds. On top of that I illustrated our future VMware growth plans and my reason for asking for the price to be honoured. To which he replied and I quote..

“We are not interested in what you could do, and my managers won’t honour that quote based on possible growth.” He was unwilling to even ask his manager and said all he could offer was a 3 year deal at the higher price, to which I said my hands were tied and I could not get agreement to get the increase.

There is a major internal political thing so don’t bash me for asking for such a small amount of money, or why we had gone over the 28 days quote period. But if you ask me I would have thought that most vendors are interested in trying to help a customer, especially given previous history and future business!?

So I was forced down a 1 year deal to keep my costs under budget. VMware were happy to get one more years business. Has it gotten that bad VMware that you need to land grab rather than look at the bigger picture.

I know that VMware are in business to make money but I guess I was a little disheartened to hear that attitude first hand from a vendor that I hold in high regard. I don’t think that I was asking for a lot and I thought that this would be a no brainer, but a chat with my VAR afterwards said that she had seen this hard-nosed approach before with licensing and it was a real shame as they are left holding the baby with the customer.

So am I alone here, did I just have a licensing rep who lived by his monthly target and couldn’t see value beyond the here and now? Or are others seeing major inflexibility when dealing with VMware licensing and pricing policy’s.

vSphere 5.1 Error – Failed to attach filter ‘null’ to scsi0:0

You have to love some of the errors that vSphere has up its sleeve for you and this morning I came into see one of our critical file servers powered off. I tried to power it on and I got this lovely error message.

HBR Filter Error 1

A quick look on the VM summary page and I saw this message relating to replication, HBR was my imediate thought but I didnt think that we replicated this VM. So I had a look at all of the outbound replications and sure enough this VM was listed. These things dont just start replicating so I asked around…. I wont go into detail but the net result was that someone decided to take the initiative and replicate it and something went worng!

HBR Filter Error  6So we removed it from HBR and tried to power the VM back on back again this nasty message showed up. This VM only has one VMDk and that is the system drive on SCSI 0:0, the rest are RDM’s. So we tried to move the VMDK to another SCSI adapter and it still failed. We took that VMDK and added it to another VM and we could see and access the files.

This left one place to look and that was the VM, so I had a look in the VMX file and a quick search for HBR showed the following entries.

HBR Filter Error VMX File Entries

So I deleted the HBR lines and tried again. This time VM got a bit further and looked like it would power on but it didnt. In the interest of time I restored the VMX file, hoping that having one prior to HBR would get around the error, which it did. I wish I had a bit more time to fiddle but its pretty clear what the cause of the problem was.

Hope this helps someone else as I did not find anything that fitted my error from the Internet.

Odd vCentre issue – Not seeing any performance data

Just thought I would share this little oddity that I found on one of our ESXi hosts the other day. It’s a 5.1 host by the way…

I noticed that two of our host were warning of high CPU usage which was not the norm. Looking a little bit closer I noticed that DRS had been busy moving VMs and had left one node devoid of VMs bar a couple of low use servers.

Again, it seemed odd as there was evidence in the logs that a host had failed. Then I noticed this on the summary screen.

ESX host not showing performance data 1

No performance data at all! How odd, I continued my digging.

The next thing that I noticed was that none of the VMs were showing any stats. I should add that the VM below that is showing stats was vMotioned from a working host. Odd that its stats show up ok.

ESX host not showing performance dataI then had a quick look at the perofmance charts and what vCenter Ops could see. Both showed nowt and vCops looked like the screen shot below… Very helpful.

ESX Host not showing performance counters vcops view

I fixed this issue by a simple management agent restart. I must confess that I didnt have time to get down and dirty with the hosts logs to see if there was a cause. But what I can say is that I have noticed we have to restart the management agents more often since running 5.1. Has anyone else seen that?