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.

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.

Installing VMware Horizon Mirage 4.20

I have been working with Mirage the past few weeks as part of our Horizon Suite deployment. First thing to note is that Mirage is a very cool bit of software and its also very clever. I will get to some of those points in another blog post. I also want to talk about our use case as cool tech aside we have to have a use case and a business case to have this deployed… Don’t we!?

So, lets talk installing the product. I had a few little niggles hence why I thought a post would be handy to others who could run into the same issues as me. I am not going to a full step by step guide as the Admin Guide from VMware provides that, however I will post about the errors that I got. Maybe it is just me but the admin guide was a little lacking on a few points.

First things first if you have not already got it, make sure that you have the latest installer version 4.20. This means that you get the new licensing model which is pretty handy. See my post here for more on that.

I can’t say that the admin guide was wrong on this but if like me you misread the install order is very specific and running the Mirage Server setup before the management server will cause a fun little error (See below) where by it fails to register the server due to a mismatch. I quickly worked out that this just installs server files and running the management server must be available. D’oh!!

Mirage Setup 2 Failed to register server due to version mismatch error

So just to clarify here is a little screen shot I took of my installers with the order that you should install them in.

Mirage Setup 0 Install order

Before you start the install make sure that you have turned UAC off, I actually thought I had it off in my template but it would appear not as I got this nice message, turns out the installer was right. So off went UAC.

Mirage Setup 1 turn off UAC

The next thing that caught was all around the database setup. We have a SQL DBA and he doesn’t like giving us rights to create databases so we have to give him all the information. We are running 2008 R2 SQL database servers and it made sense that I use them instead of MSDE. If this was my lab or a POC I would consider MSDE for ease of setup.

My first error was actually connecting to the database server stated that the connection had failed based on install user rights.

Mirage Setup Error Failed to connect to DBWe have enterprise SQL so my instance name was left blank as I knew I was in the default instance. I created a ODBC connection to the server and DB that had been created, which tested out fine. It is also worth noting that I had asked the DBA to create me a DB called VMware_Horizon_Mirage and give my Mirage service account DB Creator rights.

To fix this error I had got the DBA to extend the DB Creator rights to the SQL Server Instance, which he did under duress. I promised he could revoke them after the install and pledged my soul to the SQL god for good measure!!

Some progress ensued but I was then confronted by this error saying that the MIrageDB does not exist. Now I have to say that the Admin Guide says that you can get your DBA to create the DB up front but I didn’t see it mention that it must be called a specific name. Mirage Setup Error MirageDB does not existSo after another trip to the DBA we renamed the database to MirageDB, thinking that would be it I went back to my install, just to get this nice message!

Mirage Setup Error User does not have DBOwner RightsOh man… I asked for the DB Creator rights which is what the Admin Guide said that I needed. So back to the DBA again and I get DB Owner rights to the Database. Thais got to be it I thought and yes I got further but the Mirgae setup had another ace up its sleeve.

Mirage Setup Error SQL Log File

It was a nice error as it says exactly what is wrong “Failed to modify Mirage_DB.log as it does not exist” so back to the DBA and I ask him if the DB rename should have renamed the log file. He made a funny noise and proceeded to rename the file for me.

Back to the installer and we have success!! Happy days.

I hope that this helps someone else avoid multiple trips to their DBA as most of these problems where simple to fix.

VMware Horizon Mirage – Licensing gotcha – Could it be sorted in 4.20?

**Danger! Dont make the same oversight that I have **

The Mirage Windows migration feature requires a separate licence that equates to one machine migration per unit, so if I get a 10 pack I can do 10 machines. But wait… It gets better as after 6 months the license will expire.

Bit cheeky if you ask me, especially when I have just brought the full Horizon suite. I also think that most VMware products are quite costly anyway, with out these hidden extras.

I could defend VMware and say that I didn’t do my due diligence as in my mind Mirage is part of the Horizon suite and I just would not expect a separate sub license to be required. Also, they do state in the reviewers guide that this is a separate licence and it is documented in a licence PDF so maybe I shouldnt complain, but I will!! 

In my defence I was less interested in Mirage as it was only a nice extra. However after seeing how you can migrate Windows I realised I now have a whole host of situations where this will come to my aid. I could also debate that my Vendor who shall remain nameless could have warned me too.

Much like the vRam tax in vSphere 5, I think they have got this one wrong. I mean I don’t think that I have any other products in my enterprise where I have purchased the top of the range model and then had one feature cost me more on top.

However, it seems that the recent announcement of version 4.2 has a licence alignment with the Horizon Suite. So does this mean if I have 100 Horizon Suite licences I can do up to 100 migrations with no time limit? I have yet to confirm that but if it does then it’s a positive move by VMware.

For those out of SnS or don’t have the suite and own version 4.0 then I guess your stuck with this timed licence, so don’t get court out like I did.

Enough writing, I am off to get the new download and see if the answer becomes clear in the software!