Expand virtual machines hard disk – automation 7 Comments

Sometimes, at some customers's place, with an infrastructure already in place (XenApp with PVS or XenDesktop VDI pooled with PVS) the D: drive is too small. The drive where you redirect Windows Event Logs, Logs (UPM for example and/or other applications - services) This is a drive where page file is often redirected as well and even memory dump file generated. PVS cache can also be on this drive : Cache on device RAM with overflow on Hard Disk When RAM is zero, the target device write cache is only written to the local disk. When RAM is not zero, the target device write cache is written to RAM first. When RAM is full, the least recently used block of data is written to the local Write Cache disk to accommodate newer data on RAM. The amount of RAM specified is the non-paged kernel memory that the target device consumes. Cache on device Hard Disk The cache on local HD is stored in a file on a secondary local hard drive of the device. It gets created as an invisible file in the root folder of the secondary local HD. The cache file size grows, as needed, but never gets larger than the original vDisk, and often not larger than the free space on the original vDisk. It is slower than RAM cache, but faster than Server cache and works in a HA environment. The lack of space on this drive will bring some slowness in user's session and this drive needs to be expanded a bit to get back a normal user experience. To expand these disks two actions need to be done : Expand the Virtual Machine hard disk - in this example vmware Virtual Machines Expand the disk within the Operation System (Windows) In addition to the following script, psexec tool (Microsoft Sysinternal) is used to execute remotely the diskpart command listed in a text file (diskpart.txt) which is upload to the Virtual Machines. Targeted Virtual Machines need to be powered on. Psexec.exe and Diskpart.txt needs to be in the same folder as the Powershell script, of course you can specify their path as it suits your need.   This script is using XenDesktop / XenApp command to list all the Virtual Machines with SessionSupport value equal to SingleSession, it means the VDI only in my case. If you want to check the lust of Virtual Machines…

Are we missing something ? 2 Comments

As you might know I'm the CTO of a super cool company here in France (Activlan) base around Paris and one side of my job is to watch in my crystal ball to know what our customers will need and how they could use us to remain on top of their productivity with their IT. Reducing cost and accelerate process; giving flexibility and liberty to their users and keeping the information safe when needed. What's very cool in my job is I always exchange so many things with you all during events, when we meet here and there, online and in real life that is give me a flavor of what's happening in IT in a lot of country very different than here in France. Of course I try to give back what I learned of all this shared experience and knowledge but these last months I've been busy working hard on some other project. So, this title brings me back to an old blog : VDI ok, What's next ?  published in May 2012 where my conclusion was : What really matters in the vWorld ? In the end, the data. I think that was about right in 2012 and you know, with all the VDI, RDSH, offline and online, Hypervizor of all type, application installed, streamed or isolated, using a phone a tablet, a thin client or a computer, in the end the only thing that matter remains data. Software vendor in our segment are pushing harder and harder their mobile (ie MAM and MDM) solution thinking everyone should buy these software and work with tablets and phones. I think we aren't still there just yet... When someone is hired in a company this is almost all the time a giant waste of time (and money) the first days... No desktop ready, no application access etc... In the big company, MDM and MAM need to be addressed but that will never be wildly use for the next 2/3 years, what user expect from their company is to have access to their data (core need) through a applications accessed via a desktop, or not but with a consistent environment. They want to work in an optimal way during their working hours and sometime be able to access their data from home or a remote location, but taking over the personal people's phone is over-rated for now. The MAM MDM hype remind me the…

I don't post official announcement from companies usually but I have to good reasons to post this one : This is a very interesting and useful reading, a must know data you need to have in mind and it's refreshed often enough to stick to the real world environment. Then two of my CTP mates are leading this project with great enthusiasm : Jeroen VanDeKamp and Ruben Spruijt. Amsterdam, 17 January, 2013 - Project Virtual Reality Check (Project VRC) is pleased to announce the release of the long awaited 'Phase V' white paper which provides independent insights in the impact and best practices of various antivirus (AV) solutions on VDI performance. The R&D project ‘Virtual Reality Check’ (VRC) was started in early 2009 by the Dutch IT companies PQR (www.pqr.com) and Login Consultants (www.loginconsultants.com) and focuses on research in the desktop virtualization market. Several white papers were published about the performance and best practices of different hypervisors, application virtualization solutions and Windows Operating Systems in server hosted desktop solutions. This new white paper contains the test results of the VDI performance impact of the antivirus solutions from three leading vendors: McAfee, Microsoft and Symantec. “When VDI is implemented into production, performance is often a serious issue. A performance impact of up to 40 percent is not unusual after antivirus is installed.” said Jeroen van de Kamp, CTO of Login Consultants “While this aspect has been less of an issue with PC’s or laptops, with performance sensitive environments like VDI it means you need to invest in servers and storage. This was the reason for us to investigate, and provide objective data about, the exact impact of antivirus on VDI”. “It is important to highlight the fact that Project VRC does not evaluate the quality of the security features of the different AV products, but only provides information about the impact these solutions have on VDI performance” said Ruben Spruijt, CTO of PQR “By testing and comparing different solutions and configurations we discovered the best practice to perform a pre-scan of the master image before it’s deployed. The effect is huge and therefore highly recommended”. Another key finding published in the white paper is that antivirus off-loading architectures makes a big difference from a storage IO point of view, but not always from a session density point of view. All Project VRC tests are performed with Login VSI (www.loginvsi.com), the industry standard benchmarking tool for VDI. This software tool…

myCitrix Synergy Barcelona 2012 4 Comments
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This year wasn't as surprising as it has been in the past years on the innovation and "really new stuff". Perhaps this is is because since I'm a CTP I know a lot more on Citrix plan before the announce it but I think the evolution Citrix brings into their product now will still take a year to go and be released and ready to go. Some announces are old already, many things have been announced at Citrix Synergy in San Francisco and many announces made were about products already available since couple of months. Anyway, here is my wrap up so far : ByteMobile is now part of Citrix, acquisition in july (Official Announcement here) over 6 billion mobile devices growing 50%+ mobile data is video & multimedia growth - 25x over the next 5 years This acquisition brings Citrix cloud networking convergence with mobile data a bit further. XenServer The general availability of the 6.1 released has been made one month ago (Official Announcement here) and the major features are : live storage migration batch conversion of vmware vms Citrix Cloudplatform integration XenClient XenClient Enterprise 4.5 is available now for ultrabook and after Citrix other acquisition this year (Virtual Computer) advanced set of features are coming along with this new realease : Broader hardware compatibility XenClient Enterprise is now localized VLAN tagging support External network access to Synchronizer via Citrix NetScaler SSL bridging SSL offload Windows 8 guest OS Native Windows experience A new display architecture Dual external monitors in a docking station 30% improvement in hypervisor boot time VM export support A Citrix community blog post detail every new feature released here : [click] Partnership with Microsoft is going the same weird way as it has always been :) Some numbers and information have been given during the keynote : 80% growth XenDesktop on Hyper-v Windows server 2012 with Hyper-v Improved vm density with hyper-v Windows 8 support native UI design & platform support + GoToMeeting GoToMypc ShareFile and AppDNA are supporting the new Microsoft Operating System as well Citrix Receiver for Windows 8 early release on Windows Store Here is some screenshot :   GoToMeeting HD faces now on iPad With this new release it's now possible to present with an iPad. You can also create meeting direclty from the iPad   Podio Updates and improvement to extend the work between meeting (team and customers) integration…

VDI, ok ? What’s next ? 58 Comments

This blog is a follow up to the discussion we had in Vienna during the Geek Speak session at E2E event. I had to leave to catch my flight back to France but this discussion was very interesting and I though about it during all my travel time... I'm still on it writing this blog VDI, Desktops... Shared, remote, dedicated, pooled and/or virtual VDI gives the possibility to deliver desktops to everyone, everywhere. Let's say it, in most of the company, users still needs a desktop, a Microsoft desktop; why's that ? Just because they are used to access a Microsoft Windows desktop at home and during the last 20 years we didn't deliver application using another way. Desktop rules the application access, at least until 3/4 years ago when smart phone, tablet / iPad came to everyone's life and change Microsoft Desktop user's life by accessing directly an application. Everyone is getting used to access applications without going through a Microsoft Windows desktop and I think that will change a lot of things within 5 years regarding the way we deliver an environment to our users. Desktop vs Application Why are we accessing a desktop today ? Mainly to open application and being able to switch from a windows to another, copy and past between applications etc. Going from this statement, which I think everyone will agree, why do we need this layer (Microsoft Desktop) to access applications ? As I mentioned before, we have habits and we are used to open our application through a Microsoft Desktop, I remember tried to publish an Internet Explorer few years ago on thin client, on the Web Interface, only application were published, no desktop at all; we had to fall back and published a desktop again because user experience was different, users we used to click to switch between applications instead of using alt-tab key. The amount of memory we tried to save by not publishing a desktop was quiet a lot and as we had to give a desktop back, we had to calcul again all the memory consume per user for a desktop and add more servers according to our results. As you can notice in the graph above, the difference between a seamless published Excel 2010 and a desktop (XenApp 6.5 with Excel 2010) is double. As we needed to publish desktop instead of only using published application, we had…

After many years going from a customer to another, speaking with people all around the world, I wanted to share my experience regarding application integration. This is not a new topic but there are so many way to deliver applications today it can become very messy very fast. In a lot of companies I worked with, I had to face many different situations with different technologies and solutions. What I explain in this blog is just one way to get things done, maybe not the best one but I think this is the most efficient way to leverage Citrix / Microsoft solutions when it's about application delivery. I made a simple diagram to materialize my though when I plan to integrate or migrate new application into a VDI environment. When I write VDI, I mean : VDI = Virtual Desktops + Shared (Virtual) Desktops (SBC) For example, when I need to free a XenDesktop golden image from all the applications installed over the years, I need to understand : Is this application still in use ? Who need this application ? Why they need it ? How they use it ? How many users need this application ? Is there enough license for this application ? What is the update cycle of this application ? What are the prerequisite of this application ? Etc etc... Then I need to to know if I want or need to "virtualize" this application or not : First thing first : is this application working on a regular OS with a "normal" installation process ? Do you need to virtualize this application ? time & cost vs deployment & number of users What are the prerequisite for this application ? (XenApp silo needed or not, specific Streaming profile / AppV) Is this application need to be use offline, ie roaming users ? What is the application size (Mb, Gb) once it's installed ? Is this application supported on a 64bit Operating System ? All these point are what I'm asking myself before doing anything. There are a lot more question you need to ask yourself, it depend of each customer's environment and technologies in use. The more I look this diagram the more I find some other step to add, this is like a never-ending construction and a new puzzle at each customer's place. We could continue this schema with application compatibility between each…

VDI is overrated! This is what I thought during several sessions at Citrix Synergy event last week in San Francisco. Of course the desktop, Microsoft Windows most of the time, is very important for companies but I think the battle around VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) takes place at the marketing level... Addressing desktop virtualization is one option in the desktop management options. We (architects) need to be able to bring desktop virtualization to the companies who want to deliver virtual desktops, for specific cases most of the time. We will continue to deliver "classic" desktops (you know the "fat" one) because companies simply won't go for 100% VDI as they won't be needing it... Yet... Using VDI (Citrix XenDesktop, vmware View etc..) is part of the well known Flexcast model from Citrix. I like this marketing term because my customers understand that we will design an architecture which is able to deliver all types of desktops (except the "fat" ones in the traditional way). Using VDI among the other technologies is fine. Sometimes I need to address a situation where a specific group of user need to access a full dedicated private environment (resources), and here is one question : Why the user needs a desktop ? This is a question I keep asking to myself for some time now... As a CTO in my company (Activlan) I need to understand which path VDI is taking and digest the information to share it with our consultants and engineers by asking them : Users, you and me, why do we use a desktop ? We use a desktop to access our applications, that's why ! When you access your application with a web browser, you don't need to have a desktop, right ? When you're using your Android phone, your iPhone or your iPad, you don't want to access a desktop, you just want to access your applications, don't you ? I'm not a Google  fan but I think they are visionary with their ChromeBooks. This is just a web browser, without any underlying operating system, working with wifi and 3g/4g booting in 8 seconds and without a hard drive...  I think the real battle is more on the endpoint side than in the VDI product you choose to deliver a desktop you might not need... If you have a ChromeBook, I don't think you want to access a Microsoft Windows…

VDI Project – Not only a XenDesktop project (part.1) VDI Project - The framework (part.2) VDI Project - Hypervisor war (part.3) VDI Project - Desktops and applications delivery (part.4) VDI Project - User Environment Manager (part.5) Cool title right ? If you click on it then this title was just perfect :) Within my desktop industrialization and virtualization project, I had of course the first layer to analyze : Hypervizors. What is installed, what can be challenge, why bringing a change to this existing layer ? And which product I should push against the one already present ? This is the announce war, if there is some Hyper-V or Vmware I should try to push XenServer (I'm a Citrix preacher guy) and on any case, I should change everything to show I've been here and mark the path of changes.... Nope I didn't, this is 100% vSphere deployed full packed with a very good team handling the infrastructure and a lot of processes and work-flow already running, so I don't see any advantage for my customer (and for me) to change what's working and in place. Changing an installed hypervizor on a large deployment would mean : Changing / adapting processes Industrialization rebuilding Engineer and administrators teams training Heavy and long migration (V2V..) Lost of focus regarding what bring me first on this "Desktop" project Maybe reduction of administrators / engineer As I mentioned in the part 1 & 2 of this blog, in fact I didn't had to test anything because the choice have already be made. I would have like to make my own benchmark test and comparison but limited time and specific politics in this project were in the game. If you want to go further on this subject then I encourage you to read Project VRC - Phase II version 2.0 white paper full of very interesting information. Now I need to keep in mind this architecture piece I would have to address, I don't know bunch of thing about vmware vSphere, I will use some help on that subject by some other expert. The announce war didn't happen and I'm very disappointed about that, I would have like to make my own test and publish result I got from an extreme VDI benchmark. I will do it, sooner or later !

With this new version, Citrix give support to XenApp 6 and Microsoft Windows 2008 R2. Beware, the new Edgesight XenApp Client 5.3 is only made for Windows 2008 R2 and XenApp 6. For prior OS and XenApp version you must use the 5.2.1 version. There are a bunch of new reports available now, since Resource Manager is dead, Citrix needs to implement everything what we were use to find in RM. This is a small step but nothing big except for the licensing part, a brand new section is dedicated for licenses reporting. What's new ? Monitoring of Citrix License Servers and reporting on license usage by product group or individual products. The license servers to be monitored are specified at Configure > License Monitor Configuration > License Servers. License usage reports are available on the Track Usage tab. Monitoring of Published Applications and reporting on application launches and unique users. Published application reports are available on the Track Usage tab and the Browse tab. Monitoring of session duration by farm or user group. Session duration reports are available on the Track Usage tab and the Browse tab. EdgeSight Agent support for XenApp 6 Warning : if you have a SQL 2000 database, you need to upgrade to SQL 2005 or SQL 2008 ! So here are some screen shot about the new tab with the two licenses nodes : It looks very nice, but you cannot subscribe these license reports to generate an automatic email (yet)... There still an annoying bug with the filter option on many pop-up pages... The problem is, if you don't know there is a filter button outside the actual windows you can reach while playing with tab key, you cannot apply your filter... It has always been here in Edgesight 5.x versions... (I will post more detail about that tomorrow) Next blog about Edgesight will be all architecture I've deployed for different customers