VDI Project – The framework (part.2)

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)

Designing the architecture for such a big and complex environment is a challenge. To do so I needed to think about all the possibilities of desktop / application delivery process and mechanism AND the technology I would have to use to give as much flexibility as possible while keeping in mind the existing layers.

To automate and industrialize, I needed to find a software like Microsoft SCCM to deploy the operating systems, software and handling inventory. My customer had this ancient software named Radia and wanted to continue to use it since HP bought this company and renamed the product to HP Client Automation. So I didn’t really had the choice on this one and I had to make sure this software will be able to bring all the automation I was looking for. After a certain number of meeting with HP, the software was good for OS deployment, Inventory management but had some lake of features in the software deployment. As my customer already bought the licenses (In fact they bought it before the beginning of the project…) I had to manage with that.

Then I needed to chose the hypervisor, the connection broker, the application virtualization solution, the profile management solution and make sure everything would fit in a 3 level down architecture (Datacenter — First Level — Second Level — Third Level) To make the choice I had to find all the software technology able to answer each need and compare it to another one. I also introduce the User Environment Management concept into the discussion.

Here is the list of solutions I chose to work with / compare :

  • Hypervisor : vmware vSphere vs Citrix XenServer vs Microsoft Hyper-V
  • Automation & OS Deployment : Altiris vs HP Client Automation
  • Application virtualisation : Citrix XenApp vs vmware ThinApp
  • Desktop broker : vmware View vs Citrix XenDestop
  • User Environment Manager : RES vs AppSense

But this “fair” way to chose the best product by testing, evaluate it wasn’t in everyone’s mind and I have to front choices already made before the beginning of the project. This is the “forced” list I had few days after the project kick off :

  • Hypervisor : vmware vSphere
  • Automation & OS Deployment : HP Client Automation
  • Application virtualisation : Citrix XenApp
  • Desktop broker : Citrix XenDestop
  • User Environment Manager : RES vs AppSense

Lake of time, decision already made by technical team in place, I needed to exchange a bit about that. How can they ask me to build the best solution regarding the project if they chose without comparing very important block of software ? For the hypervisor, I understand they already have deploy a lot of vmware vSphere and I would have make the switch, the guys in place know it by heart, they have processes and this is the best product on the market at this time. So I didn’t really mind on this part, it saved me some time on the project.

For the Automation & OS deployment software, I would have like show them SCCM and Altiris because I think HP Client Automation weakness is in the packaging and deployment of the applications; I mean this is simple with Altiris but when you try to package an application in HP CA it becomes very quickly weird and foggy… You cannot just use the batch or powershell script you were using before, you need to repackage it ! BUT they already had HP CA deployed almost everywhere to inventory their workstation (around 60 000) So there was no really place for a choice here again.

The application virtualization and the desktop broker, that was Citrix vs vmware, I know both of the product and as they already have a massive Citrix XenApp infrastructure, the choice would have be the same for me. About the desktop broker, XenDesktop is simply the best one on the market at this time, it just saved me some weeks of work.

The user environment manager part is funny… They didn’t realized they would have a massive delivery power and some users will access 3 different systems, desktops and applications… (Local Desktop, Virtual Desktop and XenApp Desktop/Applications) and using Terminal Server Profile for 100 000 users can bring some problems (Windows 7 and Windows 2008 R2 profiles, diversity of access method, mobility etc…) So I’ve successful on this one and they didn’t ditch this part of the project away. I would be able to compare RES and AppSense to chose the best solution for my customer.

As you know notice, this kind of project can be full of surprise, good ones and bad ones.

Sources : Dilbert.com

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