Virtual desktop infrastructure tutorial Part 1 by ajizai


									6 things every IT person should
A solid IT generalist has to know a little bit of
everything. Here are 6 skills you should master, no
matter where your life in IT leads
By Matt Prigge | InfoWorld

Anyone who's been in IT for more than 10 minutes knows that troubleshooting is a huge part of the job. Some

item -- it doesn't matter what -- breaks in a new and entirely unexpected way, and by default, it's up to you to get

it fixed. It doesn't matter how many books you've read, how well you know the user guide, or what you ate for

breakfast. What matters is how quickly you can connect the dots and wiggle your way out of the problem.

No book or teacher can magically pour deductive problem-solving skills into your head. What works is lots of

experience falling flat on your face -- and lots of pounding your head on a desk until you solve a particularly

intractable problem. I've learned the most from incidents during which I've broken something so thoroughly that I

have absolutely no idea how to put it back together again. That's a gauntlet no one wants to walk, but everyone

does. The more painful the experience, the more likely you are to get wiser.

Nonetheless, received wisdom has its place -- especially if you work in a siloed IT environment or specialize in a

particular domain and need to broaden your knowledge. You'll thank yourself the next time you're so lost and

alone in the weeds even Google can't help you.

How to use a protocol analyzer

If you haven't used a protocol analyzer before, it may sound like a tool that only a specialized network engineer

would need. Because literally everything is networked in some fashion, knowing what actually makes networks

tick -- what's in a packet and how to see what's really happening when a networked application says, "Sorry, I

can't do that, Dave" -- can be amazingly useful for just about anyone.

In fact, being able to understand what's going over the wire is arguably much more useful for programmers or

analysts than it is for network engineers. Plus, it's actually fun. If you haven't tried it before, get Wireshark and

mess around with it. Telnet into something and replay the telnet session. (See that password? That's why we use


If you have a VoIP phone system, mirror the port on a phone and play back the audio of a phone call from the

raw packet stream. Or if you want to be shocked and saddened, see how incredibly chatty your PC and home

network are -- especially if a few game systems or a networked TV are kicking around.
If you keep at it long enough that you have a rough understanding of most of what you're looking at,

troubleshooting the next weird network problem will be that much easier.

How to pick apart a Web application

Of all of the problem descriptions I get, my least favorite is "It's slow!!" This can apply to any type of application,

but it's particularly infuriating with Web apps. You can go down the line from the network engineers to the server

admins to the database admins to the application developers, and every one of them will say everything is fine.

But that doesn't help those poor users staring at a blank screen for five seconds every time they click a link.

There are many tools that can help with this kind of problem, but a few stand out, including Fiddler, the Web

Developer plug-in for Firefox, and the Developer Tools functionality built into Chrome. Next time you run into a

Web app performance problem, fire up the timeline functionality in Fiddler or the Chrome Developer Tools, set it

to record, and click your way through the page. You may be surprised by the cause of the slowdown.

How cabling and power works

This is a skill that every IT generalist ends up having to know. Whether it's being able to tell the difference

between a straight-through and a crossover Ethernet cable, knowing the difference between an L5-30 and an L6-

30 power receptacle, or just being able to make an Ethernet cable that's the right length to reach your

entertainment center, knowing how network cabling andelectrical power work can be indispensible.

How virtualization works under the hood

Virtualization is a fact of life in IT. Businesses of all shapes and sizes have implemented it, and just about every

cloud offering is built on it. For the most part, a virtual machine looks, acts, and feels just like a physical one.

That's the point. But it's important to realize what's happening under the hood in your hypervisor and how that

may change the way you troubleshoot performance problems. Gone are the days when simply opening Task

Manager and seeing how busy the server is will tell you what's actually happening.

You need to experiment with your virtualized infrastructure and learn how resource scheduling works -- that is,

how the hypervisor divvies up physical resources. Create a process that will nail the processor within a VM

(here's a script that will do it if you need one), then place different CPU performance limits on the VM and see

how the performance is affected. You'll be surprised by what you find -- and be better prepared if you run into

resource contention issues in the wild.

If you lack hands-on experience with virtualization, it's easy to experiment with it: VMware offers a free trial

of VMware Workstation that can teach you a lot right off the bat.
How to write useful scripts

Simply put, programming is not just for developers. Knowing a scripting language like Perl or Python, no

matter how you decide to use it, can be enormously useful.

The next time you find yourself confronted by a boring, repetitive task, find a way to do what you're trying to do

with a script. Chances are, the first few times you do it, you'll take more time to solve the problem than if you had

just done it manually. However, before long, you'll have a skill that will grow to become a massively useful asset.

That's just the beginning

Whether you've done all or none of these things, the best step you can possibly take to ensure a happy life in IT

is pick something you don't know about and learn it. You may never apply it hands-on, but when you expand your

horizons to include stuff you've never worked with before, you'll give yourself an edge you couldn't get any other

way. Hey, it's a new year. Why not make it a resolution?

This article, "6 things every IT person should know," originally appeared at Read more

of Matt Prigge's Information Overload blog and follow the latest developments in storage at

For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter


Virtual desktop infrastructure tutorial:
Part 1
Data storage is no small consideration for any organization that decides to implement
avirtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) .

Taking the VDI approach , an IT department can deliver a full desktop image to its users
from virtual machines (VMs) running on servers in the data center. Ideally, the users won't
notice a difference between the virtual and traditional PC desktop experience. But the
company could opt for less costly thin-client devices or even repurpose aging PCs/laptops
because there's no need for local storage of the operating system, applications and data.

Table of contents:

VDI considerations
Virtual desktop infrastructure case study: Metro Health
Conserving disk space

VDI considerations
Desktop images and user data are stored and backed up centrally, and the potential
demands on back-end systems are not inconsequential, especially in a large virtual desktop
infrastructure environment.

"It requires an infrastructure build-out to occur in all the other disciplines of infrastructure,"
including servers, networks and storage, said Mark Margevicius, a research vice president at
Gartner Inc., Stamford, Conn. "You can't just go forth and say, 'This is a PC replacement, and
it's only about a PC.' On the contrary, this is really about building out your data center to
support all those clients."

Storage costs sit like the solid mass below the water line of an iceberg, Margevicius said, and
centralized storage is more expensive than PC-based storage. It must also be backed up, he

"Network storage is very important in this virtualized environment," said Mark Bowker, an
analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) in Milford, Mass. "Where many machines are
running on the same physical server for availability purposes and even for mobility
purposes, it's essential to have some type of network storage in place so those images can
be quickly restarted on a different physical machine or easily move between physical

One of the leading virtualization vendors, VMware Inc., a subsidiary of EMC Corp., agrees
that shared storage is beneficial in a virtual desktop infrastructure environment, but the
company offers no directive on what form that storage should take. Jon Bock, a senior
manager in product marketing, indicated via an email interview that the company has seen
large virtual desktop infrastructure deployments in both storage-area network (SAN) and
network-attached storage (NAS) environments.

"There remains a fair amount of debate in the industry regarding whether NAS or SAN scales
better, including for VDI environments, but no universally accepted answer," Bock wrote. He
added that customer's choices tend to be driven by their comfort level with managing iSCSI
or Fibre Channel (FC) SANs, or block storage vs. NAS system or file-based storage.

Virtual desktop infrastructure case study: Metro Health

The storage issues that are more critical in a VDI environment include capacity planning and
management and performance, as illustrated by a case study of early adopter Metro Health,
an independent health care system serving the greater Grand Rapids area and western

On the surface, Metro Health's VDI effort has produced a number of beneficial results.
Doctors, nurses and other staff members gain faster access to applications no matter where
they are. Fewer users call the help desk. IT has improved tools to centrally manage user
desktops and to ensure information stays secure in the data center rather than on laptops
or PCs. Even electricity usage fell, with the elimination of CRT monitors and desktop PCs.
But Metro Health is still looking for answers on the storage side of the VDI equation,
particularly in the area of cost reduction.

When Metro Health launched its VDI initiative two years ago, it found no white papers to
consult for guidance. The IT group carefully weighed CPU and memory needs and sized its
storage environment to accommodate 1,500 virtual machine disks of 10 GB each, equipped
with Windows XP and the applications a user might need.

Metro Health soon learned the hard way that it should have taken into account the disk I/O
requirements of 1,500 Windows XP desktops, according to Chris House, a senior network
analyst. Performance suffered whenever the user sessions concurrently attempted high disk
I/O operations, such as Windows and antivirus updates, because Metro Health's pair of
Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co. EVA 8000 arrays lacked adequate cache to deal with the onslaught
of write requests, House said.

To address the problem, Metro Health had to move off the EVAs and expand its HP
StorageWorks XP1024 Fibre Channel SAN arrays by 15 TB apiece. They also had to max out
the cache of each one at 50 GB to accommodate the VDI sessions and handle the occasional
high I/O bursts, according to House.

"The most important thing to consider when planning a VDI
deployment is storage. You have to size it for performance
instead of just sizing it for capacity."
But the heavy cost of using high-end enterprise storage for VDI is a problem, and the IT
group plans to look into less-expensive alternatives, such as cheaper mid-tier SAN, scale-out
systems and local storage of virtual machine sessions within its VMware ESX servers, House

Conserving disk space

Another option under consideration is the latest version of VMware's View , which Metro
Health sampled last year as part of a private beta test. The View 3 portfolio, which
became generally available in December, includes a new Composer management
component that uses VMware's Linked Clone technology to create desktop images that
share virtual disks with a master image to conserve storage space by as much as 70%,
according to VMware.

In addition, any desktops that are linked to the master image can be patched or updated
by simply updating the master image, with no effect to a user's settings, data or
applications. Because a user's data and settings are separate from the desktop image,
they can be administered independently, according to VMware.
House said View 3 could help Metro Health to reduce imaging time from weeks to
potentially a few clicks. Metro Health currently re-images all 1,500 desktops when it
needs to push out a Windows service pack update or an important application upgrade.
The client architecture team spreads the re-imaging over several weeks to avoid storage
bottlenecks because bandwidth is limited for replication between the XP arrays, which are
located in separate data centers in Grand Rapids, House noted.

Antivirus updates now go out at random times over the course of a week, so those are no
longer a problem, he added.

House recommends that potential VDI users undertake a pilot project to analyze the
average I/O per second of a block of actual production desktops and to monitor
performance during routine tasks, such as patching desktops and installing software.
Then, he suggested, they should look for and test arrays that can deliver the necessary
performance, especially during peak I/O times.

"The most important thing to consider when planning a VDI deployment is storage. You
have to size it for performance instead of just sizing it for capacity," House advised.
"Storage is the No. 1 common denominator across the entire environment and if it doesn't
perform well, everyone suffers."

Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) technology is still a work in progress, and capacity
planning and management remain among the greatest challenges confronting any IT
department that elects to employ hosted virtual desktops. Check out Part 2 of our VDI
tutorial to find out which new products promise to make VDI simpler

Virtual desktop infrastructure tutorial:
Part 2
Table of contents:

Planning and managing storage capacity in VDI environments
Citrix Systems Inc.'s XenDesktop vs. VMware View
The future of VDI adoption

Planning and managing storage capacity in VDI environments
Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) technology is still a work in progress, and capacity
planning and management remain among the greatest challenges confronting any IT
department that elects to employ hosted virtual desktops.

"How much storage do you allocate per user? It's a very tough question to answer
because what we're trying to do with hosted virtual desktops is to deliver an identical user
experience [to what you] would normally get on a PC," said Mark Margevicius, a research
vice president at Gartner Inc., Stamford, Conn. "If my PC that I run today in the office has
a 120 GB hard drive, are users going to anticipate 120 GB of storage individually -- each
and every person? That's the million-dollar question. When I speak to customers, they
really struggle with this."

The latest versions of Citrix Systems Inc.'s XenDesktop and VMware Inc.'s VMware View
(formerly VMware VDI) could alleviate some of the capacity issues with new features that
can limit redundant data, reduce the amount of disk space needed for desktop images and
provision users off the same image.

Citrix Systems Inc.'s XenDesktop vs. VMware View

Citrix's XenDesktop 3, due this month, takes a different approach than VMware. The
software can deliver hosted virtual desktops from a virtual machine in the data center, as
well as streamed desktops from the same golden master images, executing them locally on
any network-connected device that can run an operating system.

"It allows you to create and run hundreds or even thousands of desktops off of a single or
very few images running on the provisioning servers," said Calvin Hsu, director of product
marketing for Citrix's XenDesktop product group. He claims users could see up to a 90%
storage reduction "because you're really storing that image only once."

The master image of the desktop is managed and handled by the provisioning server. When
a user starts up a virtual desktop, key bits needed to start booting the virtual desktop are
streamed from the master image over the data center network into the memory of the
virtual machine, Hsu said.

"It does not have to transfer the entire 10 GB image to start working," he said. "It just
transfers the bits that are needed into memory and as the user moves around and uses
different parts of their desktop, it will stream those bits on demand. "

Jeff Byrne, an analyst at Hopkinton, Mass.-based Taneja Group, said VMware's Linked Clone
solves the problems associated with capacity, provisioning, boot performance, and backup
and recovery. If a user doesn't want to buy VMware View or Citrix's XenDesktop, they would
"have" to get creative or turn to storage vendors for help. They might try thin provisioning
or thin-copy technology to address some of their capacity planning woes. For backup and
recovery, they might consider thin copy-on-write snapshots rather than traditional
snapshots that require large amounts of space, said Byrne.
 Any IT administrator or user who's read about the storage issues in VDI over the years ...
really needs to take a fresh new look at what's happening in this space.
Jeff Byrne
AnalystTaneja Group

Some users might still want to tackle problems from the storage rather than server side,
Byrne said, using technologies from vendors such as 3PAR Inc. (thin copy, automated
provisioning, adaptive caching, space-efficient backup) and NetApp (deduplication,
FlexClone gold image data store, SnapMirror for space-efficient backups). VMware's Linked
Clone can be "a little tricky" to administer, according to Byrne.

"It sounds like Linked Clone is a panacea. It's not," Byrne said. "You still have to do them
properly and manage them properly. There are some subtleties there."

Those who do opt for VMware's or Citrix's new technology for the initial filtering might then
look to data deduplication technology from various storage vendors to further pare down
the VDI storage load.

Yet another new option is IBM Corp.'s Virtual Storage Optimizer, a component of its Virtual
Infrastructure Access services that aims to reduce the physical storage requirements of
virtual images and the time it takes to create new desktop images. "The problem that we
want to lessen on behalf of our clients is that storing virtual images requires very large
amounts of expensive storage," said Jack Magoon, a global business development executive
in end-user services at IBM.

The future of VDI adoption

But Mark Bowker, an analyst at Milford, Mass.-based Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG),
remains dubious about the ROI model for VDI. He said users are still trying to figure out
how to get a return.

"Take a government agency, for example, where security is a top concern. They're still
willing to implement VDI for the security advantages," he said. "But if you take a typical
corporate environment that doesn't have that same security challenge or mandate,
maybe there isn't as much of a compelling issue to deploy VDI until the technology
continues to mature."

Gartner claims an organization implementing VDI, or what it refers to as "hosted virtual
desktops," can save between 2% and 12% over the TCO of a traditional PC environment,
Margevicius said.

VDI-based desktops account for about 1 million units of the overall worldwide desktop
market today. Predictions call for growth to 50 million units by 2012, yet that would
represent roughly only 5% of the overall market, according to Margevicius.
But Taneja Group's Byrne predicted that the innovations from VMware, Citrix and other
storage vendors will help make VDI more attractive to more IT organizations and continue
to render the storage portion of the VDI TCO equation more reasonable.

"Any IT administrator or user who's read about the storage issues in VDI over the years,
particularly up until early 2008, really needs to take a fresh new look at what's happening
in this space," Byrne said


Desktop virtualization software and
virtual desktop management guide
There's a ton of information out there about desktop virtualization software. This guide
compiles the best virtual desktop management resources to help solutions providers better
serve their customers. The topics in this guide include virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI)
tools, the benefits of using VDI, how VDI compares to desktop virtualization and more. Learn
how to help customers choose the right infrastructure approach and virtual desktop
management tools by reading up on the various VDI deployment methods and management


•Virtual desktop infrastructure benefits and concerns
•Virtual desktop infrastructure tools and deployment
•Virtual desktop management and performance
•Virtual desktop infrastructure and desktop virtualization software
•More virtual desktop management resources

Virtual desktop infrastructure benefits and concerns
Implementing VDI can be extremely beneficial for your enterprise customers, but it can be a
burden. Hardware consolidation and security are some key VDI benefits, as well as improved
power efficiency. But solutions providers should also be aware of VDI concerns that can
affect customers, such as the amount of bandwidth support needed and poor graphics.

Virtual desktop infrastructure explained
Do you know about the many VDI advantages as well as the requirements for successful
implementation? This article delves into a detailed account of VDI's capabilities, which
include the ability to create a virtualized desktop and manage virtual machines (VMs). Learn
the advantages of a centrally hosted VDI, including hardware consolidation and security.

Virtual desktop software pros and cons
Knowing about virtual desktop software pros and cons is essential before recommending
VDI to your customers. There are many VDI benefits, including improved power efficiency
and greater cost savings. VDI makes desktop management much less of a hassle for both
solutions providers and their customers. But you need to be aware of the numerous VDI
disadvantages, including the amount of network bandwidth needed to support traffic at
each endpoint device. There are also issues with high-end graphics in virtual desktop
software and the amount of storage needed.

Virtual desktop infrastructure tools and deployment
As a solutions provider, helping customers sift through native management and third-party
VDI tools is a significant aspect of deploying VDI. This section will help you learn all you need
to know about native management tools from VMware, Citrix and Microsoft. You should also
be aware of the third-party tools available to customers, such as VDIworks.

Native management tools for VDI: VMware vs. Citrix and Microsoft
This tip offers information on the available virtual desktop infrastructure tools that can
assist you with the management and deployment of your customer's VDI. VMware has
several VDI management tools and platforms, including VMware View 4 and VMware
Assured Computing Environment (ACE). Citrix's XenDesktop VDI platform includes support
for desktop appliances and desktop performance monitoring. Microsoft's Remote Desktop
Services and System Center Virtual Machine Manager can also help manage VDI.

How to choose third-party desktop virtualization software and management tools
When selling virtual desktop infrastructure tools to customers, you should also be aware
ofthird-party desktop virtualization management tools and the advantages they offer. Learn
about the various components of the virtualization management tool VDIworks and find out
which kinds of back-end hardware the product can handle. ClearCube Technology's Sentral
5.6 offers flexible architecture as well as support for various servers. The information on
these and other available tools can help you with managing multiple VDI products and also
assist you with selling these products to your customers.

Ten steps for smooth desktop virtualization software deployment
Read through these guidelines for a smooth desktop virtualization software deployment and
find out how the VDI approach fits into the process. As a solutions provider, you need to
know what your customers' needs are and you also have to be well informed about
deploying VDI or using remote access terminal services. These resources provide
information on desktop virtualization software costs, storage concerns and backup services.

Virtual desktop management and performance
Before performing virtual desktop management services, you need to know about common
problems and the best ways to optimize VDI performance. From licensing issues to
compatibility problems, this section has advice and solutions to these roadblocks. You'll also
find a study guide that offers information and resources on deployment and third-party
management tools. And our top five tips will help you improve your customers' VDI
performance and ensure their servers are running at peak efficiency.

Top five virtual desktop environment management issues
These top virtual desktop environment management issues show which aspects of VDI to
keep in mind prior to desktop virtualization and virtual desktop infrastructure
implementation. These issues include improving the desktop virtualization end-user
experience and properly considering licensing for desktop virtualization and VDI. Learn how
to address these issues and be prepared when your customers need your assistance.

Top five virtual desktop management problems
Take a look at these top virtual desktop management problems that solutions providers
need to be aware of before and after deployment. If you're unaware of the common VDI
management issues, you can run into poorly defined desktop virtualization standards, which
can create compatibility issues for customers. Ensuring proper virtual desktop management
and performance is crucial to generating ongoing business with customers.

Desktop virtualization software and VDI management study guide
Take this desktop virtualization and virtual desktop management quiz to see how much you
know about desktop virtualization software and VDI. When you're done, read about the
best ways to ensure smooth desktop virtualization deployment and the major areas of
concern in virtual desktop management.

Virtual desktop infrastructure: Five tips for improving virtual desktop performance
These top five tips can help you to improve virtual desktop infrastructure performance for
your customers. One common VDI performance issue is the prevalence of overused servers
or networks. Therefore, solutions providers need to know about server performance
monitoring tasks. Another way to improve VDI performance is to reduce desktop display
demands, which can be done by controlling the visual requirements of the application.

Virtual desktop infrastructure and desktop virtualization software
Learn the basics of VDI and desktop virtualization with the resources in this section. Our
experts answer questions about thin-client hardware and best practices for VDI
deployments. You will also find out whether customers should use VDI or desktop
virtualization software, and you'll get information on the pitfalls of each approach.

Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) FAQ
Listen to this podcast or read our expert's answers to questions about VDI services. Find out
about the cost benefits of a VDI deployment, whether thin-client hardware can replace
existing desktops and the best way to address network performance issues. Our expert also
describes how long a virtual desktop infrastructure deployment should take and ways to
ensure that adequate resources are available.

FAQ: Desktop virtualization and virtual desktop infrastructure
There are times where it makes sense for a customer to use desktop virtualizationsoftware
and times where virtual desktop infrastructure is appropriate. This FAQ provides all of the
necessary information about comparing desktop virtualization and virtual desktop
infrastructure. Take a look at the user requirements for VDI and read about the best ways to
implement it. Find out how to build a service offering around desktop virtualization
software and VDI and become an expert on the various pitfalls of each approach.





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