View Client on iPad with Bluetooth Keyboard

I was very excited to try out my View desktop using my new ZaggFolio Keyboard case. I did not have a chance to try out the View Client with the keyboard until today. I was sad to find out the keyboard does not work very smoothly. So I would like to point this out:


First you have to tap the keyboard icon in the top menu. Not sure why this exists, but it would be great if the keyboard fully worked. The keyboard fully working would be great because using the on screen keyboard it uses the half of the screen.

Anyone else think this is kind of weird?

An Idea for vCloud Director and View

Sometimes I am sitting up late at night and I have a thought of something I think would be cool, like if x and y worked together to get z. This time I thought this was good enough to blog about. Now I want to stress that I do not have any special insight into what is coming. This is just how I wish things would be.

Today there are two end user portals from VMware. The vCloud Director for self-service cloud interface and the View Manager access point for end-users to access Virtual Desktops. Each interface interacts with one or more vCenter instances to deploy, manage, and destroy virtual machines. Below is a way over simplified representation of how View, vCloud Director (plus Request Manager) relate to the user experience. I think maybe there is a divide when there does not need to be (someday).



My idea

What if vCloud director could be used in the future to be the one stop user interface portal. Leveraging vCloud Request Manager, vCD could deploy cloud resources, Desktops or Servers or both. vCloud Director would be the orchestration piece for VMware View. Once the Request for a desktop is approved the entitlement to the correct pool is automatically given. If extra desktops are needed the cloning begins. vCloud Director will learn to speak the View Composer’s language, providing the ever elusive ability to use linked clones with vCD. vCloud Director with this feature could be great for lab and test/dev environments. The best part is operationally there is one place to request, deploy, manage all virtual resources from the end-user perspective. This could eliminate the ambiguity for a user (and service providers) on how to consume (and deliver) resources. This has implications on how IaaS and DaaS would be architected.


Now some drawbacks

You might say, hey, Jon you are going to make me buy and run vCD just to get VDI? No. The beauty of the API’s is each product could stand alone or work together (in my Vision of how they should work). Maybe even leverage Composer with vCD without View or Request Manager with View without vCD.

One Cloud Portal to rule them all.

Using Network Load Balancing with View

If you have a smaller View deployment but still want to have redundant connection servers look no further than Microsoft NLB. Solve this problem without the need for an expensive hardware loadbalancer. Will it have all of the bells and whistles? No. If you have less than a 1000 users you probably would not see the benefit of the advanced features in a hardware load balancer. Make sure to read the whitepaper from VMware about NLB in Virtual Machines.

I am making the assumption you are like me and want everything to be as virtual as possible. So the View Connection Manager servers will be VM’s

Setup the primary and replica View Servers

I won’t go over installing View. Just be sure to setup the initial manager server. Then go ahead and setup the replica VM.

Configure NLB


Go the the Administrative tools and open the Network Load Balancing Manager. Right click the top node in the tree menu on the left and select New Cluster.
Set the IP and other information you will used for the Load Balanced cluster. This is a new IP not used by your View Manager servers.
In the VMware document referenced above VMware recommends setting the Cluster operation mode to Multicast.
Click Next then next again. When asked to configure port rules I leave it on the default and click next. You can chose limit this to certain ports.


Click Next again and enter localhost in the wizard to configure the local interfaces for NLB. Click next and make sure to note the priority. When setting up the replica server this number needs to be different. Finally click finish and wait for the configuration to finish. You should now be able to ping your new cluster IP address.

Setup the Replica Server in the Load Balancer


Righ Click the node in the tree menu for the NLB Cluster you just created and select Add new host to cluster. Enter the IP for the Replica Server and click connect. Select the interface that will be used for the Load Balancing and click next. Make sure the Priority is unique from the first server. If it gives you any grief after this point close and re-open the Network Load balancing Manager. The working cluster should look like this:


Test the Failover


Start a continual ping to the cluster IP. Now use the vSphere Client to disconnect the network from one of the servers. Watch the pings continue to come back.

Finally, create a DNS A record (something like and point it to the cluster IP. You now have some decent failover in case of a VM failure and even a host failure (suggestion would be to use seperate hosts for the VM’s).

Note – You may need to add static ARP entries into your switching depending on your network topology. Be sure to test this fully and consult your network manufacturer’s documention for help with static ARP.

Ask Good Questions

This happened a long time ago. I arrived at a customer site to install View Desktop Manager (may have been version 2). This was before any cool VDI sizing tools like Liquidware Labs. I am installing ESX and VDM I casually ask, “What apps will you be running on this install?” The answer was, “Oh, web apps like youtube, flash and some shockwave stuff.” I thought “ah dang” in my best Mater voice. This was a case of two different organizations thinking someone else had gathered the proper information. Important details sometimes fall through the cracks. Since that day, I try to at least uncover most of this stuff before I show up on site.

Even though we have great assessment tools now, remember to ask some questions and get to know what is your customers end goal.

Things I learned that day. As related to VDI.

1. Know what your client is doing, “What apps are you going to use?”

2. Know where your client wants to do that thing from, “So, what kind of connection do you have to that remote office with 100+ users?”

This is not the full list of questions I would ask, just some I learned along the way.

VMware View – User Profile Options

All the technology and gadgets for managing desktops are worthless if your users complain about their experience with the desktop. Something I learned administering Citrix Presentation Server. Differing methods exist to keep the technical presentation of the desktop usable, for example the mouse being in sync and the right pixels show the right colors. What is also included in the user experience is a consistent environment where their personal data and settings are where they should be. Here are a few methods for managing those bits when using VMware View.

Mandatory Profiles
This profile is kept on the a central file share. The profile is copied to the machine on login, when the user logs out the changes are not kept. Great way to keep a consistent profile on kiosk type and data entry desktops. Where customization is not needed and most likely not wanted mandatory profiles are worth exploring. Main change is you set up the profile just like you want it then rename the NTUSER.dat to A lot exists on the internet about setting up man profiles.

Local Profiles
If you go through life never changing a thing in your Windows environment, you are using a Local Profile. Not to say you don’t change settings, save files or customize your background. You just have Windows running as the default. This is an option I will usually discourage because it is hard to backup data that is often kept in the local profile. VMware View will redirect user data to a User Data Disk (or whatever it is called today) on Persistent Desktop Pools. This is a good way to get the data on another VMDK. This introduces problems when looking at data recovery. There is solutions, but just something you will need to remember to look into.

Roaming Profiles
Roaming profiles is a great way to redirect current profiles to a central location. In theory this works great. In a View environment you can keep a local copy on a users desktop profile  and the changes are copied back and forth. I have often seen this work just great. Then from time to time, the profile will become corrupt, many times it does not unload correctly when users disconnect, or log out. Then you may have to pick through folders trying to find their “My Documents”. This is why I would suggest using this with Group Policy and Folder redirection which I will cover next.

Redirecting Folders
You may end up using a folder redirection group policy. This will move folders like the Desktop and My Documents for a user to a file server. This slims down the roaming profile as those locations are redirected to another location outside of the profile. This data is not copied from the machine to the server over and over. More information here.

Other Options
Immidio Flex Profiles
I really liked this option it was a way to combine mandatory profiles and a Roaming profile. This program would run some scripts on logon and log off to save files and settings. A really great paper on how to use it can be found here. Just like any great program that takes a new way to solve an annoying old problem, this is now not free.

RTO Virtual Profiles
I have never implemented this solution before. I have used it as part of a few training labs. I liked the feel. Now that VMware has purchased this software from RTO, the website redirects to a transition page. So I am looking for a way to test it in the lab, hoping the next set of bits of View includes RTO. Check this FAQ out for more information.

Maybe once it is built into View this will no longer be a serious issue. Profiles will be one of those things we tell stories to young padawan VM admins about, “We used to have to fight profiles, they were big and slow, and sometimes they would disappear!” Until that day…

Storage Design and VDI

Recently I have spent time re-thinking certain configuration scenarios and asking myself, “Why?” If there is something I do day to day during installs is this still true when it comes to vSphere? or will it still be true when it comes to future versions.
Lately I have questioned how I deploy LUNs/volumes/datastores. I usually deploy multiple moderate size datastores. In my opinion this was always the best way to fit in MOST situations. I also will create datastores based on need afterward. So will create some general use datastores then add a bigger or smaller store based on performance/storage needs. After all the research I have done and asking questions on twitter* I still think this is a good plan in most situations.
I went over a session TA3220 – VMware vStorage VMFS-3 Architectural Advances since ESX 3.0 and read this paper:
I also went over some blog posts at and Virtualgeek.

An idea occurred to me when it comes to using extents in VMFS, SCSI Reservations/Locks, and VDI “Boot Storms”. First some things a picked up.
1. Extents are not “spill and fill” VMFS places VM files across all the LUNs. Not quite what I would call load balancing, since it does not take IO load into account when placing files. So in situations where all the VM’s have similar loads this won’t be a problem.
2. Only the first LUN in a VMFS span gets locked by “storage and VMFS Administrative tasks” (Scalable Storage Performance pg 9). Not sure if this implies all locks.

Booting 100’s of VM’s for VMware View will cause locking and even though vSphere is much better when it comes to how quickly this process takes. There is still an impact. So I am beginning to think of a disk layout to ease administration for VDI, and possibly lay the groundwork for improved performance. Here is my theory:

Create four LUNs with 200GB each. Use VMFS to extents to group them together. Resulting in an 800 GB datastore with 4 disk queues and only 1 LUN that locks during administrative tasks.

Give this datastore to VMware View and let it have at it. Since the IO load for each VM is mostly the same, and really at the highest during boot other tasks performed on the LUN after the initial boot storm will have even less impact. So we can let desktops get destroyed and rebuilt/cloned all day with only locking that first LUN. This part I still need to confirm in the LAB.

What I have seen in the lab is with same sized clones the data on disk was spread pretty evenly across the LUNs.

Any other ideas? Please leave a comment. Maybe I am way off base.

*(thanks to @lamw @jasonboche and @sakacc for discussing or answering my tweets)

VMware View – Repurpose your Existing PC’s as Thin Clients

I was looking for last couple weeks for a good way to re-purpose PC’s as thin clients to ease the investment in VDI. I stumbled across this PDF from VMware and I thought it was great. I would tend towards using group policy to deploy the new shell described on pages 3 and 4. It can always be undone if the PC is needed as a PC again.

Check it out.

You pretty much replace the default shell (explorer.exe) with the VMware View Client. I would suggest using some group policy to keep people from using the task manager to start new processes. This should be a temporary solution until you have budget to buy some real thin clients or net books even.

There are of course lots of options out there for thin clients, and software to provision a “thin OS” to machines. This is free and easy though. I thought it was cool so I decided to share.