VMware Horizon 6. The only article you will ever need to read.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We all knew this was going to happen and it happened yesterday. If you have no idea what I am talking about let me quickly summarize it for you and then give you my take on it.

VMware announced yesterday that it is adding support for Microsoft RDS Session Host (a.k.a. Terminal Server, Terminal Services, TS or simply RDS) on its product. So now they can deliver sessions from either Desktop OSs (what VMware View was all about since day one) and from Server OSs (with the RDS Session Host role enabled) using PCoIP.

Why I am saying this is the only article you will ever need about the subject? Well first of all I am the one writing it. Does not get better than that. Then I am not on VMware’s or Citrix’s payroll. Finally I am one of the so called ‘Dinosaurs’ in the RDS world (remember, I got the first MVP award ever for RDS specifically back in 2001). Oh and I drive a Lamborghini.

So seriously let’s take a look at the whole thing and what I think it is important with this release.

– RDS as a platform. I am very happy to see VMware doing this. Honestly. This just proves that all I have been saying all these years, that RDS is a solid platform AND not going to the grave in the near future is true. VMware now officially recognizes this. This also means a lot more work for all of us in this industry as now lots of VMware customers will start deploying this and will realize it is way more complex than a broker and a protocol. They have to deal with printing, profiles, logon times, session sharing, etc. The list goes on. For us, the industry dinosaurs, this is GREAT news. Be prepared to have hundreds of new customers lined up at your door, asking you to help them with their RDS issues.

– Citrix as a solution. There is no other way to put this. VMware is validating what Citrix has been saying for years WHILE acknowledging they (VMware) did have a big hole on their application delivery solution and that Citrix was correct all these years by addressing both the desktop and server OS application delivery mechanisms. Yes, a little tap in the back for Citrix.

– Citrix as a company. One thing I have been saying to Citrix for YEARS, even though I am a Citrix CTP as well, was the fact Citrix was milking the XenApp cow for VERY long, without really innovating much. Minor improvements here and there, evolution (albeit slow IMHO) instead of revolution. Then the world, according Brian Madden, would flip everything to VDI and RDS would die, Citrix jumped into the VDI bandwagon and more than that, started to back stab the product (XenApp) that made Citrix, well, Citrix. Decided to rename XenApp to XenDesktop “Customers are stupid” Edition (ok, App Edition), chop off some features that made XenApp 6.5 a very solid platform and then released XenApp 7.5 “Phoenix” again, still a limping version of XenApp 6.5, not really offering anything better than its previous release. Basically screwing its customers, partners and itself along the way. Cannot get better than this, screwing up wise. Not sure who they hired for the job of screwing things up but whomever that is, this guy is a GENIUS at the subject. Next time I want to screw up something I will definitely give Mr. G a call.
So VMware announcement means two things for Citrix: first, RDS is indeed an important platform what leads to XenApp is important and has to be fixed, if you do not want people starting to test Horizon 6 to jump ship or not buy your product. Secondly, and the most important thing here is, Citrix now has someone on their back and if they want to stay on top they will have to become the Ol’good Citrix we, the dinosaurs in the industry (RickD, DougBrown, SteveG, SBass, Benny, etc) learned to love. The one that innovates, that pushes the industry as a whole forward. And not the current Citrix that looks more like a bunch of farmers that know nothing more than milking a cow. And supervised by a marketing clown. Yep, it is that bad. Hopefully this will be great for the industry, leading to the same type of war we saw at the protocol level, where years ago Citrix was the king by a huge lead and now for 99% of the use cases the protocol is almost irrelevant (this helped the industry so much that even Microsoft released something great, RDP8.1, what is something borderline mystical as they do have a history of releasing stuff from their asses – you know what that is). So the lesson here: this is great for the industry, great for Citrix – if they see this as a challenge and live up to the expectations – and great for VMware, that is broadening its reach and addressing the problem properly. Great.

– XenApp as a product. Well thanks to customer feedback (more like customer wrath really) Citrix had to bring it back from the ashes. Then VMware comes and tells the world RDS is amazing. I hope this is a wake up call to Citrix so they realize how important XenApp is and always has been for their strategy and more than that, for them as a company. This move by VMware hopefully will guarantee XenApp is a product customers can trust in the long run, what many feel was not the case since Citrix almost renamed itself Cindesktop.

– Horizon 6 itself. If you have been in the industry for long you know there is more to RDS than simply having a way for people to connect to an RDS Session Host over a protocol. Problems that are not there with VDI (app compatibility, session sharing, etc) will definitely be there when you throw RDS to the mix. Right now, no one has played with Horizon 6. No one knows what it can do as a complete solution, as something that goes beyond brokering a session to an RDS SH host using PCoIP. How does it handle printing? How does it handle the user environment? How does it handle the server build itself? How much automation there is to increase farm capabilities? The list goes on and for now no one has an answer to that. That is why no decent blogger should say Horizon 6 is great or it sucks. No one knows that. And I can bet things will change from what some analysts saw today to what will be actually shipping. My take is, if VMware is intelligent, they carefully looked at what is out there, the competition, and addressed most of the needs when it is out. If that is not the case, customers may get burnt with a solution that falls short from its promises and may go for a competitor. Or, if you are really loyal to the brand and NOT in a hurry to have that working, you may just say “Oh well it is a V1 product so half of the things not working properly is to be expected – they will get better”. My personal take is I hope it is good as again this will drive the competition and the industry forward. And I will have years of consulting on the RDS space still to go. Great. But until I see it in the wild I cannot say how good or bad it is. Period.

– UX is important. Yes, the user experience is key. And how seamless things integrate with all the platforms that can work as an endpoint is very important. As Shawn Bass mentioned, Citrix ignored a lot of platforms with their receiver, to the point the receiver on OSX for example sucks. I will say this is an industry trend in general as Microsoft apps on OSX do suck too. But there is one point we cannot forget: the AX (the Admin eXperience) has to be good. No matter how good the UX is, if the AX sucks big time and the whole thing is a PITA to get going and to maintain, IT departments will certainly back slash it and bury it somewhere. Lesson here is it has to be polished in all fronts, especially if you are the last player to the game, the one that had years of research available, studying everything that sucks with your competitors. So yes, we do expect VMware offering to be polished in all fronts.

– VDI as a platform. Well thanks to the first point on this article, Horizon 6 puts the last nail in the VDI coffin. What I mean is, in the coffin that says VDI is everything, VDI is better than sex, I want to do a MILF with a VDI tattoo on her lower back (I bet you pictured it). VDI is simply another option, another tool in your tollbox and VMware finally acknowledges it. Plus this goes beyond Citrix and VMware. This is also a wake up call to all the VDI fanboys out there, that were blinded by Brian’s predictions (failed by the way) that VDI was going to take over the world and Claudio would retire due to lack of work for him as an RDS guru. Lesson here, VDI fanboys, go learn RDS and stop thinking BrianMadden.com is the bible. Brian is no Jesus. He does not even have a long beard. And he lives in San Francisco.

To conclude this post I just want to say this: 2014 is the fucking year of RDS and this is not a prediction.

Thanks VMware for confirming what I have been saying all along.

And VMware, welcome to the RDS world. I have my arms wide open.

[Hugging sound]
[VMware fanboys crying in background]

CR

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Citrix vs. Cloud Platforms. Yawn.

Ok after reading Gabe’s article and then Brian’s take on it, instead of replying I decided to write a whole post about it. That is why you are reading this.

First of all I want to resume Brian’s post for you. I think he should start working for Gartner as he is becoming the master of failed predictions (perfect fit if you want to work for Gartner – not sure if you know this but Gartner has a lot of mediums and Gypsies on staff and is responsible for buying 83% of all crystal balls made in America) and his latest post kind of falls into the same category.

The main idea on both posts is if VMware or another player releases seamless windows apps in their cloud offerings Citrix is fucked.

Here is the deal why IMHO that is not the case and even Brian seems to contradict himself on the post he wrote.

1. The cloud. Oh the cloud. Amazes me to see most CIOs seem to have learned nothing from the whole Snowden/NSA episode. If all corporate systems and intellectual property now lives in the cloud, you just made NSA much happier. The same way Snowden put up their arse, gathering all that information and sharing with the public, don’t you think it would be possible for a Snowden Jr, to get confidential corporate data and give the finger to the NSA and go living in China or Russia with all that info ready to be sold overseas? Do we really think a pharmaceutical company with crazy drugs being developed will consider doing anything in the cloud? Or Lockheed Martin, Bombardier, making Area 51 flying shit , etc? The list of corporations in the Fortune 500 that would be MASSIVELY affected by something like this happening is simply huge. So going to the cloud just makes NSA life easier. Bring the cloud onsite and at least you have a little bit more control and chances to guarantee NSA is kept out of the door.

2. Ok I mentioned bringing the cloud onsite and Brian does mention that, meaning a common platform is there for on-premise and off-premise deployments. But on the same article he also states “Microsoft has started talking about how future versions of Windows Server will be more like “mini on-premises instances of Azure.””. That means this does NOT exist today and only Jesus knows exactly when it will see the light of the day (Nadella or Nutella as I prefer, does not know the answer for that, trust me). So as of today and for at least 3-5 years this is not happening mainstream. Also keep in mind if Windows Server 2016 does have all this shit built-in and working 100% (what is never the case with anything Microsoft releases – for God’s sake they cannot even get RDS to work 100%) companies will still have to go through the exercise of testing and validating such platform what in itself takes years for many Fortune 500 companies. These guys cannot simply change platforms overnight. The FDA would shutdown ANY pharmaceutical attempting to do that overnight. Simple as that. So the reality here is this is still YEARS away.

3. Given point #2, that means a solution, to be called a SOLUTION, and not a HAE (Half Ass Effort) has to support BOTH on-premises and off-premises TODAY. So if someone (i.e. VMware) releases something that only works off-premises, in a cloud platform, we have a problem. What do I do with my on-premises stuff? Ignore it? Choose another vendor to deal with the on-premises scenario only? That is a fucking nightmare. Now dealing with two products and two vendors so I can address my on/off-premises needs. Keep in mind this would still be the case if someone releases a platform that can indeed deal with both scenarios flawlessly within the next year. Why? Because you will still need to test and validate such platform BEFORE going full production with it (point #2). Simple. Common sense here people.

Resuming: as of today and for at least the next two to three years things will still look very similar to what they are today and if you do want to be a leader down the road you must have a platform that deals with the IT landscape of TODAY and with the IT landscape of TOMORROW. Sorry to say but VMware is nowhere near it, in terms of addressing SBC/VDI on-premises and off-premises.

Now if you do not need to test or validate anything, do believe ‘cloudfying’ your whole IT infrastructure is a great idea, and the NSA does not exist, Brian is indeed into something with his article.

CR

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THE BriForum Session

So this year for BriForum I have submitted two sessions so far and as one of these is potentially massive, here I am asking for help.

The session will basically attempt to cram in 75 minutes a review of the so called Citrix Best Practices and check which ones still hold water to this day. The main reason for that is I still see, believe me, people looking for the (in)famous “Metaframe Tuning Tips” that my buddy RickD wrote when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Seriously, the reasons are many. To this day I still see many projects being done following these best practices and I am certain, given how hardware, software and solutions in this space have been evolving, many do not apply or have to be slightly modified to still be valid today.

Now the question you are probably asking yourself now is, “Well you are the Mr. CTP/MVP so you know better what is valid or not, what these best practices are and so on. So why the hell are you asking us?”. Well first of all my time is limited. That means I cannot be working on 1,000 projects at the same time. But if I ask 1,000 people in the community that are currently working on projects I am sure we will be able to gather a lot of great info that I would not be able to get and/or see myself.

And finally I do not know it all. Well no one does. Not even Shawn Bass. The power of this community I think is what can make a session like this great.

All that said I would like to ask you guys a couple things:

– What do you see to this day in terms of so called best practices? As an example I see all the time “do not use virtual PVS servers”. So what are these best practices?
– Any best practices you know for sure should be discarded and never used again? Example: some NT4 registry settings I am sure do not do shit on 2008 R2 or they actually do shit on your environment, throwing shit at the fan for the fun of it.
– If you will be at BriForum, are you brave enough to join me and a bunch of other clowns on stage? As you know I am probably one of the most well behaved, polite and politically correct presenters at BriForum, not to mention the All-Time GeekOut champion. So fear nothing, you will be well treated and gain respect from your peers (not me. LOL).

Resuming: whatever you have to say in terms of best practices (good, bad, old, new, etc) PLEASE let’s talk. Feel free to either post here or to email me directly at CR at WTSLabs dot com. If you put [BriForum Session] in the subject, that would help a lot sorting out the two emails I am expecting.

Cheers guys, appreciated. See you (hopefully) at BriForum.

CR

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RemoteFX First Impressions

As I did not have much time to test RemoteFX extensively, here are the first impressions of it and how we got it to work.

First of all, you MUST get a compatible video card. Not everything will work with Windows Server 2008 R2 with SP1 with Hyper-V, so you can get your Windows 7 VMs (with SP1 of course) working with RemoteFX.

I posted about it before. You can read the list of supported video cards here.

What did we get?

– HP desktop with a six-core AMD CPU and 8GB RAM.
– FirePro 5800 Video Card (also tried the unsupported Quadro FX 580 that by the way, does work too).

Initially I simply tested the Windows 7 VM connecting from the Hyper-V host itself but later got another Windows 7 SP1 box and used that one to connect to the VM.

Performance is decent I must say. I tried playing some Windows Media HD videos (make sure you disable multimedia redirection by using videoplaybackmode:i:0 in the .RDP file (save the RDP connection to the desktop and open it using Notepad). Also very important that you set the policy for RemoteFX (as I was not sure where to set it, I set it both on the client and on the VM itself). It is described here:

To set the experience index for connections using RemoteFX

  1. Log on to the client computer as a member of the local Administrators group.
    Click Start, and in the Search programs and files box, type gpedit.msc and then press ENTER.
  2. Navigate to Computer ConfigurationPoliciesAdministrative TemplatesWindows ComponentsRemote Desktop ServicesRemote Desktop Session HostRemote Session Environment.
  3. Double-click Set experience index for connections when using RemoteFX.
  4. Select the Enabled option.
  5. In the Screen capture rate (frames per second) box, click Highest (best quality), and then click OK.
  6. Restart the client computer.

The key thing to understand here is, why you may need RemoteFX. For example, during our tests, playing the WMV-HD tests, it used up to 30MBits so as you can see it is VERY bandwidth intensive. For comparison, running Google Earth in DirectX mode used around 9MBits. So basically the bandwidth will of course depend on the application being used. The same for how intensive CPU/GPU utilization will be.

I would expect applications like AutoCad to use way less bandwidth than something like WMV-HD and what we will be testing next is actually using RemoteFX over a typical home (cable/DSL) connection, simulated in our lab. By typical I mean a 10MBits down/1MBits up with 40-50ms latency and some packet loss probably in the 1% range (or a little more due to bursty loss). Given the first results we have seen, I am confident RemoteFX can indeed work over the WAN (at least bandwidth wise) depending on the applications.

Yes, before Brian Madden sends me a tweet or leave a comment here saying ‘MS says RemoteFX is LAN only’, I still want to make the point that IMHO, anything that is LAN only has its fate determined already. DOA. See my post about this here.

And still on the performance side, what we have seen in a nutshell is this: RemoteFX does work great BUT it is NOT the same as local. Simple things like Flip3D (using Windows key + Tab) are NOT as smooth as running them locally. Even Google Earth (that works just fine by the way) is NOT as smooth. But they both work and work fine, considering you are over RDP. For a BETA release we can expect it will be tweaked and improved even more before it hits the market.

As a sidenote, keep in mind there IS a bug on SP1 that throws a message on the RemoteFX event log about CPU encoding being used for ATI cards. It is a known issue and has been fixed apparently on later builds, what of course I have no access.  But for 1 VM testing like we did (I am after experience testing and not scalability – I will leave that to people with more time and resources on their hands like Ruben and Benny 🙂 ).

As soon as I have more results and some nice videos to show RemoteFX, I will post these here.

CR

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LAN only protocols for VDI. DOA?

As promised (I know, late) here are my thoughts on the topic.

It all started when Brian posted on twitter that he was testing RemoteFX with Gabe and I replied saying they should test it with loss. He replied pretty much implying ‘are you nuts? MS is saying RemoteFX is LAN only’ to what I replied ‘WAN is the new LAN so you should test it with loss’.

The reason I mentioned RemoteFX is simple and we must go back a couple years (maybe a decade) to understand what I mean and why I do think ‘LAN only protocols for VDI are Dead on Arrival’.

If you remember (and I clear remember this, back in 2003/2004 when I was working in Japan, accessing my machine over a dial-up connection) years ago all many people had was a dial-up connection to the internet. Things were ‘slow’ at the time and everyone wished they had a much faster connection one day. The idea of having a 1MBit connection, only for you and at home or in a hotel was simply a dream. Everyone though when that day came, all our needs would be solved.

So fast forward a couple years and now, if you are cheap, you are probably using some ‘high-speed lite’ plan from your ISP that is almost certain, at least 1Mbit down/256kbps up. Considering all you had years ago, this should be great, more than you need.

As we both know, this is not the case. Your 1MBit connection is slow. Freaking slow. How come? Well as we can easily see, with more available bandwidth comes all sorts of new technologies like movie streaming, P2P file sharing, rich multimedia experience (from websites, from VDI hosted desktops and so on), etc. The list goes on.

That shows us clearly, no matter how much bandwidth you get in the next couple years, technology will find a way to use it. Either because you will be downloading BluRay2 movies (at 500GB each) or because you need your USB 4.0 WebCam running at 3840×2160 resolution, when connected to your XenDesktop 7.0 hosted desktop (running Windows 9 with 64GB RAM and 32 vCPUs – note it will still boot Office 2015 as fast as a Windows 98 with Office 97 – see Claudio’s Law).

And as we get more and more connected I can only see ‘remote’ workers growing. People that want to work from home, from anywhere and also companies that will start to reduce their office space (that is costly if you do not realize) by giving users what they need at home or anywhere they decide to work from.

That leads us to what I posted on Twitter. The WAN will become the new LAN.

If that is the case if more and more work is shifted to the outside (your home, your cottage, a hotel, etc) are LAN only protocols for SBC/VDI dead?

I do understand that as of today the ratio of users working in a LAN connected desktop and on a WAN connected one is probably 20:1 if not more. But again, is this what the future holds? Will we ever see a shift on this that may bring this down to 2:1 maybe? And if that happens, what future a LAN only protocol has? Type-1/Type-2 hypervisor solutions may alleviate this but again, there may be cases where I do want to work ‘connected’ to my hosted desktop and not from a locally cached copy (i.e. what if I can assign 64GB RAM/32vCPUs to my hosted one instead of using 8GB/2vCPUs for my locally cached one? It will for sure be MUCH faster for several tasks and a reason for me not to use the cached one).

My take on this is, for now, RemoteFX and any other LAN only solutions will do it and will of course help the adoption of a VDI model on the LAN. But as we shift towards an always connected model, if anyone tries to sell their stuff as ‘Good on LAN only’, that will become an issue.

So Microsoft and Citrix, make sure you keep in mind WAN is the new LAN and that whatever crap you develop or acquire in the future has a future on the WAN.

WAN is king.

CR

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Is VMWare View really easier?

Sorry Brian and Gabe but I must disagree about this. In the past two weeks we have been working on getting our demo environment up and running (so you can all see what exactly packet loss does with VDI/SBC) and we will be showing it live at Synergy to interested parties, in our suite at the Marriot.

As I still think overcommitment when properly used is a powerful feature to have and the fact that XenServer 5.6 is in beta, we setup our virtualization backend with VMWare ESXi and I still must say I really like it. I did not have much exposure to XenServer and Hyper-V so I cannot comment how they compare to ESXi but again, for what we need ESXi does the job beautifully and it is indeed pretty straight forward to get going.

So back to the VDI part, we asked one of our technical guys to setup XenDesktop and VMWare View, based on the ‘instructions’ I gave him (basically download the ISOs and follow the guides) and off he went.

As I do have my own XenDesktop environment at home (on ESXi as you remember from the saga I reported here) I was very familiar with it and do remember having no issues installing it and more than that, being extremely easy and simple to do. Keep in mind this is the free 10-user version so there is no Provisioning Server, etc.

Today I sat down with Matt (our techie) to go through the environment and to wrap it up by setting up a 2008 R2 RDS SH with XenApp 6. As we have been exchanging emails to get VMWare View going, I knew it was not being that breeze Gabe/Brian mentioned. So after checking what we had to go through, I have no idea why they mentioned VMWare View being ‘easier’ to setup. IMHO (and in Matt’s opinion as well) XenDesktop 4 is much, we mean, MUCH easier to setup. VMWare View is confusing to say the least, even for someone very used to a single ESXi server environment.

How are they affected by packet loss? Well that is what I am working on right now. The same way Ruben wrote the ‘VDI Storage Deep Impact’  I am working on getting the real facts on how latency/loss affect ICA, RDP and PCoIP. No marketing BS, just straight facts. As soon as the whitepaper is ready it will be posted here for sure.

Resuming this post: we found XenDesktop 4 much easier to setup for SMALL ENVIRONMENTS (what means Provisioning Services/View Composer are NOT in use, that you do not have a VMWare Guru/Employee sitting on your side, etc). Does it mean Brian/Gabe are wrong and we are right? No. It means you should take any comments, from anyone, Brian and myself included, with a grain of salt. Do not trust us gentlemen. 🙂 Go try them for yourself and let us know what you think.

As you can see I do like VMWare and do think they have a great virtualization platform (main reason to have ESX/ESXi all over the companies I manage/own/work for) but View is far from being a breeze to setup.

CR

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Patchworking and VDI.

I actually started writing this post a couple weeks ago but got sidetracked with other things and it just sat here on this blog with a title. So after reading Brian’s posts on why use and not use VDI, I decided to finalize this post. So here we go.

 A word on the title of this post, Patchworking, if you have no idea what it means (take a look at the formal definition on Wikipedia), is putting together small pieces of different fabrics into a larger design. Awesome stuff. For quilts and bed sheets.

Not for IT.

I remember another thread at Brian’s website where I posted a comment exactly about this issue that IMHO plagues VDI as of today. In order to get it working properly you need to rely on pieces (solutions) from several different vendors and that is where the problem begins. You may end up with a solution that runs Citrix XenDesktop that requires Windows Server 2003/2008 for its components, all these running on top of VMWare vSphere running on top of HP Blades connected to a Brocade SAN, all that tied into ILIO, vScaler and vDeDupe from Atlantis Computing. Sounds great and reliable, doesn’t it?

I see this type of solution as a house of cards. As soon as the first one falls, you are in for a great ride. Downhill. Spiraling. Imagine calling Microsoft to report an issue you are having with your virtualized Windows 7 that is using a virtual profile solution from RTOSoft (you can buy me a beer later Kevin) and that the actual VM image is based on a master clone and deltas handled by another product from vendor VDI-MILFs. I am almost certain Microsoft will hang up on your face. Right there at the spot.

Not to put you down on your VDI thoughts; in a way this is what happened in the TS/Citrix world 10 years ago. Remember the experience of calling vendor A and telling them you had their masterpieshit installed on Citrix? They would tell you nice things along the lines of ‘go screw yourself ok?’.

The point is, it took TS/Citrix almost a DECADE for God’s sake to become something we can consider ‘stable’. Note I am not using the words ‘rock solid’. TS and Citrix were not and probably will never be 100% reliable (or 95% for that matter). Remember people, we are talking Microsoft and Citrix here. Using Microsoft, Citrix and rock solid stability on the same phrase creates a paradox. Always keep that in mind.

So why would this be different with VDI? Brian thinks (I hope by now, he realizes his prophecy about VDI will fail) 2010 is the year VDI will take off and become the #1 priority for all IT departments. TS/Citrix took 10+ damn years to get to what it is today. Why VDI will be able to become an easy to deploy, cheap and stable solution in 2 years is beyond my comprehension. Call me dumb, stupid or anything else similar but I fail to see this happening now.

Will it get there? Sure it will. In 2010? No. More like 2020. 🙂

And as Jeroen nailed with his comment on the ‘Why use VDI’ thread, deploying the whole thing is complex to start with, even when using a single vendor (i.e. Citrix all the way or Microsoft all the way). After you start you realize several components are not there so you need to start sewing together all these pieces from other vendors. Now you got your patchwork.

I am not saying there is no place for VDI and that you guys all are nuts. No. I am just saying, like I have been doing with the whole UIA (User Installed Apps)/BYOPS (yes, I coined the term Bring Your Own Piece of Shit), that there are several hurdles and issues not only to get VDI going but to support it and many people in the industry, inebriated by the chance of putting their hands/making a career on a new, exciting technology, are simply not mentioning and/or ignoring them.

Not the case at this end. I see both sides of the coin. One is pretty and shiny. The other one…

So before you try to convince your boss to spend ten times more on a VDI solution (when compared to a real desktop one or to a 10+ year old mature solution like TS) just because you do need iTunes to run in a hosted environment and figured out it does not work on TS, hold on your horses. There is more to VDI than most vendors are willing to tell you.

You will thank me later.

CR

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Now I am confused with Sun.

Thanks to the heated discussion started by Brian Madden on the Sun Rays we could see people I assumed dead writing again and several comments regarding SunRays and how they work, their technology and so on.

Before moving forward note I am no SunRay expert and barely worked with them on some of my customers. Given that, I want to ask people that know these devices a couple questions:

1. Zero Admin client. From what I know these devices talk to a server (the SunRay server) that provides them with a session. If new features are added, for example 5.1 audio, I assume a new firmware is needed on these devices. So how can they be ‘Zero Admin’ if I do need to manage these to deploy a new firmware? And let’s say I deployed the new firmware and found a show stopper bug? I will have to roll back, again, ‘managing’ these. So what do they mean exactly by ‘Zero Admin’? If they mean since 1999 they only released 3 firmwares, awesome to know but this is not ‘Zero Admin’. Could be ‘Almost Zero Admin’ but not zero. And I assume ‘Zero’ has the same meaning here in Canada, in the US, Europe or Mars for that matter. Given that, are they truly ‘Zero Admin’? I do not think so and I do not think such device actually exists as at one point there may be a feature that may require something to be changed on the actual hardware, what would mean changing something on the device or replacing it completely. Plus if a firmware upgrade is needed, this breaks the definition of ‘Zero Administration’. My toaster is ‘Zero Administration’ for sure.

2. Stateless. Sun claims their device has a unique feature that no other vendor offers that is having nothing on their devices once they are powered off. From their own blog, “Sure RDP and Citrix connections are stateless, but the client used to access them is not.  Review Letters of Volatility (LoV) and see what registers get zeroed out on a power reset.  If any information about the network, servers, or users is left over the device is not stateless”. I disagree with this as I think I have the same at home and I do not use SunRays. If a device (in my case, thin client hardware with no moving parts and more than that, NO local OS or even a local device where an OS could be loaded and/or saved) is remote booting a very lean, small OS with the client they need to connect to a backend, once these devices are off, everything is gone. There is no trace on them about the network, servers or users. How is the Sun offering different?

3. Hot Swapping. This means a user on a SunRay removes his smartcard and goes to another device, inserts it back and is working again exactly where he left off. Well this is exactly what Citrix Session Roaming is, correct me if I am wrong. And I was actually working on an environment, 45 days ago, where I did exactly that, with SmartCards and XenApp 5.0 FP2. No SunRays needed. So again, what is unique here about the SunRays?

Please note this post is in no way meant to ‘bash’ the SunRays and their technology. I just want to understand more about them and that is the reason why I am asking these questions. Hopefull someone from Sun will email me answers.

My final question is probably what several people are asking themselves. So even if they really have such a cool, unique product, what is the price tag for it? From what I have found, for example their 17″ all-in-one model (Sun Ray 270) lists at $799.00. Their cheapest offer is the Sun Ray 2 at $349.00. Add to that the software required (and its own licenses at US$ 100.00 per concurrent user, perpetual license) and my guess is this brings us to around at least US$ 500.00 per user to deploy their cheapest thin client offering, not accounting for the costs to have two servers running their software (two for redundancy AND assuming you are not running these as VMs). And as mentioned on the thread at Brian’s site, if you are indeed a Windows shop you will have to deal with at least 2 machines running Linux or Solaris.

Is it worth? As Steve Greenberg pointed out I am sure it is in certain cases and in certain environments it may fit as a glove (again, use the right tool for the job). Would I say it is ‘mainstream’ worth? Considering their market share and penetration after 10 years on the market, at this stage, not. But as we are in a very fast changing landscape, better marketing from Oracle could potentially change that.

Or not?

CR

5,029 total views, 1 views today

Thank you Citrix.

If you read my blog you noticed my post yesterday regarding my MVP status, not being renewed on the renewal cycle that happens October, 1st. As I mentioned in the comments, there is a lot of work we do in background (like replying to direct emails) that are simply ignored by the folks in Redmond. And no matter what they say, they have no grounds for an argument for the simple fact they never ask you questions like:

– How many direct emails did you reply in the past year helping people in the community with problems in your area of expertise?
– How many people downloaded the guides/articles you wrote?
– How many people watched videos of your presentations in the past year?
– How many people read the posts in your Blog in the past year?

Without all this information it is very easy to simply say ‘You have not done enough’.

But as not two companies are the same, the folks at Citrix, with a much better understanding on the dynamics between people like myself and many others and the community, decided I was good enough to receive their CTP award!

So as of today I am one of the Citrix CTPs, something I am very proud and honored to be! I join a group with people like Brian Madden, Shawn Bass, Ron Oglesby, Doug Brown, Rick Dehlinger, Benny Tritsch and a couple others!

The only thing is I now feel lonely as I became the only person in Canada to receive this award. 🙂

So Canadians, step up to the challenge and join me in the future!

CR

1,161 total views, no views today

Old news becoming new?

Not sure if I am in rant mode here or not. Plus note that I do respect Citrix and everything they have done over the years and I am the first one to say they have some great, kick ass things.

But since Harry Labana posted this on his blog the Twitter world and the blogsphere went crazy like if this was the greatest thing ever since OS X (yes I am a fanboy before you ask). Even Brian posted about it today.

I saw several comments/articles on how this is great, how it will now open so many doors at several customers and so on. And that is what pissed me off.

It may be a great thing IF you are a Citrix customer AND you need this for some reason. And for the simple fact that Citrix, now apparently starting to move again after milking the cow for years with MetaFrame/Presentation Server/XenApp/WhateverItIsToday. Awesome.

Non-Citrix customers had access to this several years ago. So what?

From a technology standpoint this is VERY old news. Back in 2004 we were playing with the idea of publishing XP desktops (and applications) within our WTSPortal (one of the products we had at Terminal-Services.NET, later acquired by 2X Software Ltd). We even got this working on a multi-user version of XP Professional. Later on Provision Networks brought that to the market. Again, years ago.

So here Citrix is not doing anything new. Why no one thought this was a big deal when everyone else released this years ago and now are all having goosebumps is beyond me. I want to read way more exciting and better things on the Citrix blogs. And on yours too Brian. 🙂

Catching up != Innovating.

CR

1,546 total views, no views today