EUC Fellowship Retreat. What is this?

Beautiful Okinawa

Gents,

If you follow me on Twitter you probably saw a tweet about the EUC Fellowship Retreat, planned for early November in Okinawa, Japan. With that in mind, I can bet you have a couple questions in your mind like:

  • What is this EUC Fellowship Retreat?
  • Is this a competitor or something like PubForum/E2EVC?
  • Why the hell is this happening in Okinawa, Japan?

Probably you have other questions (costs?) and I will try to answer all these the best I can and of course give you a brief history of why this Fellowship Retreat came to the picture.

Back in the day, you do remember we had the now defunct BriForum conference (I still remember the very first one in DC, in a movie theater, 2005). Over the years many people became regulars, going to almost, if not all, BriForums. These include people like myself (missed two or three at the most), Benny Tritsch, Shawn Bass, Tim Mangan and so on. The list is indeed long. After many years of seeing each other not only at BriForum but at other conferences, we decided we should have a nice get together with the families at a nice place. I still remember suggesting somewhere crazy but exciting like the French Polynesia. We talked and talked about doing it in Europe or other exotic places. Making a long story short, we could not agree on a place and such gathering ended up happening in a small place in the Boston area. As I was tied up with other things and did think Boston was indeed lame, for something that had the potential to happen in Fiji, I simply decided not to go.

Now with the death of BriForum, the only remaining conference by the community for the community is indeed the Master Ghetto, a.k.a. PubForum or to make it sound more professional, E2EVC. Do not let it fool you though. It is still the same, with horrible coffee, bad food and an agenda that changes almost every hour. The problem I have with PubForum is just the fact it grew to a point it became a real conference. Interaction with your peers becomes an issue and more than that, attending a session is an issue as well due to different tracks, conflicts with your own sessions and so on. Sure Alex will tell you to watch the videos later. Let me tell you if a conference has bad coffee and horrible food, almost certainly the videos were not produced by Peter Jackson. Seriously, watching a video is not the same as being there, asking questions, interacting or just ruining the whole thing like Alex usually does with his dumb questions.

In a rare moment of intelligence, I thought it would be awesome to have some sort of very small conference at a great place (like I suggested for the BriForum Retirement Home Vacation), in ways similar to what Steve Greenberg from Thinclient.net got going last year. Before you say this is a copy of what he created, let me tell you this is not the case at all. To prove my point, let’s take a look at the main differences between his retreat and the EUC one I am proposing:

  • So far this is Arizona only. Our plan is to have the EUC one move around the globe, always in November (for a reason I will explain, what makes it a lot of fun) and again, always in a great, unforgettable location. For 2019 as an example, plans point to Moo’rea, French Polynesia.
  • EUC is three days, with a post conference trip where all attendees get together and spend time together. Plan for this year is to arrive in Okinawa on November 2nd and fly to Tokyo on the 7th, to spend three days together there.
  • EUC is a closed event in ways and limited to 15 people, period. Moving forward it may even become an invite only event.
  • Idea is to keep most of the sessions with some hands-on, almost like having all sessions as workshops.

As you can see, there are many differences indeed. So, now, why November? This is an interesting decision and I will explain it. The idea is by November, all major conferences from all relevant vendors in this industry are done. Citrix Synergy, Microsoft Ignite, VMWorld, and so on. With a high degree of accuracy I can almost bet all the ‘good stuff’ these vendors wanted to show over the year was already shown. More than that, just looking at the acquisitions that happened in the past, these almost never happen in November/December. As examples:

  • Unidesk: acquired January (Citrix)
  • Norskale: acquired September (Citrix)
  • Immidio: acquired February (VMware)
  • CloudVolumes: acquired August (VMware)

“Ok, we get it. So WHY NOVEMBER?”. Simple. The idea is at the last day of the EUC Master Retreat, this group of attendees will review everything that happened in the EUC industry for that year, and produce a report with our findings and thoughts. What was good, what was bad, what was nasty. With suggestions to all the vendors on how to improve their products. An end-of-the-year report about the EUC with all you need to know that was relevant and more than that, good and bad. This will be done every year and published for all the vendors (and our peers) to see. That is the reason behind the November’s decision.

With all that in mind (and my apologies for the long post) this is the plan for the first EUC Fellowship Retreat, supposed to happen in November 2018:

  • Location: Okinawa, Japan. If you have no idea where this is, just google it and look at the images. You will understand why we decided on this place.
  • Dates: November 5th, 6th and 7th.
  • Broader Plan: arrive in Okinawa, November 2nd, Friday. Spend the weekend with your EUC peers and on Monday, November 5th we start the retreat. On Thursday November 7th we had back to Tokyo (as you have to fly in through Narita or Haneda) and spend the weekend there, heading back home on Sunday, November 11th. Given the time zone, everyone should be home indeed on Sunday, ready to go back to your normal life on Monday, minus the jet lag of course.
  • Costs: honestly, no idea at this stage as we are still dealing with locals in Okinawa trying to secure a venue. In terms of trip costs, having been to Japan several times I can certainly give you an estimate for the trip itself, minus whatever the venue will end up costing each. You can fly to Tokyo for around USD 1000-1200 (less depending on how long in advance you book, especial deals etc). Flying to Okinawa is cheap (sometimes USD 150). Hotels and food, it depends on where you want to stay. Like any other place you can go for Royalty like treatment or not. But you can certainly get a very decent place in Tokyo for less than USD 200 a night (I always stay at the Royal Park Shiodome – very good and perfect location with great prices – or at the Park Hyatt – this is more like Royalty but I have a huge discount). Food is cheap if you do not plan to go for sushi at Jiro’s every day. If we all decide to AirBnb we can certainly bring the cost down quite a bit.
  • Registration: you can register here. Plan is fifteen (15) people maximum. At the moment, only ten (10) spots available.

Resuming: more than a technical gathering, the EUC Fellowship Retreat is a get together, so we can all spend valuable time as a group in a great location somewhere in this vast world. And as a bonus, we get to produce the yearly report that I am sure will become a reference in this industry.

So Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Arizona anymore.

CR

 

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BriForum Boston 2014

This week Brian and Gabe announced the sessions for both BriForums (London/US). I am happy to announce I will be presenting two sessions in Boston and will almost certainly attend BriForum London as a regular peasant.

If you did not read the list of sessions, here is what I am presenting and why I think these will be useful and what the plan is regarding delivering them.

SBC Round Up 2014. I really like doing these. Plan is to go through the installation and testing of several RDS add-ons (i.e ProPalms TSE, Dell vWorkspace, 2X, etc) and see how the compare to each other and of course to RDS 2012 R2 by itself. What will change this year is I am actually recording all the installations and will post all videos as soon as BriForum Boston is over. Also creating individual PDFs for each product installation so at the end you will get an end-to-end guide on how to install every single major product out there. Neat.

RDS-O-Matic. This is basic the end-result of dealing with RDS installs almost on a daily basis for customers around the globe. The idea was to come up with an automated way to create all the PowerShell commands to deploy a full RDS 2012 R2 from scratch. For BriForum it will be able to perform the following tasks:

– Hyper-V only. Creates all the required VMs based on a sysprep’ed VHD. Of course this requires minimum services to be up and running already like your AD, your Hyper-V hosts, the clustering, etc. But if these are there you simply select the VHD you want and it will copy to all the required VMs, mount them, inject the Unattended.xml file and finalize the setup (add to domain, set IP, add to proper OU). This is optional (meaning if you do have all VMs ready to roll you can opt this step out). Yes before you bitch I have no love for VMware ESXi anymore.
– NLB. For every component that needs NLB you will be able to choose if you want it done for you (i.e. RD Gateway). It will create the VIP, add the ports, etc.
– UPD. If you want to enable the User Profile Disk on the deployment.
– Whole deployment. Of course it does that. Sets up the connection brokers, web access, gateway, session hosts, etc. The whole deal.
– SQL Bullshit. Ideally I will try to automate the turd Microsoft created when setting up the SQL for the Connection Brokers HA. It is a PITA (create folder on the SQL, create database, add proper security, etc – amazing how every other product on the market can do this but NOT Microsoft).

The main plan is to turn all this into a web service that anyone can hit, enter the information and get a text file ready to use for the whole deployment. Later iOS and Android apps so you can do that anywhere/anytime/offline.

And for the first time in 10 years of BriForum for me, I will be actually driving to Boston this time what may actually be faster than flying, assuming the cops do not stop me in Maine. Feel free to stop me and say ‘Hi’ if you see me around at BriForum. I will be driving ‘Ferrucio’ (yes, my kids name all the cars we have at home).

Lamborghini Gallardo

Cheers.

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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BriForum 2010 it is!

So yesterday I got an email from Gabe letting me know that all the sessions I submitted to BriForum 2010 were selected. Great news and always a pleasure to be part of BriForum, an event I have been presenting since its inception and the only one I missed was the one in Germany. Other than that, I have been to every single one and it has always been a great conference.

What I like the most is the interaction you can get with the presenters and the complete no bullshit approach. If a presenter does think some product is a piece of shit, he can (and will) openly say it. That is great because it gives you an honest view of all the vendors/products that are relevant in this space and that alone is simply priceless.

Back to my sessions, what will I be presenting? Three sessions (probably some people will join me – Steve Greenberg is confirmed as far as I know and others are welcome as mentioned before):

– “The top 10 mistakes why VDI projects fail”.
– “The top 10 mistakes why TS/Citrix projects fail”.
– “Citrix EdgeSight for Load Testing Best Practices”.

The first two are pretty much self explanatory. I had the opportunity over the years to work on environments ranging from 2 to 50,000 concurrent users, government and private sector and trust me, I saw everything you can imagine. So now it is time to put this on paper and let other people learn with the mistakes we have seen in the past. I do think these will be great sessions, especially now that everyone is talking about VDI and thanks to that, TS is also booming (well once you see the price tag some people actually go for TS 🙂 ). Jokes aside, honest view of both technologies and how to avoid screwing yourself up when deploying these.

The EdgeSight for Load Testing will be a great one too. I have been using it since it was known as TLoad (before ThinGenius was acquired by Citrix, making some Scottish people very, filthy, rich 🙂 ). All I can say is the tool works but is tricky to get it working reliably and sometimes a PITA to work with. And I think tons of people are not really using these tools properly (even Login VSI is not used properly IMO) and that is why the results they are getting do not really match what they see in production. I am not saying I will show you how to magically do that. But I will try to make sure you understand how to get as close as possible to real world results by using ESLT.

Wrapping up, I am very honoured to be part of BriForum again, my 7th one!

If you are looking for the best no bullshit Virtualization/SBC conference out there, BriForum is the one.

See you in Chicago.

CR

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Why all this drama now?

If you have been around the SBC space for a couple of years, you are probably aware if you had a Terminal Services/Citrix solution in place at your company you were treated in a different way. Not necessarily a good one.

In most cases the ‘Citrix’ solution was left on its own by the ‘Server’ guys. The ‘Citrix’ guys were the ones responsible for setting it up, making sure it was up and running, that performance was good (at least from their end – you cannot do much regarding Outlook performance when your ‘Server’ guys decide to run a 1000 maiboxes Exchange 2007 Server using VMWare Player) and so on.

That of course caused some interesting issues. When you had a performance problem the ‘Server’ guys almost automatically would blame ‘Citrix’. As the tools available evolved, it became much easier to prove to these douche bags the issue was actually on the way they setup their SQL servers (all in one single disk!), their Exchange boxes, their AD and even their switches/routers. And not on Citrix.

Fast forward to today’s world, where VDI is the next big thing (well, funny pause here: years ago, when everyone started talking about VDI, the CEO of a very large company that is a MAJOR player in the SBC space told me during BriForum that for him ‘VDI was one of the dumbest ideas ever but as everyone is talking about it we are now supporting this…’), and now people are all concerned about how to treat the ‘VDI’ guys at the datacenter. Read Gabe’s post on the subject here.

My point here is simple. Why all this now? ‘Citrix’ people have been used to this for years and in most cases, the guys pushing VDI forward are the EXACT same guys that had to push ‘Citrix’ forward years ago.

These people are used to that and learned how to deal with that separation at the datacenter at the time. In the past the user’s desktop was hosted on a server at the datacenter (that ran Windows Whatever with TS enabled and Citrix WinMetaXen or QuestProvisonvWhat) running on server grade (hopefully) hardware and users would access it over RDP/ICA. Today’s hotcake, VDI, has the user desktop hosted in a datacenter, running on server grade hardware and they access it over RDP/ICA. So where is the difference?

There is no difference. The ‘Citrix’ guy is now the ‘VDI’ dude (as guy is really ‘out’ – dude is ‘in’). And the same way the ‘Citrix’ guy had to fight his battles with the ‘Server’ guys and had to find his way to manage his loved puppy, all the ‘VDI’ dudes need to do is basically the same.

With a huge advantage: they have all the history, everything we, ‘Citrix’ guys, had to go through, discussed/documented/explained all over the web.

If these ‘dudes’ can learn with our past mistakes/battles/history, they will see this is not rocket science and that in several ways they are no different than what we were 5, 10 years ago.

Grow up guys. VDI is not that different from TS.

Before you thank me for this post, You are Welcome.

CR

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Welcome to the world of tomorrow.

Here I am at BriForum 2009, sitting in a conference room watching Brian talking about Client Hypervisors and thinking about a discussion I had last night with Harry Labana, Citrix CTO for XenApp.

What the future of our desktops, laptops and computing devices will look like and why I think client hypervisors and VDI are the way to go and how they will end up merging at the end.

The thing is, today there is a lot that can be done with the current technology available but as VDI and Client Hypervisors are seen as two completely different beasts the integration I am talking about is not there. Or is it?

The future I see is simple actually. Master disk images for my work machine, home machine, porn loaded machine and so on will exist somewhere, whatever they call that in the future. The cloud is what they are calling it today. It may change to heaven in the future. Or Hell, depending how you look at it and how these guys implement it.

So if I am at the office, my device (a laptop like one) can  connect to my work machine running on a cluster (so here I connect to it using some remote display protocol) – I would do that for example from a location where power is an issue so I use this low power mode on the device to connect (here an actual small app running on top of the hardware built-in hypervisor just to do the remote display protocol part) or if I am on a location I can actually use all the power (and have bandwidth) my device, with a locally cached copy of the image I want to run, just downloads the differences from what is local to what is in the cloud and I run that image locally, at full power and with full access to the hardware (yes, Intel/others will indeed change the PC architecture as we know it today to provide access to GPUs, etc).

When I get home the same takes place. I load my home PC image (just differences) and run it locally. Or again connect to it running somewhere.

Assuming that we get to this point (what I do believe it will happen but not by next year), will there be a market for the traditional TS model we know as of today? I am not sure if it will even be needed.

Hardware architecture changes will indeed allow for much higher densities in the future. Same will happen for power. I am sure Citrix will have their own version of the greatest device of all time that we all know: Mr. Fusion from Back to the Future. That alone will be able to power a shitload of hosted things – remember 1.21 Gigawatts is a lot – probably with minimal heat.

Of course all the management layers to handle all these images running, the applications and patches on them and so on will need to be there. But I guess we will have that sorted out by the time this reality becomes… reality.

Thanks to Microsoft we learned a lot so far on how NOT to design profiles, application deployment tools and so on and if all these companies now working to create this ideal world of the future are watching this and learning the future is bright.

Very bright.

CR

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Quest for VDI

I do respect Brian. And a lot. For sure he was the guy that brought the whole TS community at the time together (Ron Oglesby, Shawn Bass, Tim Mangan, Jeff Pitsch, Benny Tritsch, myself and several others) and kept it like that. BriForum, the child of endless discussions among everyone mentioned above is now a well known conference and a great place for everyone looking for SBC/TS/Citrix/VDI/Virtualization info.

If you read his website he is always saying something (well at least lately) about VDI. Even the discussions we have with Microsoft and their RDS team (sorry, most stuff under NDA otherwise I would post about these here) are now moving towards VDI. For God’s sake, even the lady that comes to clean my house every once in a while is now talking about VDI. So in a way, it is becoming mainstream. Wait. I do not mean people are actually using it. I mean it is mainstream in terms of discussing it, talking about it. Not implementing it.

Problem is even on these discussions with all the other Microsoft MVPs (I think all mentioned above are part of this group) I am not sure exactly what every single one of them think about it. So today when thinking about it I decided it would be a good idea to talk to every single one of them, one-to-one talk, record all that and then publish every day/week these conversations here on our blog. Once I have all the recordings I will then create some sort of final analysis, based on what all these guys said, resuming all that, and publish it here.

The reason for that is in a way I want to know what all these big shots in the industry think and see if they actually agree on something. 🙂

Secondly, I want to stop talking about VDI for at least six months. Why six months? Well that will bring us to 2010, the year when according to Brian, VDI replaces the whole world and we throw everything we know/have out of the window.

And the most important reason: that will give me a six months break discussing VDI with the cleaning lady.

CR

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