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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VMWare and Citrix: please stop the BS.

Now that VMWorld is over, first of all I must thank God and Jesus Christ it is indeed over. The amount of crap I have seen posted on Twitter thanks to VMWorld was simply amazing. Of course it was not all terrible stuff. There were some nice things to be seen like the vSphere client on the iPad. Seriously, great stuff.

Also, I must, one more time, say that I have nothing against VMWare (or Teradici for that matter – some see me as the Anti-Christ for all PCoverIP related things, what I am certainly not). I still think they have some GREAT products and some GREAT technologies and more than that, I do run my company on top of their server virtualization platform for the simple fact I still think it is the best one out there as of today.

My gripe with both VMWare and Teradici is very simple. They distort certain definitions to make their products and/or technologies look good in all scenarios and as any smart person knows, especially on IT, there is no silver bullet. So there is no solution that can work perfectly in all scenarios. As I work mostly with Remote Display protocols of course that is what I am most interested about any VDI solution out there and how these perform on our new, always connected, world (remember, the WAN is the new LAN). And in this particular area Teradici and VMWare are usually full of bull (FoB). What I really dislike.

Back to the topic, Citrix as well is at fault here, not really helping the industry by throwing more shit at the fan. I do like them (and also give them shit when deserved – just read my posts about my XenDesktop issues in the past and also about the Citrix Receiver for the iPad/iPhone – gimmicky and for many customers I have, useless) and do like a lot of people that work there but I do think this week, Harry’s post was really not needed and simply stirred the shitty pot a little bit more. The same goes for Simon Crosby and his terrible YouTube video. People in this kind of position should be more classy when posting. Even when throwing shit at the fan (what can indeed be done in a classy, polite way).

Sure VMWare is no angel either. The abstract for that session they had at VMWorld (the one I posted a picture on Twitter, PA9449, was simply low. I mean very low). I have no clue what their marketing shitheads were thinking about posting things like ‘how to set RFP/POC traps for Microsoft and Citrix that will make it impossible for them to win the deal’. If they were in Canada I would definitely sue their asses big time.

The bottom line is this: both companies are wasting useful resources and time just bullshitting each other. Instead of getting together and coming up with something the whole community can benefit from (like a common framework for load/performance testing of their VDI platforms, preferably using third party tools like Login VSI, WANEmu and so on) and discuss the issues, again, with the community, so we all learn what is great and not so great with their products and technologies. One more time, please stop the BS.

I am certain not only myself but several other people are indeed getting tired of this crap. So please do something to stop this.

And for everyone else, please no fanboyism either. Be grown up enough to admit VMWare View is not perfect and in certain scenarios it may be crap and make no sense whatsoever. Same goes for XenDesktop. Each one has its own merits, benefits and drawbacks. And we all know that.

No more bull please.

CR

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Windows Server 2008 R2 TS. What have they done?

As you know Windows Server 2008 R2 has been around for some time now but as several of our customers are still on 2003 or 2008, I did not have a change to get deep into it.

Of course most of the new features (i.e. two-way audio, virtual IP addressing, etc) I had a chance to play a long time ago and even presented about 2008 R2 at BriForum.

Now as I am working on updating the guide I wrote (“Terminal Services A to Z”, available here), I had to go through all the stuff Microsoft blessed us with on 2008 R2: RDS Web Access, RDS Session Broker, RDS Gateway and so on. What did I find?

If I had to define in a single word, the experience of setting up a load balanced solution with a web interface and a gateway using only 2008 R2, that would be the word: frustration.

To understand the reason for that, you may need a little bit more information and history about me. Back in the days when Citrix was the only solution, with Provision Networks still in its infancy, I envisioned and designed a solution that was not only modular but dead simple to setup and use. This idea, or dream,  turned into real products that many here will remember: WTSPortal, WTSGateway Pro and so on. People all over the world used our solutions and everyone seemed to agree at the time that we did it in such a way that we had pretty much NO support calls whatsoever. It simply worked and worked in a way that even your grandma could set it up and manage it. The Library of Congress used our products. So did the Jet Propulsion Lab and NASA. Warner. Disney. Hilton and so on. All these people trusted a three men shop.

So years ago (2003/2004) we had all that sorted out: RDP over HTTPS, Published Applications, Resource Based Load Balancing and so on and no kidding, it would not take you more than 30 minutes to get all going.

Simple and elegant design. More than that, I would say, smart design.

Today after going through all the stuff required to get RDS Web Access, RDS Gateway and RDS Session Broker up and running I am simply baffled. Stunned. This is for sure the epitome of bad design. I am still banging my head in the wall just thinking about how the setup of all this makes no sense and more than that, what a steep learning curve this will be for anyone that is now on Windows Server 2003 TS.

In laymen terms, Microsoft simply made it difficult and hard. Add to that a bad design to start with and you have a solution that, even though it works at the end, is simply stupid. To put in perspective how bad it is, it makes Citrix and its 12,000 consoles look great.

What amazes me the most is Microsoft had YEARS to watch what others did and learn with their mistakes and then come up with something clean. Smart. Unfortunately that was not the case. Not even Jesus Christ can set this thing up without reading AND reading AND without banging his head somewhere. And trust me, at one point he will call his dad for help.

The weird part is I know most of the developers or the people involved with RDS in Redmond and they are indeed good, smart and hard working people. This creates a paradox in my mind. How such great resources could create such a piece of junk. Junkware.

Again, I am not debating if the solution at the end works. It does. I am discussing how easy it is to setup, how smart the design is and so on. And in that respect, they simply failed to deliver. I am telling you that based on 15+ years of experience doing nothing else other than TS/RDS/Citrix deployments and starting companies focused on TS/RDS development. I may look stupid indeed but I know some shit about these things.

Simplicity and clean design are key elements on any good piece of software, what someone in Redmond seems to disagree.

Light up a candle, hold hands and pray for changes in Windows Server 2010 RDS. They are needed.

CR

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Citrix and the iPad

No matter how much I try not to write about the iPad, there are several crazy things I have been reading lately about the Jesus Tablet and many have the word Citrix cruising along.

For some people, for unknown reasons, the iPad is seen as the tablet God himself handed out to Moses, or Steve Jobs for that matter. The solution for all our problems and the device that will bring VDI to the masses.

Bullcrap.

And I will explain why and complain about Citrix later.

Screen. It is awesome to see a bigger screen in a device that can be potentially used as some sort of thin client. There are a couple issues there. The resolution is fixed at 1024×768 and some apps, in this day and age, refuse to work on less than higher resolutions. Two options: you either keep moving around the screen (painful) or you scale the resolution down to match the native display one (what technically is bad and if you know anything about video you know the reasons why). So, yes, better than the iPhone but still not that incredible. But I could live with that.

Keyboard. Here is where the big problems start. The on-screen keyboard may be great for a quick ‘checking my email’ thing but to use that to reply to long emails or to write a document, that is just unbearable. Fanboys will say go and get an external keyboard! Yes, great idea. Now I need to carry a freaking iPad PLUS a keyboard. Awesome.

Mouse. No word so far if a bluetooth one is supported. As of today, based on what we know, no support. Even if it is added at a later date, great, another device to carry with the iPad and the keyboard above.

Ports. Where are the USB ports so I can plug headsets, webcams, scanners, etc (remember, this is the Moses’s tablet that will bring VDI to the masses as per God’s predictions)? Yes, there are none but for sure you will be able to get a cable that costs $40 that will give you USB ports. Yay, another thing to carry with the keyboard, the mouse and the iPad itself.

Local OS. Sure the iPhone OS was revolutionary. For a phone. For a tablet, are you kidding me you are putting an OS that cannot even multitask on that? Not to mention that several things that make XenDesktop a decent thing, are NOT supported as the local OS cannot do shit about them. Examples? What about Flash redirection? Oh, did I mention that 9.7″ screen cannot even run Flash movies or access Flash websites? Not that I love Flash(it). But the reality is a huge percentage of the web relies on that (Citrix included – have you tried Citrix.com/tv on your iPhone/iPad? Yes, it does not work).

As I mentioned to Chris Fleck, who called me a Nay-Sayer on his blog, sure I can see certain vertical markets using it for several reasons. One is healthcare, where for doctors, using a Win32 app that has an interface designed for touch input, it would be perfect. Small, light, relatively cheap and able to run their Win32 apps that require no flash, no decent video performance and no physical keyboard/mouse. It could be the same case for insurance companies (although the lack of a camera is potentially a big show stopper), warehouses and so on.

The thing is all the above use cases mentioned above are NOT the ones that will bring VDI to the masses. So how can such device do that as several people in the industry are bragging now I have no crazy idea.

As a final note, what really pisses me off is to see Citrix spending all this time twittering/blogging/working on the iPhone/iPad receivers while IGNORING the bugs still there on BOTH Win32 and OS X clients, MUCH bigger markets when compared to all the iCrap stuff above (at least I think that is the case; correct me if I am wrong).

So Citrix, before you keep promoting all these savior, God sent devices, please fix what we, the lower class citizens, use every single day: the Windows and Mac OS X clients. Once you get that going, go nuts with your iPad plans to take over the VDI world.

Riding the ‘what is cool/on the spot’ wave for marketing purposes is not cool. VMWare at least is not doing that.

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 what VMWare fanboys?

On my last post on the subject, VMWare lovers/fanboys/users bashed me because I complained about the vSphincter vSphere 4 client not working on Windows 7.

The main argument used was ‘Oh you are bitching about support for an OS that is not even released so shut up” and I could live with that at the time.

So now Windows 7 is out. Note this is not Ubuntu 9.10, YourMommaLinux or any other small player OS. This is a MAJOR OS coming from a vendor that dominates more than 90% of the desktop OS market and more than that, made earlier releases of such OS available to ANYONE, VMWare included.

Is the vSphere 4 client working on Windows 7 out of the box? Not yet.

I have heard VMWare is waiting for Windows 8 to come out to then support Windows 7.

Thanks VMWare.

CR

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Thank you VMWare.

This time I will be quick. Over the weekend I upgraded my VMWare ESXi environment at home and from that end, everything worked smoothly (yes I know most of the time upgrading VMWare stuff is not really that easy). But as with anything that usually comes out from 3401 Hillview Ave, Palo Alto, CA, something wrong had to happen.

VMWare had MONTHS to fix the freaking issue with their VSphere Infrastructure Client or whatever that is called now (as they now copy everything Citrix does, they started changing names – word on the street is VMWare ESXi will be renamed VMWare SEXi and VSphere will become VOval) when on Windows 7.

Of course I am running Windows 7. Windows XP, according to my daughter, is “so last year” so I moved everything I have to Windows 7. Once you are in Windows 7 land the VIC (Virtual Infrastructure Client Crap) does not work anymore and when you try to logon it throws one of these really useful, easy to understand error messages. Why not show a simple window that says “You are screwed. Thanks for using VMWare.”?  

Thank Lord there is a fix for what lazy VMWare screwed up. You need to grab a DLL from somewhere and change a config file to get that crap working again. All explained here.

Once I did that, everything is now up and running again. And on Windows 7.

Please do not tell me you need Windows XP Mode on Windows 7 to fix this crap VMWare.

Virtualization is cool and great. But using it to fix shit you created in the first place, is not cool.

Really.

CR

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