Synergy 2015 Keynote – Citrix Cloud Workspace

So today we got the Synergy 2015 keynote, delivered by the usual suspect, Mark Templeton. Here I am at 3:26am in the morning after a couple beers and scotch I had a couple hours ago with old time pals like Shawn Bass, Harry Labana, Ron Oglesby and Michel Roth. Great night and tons of interesting discussions.

After all that I decided to give you my thoughts on what I think is the most important announcement from today’s keynote, the Citrix Cloud Workspace (CCW). Before I go any further let me tell you upfront that my view has nothing to do with the cloud at this stage and that I truly believe the way to go right now is to actually forget about the cloud for a moment. And you will understand why.

For that to happen we must take a look at what Microsoft announced a couple weeks ago: the Azure pack. If you do not know what that is, in a nutshell, it is on-premises Azure. You bring it in-house and now you use the exact same tools/procedures to create your infrastructure on-premises as it would be done off-premises, in the cloud. Why is that important?

First, it eliminates the distinction between on-premises and off-premises as you do things the exact same way, no matter where your stuff is running. That means if one day for whatever reason you decide the cloud is the way to go you already know everything on how to get there. You just point whatever automation/procedures you have to a different container, the cloud. Done.

Secondly, it gives a taste of the cloud to anyone that at this stage will not go for it. It plants the seed on everyone’s head about Azure, showing on-premises how the whole thing works. Without going off-premises.

Finally, everything around the cloud revolves around heavy automation. Many things happen in background, with IT not even really aware of what is going on to get you where you need to be. What I mean by that is, as an example, when I deploy a new application on Azure RemoteApp (ARA) with my custom image (my 2012R2 box with the apps I want to be available), I do not see exactly how Microsoft is actually doing it on Azure. Not that I care. As long as I end up with my apps there and assigned to the users that need them, I am good. The end result is indeed a huge simplification on how we build infrastructure and also how quick we do it. Night and day difference, not to mention the great reduction on human errors as the whole procedure is automated and you barely see it.

Take what I just said and look at Citrix Cloud Workspace. As of today I can have all the backend stuff up there and point all to my XenApp/XenDesktop on-premises. But that is not where the value is IMHO.

If Citrix brings CCW on-premises, I can now deploy my whole XenApp/XenDesktop environment in a heavily automated way. In a couple clicks I can have a PoC up and running for 500 people. The simplification between front end components (RDS Session Hosts, VMs with the VDA, etc) and the backend (StoreFront, DDCs, Databases, Domains) is huge thanks to the connector architecture in use. And again, this erases the line between on-premises and off-premises. If one day you decide you should burst to the cloud or move all up there, everything you have done on-premises is EXACTLY the same thing you would do in the cloud. No more distinction.

This is where Citrix has to go with CWC IMHO. Make the product completely location agnostic, working the exact same way and with the exact same connector no matter if on-premises or off-premises. This will greatly help with multi-domain authentication, SQL connectivity and so on.

This is the way to go moving forward with any solution actually, Citrix or not.

I hope VMware is reading this.

CR

2,919 total views, no views today

Parallels acquires 2X. A deeper analysis.

As you probably know by now, Parallels Inc. has acquired 2X Software Ltd, one of the smaller players in the VDI/SBC space, in case you did not know that.

Like Brian, I always have a soft spot for the smaller vendors out there like 2X and Thinspace for the simple reason I truly believe there is no perfect product for all the use cases out there. What I do believe is using the right tool for the task and in many environments we ended up using Thinspace and 2X as Citrix was indeed overkill and the customer needed a little bit more than plain RDS.

If you were not even aware of these smaller vendors I highly recommend you to watch my BriForum 2014 Boston presentation. Main problem is I have no clue where Brian and Gabe put it. So please head over to http://www.brianmadden.com and ask them where it is.

To make your life a little easier I will just mention the usual small vendors we deal with:

2X itself is probably the one I have the softest spot for. The reason for that is back in 2005 2X acquired my own Terminal-Services.NET and all the Windows intellectual property we had became what is known today as the 2X Remote Application Server and the 2X LoadBalancer. No matter what Alex (yes, that guy that organizes the most disorganized and shittiest IT conference for alcoholics – E2EVC) tells you, the products were good, reason why customers like Hilton Hotels and John Deere used them… So I do know these products well.

Back to the topic, there is more to this acquisition and let me explain why.

First of all, pretty much everyone that has a Mac is aware of Parallels. They were the first company to release a decent type-2 hypervisor for OSX so you could run Windows VMs on your Mac, something that probably 90% of all Mac users out there do on a daily basis. Sure VMware later joined the party with VMware Fusion but Parallels was always perceived as the leader on this space. At least based on my own tests (I have both products) Parallels was always better on the graphics department and faster in general. Things may have changed with the latest and greatest releases though. The point here is not who is the best but the simply fact Parallels is a well known brand with regular people, end-users and IT geeks.

Then Parallels released Parallels Access, a solution to allow you to remotely access your Mac/PC, like many other products on the market (i.e. GoToMyPC, LogMeIn, etc). Difference is they pretty much nailed the whole translation of a desktop GUI to a mobile/tablet device GUI making accessing desktop apps on any device a much easier thing. If you have no clue what I am talking about, take a look at their YouTube channel.

Finally there is the Parallels most people are not aware of. The company behind Plesk, Parallels Automation and Virtuozzo. If you are an IT geek or someone working for a hosting provider I can bet you have heard of that Parallels.

To make a long story short, Parallels is used at probably 10,000+ hosting providers out there on a daily basis, reaching millions of customers. What they do is automate the whole management layer required at that level (i.e. provisioning the required services subscribed – web servers, wordpress, etc, handling customer creation/permissions/etc, provisioning the required software stack, etc) and also provide a robust and potentially much more efficient virtualization layer with their container approach (that is what Virtuozzo is). They have it for both Linux and Windows.

So they do have the end-user/consumer reach with their SOHO virtualization offerings AND do have the cloud (yes I will use the pretty word that everyone likes these days) providers on-board, with 10,000+ of them as active customers. This is something that both Citrix and VMware lack. Sure they may have made their way into the cloud space with things like Desktone and CWS. That is different than having 10,000+ of these under your belt and more than that, that have been using your solution for several years. It is proven. It is robust. AND customers like it. This by itself is something not all Citrix and VMware customers say about their solutions after having buying and deployed their products. Not saying they are bad products. Just saying there is a lot of very unhappy Citrix/VMware customers out there, for one reason or another. And please do not tell me you cannot please everyone. You and I know this goes way beyond that.

Now Parallels can introduce a product that will allow you to publish individual Windows apps out of RDSH or do the brokering to VDI based desktops potentially running on containers or any other hypervisor as 2X was indeed hypervisor agnostic, all this on the cheap. And they can leverage such robust and proven platform to all their hosting providers very quickly. With some engineering they can actually leverage your OWN PC to a provider out there and allow you to seamlessly connect to the one you have at home or to a much more powerful one (more CPU, more RAM) in the cloud, when you need it. Fully synchronized with your home machine.

That is killer.

I am a huge believer that VDI will only become what Brian and others have been predicting (and failing year after year) when it becomes a consumer product. Something end-users will want and use it. And not the niche thing it is today. Yes, no matter what you say your 10,000 VDI deployment is a niche compared to the 130,000,000 physical desktops shipped last year alone. I wrote about that years ago, here.

If there is one company now that can pull this off, under the radar, while Citrix and VMware fight their battles for niche VDI supremacy, is Parallels.

Time will tell if I was right or wrong. Of course a lot here will depend on what Parallels and Jack Zubarev do with 2X. But knowing they like a good fight and do love to innovate I do not expect anything less than a great outcome from this acquisition.

CR

2,747 total views, 2 views today

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

18,122 total views, 3 views today

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

26,191 total views, 1 views today

Intel buys Neocleus. More to come.

Two weeks ago I posted about my thoughts on the McAfee’s acquisition by Intel. If you did not have time to read it, it is here.

Resuming all that, the point made was that acquisition was probably just the tip of the iceberg and more than that, it would make a LOT of sense for Intel to acquire a company with a Type-1 Hypervisor offering like Virtual Computer, Neocleus, MokaFive and so on. I went one step further and explained on another post why Intel buying Citrix would make even more sense.

So as of this morning, you all heard the news. Intel is acquiring Neocleus, what gives them the Type-1 Hypervisor and the management solution in one package. With McAfee, that takes care of security.

The key question now is very simple. Is Intel doing all this (and again, there IS more to come, just stay tuned) to down the road build a platform that partners like VMWare, Citrix and Microsoft can continue building/improving/enhancing their virtualization solutions (mainly Hypervisors on this case) OR the plan is to come up with Intel’s own virtualization platform given the simple fact they already own the underlying HW one?

Again, the same way Microsoft leverages to its own advantage, the fact they OWN the underlying OS where everything runs, will Intel do the same from now on? A platform where everything runs faster and is way more tightly integrated to the HW layer below? Where all sorts of HW pass through work perfectly? Of course only when your virtualization platform is Intel’s. If you go down the ESXi, XenServer, Hyper-V, etc you lose all that. Is this coming?

To better understand what will happen in the next year, two little things the industry must keep an eye on: Intel buying NVidia (or a similar company in the graphics space) and how Microsoft and VMWare (Citrix as well but IMHO at a lesser extent) will react to all this in the short term (6-9 months). This will clearly give us the clues we need to determine if Intel is doing all this to make everyone else’s life easier OR to come up with its own, I-am-better-than-you-all platform that will keep everyone else out.

Time will tell if I am right or wrong.

So far I do not look that bad.

CR

1,107 total views, 1 views today

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

3,341 total views, 1 views today

Intel buys McAfee. Does it matter?

As you all have heard today, Intel bought McAfee. And will pay well for it.
So the question now, at least from my end, is how this can possibly affect or help the virtualization market, the one you and I live and breath on.
First of all, we all know for VDI to take off as a mainstream solution (what it is NOT at this day in 2010 – and will not be for a long time) it must get cheaper. By cheaper it means being able to cram more instances per server. This can be achieved in several ways like using the latest, greatest and fastest CPUs you can get and with as many cores as possible (and of course using quick ass disk subsystems like Fusion-io, caching/dedup like iLIO, using tons of RAM, etc).

The point is on the CPU space there is nothing that prevents other vendors like AMD to get to the level Intel is at. In many cases in the past AMD actually delivered better silicon than Intel. So Intel needs a way to differentiate itself from their competitors. Bringing stuff like AV closer to the HW is one way of doing this. Good for Intel.

And of course getting this OUT of the VMs will for sure increase scalability. That was the reason why McAfee and others were coming up with appliances and lightweight agents (to run on the VM) to offload all that work outside the virtual environment.

The main question now is really how Intel will pull this off by not being a software company really. How they will get McAfee going. Of course I think it is just way too soon for any analyst to say anything about this. Historically Intel has not managed acquisitions like this well but they were never on such scale and with such reach like McAfee has (good or bad, they do have customers and a name in the industry, especially since that .DAT file fiasco that screwed up more computers in a day than any virus they were trying to protect).

In the near future I do not expect to see anything embedded at the HW level. This is for sure something that will come way down the road as you need to come up with something that can be leveraged to anything running on top of that HW. This means you either change the OS that will be running to benefit from these new HW extensions (like vendors did when using the virtualization components exposed by Intel and AMD on their CPUs) or, in this particular AV case, you get an agent running on the OS/VM. Not an easy task to do considering the amount of hypervisors and OSs now available.

That leads us to a very important thing. To minimize this and make things much easier, would not make sense for Intel to grab a Hypervisor vendor now? Given the three main players on this space now, VMWare, Microsoft and Citrix, I am sure the low hanging fruit here is Citrix and I even wrote about this ages ago on the post ‘Intel buys Citrix’

This would give Intel a huge advantage over any other company in the Virtual Wintel echosystem. Controlling the CPU, the Hypervisor that runs on it and extra features like AV, would give you the ultimate virtualization platform, where your solution runs better or has more features than anyone else. Example? All the HW fancy features are only exposed to your own hypervisor (like Microsoft is doing with RemoteFX, only available to Hyper-V hosts) and of course your hypervisor will scale much better than the competitors as you own and know it all about the underlying HW platform. Then the next logical step would be to acquire a graphics company like NVidia (as AMD owns ATI) and leverage all that into the platform, exposing it to the virtualization layer. Then, buy a good storage vendor and a management/layering one and they are all set.

Sure such scenario could potentially bring a lot of issues to Intel from a legal perspective, as it did to Microsoft when it became what it is today. But certainly it would simplify the virtualization market a lot (and yes, I know, locking everyone into their platform – what may not be a terrible thing as Apple has shown the sceptics with their iOS echosystem).

The bottom line is this acquisition for sure will help the virtualization space in the long run (do not expect mystical benefits happening overnight with this acquisition) but I see it as just the tip of the iceberg of what is potentially coming down the road from them.

Feds, you better keep an eye on Intel.

CR

935 total views, 2 views today

PCoIP performance over lossy networks.

This week as you guys know, I spent quite a lot of time at Citrix Synergy 2010 in San Francisco and during that time we were able to extensively test how all major remote display protocols work over the real world WAN and in a certain way, what we saw simply validated what I was expecting to see.

First of all, let me define real world WAN and explain how we actually know what this is. If you are not familiar with our technology, IPQ, it is a packet loss reduction mechanism that works between two end points. As we adapt according to the network conditions, we must know at any given time what these are. That is the reason why our endpoints exchange a beacon at all times. This gives us over 25 stats that we use to determine the most effective way to deal with packet loss in real time.

Of course all that information gets stored and we can plot what we are seeing right within our web interface. And guess what? During this week we spent in San Francisco, doing our demos from a hotel room using the provided internet connection – the exact same one all of you had in your rooms – we have seen packet loss at all times. How much? From 1% all the way to 15% (burst loss). The bottom line here is simple: loss is guaranteed out there and it is MUCH higher than the 0.5% loss that Brian and Gabe used on their WAN simulator during the VDI Geek Week shootout. That is the reason why ICA, RDP and PCoIP performed relatively well on their ‘WAN’. In the real world, with unpredictable conditions, performance is not really like that. I am not saying that loss will be high and will be there at all times. I am just saying loss will get you several times during the day. When and how much that will be no one knows. But it will be there. For sure.

So back to the topic, how well does PCoIP perform over the real world WAN? Not that well as expected. And here is the living proof of that. Notice how much better PCoIP gets when IPQ is brought to the picture. It gets almost as good as ICA (in case you did not see our tests with ICA, go here).

No matter what VMWare and Teradici tells you, TCP with its retransmission techniques, in this particular type of connection (PPTP VPN), DOES perform much, MUCH better than PCoIP. Just watch the two videos for yourself (the PCoIP is also available in high definition 720p). At 3% loss ICA simply smokes PCoIP (that without our technology is virtually unusable – again, over PPTP. LT2P may change things, making PCoIP closer to ICA over the WAN). The game changes completely when IPQ is on. ICA improves for sure (again, watch the videos) but PCoIP at that point really shines. The improvement is brutal, huge. At the end we turn something that is really unusable over the lossy WAN into something people can actually use. It is that much of an improvement.

In case you want the direct YouTube links, here you have them:

ICA: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yw5lBk-bdv8
PCoIP: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXpbawlg90Y

The bottom line is simple. All current implementations for remote display technologies do suffer over the real world WAN. The idea of our technology is to work as ‘Network Insurance’ for your connection. If the conditions are good we know that thanks to our beacon exchange and at that stage we simply turn ourselves off. But when loss comes, we are there to protect you. Exactly like your insurance company. You have it and hope not to use it. Ever. But when you need it, you know it is there and that you can count on it.

That is what we are. Network Insurance for you and your users.

CR

3,244 total views, 2 views today

ICA behavior on lossy networks.

I guess a picture is worth a thousand words. So what about a video?

Yesterday here at Citrix Synergy 2010 I had the time to record a quick video that shows how ICA, normally a very robust protocol for the WAN, suffers from packet loss. Before you go ahead and say the conditions of the test are not really ‘real world’ all I can tell you (and I can show it in person if you want) is the loss I have seen yesterday over the connection provided by the Marriot Hotel in San Francisco spiked during certain moments to more than 15-20%. So on the real world you will face packet loss at one degree or another. Guaranteed it WILL be there.

This quick test (runs for 6 minutes) shows a XenApp 6 server running on Windows Server 2008 R2 with no load whatsoever. We injected a 3% loss but again, were able to see huge spikes on it (remember, our solution, hardware or software based, sends a beacon between both ends all the time to determine how network conditions are at any given time and adjusts how mildly/heavily we do our magic and with all this data we can plot what is going on over the link in real time).

The results? Well see for yourself. My take on this is XenDesktop/XenApp do suffer. Period. In certain cases your users would experience serious lags when typing, very choppy video/audio and so on. Unusable? I would not go that far. Fixable? Yes as the video clearly shows. And also keep in mind this was all done over a hotel internet connection (the type you get on your room) in a conference where probably every single person IS using the hotel link AND this was done on a XenApp 6 box running in Ottawa, Canada, a couple miles from San Francisco (probably around 3,000 miles).

If you want to understand how we do this (remember, we are a layer 2 solution so we fix ICA, RDP, PCoIP, etc – we do not care what you run; we fix it) feel free to stop me at Citrix Synergy for a chat or just follow me on Twitter (crod).

Bottom line: even though these protocols do have their mechanisms to cope with packet loss, ICA, the king of the kings in the VDI world IMHO, does suffer. If it does, I can only imagine PCoIP will suffer even more (and RDP too). Oh we have tested them.

Yes, they suck.

2,034 total views, no views today

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

49,755 total views, no views today