VMworld 2011 preview and expectations

omg, omg, omg

It's time for VMworld again! What will the lunches be like this year? Will I make it to my sessions on time? Who is going to win best in show? Will I get to see Justin Bieber there? What will the 2011 VMworld backpacks look like?

Not everyone who is going to the conference has the same goals. Some are new to virtualization and others are long time proponents. I will admit that the conference does not expose people to other hypervisor products like Hyper-V or Xen Servers, but this is VMworld after all. Everything you find will be VMware centric but most of the vendors cator to any hypervisor.

I was a little disappointed when I saw the thread on the VMworld discussion board that there would be no VCP or VCAP exams at VMworld this year. They will however have some benefits for those who attended the conference. This includes free prep material and a 50% discount on VCP 4/5 tests scheduled before November 30th, 2011. Let's hope the prep material is not just a bunch of PDF docs. You can read all about it here.

Last years Fun Run in San Francisco was awesome. It looks they have scheduled another awesome event. This time they have included a bike ride in Red Rock Canyon. The cost looks a little higher than what it was last year, but it all goes to a good cause. Information can be found here.

Don't forget about the vendor parties. Make sure you email you rep ahead of time to remind them about the customer appreciation parties at VMworld.

The labs last year were amazing. A big improvement over the 2009 VMworld labs. I'm just hoping they repeat the success of last years labs.

Whether your shopping for a specific type of product or just browsing, your bound to find a long standing vendor or a great new breakout vendor who will fit your needs.

The F5 BIG-IP XenDesktop monitor for LTM

F5 has a great product that can be used in place of the Citrix NetScaler, the BIG-IP LTM. Although, you should watch the webcast from Citrix on how the NetScaler outperforms the F5 LTM. Citrix claims that in most test scenarios they have 3X less latency that the F5 LTM. 

The deployment guide document from F5 for XenDesktop needs a little clarification for first timers. On page 7, it seems like a simple process of copying a "create-citrix-monitor.tcl" file from your local windows station to the F5 LTM via WinSCP. The TCL file can be downloaded from here. But, what you need is a "create-citrix-monitor.sh" file to run from the command line on your F5 device. The link provided in the documentation contains a script that does not work. You may receive a line error "Failed to load TMSH script". I received a replacement script from the F5 support team that can be found here. This was run on a F5 LTM with 10.2.1 Build 297.0 Final.

Take note that this script calls against a "wpnbr.dll" which exsists on the DDC, not the web front ends. Another option on the CitrixWICredentials is to create a simple send and receive string to check against web services on the web front ends.

Send string: GET / HTTP/1.1rnConnection: closernHost: CompanyVirtualName.company.comrnrn

Receive string: /Citrix/DesktopWeb

Please test this in a test environment first.

vRAM entitlement + vSphere Desktop changes – WIN (kinda)

If I sold you a vehicle and told you I was only charging you by the number of tires that were on the vehicle and that was my standard for years, you might find that acceptable and affordable. But what if I told you that I was now going to charge you by the number of people you want to put in that vehicle and what their total weight could be? I'm sure you would be pretty frustrated! After hearing your frustration, I have now doubled the weight limit on who can be in your vehicle. Would that make things better?

I'm still not a fan of the vRAM entitlement on vSphere 5, but VMware has made an announcement that will help lessen the impact for a lot of customers. According to this chart, VMware has doubled the amount of entitlement for the top two tiers of licenses and increased slightly for the bottom three teirs of licenses.

 VMware also announced a vSphere Desktop license model. Thankfully, this takes away the vRAM entitlement limitations from the hosts. Is it a VMware View option only? Nope! Those who are hosting desktops on vSphere hosts with third party VDI brokers like Citrix XenDesktop or Quest vWorkspace fall under this license model.

"Customers currently using vSphere as backend for a 3rd party VDI deployment can continue to do so. Customers who purchased licenses for vSphere 4.x (or previous versions) prior to September 30, 2011 to host desktop virtualization, and hold current SnS agreements, may upgrade to vSphere 5.0 while retaining access to unlimited vRAM entitlement. Desktop licenses covered by this provision, however, may not be managed by the same instance of Virtual Center which is being used to manage non-desktop OS virtual machines."

So you must have a separate vCenter server and you must have Enterprise + licenses on your hosts in order to use VDI.

Does this mean you have to buy vSphere Desktop in 100 packs for all of your hosted VDI sessions? It does not appear so, at first. vSphere Desktop is licensed based on the total number of powered on VMs. But…

"Customers who purchased licenses for vSphere 4.x (or previous versions) to host desktop virtualization, and hold current SnS agreements, may upgrade to vSphere 5.0 while retaining their current licensing metric and thus have access to unlimited vRAM entitlement. vSphere Desktop extends only to the purchases of new vSphere licenses for desktop virtualization."

I'm not sure how this conversion is going to happen with existing VDI hosts with 3rd party solutions. But it appears that you will have to buy new vSphere Desktop licenses in 100 packs and enterprise+ licenses after Setp 30th, 2011.