Christian Metz, director of information technology for the Orange County United Way and an independent IT consultant, recently upgraded to VMware vSphere for server virtualization and is preparing to install VMware's desktop virtualization software, VMware View 4. Here, he explains his proof-of-concept (POC) experience and offers some time- and cost-saving advice.
So you decided to go with VMware View for desktop virtualization. What are you doing to prepare your infrastructure for the deployment?
Christian Metz: We have already done a POC on this product and are in the process of purchasing a starter pack. We ran all the products included in the pack, [including] VCS [VMware vCenter Server], VMware View Manager [download PDF], the vSphere Host and View Composer. After getting all the basic components, you have to install and configure them. This is pretty straightforward.
Something to note here, however, is while it is recommended you have each of these four pieces on a separate piece of physical hardware, it isn't necessary. In a production environment, you would want to reduce any single point of failure, but if cost is more of a concern, you could run all four pieces off of a single vSphere physical host.
After installing the vSphere host, you would then launch three virtual servers to run the three corresponding functions [previously listed]. But optimally, you would want to have each of these on a separate physical system.
Did you have to add servers to support VMware View on the back end?
Metz: The hardware constraints on these systems are extremely limited, so other than the host, don't go crazy purchasing new servers. In my POC, I used two separate physical hosts to test this environment: one physical vSphere Host and one physical VCS; the other two components were virtualized on the vSphere Host.
VMware [says] the number of systems you can run per core has dramatically increased [with View 4]. Where the general rule of thumb used to be seven clients per core, VMware [says] with VMware View 4, you can run up to 16 systems per core.
I personally have not had the opportunity to test this, but you can assume that the more resources a user needs, the less will be available to the subsequent users. So ultimately, this number really depends on the type of users you will be putting on that core.
What about networking requirements?
Metz: You can assume them to be the same as your existing VMware server environment. If you don't have a VMware environment now, I would say depending on what kind of technologies you have available to you, be prepared for a lot of cabling.
We run five dual-port NICs [network interface controllers] on each of our vSphere hosts and will be doing the same with our desktop infrastructure. This provides for load balancing and redundancy.
I've heard that desktop virtualization can be extremely complicated. Was there any training involved with deploying or using it?
Metz: VMware View 4 has a lot of capabilities, but if you have a general working knowledge of VMware already, you should be able to get it up and running with little effort.
My recommendation is that if you do not have any training on VMware, go and take a course on vSphere and just ask general questions on View while you are in the class. VMware is a large product, and there are a lot of moving parts. Without proper training, your infrastructure may work, but it will more than likely not be running optimally, and you may be missing out on a lot of common optimizations or third-party applications. If you already are familiar with VMware technologies, I would recommend at least reading the administration and installation guides.
What do you think of VMware View 4 so far?
Metz: At the VMware Forum, there was a customer case study, and the individual said something that really stuck with me. He said, "It's not a matter of if you will deploy virtual desktops; it's a question of when." I find this to be very true. The benefits of virtualized desktops are so glaring that if you're not at least looking at it, you are going to get left behind.
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