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I just visited VMworld breakout session PAR3241 – VMware Horizon View: Finally the Replacement for Server-Based Computing?

Spencer Pitts, EMEA EUC Practice Lead
Edwin Weijdema, Enterprise Architect Imtech ICT

This session is not about a fantastics new feature which blows server based computing right out of the water. It’s about the success a VMware partner can achief in the EUC space with VMware Horizon View and how VMware can help the partner to do so.

The desktop has changed dramatically over the years. In the past we managed PC’s with ‘desktop management solutions’ like Norton Ghost. The only fancy deviation from that were mobile workers with laptops. The applications were all client or server-based and we never heard of clouds and SaaS. The world was simple.

That all changed within the last few years. You’re now not only servicing employees but also contractors, outsources, partners, citizens or students. They use non-owned devices, they use multiple devices, mostly non windows and connect using WiFi, 3G, Internet from all over the world.

But first of all, in this context, what is VDI? VMware differentiates between server based computing and a server hosted desktop. VDI in the VMware sense is a server hosted desktop with a desktop operating system.

VDI is great and it tackles a lot of issues which you encounter in a server-based computing environment, but is it a solution that fits for 100% of the use cases?  It all dependents on the users, applications, etc. This is different for every customer. But if you know how the users work and know which application they use you can judge if VDI is the way to go for this specific customer. VDI is just one of the execution platform which can solve your desktop problems along with sever-based computing, SaaS, FAT clients, etc.

But what slowed the adoption of VDI in the past?

  • Cost of storage (60% + was storage cost overall solution)
    Nowadays VDI storage solutions got cheaper and faster with vendors like FusionIO and with products from vendors like Pernix Data you don’t have to sacrifice VMware features when using local storage.
  • Microsoft licensing model
    This is something we cannot control, VDA unavoidable with a true VDI solution.
  • Density
    There’s a perceived massive density difference between SBC/VDI. This may have been true in the past but now this is a myth. Real world figures now show a 15-25% difference but with far better performance. The achieved density depends on the applications, don not dispense VDI based on these assumptions.
  • No 100% coverage
    Some customers dispense of VDI because it adds another management solution besides their primary desktop solution.

But VMware Horizon View has come a long way.

  • VDM 1.0, released in 2003
    This was not a VMware development but a customer requesting support for a Windows desktop OS running on a VMware hypervisor connecting with RDP.
  • VDM 2.0, released in 2007
    This included the introduction of the Connection Broker. With VDM 1.0 switching desktops or spanning multiple physical server meant specifying a different desktop IP address.
  • View 3.0, released in 2008
    This included View Composer for efficient storage utilization and ThinApp for application virtualization.
  • View 4.0, released in 2009
    This was the first version with support for PCoIP
  • View 4.5 & 4.6, released in 2010
    Included advanced features making View real enterprise ready. It included Application delivery, Windows 7 support, support for mobile clients and increased security.
  • View 5.0, released in 2011
    In this version PCoIP got a complete protocol overhaul and included software 3D graphics and persona management.
  • View 5.1, released in 2012
    Focussed on IOPS reduction, USB revamp, end-to-end monitoring, more and better security and support for more clients.

In the past VDI use cases got stuck between 40-50% but nowadays customers can achieve 90-95% depending on customer workloads.

Imtech ICT uses a true business architecture and translates the customer requirement to a technical solution to achieve the maximum use case and try to hit 100%. The customer doesn’t care about the server, storage, IOPS, bottlenecks, etc. The customer cares about the end solution to deliver their applications to support the core business. To do this Imtech ICT delivers a robust, scalable foundation based on the Imtech Validated Architecture with a FlexPod, build on Cisco, NetApp and VMware. On top of that they deliver a VDI desktop solution. The underlying infrastructure is a ‘black box’ and on top of that they build a VDI solution. The key is that Imtech chose a default solution based on a validated architecture/blue print. They do not design every solution from scratch, they know the required building blocks for the underlying black box. This speeds up the time to market and in the end the total cost of the solution. Picking a vendor  for the VDI platform, picking a hardware vendor and making an architecture that’s proven and repeatable.

VMware provides blue prints like the VMware AlwaysOn Desktop Solution Design and VMware BusinessMobile Desktop in which they do the same allowing partners to do the same as Imtech ICT. The blue prints can be found at the VMware Desktop Solutions website.

To do this you can also use the Gartner segmentation model which uses 7 different worker category templates and define functional requirements in business terms. The model diffentiates between:

  • Productivity task worker
  • Communications task worker
  • Office-based Information worker
  • Campus-based Information worker
  • Content/media worker
  • Traveling worker
  • VIP

The outcome is a graph which a partner can match to a preferred desktop solution like VDI or SBC. It’s not about the technology itself, it’s about understanding the customers needs and profile. VMware is not saying SBC is dead, there’s a use case for both.

Important to note is that SBC is no longer much cheaper than VDI used to be. Major cost for VDI have reduced, given more performance and have become more cost effective. Density has increased with this increased performance and the application landscape has become more demanding, flexing the boundaries of SBC solutions.