Answers to this week’s most common questions about VMware View 4

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I wrote about VMware's View 4 announcement on Monday. Since then there have been a lot of questions raised.

I wrote about VMware’s View 4 announcement on Monday. Since then there have been a lot of questions raised. I’ve managed to get answers to some, and I’m working on getting answers to the rest. But I figured that for today I’d update everyone on what I’ve learned so far.

(By the way, I’m still working my way through the product for a full review of VMware’s software implementation of PCoIP. I hope to have that done in a few weeks. And the server I bought for that is a Dell with dual quad-core AMD 2.4GHz processors, 12GB RAM, and four disks for under $2,000! How crazy is that!?!)'

What platforms does the software PCoIP client run on?

On Monday I wrote that the PCoIP software client was only available for Windows and that Mac and Linux support would come soon. It turns out that that Linux support will come very soon, although it will only be for Linux thin client devices and available through VMware’s thin client partners. There won’t be a Linux software client available for download directly from VMware initially, although that's something they're working on too.

VMware said that vSphere 4 ups the density from 8 to 16 desktop VMs per core. Is this due to software improvements to ESX 4 itself, or to the fact that it’s running on faster hardware such as Intel’s Nehalem chips?

Here’s the response from Scott Davis, VMware’s desktop CTO:

It’s difficult to generate a single metric for VMs per core. Your mileage can vary based on the application mix and level of activity, as well as the hardware involved--processors, memory, and I/O--so there isn’t one generic number reflecting VMs per core. That said we have seen a dramatic increase in desktop density with View 4.0, vSphere 4.0, and current generation hardware. It’s the combination that delivers the overall benefit. With prior generation systems, vSphere 4.0 and View 4.0 averaged around hosting 8 VMs per core. The current generation of processors and servers are far more powerful and designed for virtualization with many innovations with respect to both core densities and technology optimizations including both processor virtualization assists and virtualization-oriented memory management hardware. These are not automatic benefits, i.e. you don’t get them by just running VI 3.5 on them. We made numerous optimizations in vSphere 4.0 to make use of these hardware advances. For example, with the Intel Nehalem class processors, we have support for EPT and large pages and we optimized the way the VMM handles VM exits. These changes deliver benefits with the new generation of hardware and are not used on older hardware. With such newer hardware technologies and vSphere/View 4.0, we have observed 16 (and in some cases higher) VMs per core with knowledge worker load profiles.

As we discussed during our call on Friday [This is Scott referring to the call that I had with him on Friday], VMware also made numerous changes to algorithms in different aspects of vSphere not directly related to new hardware support, specifically for improving aspects of VDI scalability. Areas include VMFS file system, guest and hypervisor I/O drivers, network drivers, core scheduler, management control processes (hostd, vmx), etc. Generally these changes improve the user experience, the system administrator experience and scalability, and they reduce cost through greater consolidation of resources while maintaining the level of experience. Relevant metrics that we looked to improve included VM power on times, storage and memory consumption, VMs per cluster, VMs per memory and core, VMs per LUN, VMs simultaneously booted, etc. And these metrics are not just per VM/User, we measure and optimize for bulk operations. I reviewed many of these with you during Friday’s session.

Given all this, it’s not meaningful nor would I be comfortable stating a single VM per core metric for View 4/vSphere 4 nor do I consider it useful to try and attribute specific gains to hardware or software. System or total solution performance, scalability and cost are the important metrics and the View 4 with vSphere 4 delivers in all three dimensions.

Is ThinPrint or TCX supported when brokering a connection to a blade or TS session? If not, why not?

Thinprint or TCX is not supported for blade or TS session. (Note they did not answer the “why not” portion.)

Any ETA on Win7 support (i.e. Moving it out of “experimental” mode?)

Early 2010

Right now the View 4 Connection Server must be installed on Windows 2003, i.e. Win 2008 is not supported. When will this change?

Early 2010

What are the multi-monitor support options?

Four displays, 1920x1200 each, 32-bit color, “L”-shaped configurations, auto-fit to clients

Is there built-in SSL-VPN support?

No. VMware recommends the Cisco VPN soft client.

How is the software PCoIP different from the hardware PCoIP?

This is a big question that I’m trying to answer fully. Right now I can say that there are several differences. First of all, there are a few new “little” features, like dynamic audio quality adjustment in the software version.

But more importantly, VMware re-engineered quite a bit of the way that the PCoIP protocol components run on the host. In the previous hardware-based implementations, the PCoIP input was literally the DVI cable output from the remote host workstation. It was just looking at a stream of pixels and nothing else. But VMware moved that processing into the VM where it can get access to the GDI and the Windows graphics stack which has allowed them to make some modifications to the host encoding capabilities that were not available previously to Teradici. (The software version of PCoIP accesses all of this via its own virtual display adapter, just like RDP and ICA, which is obviously very different than the hardware version.) This is what allows VMware to tweak how PCoIP is encoded based on whether it’s looking at text, graphical applications, video, flash, etc.

So actually I think yesterday’s blog post by Juan Rivera (the guy at Citrix who leads HDX) is not entirely accurate. It seems he’s assuming the software version of PCoIP works exactly the same as the hardware version, which is doesn’t. (By the way, I think one of the reasons people assume this is because the hardware and software PCoIP clients are fully inter-operable, so there’s an assumption that they all must be doing pretty much the same thing. But I think there’s a capabilities exchange that takes place, so if a software PCoIP host knows it’s talking to a hardware PCoIP client, then it will be sure to send data in a format that client can decode. But it’s not like the protocol is identical for every connection scenario.) For example, VMware moved their multimedia redirection into PCoIP, so it's definitely NOT 100% host-side rendering like Juan said.

Again, I haven't had a chance to really bang on this yet, so I can't get too more specific at this point. But I'll be testing that soon.

Can View broker a PCoIP connection to a blade with a hardware PCoIP card?

From VMware’s Warren Ponder:

Yes, currently we will broker to blade PCs/rack workstations that have Tera 1 host cards. This mostly is the sweet spot for the higher end workstation market. ( designers, illustrators, EDA, etc.) The workstation market is not huge but there is reasonable business there mixing blades and virtual desktops. Typically these guys need a dedicated machine for their graphics work and a secondary machine for their productivity work. This allows them to switch between the two or run them in parallel.

There will need to be a firmware change on the host card to work with the soft client. That will come approximately 90 days post GA. But all the client/broker work is  done.

We maintain compatibility between the software and hardware PCoIP solutions via the following combinations:

  • PCoIP zero client (i.e. hardware client) to VM
  • Soft client to PCoIP physical host
  • PCoIP zero client to PCoIP Physical Host
  • Soft client to VM

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Okay, so pass through authentication doesn't work with PCoIP that much we know, but what about ThinPrint Smart Cards etc.. ? I have heard but would like confirmation around these. I am guessing it's because they are usually bound to a virtual channel on RDP/ICA which doesn't exist with PCoIP  - Anyone got an answer?


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There is just so much fud being put out there it's a little worrying that people will make choices on emotion rather than common sense and facts.


Let's be VERY VERY clear. VMWare has a VDI model only. This is $$$$ full stop. 16 VM's per CORE! Why the F would anybody care. I am happy with 1 VM per core just like a real desktop in the real world. If I want to over commit CPU, I may go higher but what the hell am I going to do with 1/16 of a core when all the users log on? I mean even in TS, how many people really put 16 users per core. It just screws you as soon as somebody does something CPU intensive even with CPU fair sharing etc. So this is just BS. TS/XA etc are the cheapest way and most reliable way to provide lower cost desktops, end of F'ing story and enough of this fud. Gang banging cores results in unpredictable performance which is not the desktop service level that one should strive for in many organizations. VDI is not cheaper today. VDI is a about agility not cost today unless you have a very simple environment. Show me a single VDI implementation at scale who uses pooled desktops and can handle the variance case and point. Ron Oglesby has a good post also on why effectively pooled will not work in many cases


blog.unidesk.com/.../Why-application-virtualization-didn-t-turn-out-to-be-the-nirvana-a-lot-of-us-thought-it-would-be


Irrespective of VDI, TS, etc one of the MAJOR benefits is access from any device. The FACT that PCoIP has no MAC support is a HUGE disadvantage and is death by a thousand cuts from an end user perspective. The Linux strategy of use loud mouth CEO from UNWyse etc to lock you into custom hardware that is $$$ makes you unflexible to run anything locally is just more fud and evidence that VMWare does not have a real product of any maturity.


Add to this lack of printing, profile, Windows 7, and EXPERIMENTAL TYPE 1 and the whole solution just falls aprt. It's amazing that their marketing is saying get ready for Windows 7, yeah FU perhaps you should first before putting out fud like that.


Good that they are making tweaks on scalability, so credit to them there.


PCoIP. It uses UDP, so my networking folks are going to have a field day trying to support that. They lack smart access, so what the hell good is locking one into a CISCO $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ VPN solution. The fact they can't run on TS is a huge disadvantage. They don't run on my blades. They don't run on non ESX hypervisors, vSphere can't manage anything but ESX. It's ALL lock in, RUN. Juan's blog brings up the scalability thing also. He's right, server side everything means suck up CPU. Perhaps that's their view. Use 50% of the core just to process graphics :-) Not sure about bitmap stuff given Brian's good write up above. However the logical question I have is, why should I believe Teradici who OWN PCoIP allow themselves to get screwed by VMWare by allowing them to make it better than their custom hardware solution. Is there a royalty arrangement? I know Teradici sucks up bandwidth, the other issue people ignore. And guess what. At home I don't have custom hardware. Home is a WAN use cases, and if you can't handle that, this is all fud.


The real question VMWare needs to answer is why will anybody move to a VDI model when it costs more? Agility for sure, then show customers at scale who are implementing your VDI solution. That's 10,000 plus. I want to verify all the BS they put out that millions of people use VMWare VDI. Sure VMWare workstation, I'm talking real use cases VMWare, cut out the fud, I am tired of your marketing as much as I am tired of Citrix marketing.


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@ Gareth. Hi Gareth, I am guessing by passthough you mean SSO? Our SSO does work with PCoIP. We are working on Smart Card finishing that up, and it will be available shortly in a follow up release. .thin Print is also getting finished up and as always they have been great. That does not mean there is zero printer support as there is still standard printer redirection. Neither is entirely Virtual Channel related. PCoIP has native virtual channel capabilities. We also developed a RDP virtual channel plug-in that allows RDP based solutions to use a RDP virtual channel with a PCoIP session as a stepping stone to PCoIP virtual channels. With this first release there is MMR support which uses a combination of Virtual Channels and sockets. So, there are two paths actually we can take with partners. I hope that helps.


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@Warren - will there be way to automate the login of a PCoIP hard client connecting to View?  Currently you can pass user credentials to the View client when starting it up but that obviously won't be available on PCoIP hardware.  I need to do the auto-login thing on a lot of my endpoints, a sort of pseudo kiosk mode.


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How do I load test View 4 with PCoIP?


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from a PCoIP remote access  perspective will it work with a SSL VPN or will it require an IPSEC tunnel due to the UDP communication being used..


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@dturner71 currently the PCoIP portal does not have this option. We see a lot of requests for it. I do not want to entirely say they will not do it. We are working with Teradici on how to do it. We also are making some modifications for Kiosk type modes in View Manger. Becasue of that they might wait to do it. Stu might catch this and chim in.


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@ Jeff we support and work with SSL VPNs. At VMware the standard SSL  VPN infrastructure is Juniper. I am remote working mostly out of my home office. I have a dual head thin client and connect back to Palo Alto over  a SSL VPN to run my virtual desktop sesion using PCoIP everyday. We also have our Security Server that many View customers use. We are working on inegration with it as well and will offer support for that very soon.


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@Warren - which WAN accelerators work with PCoIP? What kind of performance improvement can you reasonably expect to see over the WAN when used with a supported accelerator?


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@Warren - thanks for the info.  Any idea when we might see that?  I'm looking at deployment in April and would prefer to go the stateless PCoIP client route.


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@Warren Ponder, thanks for the reply. We had six VMware engineers trying to get SSO working, no dice, didn't work. I suppose the question is, when you define SSO, do you mean passing the Web Portal credentials through, or the device login credentials? Citrix can pass it through all the way through from the device, but VMware doesn't seem capable of that.


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@Gareth Hey Gareth, there are a few ways is works. 1. There is now an option to use current windows credentials in the View client. That uses the local machine credentials all the way to the Virtual Desktop. 2. There is the traditional way. Log in to local machine, launch the client, authenticate to View and from there credentials are passed all the way to the Virtual Desktop.  


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Bottom line UDP is not going to work in the real world. Security folks are going to have a field day with this. PCoIP is just fud.


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See this PCoIP from dell regarding deployment and bandwidth reqs


www.dell.com/.../remote_access_device_network_considerations.pdf


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@warren


yes Jeff but you most likely are using the Juniper VPN client in Network Connect model which forces it to act like an IPSEC client to handle the UDP traffic. In my mind this isnt a true lightweight SSL solution for connectivity that would allow me to non intrusively gain access to View from a non-managed device


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PCOIP AND RDP COMPARISON ON VIMEO CHECK IT OUT


http://www.vimeo.com/7944550


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@emaxt6


The URL you have for the PCoIP deployment and bandwidth requirements is outdated.  It was removed from the Teradici website.  With the introduction of the latest 3.0 firmware the hardware requirements for large screen refreshes went from 3MB/s to ~1MB/s.


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Upon evaluation of VMWARE VIEW 4 hybrid configuration with PCOIP hardware, here's what I observed:


Can View broker a PCoIP connection to a blade with a hardware PCoIP card?


I evaluated this product this month and there is nothing on the host card that lets you do this.  It maybe on future release or future TERADICI firmware update (I am on the latest 3.0 by the way) but I am pretty positive that this is not possible yet despite the claim that it is supported.  


-I also notice an annoying bug that I do not know how to fix...  I have to login twice to get connected, it automatically disconnects me after a successfull login..  Here is the symptom:  I have a samsung PCOIP monitor and it connects to View 4 manager.  I would log in, show me the VDI that I am entitled to; I would click it; shows me the familiar WinXP logon screen; press ctl-alt-delete and login; as soon as I hit enter it connects me and then the session disconnects and it takes me back to the View logon screen again; login the second time, click the VDI I am entitled to and It takes me directly to the machine without the AD logon screen because I already connected during the first session.  It is the same when I use the "Client" for WinXP so it is in the VM agent.  Anyone seen this? I am sure there is a fix to it, I find it hard to believe that they would release a product with this annoying bug.


- Isochronous USB does not work, like a USB headset.


- USB thumbdrive connected to the zero client work but the external dvd drive doesn't.  The VDI machine see's it and install the driver but when I stick any cd or dvd, it does not see the content.  weird..


- PCOIP hardware security.  I wish I can put a centralize or even local password on the host card and the zero client to prevent anyone from going to the web interface and messing with the config.


Conclusion: There are probably others I can test but I found enough bug to make me realize that this early stage of PCOIP and VIEW4 is not ready for production use.  It has lots of potential but I would probably wait for the next patch and I would evaluate it again..  


Anybody has experience with Pano Logic how good are their solution compared to View 4? I know they are pretty much the same architecture but instead of using View agent, pano has its own service that you install on the VDI machine.  Can anybody share their experience?


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