Brian and Gabe's "must see" desktop sessions at VMworld 2010

It's VMworld week, and with that comes the process of sorting out the stuff we care about from the stuff we don't. Brian covered this with regards to the vendors in his article last week, and today, I want to talk about the sessions that we're paying attention to.

It's VMworld week, and with that comes the process of sorting out the stuff we care about from the stuff we don't. Brian covered this with regards to the vendors in his article last week, and today, I want to talk about the sessions that we're paying attention to. Deciding which sessions to attend is a little bit easier than deciding which vendors to check out, but not by much. The Desktop Virtualization track lists 27 sessions, ranging from cloud computing to the future of VMware Workstation, with a variety of presenters from VMware and from around the industry.

The List

We each went through the list of sessions and picked the ones that piqued our interest the most. Here's what we came up with (sessions both of us selected have been deemed "double-anticipated" and are noted with an asterisk *):

Virtual Desktop Cloud - The Future Vision of End-User Computing

Abstract: Dramatic changes are in progress for the world of end-user computing. Whether it's the explosion of new devices and form factors, diversity of operating systems and application frameworks, or the impact of cloud computing architectures and how we consume their services. This session with VMware's Desktop CTO will cover how these trends are influencing the future of end-user computing. Expect to see VMware vision for the virtual desktop cloud and the journey to it as we move from a Windows centric world to the era of diversity in client devices and technologies consuming vast cloud-based services.

Why we dig it: When it comes to no-brainer sessions, this is one of the top. VMware's Desktop CTO laying out his vision of the future of desktop virtualization is easily one of the sessions people should watch. Even if you don't agree, you'll get an understanding of why VMware does what VMware does.

Bridging Application Management Between Public & Private Clouds: A Technology Preview of VMware's Next Generation Solution

VMware will be discussing the company's future end user computing offerings that will provide new methods provisioning and managing applications and data based on the user, not the device. VMware seeks to enable our customers to move forward in an evolutionary journey from their current Windows-centric environments to a future where end user computing is cloud-enabled to take advantage of the flexibility and new services in the public cloud while maintaining the security and control in their private clouds.

Why we dig it: Let's face it. The technologies and strategies covered in this session represent the future of VMware's desktop (err, "end user computing") products. This session, from VMware's Noah Wasmer and Tiffany To, is a look at that VMware "Origami" project we talked about last week, and if you're a longer-term desktop strategy person, this is the one session you should not miss.

ThinApp: What's New and Future Vision*

Abstract: This session will detail new features and enhancements to the ThinApp product since VMWorld 2009. This includes ThinApp versions 4.0.3, 4.0.4, 4.5 as well as any new version of ThinApp at the time of VMWorld 2010. This session will also cover the vision for the future of application virtualization and will include demos of possible future technology.

Why we dig it: Here's another session that's tough to avoid. ThinApp is a robust product with a lot of devotees in the application virtualization world, and it's presented by Jonathan Clark, its creator.

The VMware View Reference Architecture*

Abstract: This session provides a review of the VMware View Reference Architecture - a validated virtual desktop solution with datacenter infrastructure including desktop hardware, networking hardware and storage infrastructure. Validation for the VMware View Reference Architecture was performed at scale in a lab environment simulating a 2,048 concurrent user virtual desktop environment, executing a realistic desktop workload.

Why we dig it: This session is interesting to us because it should represent the ideal VMware View implementation. This allows people to see the process behind the architecture so we can draw our own conclusions on whether or not it is a realistic scenario, not to mention whether or not it will work in whatever environment you may have.

Server-Hosted Virtual Desktops: What the Vendors Aren't Telling You*

Abstract: Many organizations are beginning to implement or plan server-hosted virtual desktop solutions. Vendor platform assessments in the emerging client virtualization market are often difficult due to a lack of defined acceptable standards. In this session, Gartner research director Chris Wolf and principal analyst Simon Bramfitt share Gartner’s benchmark for evaluating server-hosted virtual desktop solutions, including criteria for evaluating a solution’s deployment, management, performance, integration, and user experience capabilities. The session concludes with a breakdown and scorecards of popular vendor solutions, including the current VMware, Citrix, Microsoft, and Quest Software products.

Why we dig it: As respected (and non-VMware) speakers, we can rely on Chris Wolf and Simon Bramfitt to pass along real information (and opinions) with absolutely no spin. Frankly, I'd like to see more of this kind of session at these shows.

Quantifying the Business Benefits of VMware View Virtual Desktop Solution

Abstract: A VMware View Virtual Desktop solution can provide significant cost savings and IT manageability improvements by consolidating a vast number of supported end points onto a centralized service providing platform. According to Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) primary research, 71% of organizations that have implemented desktop virtualization have seen real, measurable costs savings with roughly a 60% reduction in hardware, software, and administration costs. When selecting a VMware View solution, organizations must understand the total infrastructure costs to make the right investment decision. This session will cover the infrastructure costs and the tangible business benefits of the VMware View Desktop Virtualization solution, and help you understand how you can lower your total cost of ownership by up to 50%.

Why we dig it: The point (from our perspective) of this session is mostly to soak in the information and pass it through our BS filter. Without spin, this session could hold its own really well, but we'll leave that to the BS filter to find out.

VDI Performance Benchmarking and Best Practices*

Abstract: Optimizing VDI performance is a challenge. Choosing the right CPU, providing enough memory per host, selecting a guest operating system, determining the best size for the virtual machines, and allocating enough storage. Making these decisions is difficult enough, but on top of all that, you need a way to validate that your setup will work as planned. What should an administrator do? After all, VDI stands for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, not Very Difficult to Implement.

Why we dig it: This is one of those sessions that should be at the top of your list. Even if it's only discussing VMware solutions (it IS VMworld, after all), you should still come away with plenty of information on how to benchmark and plan for your VDI needs.

View Composer Technical Deep Dive & Best Practices

Abstract: View Composer is one of the most powerful and useful features of VMware View facilitating rapid provisioning, elegant desktop updating and patching while enabling significant savings on Storage Area Network (SAN) disk space. This in-depth technical session will provide a deep dive on the newest features, peel back the architecture and provide tips, tricks, troubleshooting, and strategies for getting the most out of View Composer. This session will also explore best practices around image and application management, day to day operations, and disaster recovery.

Why we dig it: We got a pretty good look at View Composer during Geek Week this past March, but it's hard to pass up a session that digs deep into the new features, architecture, and best practices related to one of View's core technologies.

Case Study & Live Demo of View 4.x in an Enterprise Production Environment by Brown Shoe Company, with Lessons Learned on SAN, User Profiles, Folder Redirection, Etc.

Abstract: The move to virtual desktops can be a daunting one for large businesses. To help peers better understand this process, this presentation, by an IT manager at Brown Shoe and virtualization veteran, provides a detailed description of a large business’ path towards a fully virtualized client infrastructure – and as a bonus will demonstrate their Production View deployment.

Brown Shoe is a $2.4 billion multinational manufacturer and distributer, and owns of Famous Footwear stores, Shoes.com and brands like Dr. Scholls footwear and Franco Sarto. This presentation will describe how they deployed (and redeploy) upwards of a 1,000 virtual desktops for employees with diverse needs, from call center workers to SAP developers, across more than a half-dozen facilities around the globe. The presentation reviews the architecture and IT management choices Brown Shoe staff made around VDI, including clients, storage, its upgrade to View 4.x, and shares best practices around roaming profiles, user policies, IT staffing, etc. The presenter will also demonstrate the deployment of VMs and clients from scratch live from his production vSphere, View & iSCSI SAN environment. This session serves as a good introductory case study for IT departments considering vSphere, View and SAN technology for their virtual desktop needs. Brown Shoe Company will also discuss the implementation of VMware view (VDI) to their Distribution Centers in multiple states/countries as well as the entire Call Center and how productivity has increased since the initial deployment.

Why we dig it: I'm not usually a huge fan of case studies. Some of them are just boring, others are too specific to apply to a general usage scenario, and others are too high-level to appeal to anyone who has a title beneath that of Director. For this session, I'm more interested in seeing what technologies are behind used for profiles, policies, and management. Still, if I had to choose between this session and the Reference Architecture session, I'd pick the Reference Architecture one. If you have time for both, what have you got to lose?

The Schedule at-a-glance

For the sake of convenience, we put together a list with the times and locations of these sessions.

Monday

9:00 AM, Moscone West Room 2003: VDI Performance Benchmarking and Best Practices

12:00 PM, Moscone West Room 2002: Virtual Desktop Cloud - The Future Vision of End-User Computing

Tuesday

11:00 AM, Moscone West Room 2003: Choosing the Right Desktop Virtualization Platform

12:30 PM, Moscone West Room 2004: The VMware View Reference Architecture

12:30 PM, Moscone South Room 301: Bridging Application Management Between Public & Private Clouds: A Technology Preview of VMware's Next Generation Solution

2:00 PM, Moscone West Room 2007: Server-Hosted Virtual Desktops: What the Vendors Aren't Telling You

2:00 PM, Moscone West Room 2004: ThinApp: What's New and Future Vision

2:00 PM, Moscone West Room 2003: Case Study & Live Demo of View 4.x in an Enterprise Production Environment by Brown Shoe Company, with Lessons Learned on SAN, User Profiles, Folder Redirection, Etc.

3:30 PM, Moscone West Room 2004: View Composer Technical Deep Dive & Best Practices

3:30 PM, Moscone West Room 2002: Virtual Desktop Cloud - The Future Vision of End-User Computing

5:00 PM, Moscone West Room 2003: Quantifying the Business Benefits of VMware View Virtual Desktop Solution

Wednesday

12:00 PM, Moscone West Room 2004: VDI Performance Benchmarking and Best Practices

1:30 PM, Moscone West Room 2006: Bridging Application Management Between Public & Private Clouds: A Technology Preview of VMware's Next Generation Solution

2:00 PM, Moscone West Room 2004: ThinApp: What's New and Future Vision

3:00 PM, Moscone West Room 2004: View Composer Technical Deep Dive & Best Practices

4:30 PM, Moscone West Room 2007: Case Study & Live Demo of View 4.x in an Enterprise Production Environment by Brown Shoe Company, with Lessons Learned on SAN, User Profiles, Folder Redirection, Etc.

Thursday

10:30 AM, Moscone West Room 2003: Server-Hosted Virtual Desktops: What the Vendors Aren't Telling You

1:30 PM, Moscone West Room 2003: Choosing the Right Desktop Virtualization Platform

3:00 PM, Moscone West Room 2003: The VMware View Reference Architecture

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With the exception of Chris Wolf's session, this is a pretty uninspiring list from VMworld on the topic of Desktop Virtualization. Might be reading too much into this but it seems like one more example of VMware's lack of focus in this space.


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Doug, just out of curiosity, what would you like to see? I was actually thinking that this list was pretty good!


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Excellent! Thanks for posting this list Brian, this will make my time here a lot easier!


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Hey Pete. This article was from Gabe, not me.. so be sure to give him some geek cred!


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Yeah, I saw your comment post above and automatically assumed it was you. I realize now how much of a tool I probably look seeing as how the article was posted by Gabe. Sorry about that, Thanks Gabe! I am finding myself referring to this list throughout VMworld.


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