Brian & Gabe LIVE #14: guest Brandon Shell. We discussed Splunk, VDI as a form factor and more!

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Happy Tuesday! This week's guest on Brian & Gabe LIVE was Brandon Shell (@BSonPosh).

Happy Tuesday! This week's guest on Brian & Gabe LIVE was Brandon Shell (@BSonPosh). Brandon has presented at several BriForum conferences on the topic of PowerShell, and he's been doing XenDesktop and desktop virtualization consulting for a long time.

This week we discussed:


Tune in next week for more Brian and Gabe LIVE! The agenda is wide-open, so join us on the chat to let us know what you'd like to talk about. Unlike Brian Madden TV, this show is live, unscripted, and uncensored. So tune in to hear our honest thoughts about the desktop virtualization industry.



Brian:    Well good morning from New York City.  Today is Tuesday, December 13th, 2011 and you’re listening to Brian and Gave live.  As I said, I’m actually in New York.  Gabe, as always, from Omaha.  How are you doing, Gabe?

Gabe:    Not bad.  I’m in New York’s western most suburb or San Francisco’s eastern most suburb, Omaha, depending on how you want to look at the map.

Brian:    And though I am in New York and Gabe is in Omaha, our studio is not going unused.  Joining us from our studio today is Brandon Shell, so how are you doing, Brandon?

Brandon Shell:   I am doing well.

Brian:    Thank you for coming in, by the way.  I don’t know, did we tell you, by the way, when we invited you, Brandon, to be on the show that we weren’t going to be there?

Brandon Shell:   I don’t think so.  I just thought it was my body odor.

Gabe:    Oh, come on, I told you.              

Brian:    And Jack is actually on an airplane right now, it’s headed towards you, I believe, now Gabe, right?

Gabe:    Yeah, he’s on his way here and then we’re going to spend the next few days kind of getting Jack’s feet wet and standing up to the nest top view and showing him those things, kind of give Jack a hands on view of it and frankly, I haven’t played with him since we did Geek Week at any real deep level, so it’ll be good to catch up.

Brian:    So speaking of catching up, so, Brandon, I know you make it out to San Francisco every so often.  A lot of people would know you.  You’ve spoken at several forums, I think always on the topic of power shell, right?

Brandon Shell:   I think so. Yeah, I think all my sessions are power shell related.

Brian:    And we’ve talked before about power shell and desktop virtualization and I know you do a power shell – do you do a power shell podcast or you’re on other people’s power shell podcasts?

Brandon Shell:   Yeah, whenever people invite me.  It’s normally not often.

Brian:    Well we’ll see how this works out for us today.  But you’re not just – I mean power shell, I guess, congenitally can be related to desktop virtualization but you do a lot of specific desktop virtualization work and consulting around Xen desktop and that kind of stuff, yeah?

Brandon Shell:   Well, yeah, I used to.  I just recently changed positions but, yeah, I’ve been doing consulting for awhile, doing Xen desktop, actually a lot of Xen app but we’ll get to that discussion of BI really is.

Brian:    And you also, you were the one that played the role of the villain in our – the movies we made for Citrix for the GoToManage thing.

Brandon Shell:   Yeah, and people have been yelling at me every since, like, why are you trying to steal my stuff, but, yeah.

Brian:    I can’t believe we – I don’t know if we talked about this on the show before, how we didn’t – when we wrote that, the script for that thing where like, we need someone who can play the role of the sort of evil, offshore hacker.  And we’re just like we need Brandon and I don’t know if it’s your, is it like your snarky demeanor combined with always wearing –

Brandon Shell:   Goofy t-shirts.

Brian:    What does your t-shirt say on it right now?

Brandon Shell:   Select star from users where clue not equals zero, zero rows returned.

Brian:    And they’re at the hacker.  So let’s talk about – so Brandon, you did join – you work for Splunk now, right?

Brandon Shell:   That is correct.  I am what they call a practice manager and for server based computing, basically my role is to create some out of the box applications for Splunk around stuff like XenApps and Desktop, that kind of stuff.

Gabe:    Anybody that’s talked to you, they pretty much realize that you’ve been working for Splunk for awhile now, right?

Brian:    Yeah, I’ve been doing contract work for Splunk since March, I think, is when it was.  But, yeah, I’ve been doing some – actually my beginning work with Splunk actually wasn’t related to what I’m doing now.  It was actually related to power shell.  I’ve been writing a power shell resource kit for them because Splunk’s got a pretty good rest API so I’ve been writing some power shell stuff around that to kind of lower the bar for a typical admin to be able to get to the API.

Gabe:    Brandon has the unique ability to take any conversation down to what API the product was built around.

Brandon Shell:   As seen in CTP meetings.

Brian:    Yeah, Brandon is – and you’re still a CTP, like you going to Splunk doesn’t ruin that, right?

Brandon Shell:   Yeah, yeah, I don’t see why it would.

Brian:    All right.  And let’s say hypothetically someone has never heard of Splunk.  Like, to be honest, I know that you work there but I don’t know what – they’re – I don’t even know, monitoring, I have no idea what Splunk is.

Brandon Shell:   So, yeah, it’s kind of one of those very – they’re one of the very first big data companies I guess is the buzz term to be used.  Actually what they do is they take unstructured data, so you have – we’ve had structured data in IT for a long time and all these another kind of relational databases.  But those kind of databases are very hard to work with if you wanted to shove data into them because they have a very structured way of posting data.  It’s got to be in tables, rows, that’s kind of stuff.  With Splunk, it takes what they call unstructured data.  So it doesn’t matter what you throw to Splunk, it will get that data and make it seem relational.  So if you have a log file with dates, times, user names, that kind of stuff, you can send that information to Splunk and then Splunk will kind of do its own parsing of that data and try to make logical decision on what would be considered a field name and what would be considered the value for that field.

                And you can also educate it.  So if you know what your log data looks like you can put in regular expressions to tell it, say, hey, if you see this string, this part is the field and this part’s a value.  And the value there is now you can do relational type searches against Splunk. So let’s say you take –

Brian:    So like what would I use that for?

Brandon Shell:   SO event correlation, what we’re using it for, to kind of give you an idea, so this is end desktop.  So you have these end desktop environment, you have different parts.  You have a wed interface that’s involved, you have a broker that’s involved, you have a VDA that’s involved, you have sequel server that’s involved so to look at the environment holistically, you really need to collect logs and data from all different points.  So what you can do is you can send all the data, if it’s a log data, for user end desktop we use the power shell commandments to extract data about the environment from like session data, desktop data, desktop group information from the broker and then from the VDA we use WMI and person to get performance counters, WMI counters as well as ICA statistics, HDX data.  We can pull all that stuff from the VDA, we can pull all the broker data, we can pull in the connection information from the web interface.

                We can pull in information about sequel, making sure that sequel’s healthy.  So I can give you a holistic view of your Xen desktop environment without having to worry about, oh, well, Sequel’s monitored by [inaudible] and the VDA’s monitored by some other product and the Xen desktop’s gotta be done by edge sight, all that kind of good stuff.

Brian:    All right, so I’m looking at like drawings on the website, though, and I see – what I see is all of these different things, all of these different monitoring log aggregation, all of this stuff filtering up into Splunk but all of that’s structured, I mean that’s real data so is this just aggregating that and combining it all together not something that’s useable?

Brandon Shell:   Well I mean define structured, right, it’s not in a –

Brian:    Everything is in a readable format.

Brandon Shell:   No, that’s not structured data.  Structured data is, this field equals this value, right, that’s structured data.  It has nothing to do with readability.  It has to do with the ability to say, I want to search every entry where users equals blah, right.  So in Sequel, that’s easy, right, because there’s a user column or user field and the user field has got a value, right.  So you just say select start from users where value equals blah, right.  You don’t have that, if I’m looking at event log data or if I’m looking at broker data from a command line, which it’s just text, right, you see what I’m saying?

Brian:    Yeah, I see what you’re saying.

Brandon Shell:   So what Splunk does is it looks at that data and it makes logical decision on, okay, well there’s a broker equals, or colon blah, broker equals DDC1.  Then I can see, oh, well there’s a field called broker and the value of that is DDC1, right.  There’s also one where it says, broker equals DDC2.  SO now I can say, show me all events where broker equals DDC1.  Show me all events where that was tagged.

Brian:    I see, okay. 

Brandon Shell:   So that’s what I mean by structure verses non structure.

Brian:    I gotcha.

Brandon Shell:   So then what we can do, now that we have all that data, so there’s two parts. There’s getting the data, so we’ve run all our collectors, we’re getting all the data into Splunk.  Now we have to build some useable dashboards and correlation. So what you can do is you can say, okay, when I see this event on the web interface and I see this event on the broker and I see this event on the VDA, that’s a log on, all right.  And then you can say, now that you have this, what they call a meta event, you have this kind of hodgepodge of events coming from different locations, being tagged as a single event, then you can do is like show we all the log ons so I can say, I’ve had 20 log ons today, successful log ons where they hit the web interface and got to a VDA.  I can see, well I’ve got five sessions where they didn’t get all the way through, right, they’re partial events.  And then you can start trending on that and you can start alerting on that.  So if you’re getting a large number of incomplete connections you can say, hey, there’s a problem.

                And then you can take that data and you can say, okay, well it looks like everything’s filled in on the broker so maybe there’s something wrong with your broker or it looks like the web interface isn’t configured properly.

Brian:    So I guess now this –

Gabe:    I’ve never heard – go ahead.

Brian:    No, go ahead, Gabe.

Gabe:    Well I – go.

Brian:    All right, so this – now that you’re using the web interface kind of for everything right, because you’ve got html five clients, you’ve got clients for IOS and all this kind of stuff.  So it’s not just like the old days where you had just only a meta frame farm and you could look at your data collector and get everything from there.  Like now, there’s so many more things that are connected under the guise of end desktop because there’s a lot more places to look for everything to see if they’ll work.

Brandon Shell:   Yeah, and it’s getting bigger and bigger, right, so they’re adding more and more components.

Brian:    And is that why, in our circles I’ve never heard anybody talk about a solution like this.  I’m going to loosely group it as monitoring, I guess, but it’s just Splunk has a lot of buzz going on and I’ve never had anybody come up besides like – I’ve never had any random person come up and be like, dude, you’ve got to check out the shit that EG is doing.  Except for people from EG.  So Splunk, like I hear other people talking about it when I walk around the floor at Synergy and so on.  So I assume this is why?

Brandon Shell:   Yeah, so I think Splunk is their first real big data company, again, for using the nice big buzz words, that’s trying to tackle this problem.  And the reason why is they’re pretty much the only company right there that I can think of that has the capacity to do that.  And the reason why I say that is because they’re vendor neutral.  Edgesight could never do this because if you have switches or routers or – because again, Splunk doesn’t care where the data comes from.  It doesn’t care where it comes from.  It can come from cloud, it can come from a text file, it can come from – as long as it’s not a binary, I mean it doesn’t take binary data.  So as long as it’s text, you can send all the data to Splunk.

Brian:    Is it an appliance that runs in an organization or is it a service?

Brandon Shell:   It’s a software so if you install it on Windows it runs as a service. We do have some appliances but the appliances are specific to particular products.

Brian:    Okay, and how much data are we talking about that can get sent to this?  It sounds like it can be a ton.

Brandon Shell:   Yeah, it’s – we have some very – I mean I don’t know what I’m allowed to say or what I’m not allowed to say but we have some very large customers that index –

Brian:    Is it intelligent enough to –

Brandon Shell:   Terabytes of data a day.

Brian:    Is it intelligent enough to disregard that stuff, I mean to – ‘cause if you’re going to send it all year long to all of your events, all of your everything, there’s gotta be a lot a shit in it, right, like is it intelligent enough to ignore that or just to get rid of it even because –

Brandon Shell:   Yeah, so here’s the thing.  The reason why – so Splunk has been around since 2004.  I think that’s when the company first kind of begun.  And I’ve been using it since 2005.  But once of the things about Splunk is because it’s so freakin’ powerful, right, it can do so much stuff, it’s really complex, right, it’s not a simple thing to just, oh, let me throw in Splunk and start using it, that’s what my job is, is to lower that bar, right, so I’m trying to design applications, or write applications on top of Splunk that kind of lower that bar.  So you can literally go out and install Splunk, install our application, desktop application and have an out of the box feel.  I think that’s kind of where Splunk is kind of had issues in the past.

                It’s not that it couldn’t do it, there’s lots of really large companies that use it really efficiently.  And it changes the way that they do business, right.  They – it’s a great troubleshooting tool, which is where it started.  But it’s always kind of been really complex. And that’s what we’re doing is we’re lowering that bar.  I say that because to answer your question, you can filter, so you can tell Splunk to ignore specific type of events.  If you’re getting a huge quantity of useless data, you can tell Splunk, ignore that data, don’t index it.

Brian:    Yeah, and it’s not – you would be relatively hands on anyways, so it’s not like there’s ridiculous amounts of data coming in that you don’t know about?

Brandon Shell:   Right, right.

Brian:    Because you’re hands on with this.

Brandon Shell:   And the way that Slunk is prices is it’s priced per gigabyte of index data per day.

Brian:    So it’s in your best interest to mitigate how much is being sent to it anyway.

Brandon Shell:   Exactly.  And we at Splunk understand that, right, so we want to help you figure that stuff out. But –

Brian:    It sounds so simple, you just Splunk it, man.

Brandon Shell:   Well that’s actually where it came from, that’s where the name came from was from spelunking.

Brian:    I figured that, mining the data, crawling through and finding the – yeah, spelunking through caves and such, right.

Brandon Shell:   Yeah.

Brian:    But Splunk, just by the name sounds so simple and you go to the site and it’s like download this 60 day eval, it’s full featured, give it a shot, but it’s more complex than that.  Like it’s not like you’re going to stand it up on the Friday after Thanksgiving and by Christmas you’ll be flying –

Brandon Shell:   Believe it or not, the insole’s really simple, it’s actually not hard at all.  And if you just want to – see, to install it on a single machine, so if I want to install it on a Windows box or install it on a Unix box and get some instance feedback from that particular box, that’s very simple to do, anybody can do it.  My mother-in-law could probably do it.  But to –

Gabe:    I like how he says the mother-in-law, and not his mom.

Brandon Shell:   My mom is really good at computers.

Brian:    If I just install it, I mean, do I have to point it – so if I’m setting this up in my Citrix Xen desktop environment or whatever, do I have to tell it that I have – I mean does Splunk do all the work ahead of time to know what Xen desktop is so I can just say, this is Xen desktop and point it to all the pieces or do I just let it run wild and it figures everything out?

Brandon Shell:   So, no, there’s some education on your side but it’s a much lower bar than it used it be.  Back when I first started using Splunk in 2005, we were trying to something very similar to what I’m doing now.  But it was, there was no application for it, there was no guidance from Splunk on how to do it, it was kind of like, here’s Splunk, here’s what it does, make it work for yourself, right.  What the Xen desktop app, my goal for the Xen desktop app is to kind of have that feel where you don’t have to know Splunk inside and out.  You do need to – there’s a component that needs to install on the broker and there’s a component that needs to install on the VDA.  But outside of that, you don’t – you personally don’t have to configure Splunk to do anything.  Does that make sense?

Brian:    So now Dan Brinkman says, Splunk the ones with the t-shirts that says, we take the S-H out of I-T?

Brandon Shell:   That’s one of my favorite shirts, yeah.  I have that one.  Actually, I think I have a couple of those, but -  that’s actually why I went to work for Splunk because –

Brian:    Because of their shirts.

Brandon Shell:   Yeah, ‘cause they’re all black with white writing which is my thing.

Brian:    Righty-o.  All right, I’m Splunk’ed out so let’s take a quick 60 second break and we’ll come back and see if we can get Brandon spinning up on some of his crazy opinions.

                Today’s episode of Brian and Gabe Live is sponsored by Citrix GoToManage.  GoToManage is a cloud-based IT services tool that combines best in class for most support with network monitoring and alerting capabilities given IT professionals like you total control of your IT world.  With Citrix Go-to Manage you can easily deliver live support to customers or access unattended computers or servers, you can monitor the performance of desktops, servers and networks.  You can stay on top so issues with correct alerts, and that was GoToManage Mobile providing support right from your iPad.  If you want to give Go-to Manage a try for yourself, just go to GoToManage dot com, click on the free trial button and enter the promo code, Madden 45.  That’s a special code for Brian and Gabe Live listeners which makes your trial last 45 days.  Desktop management, tech support and monitoring has never been so easy.

                We are Brian and Gabe Live.  I’m in New York City right now and joining is Gabe Knuth from Omaha and Brandon Shell in our studio in San Francisco.  So thank you, all.

Gabe:    We hear the music and think we want to reintroduce the show.

Brian:    So talking to Brandon, you were at Synergy in Barcelona, right?

Brandon Shell:   I was.

Brian:    Yeah, and I know Gabe was there and Gabe and I talked a little bit about Synergy in the past couple weeks but I know there’s communities and all sort of things.  So, Brandon, talk about Synergy, what did you think?

Brandon Shell:   I didn’t actually get to go to a lot of sessions.  I brought my wife so I did the CTP meetings and then I spent time with my wife, as a general rule.  I think they made some interesting announcements.  The plans where Edge Sight was going were particular interesting to me.  I liked some of the – I’ve got to remember what we’re allowed to say, and what we’re not allowed to say, but –

Brian:    Just default to saying everything and if you’re not allowed to say it, we’ll just delete it later.

Brandon Shell:   Yeah.  I don’t know about that.  But anyway, so the Xen Desktop plans for the future, I know there’s a lot on buzz on whether VDI is a real plan or not but I think Citrix understands there’s two different modes to – I mean we can talk about VDI, right, so what is VDI?  I think VDI is a wrong term.  I don’t think it ever should have been called VDI because it kind of locks into a box of virtualization.  Really what we’re talking about is data, right, so desktop as a service.  Desktop as a service from a private cloud standpoint or is it desktop as a service from a public provider?  And when you talk about desktop as a service there a variety of ways to do that.


                And some are more cost effective than other depending on your goal.  So if you’re doing private desktops verses pool desktops, there’s licensing concerns and capacity concerns with terminal server verses Xen Desktop as a product itself.  But Xen app has got a limitation in regards to, a practical limitation in regards to the number of forums you could possibly have and the number of servers that can be in those forums.  And that problem has been part of the birth of Xen Desktop because when you talk about Xen Desktop you’re talking about tens of thousands of servers or desktop VDAs, right, virtual desktop agents where when normally you talk about Xen app, you talk about thousands and thousands of users or tens of thousands of users but those are normally because of the density of the servers, on a much smaller server load.

                And because of that, the idea of moving Xen app away from the current IMA platform, I think, is probably a good place to go.

Brian:    Have they talked like they’re going to move Xen app off of the platform?  We assumed it was because they moved Xen Desktop off that platform, right, but –

Brandon Shell:   That’s my assumption too.  They mentioned that, but, yeah.

Brian:    That’s what everybody’s hoping.

Brandon Shell:   Yes.

Brian:    And I like this idea, you say like the word VDA is no good because it sort of suggests virtual desktop and I for sure like the idea of sort of general desktops as a service.  I’ve been saying a lot recently that this, it’s really focusing on windows, kind of like when companies have a separate virtual desktop strategy verses physical desktop strategy.  There should just be a Windows desktop strategy and some are virtual and some are physical and it’s – you just manage Windows and not worry about the exact scheme of delivery method.  And I guess I take that a step further when I wrote this week that to that end, I think the desktop virtualization, NVA, this is nothing more than a form factor change.

                And we’ve had desktop computers for awhile and then we had laptop computers and after that now we have virtual computers.  And what’s the difference fundamentally?  Like just because you go to VDI, you don’t have to change the way you do anything.

Brandon Shell:   There’s a big difference, right, and the big difference, and I think this is where people are screwing up, I think this is why, to use buzz words again, the ROI on VI isn’t normally what people are expecting and it’s because what happens is a CO goes to the conference or a CIO goes to a conference, he hears about this VDI stuff, he goes back to his company and says, we need to have VDI because it’s the cool thing to do and he – what team does he go to?  So he doesn’t really know what’s going on.  SO he goes to the virtualization team, whoever’s running his hypervisors now. The problem is, that’s the wrong group, that’s the people that designed this, this isn’t the people that understand the workload, this isn’t the people that understand anything about desktops. 

                They do servers.  And not only that, they’re used to enterprise service, they’re used to an enterprise environment where you have to have V motion of Xen motion or whatever motion you have, right, you have to have high availability, you have to have really expensive storage, you have to have all this really cool stuff, right, so the CEO goes to the virtualization team and he says, hey, I need to be able to put my 30,000 desktops and make them virtual and I need to send out clients to all my end points.  And virtualization goes, sure, we’d love to do that.  It’ll cost you – and it’s these multimillion dollar figures and the CEOs like, what the heck?  How is this possible, they told me this would save me money and it’s because he went to the wrong people, right?  He needs to go the desktop people and the desktop people will be like, okay, well we have relationships with Citrix, we have relationships with VMware, let’s see what we can do in regards to designing an actual desktop strategy just like you said, right?

                There’s a desktop strategy that needs to be thought about.  Does it make sense to virtualize these?  Some task workers, perfect targets for VDI, perfect targets.

Brian:    Well, yeah, it’s the same as I’ve said before, like just like – that’s just the form factor has changed. There’s some people that are perfect for laptops and some that are perfect for desktops and we don’t ever ask ourselves the question like, oh my god, because laptops don’t make sense for everyone, do I never need any laptops?  Of course, we’ll use them where it would make sense and if the user doesn’t need a laptop then we’ll give them a desktop and so then why would virtual desktops be any different than that.

Brandon Shell:   Right, and I think the problem is is that – and this is why I say I prefer to call it DaaS as opposed to VDI and because there’s a natural tendency in your brain to treat a Daz environment different than you would an enterprise environment, right, so I know the buzz world is cloud, right, so if you have this cloud environment, if you look at any of the big cloud providers or any of the cloud solutions out there, they make money on – the way that they make money is a low cost hardware, right, they make money because they’re able to do in mass, they have a smaller profit margin but they get thousands and thousands of customers. So the idea is, instead of going in and buying DL3 585s or 785s or 780s or whatever, HP quad processor, trying to get that density, right, because that’s the problem when you go into data is density.

                If I could so those – the problem is, if you look at a 585, a 585 versus a 385, a 385 can go up to, I think 192 gigs of ram, the 585 can go up to like 512 so you can go about double the amount of memory.

Brian:    So people actually use those servers too, because I always thought everybody just talks about blades.

Brandon Shell:   Well so there’s blades too.  My point is is that they look at it and they’re like, well let’s buy bigger, right, let’s try to put more people on a machine.  But the problem is is that’s not cost efficient right, a four processor machine is not just twice the price of a two processor machine.

Brian:    Yeah, that’s the same argument we’ve been having for 20 years now or 12.

Brandon Shell:   So what they want to do is they want to – cheap hardware’s probably not the right term, but efficient, cost efficient hardware, so five, ten times more hardware at a much lower dollar per users than worrying about, let’s put all these guys on like three machines, right, it’s just – it’s very problematic and it’s very closely and you don’t have shared storage, use local storage.  There’s a lot of different things you can do to make cost efficient desktop as a service and I think that’s where most desktop as a service products kind of fall down as well as what Brian was saying, I think there’s a strategy failure as well.  They don’t understand that desktop is really a strategy and that actually –

Brian:    That’s a lot of people that don’t.

Brandon Shell:   That’s actually part of the strategy.

Brian:    Yeah, and there’s a lot of people that don’t.  We just featured an article on Brian Madden dot com, I don’t remember who wrote it but he says the Brian is wrong is VDI is more than just a different form factor for desktop delivery.  And it’s pretty clear once you read it that it’s still – the guy just buys into the VDI hype still that’s it’s going to change the world and everybody’s going to be doing this and that it’s more than just a different way to deliver desktops and that’s not true, it’s just – well it’s true to –

Brandon Shell:   Well here’s the thing.  So, yeah, Eugene Alfaro is that guy’s name and he – like my point was this, that I was trying to come across and even some of the people who commented – okay, so the article, to back up, the article I wrote –

Brian:    I forgot they have comments.

Brandon Shell:   No, I meant comments on our site, I don’t even know if there were comments on there.  But I was just saying, look, everyone’s making VDI too hard, like fundamentally VDI’s just a form factor change.  And what my point was is like I’m not saying that desktops, people are trying to argue with me that desktops could be made strategic and I’m like, I’m not saying that’s not true.  Yes, I agree that desktops could be made strategic, I totally agree with that.  But my point was that just the act of going to VDI, like that’s not what makes it strategic.  So people talk about delivering a desktop as a service or virtualizing your applications or moving to a shared image or using a user environment virtualization.  All these things allow you to provide desktop as a service and that makes it more strategic.  And that I agree with 100% but my whole point is that what’s making the desktop strategic is like, it’s – VDI is just a delivery method, like VDI is no more strategic than laptop verses desktop.  If you want to have a shared desktop with delivery applications or service, okay, that’s what makes it strategic but that’s not VDI.

Brian:    Right, so that’s the key, right.  This is why I don’t like the VDI term. VDI is just a form factor change, but that’s not what people call VDI.  And that’s the problem is VDI has lost its original meaning, right.  Back in the day when VDI was being through around left and right it was a virtual desktop environment or infrastructure.  It was, how do you get your desktops and make them virtual?  That concept has morphed so much since that term was originally done, that VDI does not mean VDI anymore, right. I would argue that if you look at VID from a strategic standpoint, Xen app is just as much a VDI product than Xen Desktop, even more so, right.  Because you can’t do Xen Desktop in the cloud.

Brandon Shell:  We try to draw this line as virtual desktop verses a VDI or desktop virtualization verses a virtual desktop and, yeah, what you’re saying is absolutely correct but it’s – and it’s hard to differentiate that.  And people get tied up in that name, just because virtual is in there.

Brian:    That’s why it should really be called desktop as a service.

Brandon Shell:  I had a little blog war with a guy over at ZDNet, Ken something or other.  And it didn’t really morph too much but he wrote a post that say, just trying to clarify the definition of desktop virtualization, desktop virtualization is when you get workstation and you run it on your windows box, the end.  And so I posted something that categorically disagreed with that and everybody in the comments was like, yeah, that’s right, Dave, and then he got on there and said, well I guess we’re going to have to disagree.

Brian:    In other words, I guess I just have to be wrong.

Brandon Shell:   Yeah, right. But so here’s somebody else in the industry, must like myself, much like Brian, much like you that’s out there spreading around this other definition.

Gabe:    Don’t get me started on those guys.

Gabe:    Well and it really irritates me when I see a lot of these guys, these –

Gabe:    Basically they’re journalists, they’re not technical, they have no idea what they’re talking about but they’re technical journalists so –

Brandon Shell:   This guy was technical, though.

Gabe:    Well they say they’re technical, but they’re not really.

Brian:    Let’s not pull up that thread of journalism.

Gabe:    Yeah, right.  Sensitive issue.  So this guy’s background was technically, it was almost like – I interpreted this guy as being in both same boat as Brian, I and you and are in there we’re techs.  We just happen to know how to type and put down thoughts that people can read.  And that’s how we all get started, blogging.  But this a real website, this isn’t like some crazy dude on Wordpress that I found on Google, this came across in a newsletter that ZD Net sends me six times a day.  Don’t ever say that Tech Target’s the only one that does that.

Brian:    Well true that, but now you’re making us do that it’s thinking less of bloggers because they’re going to say, see, this is why we shouldn’t allow bloggers, we should just have real journalists who actually fact check things.  But I guess this is the –

Brandon Shell:   Well he’s entitled to that opinion but you’re right, the bigger point is there’s so many different explanations of what virtualized desktops are and what VDI is and so on that I – this is why Gardner tries to reclassify the names or renames these things, so that’s why they have posted virtual desktops or what’s it called?  I forget what they’re doing. Either way, virtual desktop of VDI, it’s what we would consider VDI a few years ago. But that’s their attempt to differentiate between the two different kinds of technology but ultimately speaking, it’s all just part –

Brian:    Well and see, because the problem with the desktop – so Brandon, fundamentally I agree with everything you’re saying about this positioning and desktop as a service, the problem with anything that ends with like AAS now is sort of people think of it as like a service you’re using from the outside, right, like an external provider or whatever.  And so now not to split hairs on this but that’s what I’m saying, why can’t we just call these desktops, like it should just be.

Brandon Shell:   So there’s a big difference.  This is what I’m trying to get through right.  Yeah, you’re right, it is as a service, right, and it is normally done through an external source.  But cloud is more than just a word, right, it’s an actual way of doing things.  There is a – if I was to design in a network for cloud versus a network for an enterprise, they would not look the same at all.  And I think that’s where people fail.  They get the cloud concept and then they’re like, oh, we want to be able to host 30,000 desktops in our data center, right, so we don’t have to worry about real hardware out on the client’s side.  But then they give this to the enterprise guys, right, and so they’re going, we need a $10 million EMC san, we need to have V sphere with virtual center, we need to have all this really expensive stuff and it blows those figures out of the water because they’re designing it like they’re designing an enterprise environment.  What they need to do it they need to treat it like a cloud, a private cloud in this case, right, they need to try it like a private cloud, they buy – they get their full tolerance and high availability by scale.

                They don’t get it by having really expensive stuff that does it for you, you see what I’m saying?  And I think that’s the problem is that when we look at VDI or Daz, whatever you want to call it, right, there’s a fundamental change in design that people aren’t getting.  And I think that’s why a lot of – I think a lot of these virtual environments fail.  It’s not because it’s not possible, it’s because it becomes cost prohibitive if you don’t do it the proper way, all right. RackSpace has proven that it’s possible, right, rack space has proven this is completely possible and not only that, you can make a lot of money doing it. 

Brian:    I never thought of that before, so you’re right because if you look at – I mean for years we’ve been talking about how desktop virtualization is different than server virtualization but the most specific point that you’re making that even if you think about it, when you virtualized servers, how many servers are you talking about, it’s like only a tenth, a twentieth as many desktops as you have, so if you’re doing like a VDI type environment, you’re by definitely probably talking like a couple thousand, at the minimum, desktops and just the fundamental way to approach that like building an old school hardware, I mean like you’re right, that is just such an old school thing.

                If you look at the way the big data people do it, like the data centers that run Facebook and Google and live and all that kind of stuff, those are not built in the same way that data centers were traditionally built and I guess the same would apply to desktops. 

Brandon Shell:   Exactly.  They don’t use really expensive HP blades or Sysco blades or anything like that, right, they use server micro hardware, they use commodity pick up from – they use like, go to CDW and pick stuff up type – you know what I’m saying?  It’s a commodity hardware and that’s why they’re getting their price per user and that’s the absolute key, right, is you have to figure out what is my cost per user?  How much is it going to cost me to get Joe, I was going to say John Smith, but he’s in the channel, I guess there you go, get John Smith a desktop, like how much is it going to cost me from hardware, how much is it going to cost me from software?  How much is it going to cost me from support and that’s your cost per user.

                And the only way to get that cost per user price down is to use commodity hardware.

Brian:    So, okay, I love that, there’s an article there.  I don’t know if you want to write it.  I’ll write it and put your name on it.  The thing is, though, so let me ask you this, Brandon, because – so I agree with everything you’re saying 100%, and further, I’ve said a lot in the past that I believe that because it’s this commodity hardware and you need like a lot of scale in order to get the cost down, I don’t believe that any organization can actually build their own VDI more cheaply reliably or securely than one of these big providers can.  So my questions is, do you think there’s a point under which , like if you don’t have like 500 users to say, man, there’s no way you can build a VDI for 500 users cheaper than, just go pay RackSpace to do it or DeskTone or cloud of whatever and be done with this.

Brandon Shell:   Yes, and no.  So, yeah, I agree with you, there is a point and funny enough, DeskTone is a really clear exactly of this, right.  Desk tone at the beginning consumer rack space.  So you bought something from desk tone is what they did is they got RackSpace and they put their own little pretty software product on top of it.  But then when they got a certain number of customers they’re like, hey, how come we’re paying rack space, $25.00 per user when we could do it so much cheaper ourselves, right.  So I may be wrong on this but the way that I understand that desktops work is they actually have their own data centers.  They’re not using rack space anymore. 

                It’s a similar –

Brian:    They’ve got both, yeah.

Brandon Shell:   There’s a similar conversation to be had for an enterprise.  And I think it’s less about money and more about experience which is why I’m – from a general task worker perspective, I think going to a cloud service provider that can give you a private – they can allow you to have the capacity internally to do all this stuff and all you have to do is give them hardware but they have the expertise to manage the actual environment itself because I think that’s where most companies fall down is that if you don’t have a strong Citrix presence already or god forbid use VMware view, unless you have that expertise in house, then you’re never going to be able to manage 30,000 virtual desktops, right, you’re not going to –

Gabe:    All right, so I’m going come back to this VMware view statement you just made but first let me ask you, Citrix bough Kaviza, Citrix is selling Kaviza or marketing it for environments that have like 500 desktops or fewer and if you believe my pervious statement was true where I don’t think anyone can do it really – if you have to have skill to be successful with this is that Citrix, Kaviza product which is now called Citrix VDA in a box, is that a crazy product?

Brian:    So here’s the thing and this is where I think me and Gabe are like spot on in regards in our thought process here.  I think it has less to do with scale and has more to do with complexity.  If you have a simple, simple environment, right, and VDI in a box works for you, oh my god, why would you want to have a complex end desk top environment, it just doesn’t make any sense, right.

Brandon Shell:   But if you have 500 people, why would you want to have your own environment?

Brian:    You have your own environment ‘ither way, right, the difference is, one’s in a box kind of by itself, it’s kind of very easily, you through it out there, you run a few steps and boom, magic happens and now you have virtual desktops for your customer or your employees. 

Gabe:    Having sat through this conversation for six weeks in a row, Brian’s getting at something else.  Brian wants to know, rather, why would you even host your own virtual VDI environment to begin with, why would you outsource that to some sort of managed service?

Brandon Shell:   Well I don’t disagree.  I don’t disagree as far as small business is concerned. A lot of those situations, it makes more sense just to pay someone else to do it for you, so I guess in some aspects I agree with Brian but I think my point is is if I have, let’s say I have, what’s the Northwinds, right, the Microsoft company.  I have Northwinds and I have 30,000 desktops, now out of those 30,000 desktops, 20,000 of those desktops are task workers that can have a shared desktop experience and they’ll be able to work perfectly fine, all these use is Outlook, Word and a couple of other products, right.  If I have that environment, right, what’s – I could use VDI in a box and deploy 200 VDI box environments and have my environment done in a very simple easy to manage environment or I can go get XenDesktop and have to worry about all that kind of crazy stuff.

                It doesn’t make any sense.  I can have XenDesktop for 10,000 people that don’t fit in that little VDI in a box structure but when you’re talking about a smaller company sometimes it makes sense.  It depends, really where small companies really kind of get screwed is experience is IT.  If they don’t have internal IT or if their internal IT isn’t capable, there’s no doubt that they can do it cheaper themselves but the question is, is it worth it.  That’s something the company has to determine.  Is it worth it for me to do the VDI in a box, kind of our own hardware and kind of hope the VDI in a box thing works for me or do I go to a desktop as a service company?

Brian:    All right, let’s take a pause for a second for commercial, Justin, and instead of playing that one I’ll just tell it because that commercial was 60 seconds and I don’t want to listen to it again.  But I’ll say the commercials for Citrix GoToManage and so you heard it earlier.  It’s their desktop management as a service and they’ve got the iPad app and they can do remote control and pushing out software and that kind of stuff.  The main this is, if you want to play with it, you can use the code Madden 45 and when you download it, and they’ll give you a free trial that lasts 45 days instead of the regular 15 days or whatever that happens to be so thanks for that.

                Now back to – so Brandon, you mentioned earlier, so you’re talking about using Citrix end desktop or god forbid, VMware View.  So you don’t like View, it sounds like?

Brandon Shell:   It’s kind of funny, View as a broker is not a bad product but View requires – and it’s not a – this is not a quality issue.  It goes back to cost, right, View only works on V-Sphere, right.  And V Sphere, I don’t think is – they don’t have – VMware is kind of missing the boat, they don’t have a product that makes sense on mass, right.  I can’t – when I’m trying to lower my cost per user, I can’t make it to where each server I deploy costs me $1,000.00 or $2,000.00 in software.

Brian:    But when you buy VMware View it comes with your license so if you do like apples to apples comparison, yeah, you could say that Citrix will run on the free version or free Xen server, you’re still buying your XenDesktop licenses.  If you compare the price of XenDesktop license to the price of a view license, you know, those are comparable.  And when you buy View, it included all of these here that you need so who cares?  I don’t see how it’s different.

Brandon Shell:   Well there’s – I think it has to do with what you get for that money, right.  It’s – so they give you enterprise, so they give you the highest end versions of V-Sphere when you buy VMware View.  And now the caveat, I don’t know if this is like the other ones, it probably is. The only caveat is you’re only allowed to use those for your view desktop.  So, for example, you get them, I think they call it Enterprise Plus or something like that, you get like these for Enterprise Plus when you buy VMware View and then you can build as many of those service as you need with the caveat that all the servers you’re building, you’re using those just for serving desktops, you can’t also use those to serve out like your exchange server or whatever.

Gabe:    You can use to serve out like the view composer and all those servers too, it’s just everything, yeah, it’s not just desktops, it’s everything to support VMware View.

Brandon Shell:   Right, and the other issue is the protocol.  And the protocol isn’t horrible but it doesn’t compare to ICA when it comes to outside of the network, so outside land.  Once you enjoy this traffic, PC over IP it doesn’t fail but it’s just not near as good at ICA and I think the whole point behind, one of the major wins for desktop as a service is the ability to be able to access that desktop anywhere.  So you lose a huge part of the VDI or desktop as a service user storing but using PC or IP.

Brian:    Yeah, I would say – and I used PC over IP for a month earlier this year and it was okay.  The main problem I have with it was the fact that it was RDP based so it blocked in a lot of places.  Although ironically if you fall back to RDP then you can use it with some of those ram accelerates and that’s pretty great.  But one of the things, I mean it was supposed to get better and this is something that Dan Brinkman pointed out in the chat that it’s supposedly, well I mean VMware themselves have mentioned it was a lot better to go to go with version five and has lost the compression and that kind of stuff but I guess, Gabe, that’s one of the things you can check out this week.

Gabe:    Yeah, we can try it out.

Brian:    Incidentally, you want to – so wait, we talked about this earlier how Jack is flying is to visit you right now and how you’re going to be doing –

Gabe:    Yep, and last week.

Brian:    Testing.

Gabe:    Yeah, it’ll be geek week, but it’ll be –

Brian:    But you know what though, we can also try, in order for us to evaluate VMware View, we’ll also be able to test like getting our IT people to open, I’ve got to open a help desk ticket, to get a firewall open and like all that crap so I will have the whole experience of trying to use PC over IP remotely.

Gabe:    Why do we need a help desk ticket?  Neither of us are in a corporate office.

Brian:    Well I can’t access shit from the office.

Gabe:    You’re not in the office.

Brian:    Next week.  Oh, this week, yeah.

Gabe:    This is going to be tomorrow.

Brian:    Oh, yeah, well I’ll try it on the plane when I’m going to down to DC.  Hey, so Brandon, let me ask you also.  You mentioned something when I was asking about forum, or about Synergy earlier and you said obviously what they’re with that site is cool for you.  What are they doing, I don’t know what you’re talking about?

Brandon Shell:   It’s going away.

Brian:    Oh.

Brandon Shell:   Well to say going away is one thing.  It’s actually not, I don’t think it’s going away, I think Citrix is realizing, and this was publically announced so it’s not like I’m breaking any NDAs that I know of. I’m sorry, I’m sorry.

Gabe:    If they are being broken, note that is it Brandon doing it.

Brandon Shell:   Gabe, it’s all your fault.  Anyway, so the feeling I got from a lot of the sessions that I went to, and even in the keynote is that edge site is not going to be the way that edge site is today and that there is some – I think Citrix has realized it’s really hard for them to – so I know customers go to Citrix and they’re like, you give me all these products but you don’t give me a way to monitor them so Citrix kind of felt these need to buy this company.  I forgot the original name of the company but they bought Edge –

Brian:    Reflectant, I believe.

Brandon Shell:   Yeah, so they bought that as kind of trying to fill that gap but the problem with that is that when you have a vendor specific environment you can’t bridge outside of that scope, right, and that’s, again, back to Splunk, I think that’s why Splunk has kind of got an edge up there because we’re not vendor specific, we can do VMware, we can do Citrix, we can do Microsoft, it doesn’t matter, we can do Juniper, we can do –

Brian:    Oh, so when you were saying that you – that edge site’s going away, which that’s good obviously you were talking about as a company that sells a product that would sort of theoretically compete against EdgeSight good for you as a Splunk person.

Brandon Shell:   Right, and it’s not like Splunk is the only company stepping up, there’s other companies trying to do some but they all have the same problem.  And it’s a hard problem to try to do is to try to be generic and be able to cover all the different bases and I think that’s something –

Brian:    And Citrix isn’t a monitoring company and so the last thing people want is one more damn monitoring tool that they have to worry about so there’s two things going against edge site in that, okay, we already have these other five monitoring systems we have to solve one issue and – what’s that?

Brian:    Yeah, yeah.  So it’s introducing yet another monitor, right, and then – although I mean it’s powerful but it’s another one, and then on top of that it’s very specifically focused so it’s not like we could grow this and use it across our organization if it solved all of our problems.

Brandon Shell:   Right, so I suspect they were unclear about what’s going to happen.  They did not say that edge site’s going away.  That was kind of the impression.  It was going to go away and –

Gabe:    Did you just say that now because Laura texted you and said, stop saying edge site’s going –

Brandon Shell:   No, actually I don’t have my texts open.  Laura could very well be yelling at me right now and I wouldn’t know it.  Anyway, but I think the gist that I got from Citrix was that edge site in its current form is going to change.  Now what Citrix can do with edge site is provide data that isn’t desktop specific or isn’t app specific or isn’t server specific or net scaler specific or partner with other companies to make that – because there’s still a need, right, there’s still a need if I have as a end desk environment or an app environment, I need to be able to monitor these products.  So I think Citrix has taken probably a smarter approach and going to start partnering with companies as opposed to trying to do their own thing.

Brian:    All right, so I’m going to change the topic here all together and just put this in a little chat room.  This was on Slash a couple weeks ago, maybe a month ago now.  What do you guys think, it’s called FXI Tech and this company, they have something, it’s like the size of a USB stick but it’s an actual Android device.  And so you plug this thing into a USB, it pulls power from the USB connection.  You can actually plug it into a USB hub, for example, and plug in like a full-sized keyboard and it has mini HDMI port out so you plug it into a screen and it is like – it’s like an Android device but all inside USB stick.  So it’s not running Android as a VM on your host or anything, it is the actual Android device you plug in to burn your own keyboard and screen I guess and now you’ve got your apps, browser, all that kind of stuff on it.  It’s not released yet, it’s just – these guys are working on it.

Brandon Shell:  So it’s a thing client that’s powered by a USB port?

Brian:    I guess so, yeah. Yeah.  Well I mean to the extent and Android is a thing client but, yeah, I mean it is – yeah, it’s an Android device that just doesn’t have its own screen or battery.

Brandon Shell:   But it’s not taking advantage of – if you plug it into a PC it’s not taking advantage of the PC’s resources at all, it’s – the only thing it’s getting from that PC or USB port is just power and the rest of it comes off of that thing so, what, Bluetooth, HDMI.

Brian:    Yeah, so is this cool or is it just a party trick?

Gabe:    It’s cool, but it’s a party trick.

Brian:    It’s a cool party trick.

Brandon Shell:   The point is lost to me, I mean why not just have – your phone can do the same thing so why not just use the phone?

Brian:    That’s a good point and my phone also has the added benefit that it’ll run on battery and I can use it when I’m not –

Brandon Shell:   I wouldn’t invest in the company, let me just put it that way.

Brian:    So did we talk – we didn’t talk about Surf Easy last week, did we, on the show?  That article that Jack wrote about that device that they’re about to start selling that allowed – that you plugged into the USB port and it just fires up its own browser that talks to its own servers via an SSL VPN and allows you to skirt or with the intent of skirting corporate IT polices.  I mean I don’t think we talked about that thing and it, to me it’s just amazing that this kind of thing existing and maybe, I wonder if that’s the point of this device too is to get you – you can have your other machine right there sitting in front of you at the office.

Gabe:    Well to Brandon’s point, though, you could do that with your cell phone.  But Surf Easy, though, what was crazy to me about Surf Easy is how the marketing material from that, they’re literally aiming that towards end users who want to do like the FUIT thing but if you look at the article that we wrote on that, some of the chat right now, yeah, it’s – it’s not that this thing exists because IT could set up like a proxy or SSN VPN forever, but this – they’re actually marketing it towards like regular users and it says, hey, is your IT department spying on you, is your IT department watching you and not letting you use Facebook and the websites you want to do?  Just plug this thing in and get a secure tunnel to the real internet that’s open that they can’t tough.

                And so it’s funny to me, because people talk about in the article they’re like, well, IT could put policies in place and IT could lock out USB ports and all that kind of stuff which like, I don’t know how many companies are actually doing that but whatever.  But the point is –

Brandon Shell:   A lot.

Gabe:    Really?

Brandon Shell:   It’s big in financial companies, yeah.

Brian:    Well sure.

Gabe:    Yeah, I can see that.

Brian:    The other 98% of companies, though, I wonder how many do it.  There’s a lot of companies that use Web Sense or whatever try to – is that even a thing now?

Brandon Shell:   It is, my girlfriends’ neighbor works for WebSense and I had Thanksgiving dinner with them and I can confirm that the company does still exist.  I believe his name was Robin.  Hello, Robin.

Gabe:    So you can implement these things and dome companies implement policies just for IE and then my sister’s company does this.  She can’t go to Facebook in Internet Explorer by one app that they have requires Firefox so she learned that she can go to Facebook if she opens up Firefox so I mean if you all you have to do is fight with a different browsers then, sure, this thing will be great for that.  It’s an insurance company, man.

Gabe:    Yeah, Spoon too, so Spoon just announced their offering where they have that –

Brian:    Is that allowed?

Gabe:    Yeah.

Gabe:    So Spoon, if anybody from Spoon is listening, I got your email today that I thought, all right, well whatever I’ll go check this thing out.  I go, I think, all right, I’ll fire it up.  Audacity, oh, it doesn’t work on the Mac.  So when it works on the Mac, let me know.

Brian:    Oh, because they need to – right, yeah-yeah.  Hey, we’re about out of time for this week, actually and I’ve got another call that starts in like one minute. 

Brian:    So I want to just – a couple shout outs that – oh, are you?  You can go in place of me then.  Okay, so look if you’re in Washington, DC, I’m in the DC area on Thursday giving our first ever consumerization of IT seminar so that’s really cool.  Also, we’ll talk about this next week, but we just launched our survey for the – to the state of the industry of consumerization.  So we just want to figure out in general, and, Brandon, if you haven’t taken this yet, do it right now.  And take it for Splunk, take it like internally ‘cause even internally, how are they dealing with devices and we just want to find out, are they locking down phones, what’s the DOI strategy for devices and for computer and how do they approach tablets and do they see consumerization as a threat or not and we’re hopefully going to get some decent data on this and then we’ll dig through that and write some cool articles about it probably after the first of the year.  So anyway –

Gabe:    I think we got a break for our CTP call so all of us should join it.  Although, Brandon, are you going to do this?  Because you can probably stick around in the studio and do it if you want to.

Brandon Shell:   Yeah.

Brian:    I have a different call to go on so I guess we have to go.  So, Brandon Shell, thank you so much for joining us in our studio despite the fact that we were not there.

Brandon Shell:   Yeah, I appreciate that.

Gabe:    But it sounds like we were there, right.  Sounds good.

Brandon Shell:   All right, yeah, I guess I’m out too, so thanks.    




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