In this three-part article series, Roland van der Kruk, a freelance consultant in The Netherlands, takes a look at the new features of VMware View 3, as well as best practices learned while doing a deployment for a customer. Part 1 provides information and insight on new features, Part 2 looks at Linked Clones, and Part 3 will look at special considerations and best practices for deployment.
Part 1 of 3 – An introduction to VMware View 3 features and best practices
Early December 2008, VMware released their new product for the VDI market, VMware View 3.0. As a rather substantial update to the former version, VMware VDM 2.0, apparently the product name also had to undergo a change to underline the differences between the new product and its predecessor. In this article I will discuss the (new) features in View 3.0 and the way they work. I will first describe the components on which the product is based. Then I will focus on the different deployment types possible with View 3.0 and what happens during and after deploying different types of ‘desktop pools’.
My experience with the new product is mainly based on an implementation that I did for a customer, who had a specific use case to provide desktop operating systems to developers around the globe. I will sometimes refer to other use cases as there are quite a few, however perhaps the biggest question that everyone probably has will remain unanswered, as the technology that makes up VDI is still developing. Where we can speak of an accepted and well known technology like Citrix XenApp, VDI is not nearly there yet. The question of how VDI will result in better return on investment than desktop deployment methods being used for many years now is not clear. It all depends on use cases and things like high availability requirements and hardware cost. Financial differences and justifications for using VDI or a traditional desktop model are not discussed in this article.
Part 2 of 3 – Linked Clones
The big question to most people is probably: ‘What are linked clones and how do they work?’. Some of you may expect similar functionality to Citrix Provisioning Server where optimization in disk space can be significantly realized, and indeed VMware does somewhat the same, but with very different technology. Let’s see how VMware does it.
The essence of linked clones is Thin Provisioning; saving on expensive storage cost. Thin provisioning with View 3.0 can be realized using a “master virtual machine”, which is just a regular virtual machine that you create and then take a snapshot. That virtual machine will be used as the basis for rapid and thin OS deployment. Please notice that I mentioned a virtual machine “snapshot”, not a virtual machine “template”.
Part 3 of 3 – Special Considerations and Best Practices
High available, secure remote access
Unfortunately, a high available configuration to access VMware View while being outside the corporate network can be very different between organizations. I have been doing some research reading the VMware VDM 2 Load Balancing Guide to find out more about load balancing and secure remote access. In today’s enterprise environments, gateway devices like Citrix Netscaler/Access Gateway or Cisco ASA are more or less common practice. They are configured as a mandatory termination point for sessions originating from outside the corporate network connecting to resources inside the corporate network.