View is the latest release from VMware of their Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) platform. VMware’s foray into VDI sprang from interest in the concept driven by their end user community.
In the beginning, VMware started developing a web-based connection broker that was released as part of a consulting package offered through partners. This activity was shelved when the company acquired Propero in April 2007.
Propero started out as a competitive product to Citrix server-based computing solutions, however when they recognized the opportunity in virtual desktops and the difficulty in competing directly, they were one of the first to retool for desktop virtualization. Propero was then redeveloped and released as Virtual Desktop Manager (VDM) from VMware. The product received mixed reviews as many of the features that were native to Propero’s software were removed in VMware’s initial release. Since that time the product has gone through several reiterations, including the complete overhaul that became VMware View 3 in 2008 and most recently View 4.5.
View 4.5 now offers many features that are required to provide an environment that scales and deals with a mixture of end user requirements. For example, View can blend pools of virtual desktops, physical desktops and terminal servers behind a single user portal, allowing the IT team to intelligently associate the user to the most appropriate technology.
VMware View 4.5 is essentially sold in two options; Enterprise and Premier. If you have an existing VMware View product you can move to and from each option using Add-on bundles. For our testing we opted to go with View Premier:
|vSphere for Desktops 4.x||VMware’s hypervisor||We used VMware vSphere 4.0||Yes|
|vCenter Server 4.X Standard for Desktops||VMware’s Management and Operations Console for the vSphere Infrastructure||Yes|
|View Manager 4.5||VMware’s connection broker||When installing View for external access you have the option of installing a Secure Server. This is appropriate if you need to proxy client connections through a DMZ. Secure Server still requires an associated VMware View server. We installed two VMware View servers; one primary and the other a replica and a Transfer server.||Yes*|
|View Composer||View Composer is an additional service that enables linked clone technology. It is a service addition to vCenter but requires a separate database.||Yes|
|Local Mode||Local Mode describes the ability to check out VMs from the View environment.||Checking out a virtual machine can have a huge impact on the environment due to the size of the vmdk. In order to mitigate the impact of the file transfer a designated Windows Transfer server is used.||Yes|
vShield Endpoint 1.0
|Anti-virus scanning and patching can have a negative impact in a VDI environment. VMware provides vShield Endpoint to help offload the overhead of this process.||No|
|ThinApp is VMware’s Application virtualization solution. It was an acquisition of a company called ThinStall.||We tested ThinApp 4.6. ThinApp is an agentless application virtualization solution so it does not require additional infrastructure other than the packaging environment.||Yes|
Virtual Desktop software is technology that is designed to run a desktop operating system on a virtual cluster while attempting to provide the same user experience as a physical desktop. All products tend to start with a base set of components for delivering a virtual desktop instance; a virtualization cluster consisting of hypervisor nodes attached to shared storage, a collection of virtual desktop instances running on the virtual cluster, a connection broker which associates users to virtual desktops and an end user device that connects to the virtual desktop environment using client software.
Even this concept is rapidly evolving into “virtual workspace” delivery as desktop virtualization and application virtualization get blended together inside product bundles. Over the next few weeks we will review XenDesktop, VMware View, Quest vWorkSpace and Microsoft VDI suite to compare and contrast the differences between the products.
The first product we will be reviewing is XenDesktop version 4 Feature Release 2 (FR2). Although XenDesktop 5 has been announced, the current release is 4. The edition tested is XenDesktop 4 FR2, Enterprise Edition:
|Desktop Delivery Controller||Citrix’s Connection Broker||Yes|
|XenApp 6 Enterprise Edition||Citrix’s Server Based Computing and Application Virtualization Management Tool||Although XenApp 5 Feature Pack 2 is bundled with XenDesktop we tested XenApp 6 as it has been out for awhile||Yes|
|XenServer 5.5 Essentials for XenServer Enterprise||XenServer 5.5 Essentials is a bundle of features including lifecycle management, storage integration, provisioning and HA to simplify management of Hyper-V and XenServer environments||For purposes of evaluating XenDesktop only HA and StorageLink were evaluated. Provisioning was applied to the VDI instances only, not the XenServer Hypervisors or management VMs.||Yes|
|Profile Management 2.1||Profile Management is the utility that simplifies profile management in XenDesktop||Profile Management is the 2nd release of the product that was acquired by Citrix as sepagoProfile from Sepago||Yes|
|Access Gateway||Access Gateway integrates features of the Access Gateway Enterprise Edition into the XenDesktop product||Access Gateway was tested to evaluate what additional features are available through integration.||Yes|
|Web Interface 5.2||Web Interface 5.2 is the web portal portion of the XenDesktop environment. It can be used from the DDC, or installed separately||In our test environment we used Web Interface installed on the XenApp server to allow us to blend virtual applications and desktops into one portal||Yes|