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Blog Posts tagged with Workspace Virtualization

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Advanced Virtualization Tips from VMware

VMware is  doing a live webinar where they're going to share in-depth tips about setting up a virtual environment. They're going to to have a Senior Engineer on the call and are going to beyond the basics of virtualization set up and give more advanced details. There is also going to have a customer on  who is going to talk about how they virtualized 90% of their environment. 

 

Date: Thursday, April 19

Time: : 10 a.m. PT, 12 p.m. CT, 1 p.m ET

Here is wehre you can register for the event: http://bit.ly/HPLTra

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Interop 2012

Interop 2012 was a decent show with some good discussions and presentations to get you thinking about IT topics and best practices. Vendors delivered the keynotes twice a day with three different speakers taking a slice of the allotted time. Some (like Cisco) did a decent job of talking at a high level and not openly pitching product but stayed very high level (as keynotes often do). Others (like Aveya) just promoted their product complete with a live demo and pleas to come visit them at their booth. As a desktop guy, I was less interested in many of the networking and infrastructure focused breakouts but was happy to find enough virtualization and cloud topics to keep me interested. I branched away from this track when the topic grabbed my interest (like Social Media and Security). Overall it was a good event and while I found it a challenge to create notes worth sharing for some of the sessions I attended, they all were good for getting you thinking with more of a discussion vibe than one of training (arguably a good thing).  Like the recent MMS 2012 event I attended, I’m sharing my notes here on ITNinja and I hope you’ll find them helpful on there own or at least provide some insight as to if you’d want to attend Interop yourself next year. This list will grow and get links during the week long event as I get my notes together…

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The Dark Side of Virtualization: 10 Reasons These Are Not the Virtualized Apps You're Looking For

This was a good discussion presented by Dave Asprey, VP of Cloud Security, Trend Micro. While the title here says ten reasons, each reason had multiple examples, some of which overlapped, so it was really something like “27 reasons you wouldn’t want to virtualize”. Here is the official list offered by Dave with some notes I took during the discussions of each…

 

When you have static, predictable computing needs

If your organization is already standardized, stable and operations are under control, it may not be worth the cost, complexity and risk of forcing the move to virtualization. In most cases you are better off starting with a small, targeted group proving the technology and learning from the small scale deployment, before pushing forward to widespread implementation.

 

When you can’t get a virtualization friendly license

Sometimes (particularly with small vendors) running in a virtualized environment simply is not supported. You might be able to put pressure on them to provide support; if enough customers take this approach it could work. Otherwise, you can do it anyway and break some rules but to get support you’ll need to reproduce your problem on a traditionally installed instance. Some vendors still require dongles, which clearly makes for a challenge in a virtualized environment.

 

When it just won’t work very well
 

High I/O apps such as databases, and those with disk intensive workloads may be mitigated to some degree by using a pass-through drive instead of a virtual drive but may simply be wise to avoid entirely.  Products that require hardware cards without virtualization drivers are rare but troublesome. Graphics-intensive apps can be a concern but this is an issue VM vendors have been working hard on and as such is improving. It is also worth noting that when evaluating applications that don’t work well, there may be new technologies like I/O virtualization that can help to eliminate concerns.

 

When time drift will hurt your apps

Virtual machines store time apart from the physical host and as the two times diverge some applications can be affected. For example, time drive would clearly impact applications like financial real-time trading applications or an industrial control system.

 

When you work for a cheapskate


If you don’t have the budget to pull it off, don’t start it. Taking a half-hearted approach is very likely to be worse than whatever you have today and would not be well received by users.

 

When you’re already running servers at high capacity


While the overhead required to run a virtualized environment is shrinking fast, even the 5 to 15 percent overhead it requires may be too much if your server is already working at 60 percent or so (as pushing beyond 75% is not recommended).

 

When you don’t have a way to manage encryption keys


The work around for password protecting certificates on individual VMs is not recommended. The ideal solution is a policy based encryption key management solution-- which the presenter’s company Trend Micro happens to sell (but credit where credit is due, he did not push the product but simply made everyone aware of it and within this technical discussion it was not unwelcome content).

 

When you use clustered apps with built in failover


Some older, mission critical applications may have high availability features already. One example given, “Microsoft Cluster Services with a shared disk will break in private clouds that allow VMs to automatically move around”

 

When you want to save money on all desktops by virtualizing them

This seems to be one of the biggest misconceptions about VDI—it simply is not cheaper. You still need a client device (which still needs to be secured and managed) and you are adding significant server infrastructure, which is expensive.

 

When you are running virtualization platform components

For this one Dave explained that Virtualization platforms and hypervisors rely upon AD or DNS so if you virtualized AD or DNS you end up in a situation where you can’t start your virtualized environment because of a requirement it is hosting as a virtualized service. In short, you really have to keep your DNS servers on physical servers.

 

All these issues are being addressed as new releases come to market. While this may come across as negative, all the benefits were also highlighted and virtualization was still encouraged. The point was to get one thinking about the fact that implementing virtualization may not (and should not) mean virtualization everything. 

 

[Home page for Bob's Interop 2012 session notes]

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Interop 2012: The Future of the "Desktop" or the "Desktop" of the Future

This was a panel discussion on the future of the desktop at Interop 2012. For the most part, everyone was stuck on the term "desktop" and agreed there really won't be a desktop as we know it. Below are my notes about what each of the panelists had to say on the topic...

  • Moderator - Barb Goldworm, President and Chief Analyst, FOCUS
  • Panelist - Glenn Wilson, Product Manager, Google
  • Panelist - John Burke, Principal Research Analyst, Nemertes Research
  • Panelist - Roberto De La Mora, Sr. Director, Collaboration Solutions Marketing, Cisco

 

John of Nemertes Research says SaaS is a clear trend—outsourcing services to deliver value to users as opposed to setting up such services in-house. Eventually sees us reaching a point where the desktop is a browser used to consume cloud services.

John posted the above chart on virtual desktop adoption which I found very suprising. I wonder the source and the sample size for this as I've typically heard people say it was something they are investigating, not using (due to the complexity and expense of VDI).

Phil from VMWare says VDI is a stepping-stone to the future, not the future. The future is a new OS that learned from the lessons of the past—something taking a new lightweight, secure approach like Chrome.  HTML5 lets you deliver to any device and as such is a critical technology to get to the next generation. 

Glenn of Google focused on the move from a single OS/Device/owner to many different platforms, operating systems and may not be owned by the business.  Also stressed the importance of HTML5 as pushing us to the future desktop.  Also said there is no desktop of the future, the device and OS will not matter—if anything the browser is the desktop of the future.

Roberto of Cisco naturally introduced the concept of voice and video to the workspace of the future. Of the panelists, Roberto definitely had the best slides and was much more specific about the technological challenges around the need for more maturity in the VDI space but stressed the limitations of VDI are being addressed on a regular basis. 

Above was an insightful slide describing some of the things that clearly need to happen for us to get to a next generation virtual workspace.

 

[Home page for Bob's Interop 2012 session notes]

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Why is Application Rationalization not just an IT Issue?

Why is application rationalization not just an IT issue? It affects the business as well. Let me explain... whenever we meet a customer their primary thought of application rationalization is get the information from the vendor (which could take months and months) and then move the applications to Windows - 7/8 or Virtualization and forget them until the next version of Windows or Virtualization technology comes available and then the process needs to be done all over again. However, our job is to educate the masses on the importance of application rationalization fitting into the everyday business as usual process. 
We see new articles and reports every day from the usual sources stating that application portfolio bloat is a growing problem and it’s costing organizations millions of dollars every year. Everyone knows that but who has the time and resources to dedicate to that right now or even every day? The answer is not a single organization does. So as important as it is to rationalize your application portfolio on a consistent basis, many organizations just ignore it thinking that they’ll get to it later when they absolutely have to. Or they open up the excel spreadsheet (as this is the preferred method of application management in many organizations), take a look, get overwhelmed, and then move on to the next fire. This is not helping. 
I recently had a conversation with an organization that has an SLA in place to ensure that their applications are up to date for all of their users. Yet they haven’t rationalized any applications in over a year. This negatively impacts their business and I’ll tell you why. We all know that most of the financial, insurance, pharmaceutical, and government organizations are regulated and have stringent security and government requirements to adhere to. A lot of these requirements are centered on applications being up to date due to security vulnerabilities. If their applications are more than X number of releases behind the most current release from the vendor it could cost them tens of thousands of dollars in fines. 
Another aspect where application rationalization can negatively impact all businesses is in productivity. As much as we all complain about having to update applications all of the time (the worst is Java and only a hand full of organizations (if that) allow an automatic reminder on the desktop) and most releases seem miniscule at best. But some are imperative for security or even a bug fix that can crash your systems or hinder your users from executing the functions of the business (we’ve all heard the horror stories). This can be catastrophic not only in dollars and productivity, but also for the reputation of the IT organization. 
Up until now, application rationalization has been an arduous manual process that takes months and even years to complete. However, as its now automated, application rationalization executed in your everyday application management process could help your organization save millions of dollars and months of productivity every year. Just think, there will be no more unused, underused, out of support, or out of date applications in your portfolio. All vendor applications consistently updated when a new release is available by setting alerts and creating thresholds. This is no longer the case to use the phrase; “in a perfect world”… it’s now in the real world.

 

Try the Application Rationalization Savings Calculator and see how much you can reduce your operational costs by: http://futurestateit.com/application-rationalization-savings-calculator/ 

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