Debunking VMware View installation and configuration myths

There are a lot of VMware View installation and configuration myths floating around. So question your preconceived notions, because it could save you time and money.

With so many competitors in a very crowded VDI marketplace, there are a lot of misconceptions and untruths floating

around about VMware View.

Before moving forward on VMware View installation, or eliminating it from consideration, question all of your preconceived assumptions. And, most importantly, try to see through the hype and FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) that the vendors throw around.

I decided to evaluate some of the common VMware View clichés, which include pricing, implementation and effectiveness. As it turns out, much of the conventional wisdom around VMware View is actually just a myth.

VMware View is cheaper than physical desktops.

Partially false

The cost of a VMware View installation can vary drastically, depending on whether the operational savings are included. The capital expenditure to build a View infrastructure (i.e., servers, storage, thin clients, licenses) is rarely less than the cost of purchasing individual, physical desktops.

The true virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) cost savings become apparent when you compare the costs of maintaining virtual desktops and physical desktops. There are many factors to consider, but VDI will save your IT department countless hours of troubleshooting one-off issues on physical machines. Technicians won’t waste time by traveling to end user desks to fix problems. And View will improve power utilization efficiency, because the power requirements of numerous, individual desktops are consolidated to a handful of servers. (The net result is less power, which equates to less money.)

These costs are tangible, resulting in lower operational costs for VMware View.

VMware View doesn't work well enough for remote users.

False

As of View 4.6, PCoIP -- the protocol used to stream desktops to thin clients -- is supported through the View Security Server, which allows remote users to access the View infrastructure from an Internet or wide area network connection. (Previously, you could only use Remote Desktop Protocol through the Security Server.)

PCoIP has a reputation as a bandwidth hog, especially compared to Citrix System's HDX protocol, but this is partially by design.  PCoIP intelligently consumes any available bandwidth to provide the best possible experience. It will, however, throttle back when bandwidth becomes constrained.

When PCoIP isn't providing the desired results, administrators can tweak the protocol using an Active Directory Group Policy template on the VMware View Connection Server.

It's also worth noting that PCoIP bandwidth requirements in VMware View 5 have been dramatically reduced.

Virtual desktops will work for everyone.

False

Just like you can’t virtualize all server virtualization workloads, it’s not feasible to assign everyone a virtual desktop, at least today. (Although, most organizations can get really close.) Before VMware View 5, PCoIP couldn't handle really low bandwidth connections or the demands of three-dimensional (3-D) graphics.

Now, View 5 supports 3-D graphics with PCoIP leveraging a software graphics processing unit (GPU). Users that perform graphically intensive work can get better performance with hardware GPU. for

And while bandwidth utilization is better in View 5, some users (especially in a branch office) still may not have enough bandwidth to use a desktop that is delivered across the network. In summary, View 5 is better, but still not perfect. Also, not all peripherals will work flawlessly.

You can implement VMware View in a couple of weeks using a P2V desktop image.

False

Installing VMware View is fairly easy, but configuring it to be efficient and cost-effective can take quite a bit of time and testing.

Creating a View environment from a P2V’d image is a mistake and can hamper performance.  A desktop operating system installed and configured to run in a virtual machine is far more efficient than an operating system that underwent a physical-to-virtual conversion (P2V). That’s because we tend not to optimize Windows on a physical machine, because it has sole custody of the machine’s resources.

Virtual desktops share server resources, so optimizing the desktop image is important for a greater return on investment (ROI). But it’s a time-consuming process that includes implementing and testing various group policies, software combinations, registry changes and Windows optimizations.

Having end users test and validate the environment in a proof-of-concept or pilot environment prior to a production rollout is also important. If this step is not successfully completed, then user dissatisfaction will most likely kill or delay the VDI rollout, hurting the IT department's reputation in the process.

A single team, working alone, can complete a VMware View installation and configuration.

False

The skills needed to implement View are rarely found within a single IT team. You’ll need administrators for virtualization, desktops, networking, storage and Active Directory. A VMware View installation also needs testing and quality assurance as well as project managers. (A very small IT shop is the main exception, where one or a few administrators are in charge of all aspects of the environment.)

Given the heavy impact of VDI on end users, support from upper management is also crucial during the rollout. Some changes may not go over well with users. Without an authority mandating the change, the infrastructure may deviate from the best-case design, resulting in a reduced or longer ROI.

These are just a few of the more common VMware View misconceptions out there. As you can see, it’s best to search for the truth and not accept things on face value.

This was first published in October 2011

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