Posted by: tonywilburn | November 4, 2015

That annoying vSphere “Failed to Deploy OVF package” message.

I’ve had this happen to me a couple of times now.  Someone creates a new image they want to use, export it as an ova file and they give it to you to use.  A pretty simple procedure, but unfortunately, many times, the admin forgets to remove the ISO they were using before exporting.  So when you go to import the OVA you get this annoying message:


See, it tells you right there, iso was not found.  What can you do now?  Well you have two options:

  1. Explain to the admin that you need another export, but please change the CD to client device instead of ISO and wait for them to do it and re-export the file for you, or
  2. Fix it yourself.  It’s pretty easy, here’s how.

First get a program that will unarchive the ova file.  My favorite is 7-zip.

Unzip the ova.  Yep, it’s that easy to open an ova. If you extract it to another folder, you’ll have something that looks like this:


Copy the OVF file to another location so that you have it in case you mess up, then open the OVF with Wordpad or some other editor.  This is all of the information about the VM you are importing.  Look for the words vmware.cdrom.iso.  You want to delete everyting from the <Item above it to the </Item> below it:


After deleting these lines, save the OVF file.

The final step is to remove the .MF file.  This is the checksum, and you have changed the checksum by changing the file.

Now you can deploy the OVF file.  Don’t point to the OVA file you got earlier, but to the new OVF.  It will import just fine.  There that wasn’t hard at all was it?

Posted by: tonywilburn | March 1, 2014

Add NFS datastores to ESXi hosts with PowerCLI

This is such a quick and easy script I just had to share.  Others out there have versions of this script, but I had trouble finding one that would add a datastore to every host in a given cluster.  This works:

get-cluster <your_cluster>| get-vmhost | New-Datastore -NFS -Name <datastorename> -Path /<path to nfs mount point> -nfshost <hostname or IPaddress>

To add the datastore to every host in every cluster just remove the get-cluster

get-vmhost | New-Datastore -NFS -Name <datastorename> -Path /<path to nfs mount point> -nfshost <hostname or IPaddress>

Posted by: tonywilburn | January 14, 2013

The Cloud, A place for my stuff.

Back again from a long break, too long I know.  I really have to set more time aside to blog.  I won’t call that a New Year’s resolution, if I do, I know I’ll break it.  Let’s call it a goal.  That sounds much easier to attain.

The Cloud

If you are in IT you probably have that term thrown at you several times a day.  It’s all vendors want to talk about, everyone has a cloud solution today, but what is the cloud, really?  Different people have different opinions on what the cloud is, and while they are all different they are somewhat the same.  I’ve come to believe, as George Carlin once said, it’s just a place for my stuff.  Many of you will know what I am talking about, some knew the minute they saw the title of this post, but for those of you that don’t, here is an excerpt of a George Carlin classic.

Actually this is just a place for my stuff, ya
know? That’s all, a little place for my stuff. That’s all I want, that’s all you
need in life, is a little place for your stuff, ya know? I can see it on your
table, everybody’s got a little place for their stuff. This is my stuff, that’s
your stuff, that’ll be his stuff over there. That’s all you need in life, a
little place for your stuff. That’s all your house is: a place to keep your
stuff. If you didn’t have so much stuff, you wouldn’t need a house. You could
just walk around all the time.

A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it. You can see that when you’re
taking off in an airplane. You look down, you see everybody’s got a little pile
of stuff. All the little piles of stuff. And when you leave your house, you
gotta lock it up. Wouldn’t want somebody to come by and take some of your stuff.
They always take the good stuff. They never bother with that crap you’re saving.
All they want is the shiny stuff. That’s what your house is, a place to keep
your stuff while you go out and get…more stuff!

Sometimes you gotta move, gotta get a bigger house. Why? No room for your stuff anymore.

I think that describes “The Cloud” better than any vendor presentation I have ever been through.  But wait, you say, cloud is IAAS, PAAS, SAAS, XAAS (anything you want to name with “as a service” attached to it to make it sound cloudy).  Well, lets look at those, IAAS.  Infrastructure as a service.  A virtual server in the cloud, a thing, stuff.  Stuff with data on it.  What is data?  More stuff.  Big Data?  Even more stuff.  Okay, how about PAAS, Platform as a service?  That’s easy, what is PAAS?  Developer tools right?  Tools?  Tools are stuff, I have tools lying all over my garage.  A tool for this, a tool for that, it’s part of my stuff.  Alright then, what about SAAS?  Software as a Service.  Software….ware, stuff.  Let’s think about Software as a Service, what are some examples?  Gmail….a place to hold my stuff, in this case email.  Dropbox…a place to hold my documents and photos, more stuff.  WordPress…it’s where I store my thoughts, some of them anyways.  Facebook…wow look at all the stuff I have there, messages, games, pictures, videos, contact lists.  Tons of stuff.

“But Tony”, you say, there has to be more to “The Cloud” than that.  What about security?  Well, what about it?  Didn’t Carlin talk about cloud security?  ” And when you leave your house, you gotta lock it up. Wouldn’t want somebody to come by and take some of your stuff.”  Isn’t that security?  No, it’s not a VPN tunnel or security tokens, it’s not passwords and security algorithms.  But it is security.  Lock up your stuff so that somebody else doesn’t take it.

Isn’t there more to it than that?  How about the ability to  move between data centers?  That’s too easy, just read the last line of the quote. Carlin covered that.  Ok, so how about redundancy?  Well, yeah, Carlin didn’t cover that, but what is redundancy, having two of everything?  Why that’s just twice as much stuff.

How about Multi-tenancy?  “This is my stuff, that’s your stuff, that’ll be his stuff over there.”  Yep, Ol’ George talked about that as well.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the cloud is a joke or making fun of it.  It is serious business, it’s my business, and something that takes time and planning to do correctly.   Too many organizations are jumping into the cloud, in one form or another, without knowing what they are doing or even why they are doing it.  They’ve just been told that they have to do it, that it’s the newest thing, that they will be left behind if they don’t jump in now.  Just start off as thinking of “The Cloud” as a place for your stuff, then grow it from there.  What stuff do you want to keep there?  How much stuff do you want to put there?  Are you going to be buying or creating more stuff in the future?  If so, you need to consider that in the planning stages.  You don’t need to purchase the biggest house, as Mr. Carlin would say, from the start, but you need to make sure you can easily and affordably add-on to that house so that you can store more stuff.  Otherwise, you will be looking for a newer, bigger house later, and moving day is always a pain.  Last of all, make sure wherever you store your stuff, it has a good lock on the house.  You may have a lot of people coming and looking at your stuff, you want to make sure that they see only what you want them to see.  Don’t give them free rein and have people looking at your private stuff.  Nobody likes that.

Posted by: tonywilburn | August 30, 2012

VMworld 2012 – Days 2 and 3

In thinking about my post from yesterday, I think I may have come across as too hard on the vendors in the Solutions Exchange.  That wasn’t my intent.  There are some very good vendors, really a lot of good vendors on the floor.  I had a great talk with the guys at HP, and got a very insightful Veeam demonstration from @RickVanover.  My point was I don’t like to be accosted for a badge scan to get spammed, even if you are “scanning for charity”. 

Moving on.  Seeing Steve Herrod on the drums was kind of funny.  So were some of the demos.  A good demo of desktop virtualization moving a laptop to Windows 7 then moving the image to a tablet and then a Mac was interesting and very entertaining.  Two great lines came from that, one after the upgrade two Windows 7.  “Welcome to 2009!”.  The other was “BYOD or as I like to call it, SYOM.”  “Spend your own money.”  That has to be compelling to CFOs, having the users pay for their own end points.  But has to be a nightmare for Desktop Admins.  I think it is coming though, even though VMware, by their own admission, has been trying to get the virtual desktop right for 5 years now.

The end of the General Session, was a 4 minute challenege for the top partners.  @Sakacc of course took more than the allotted time and while he had a very good presentation, the day belonged to NetApp.

I spent most of the second day and the third day in sessions and I have to say the sessions seem better than ever this year.  Alan and Luc had a great PowerCli session, and I got more info on virtualizing Oracle than ever before.

Of course the VMware party ended tonight’s festivities.  Bon Jovi put on a very good show.  He has become one of those acts that gets better with age.



Posted by: tonywilburn | August 28, 2012

VMworld 2012 Day 1.

I know, I know, I said I would do better at posting and all of a sudden 6 months have gone by without a post.  It’s been a busy 6 months.  Both at home and at work.  But that’s no excuse, so hopefully VMworld will inspire me to get back into the flow.  I’ll try to talk about what I have been doing very soon.  But first, here I am at VMworld again.  I’m going to try to blog this on a day to day basis, even though I am already a day late.

So, day 1 really started on day 0.  VMworld kicked off with the reception on Sunday night instead of Monday night.  The reception had a different feel this year and I’m not really sure why.  It seems like there are many more booths, but for the first time I felt like I actually have room to walk between the booths without running over someone or getting stepped on.  I can even dodge unwanted scanning!  A couple of things that vendors don’t want to hear…if I want to hear about your product I will stop and ask about it, otherwise, don’t try to scan me as I walk by so you can spam me and call me over and over.  Number 2, no I don;t want another T-shirt that I will never wear.  Want me to advertise your product for free?  Give me a golf shirt.  Number 3, if you hire pretty girls to wear a Storm outfit, I will never remember your name, you will always be the vendor with the girls dressed like Storm.  Now that I have been on my rant, the other thing I notice is that while there are a lot of vendors, there doesn’t seem to be anything innovative that made me stop and say “Wow”.  Just seems like a lot of vendors promising to make your cloud bigger, better, faster, stronger…  A friend of mine did point out that there is no Microsoft this year.  I’m curious as to why that is.  While I am on my rants, Oracle is everywhere outside the conference.  SUVs are parked outside with ads on them saying that Oracle is more scalable than VMware and better yet FREE!  Anyone ever known Oracle to do anything for free?  I thought not.

Now to Day 1.  Keynote was good after the weird drum intro.  To me, the new CEO has a much better delivery than Paul.  The end of vRam was huge, even though almost everyone knew it was coming.  Brilliant move by VMware.  Now there are a bunch of people like me that bought more licenses than they needed based on the vRam licensing model.  They spent a year generating revenue by having customers over purchase licenses.  Sure I will use the extra ones at some point, but until then, I will be paying maintenance on them.  Brilliant.  Also the announcement of vCloud Suite is interesting, waiting to see if it will be an actual integrated suite or just a sales bundle.  Monster VMs getting bigger and faster were also announced.  Now 1 million IOPS to the VM, not the host.   Impressive.  Enhanced vmotion was also announced, which is vmotion minus shared storage.  Interesting concept but another breakout session led me to believe this isn’t coming as fast as the general session made it seem.

That brings me to the breakouts, always my biggest hope and sometimes my biggest disappointment.  This year the first day I attended three discussion groups.  These were very good, much better than a presentation.  Alan Renouf held a great discussion on PowerCLI and Frank Denneman held a very good session that was based around asking question around user environments.  I did attend one discussion where the moderator just spent his time presenting and left out the discussion, but I will  ake two out of three.  I also attended the “ask the expert vBloggers” session.  That is always entertaining, but the questions were soft and much the same as last year.  “Why did you get started blogging,” “How has blogging changed your life,” “what is in your home lab?”  Chad seems to have a nice home lab by the way.  Sounds like it rivals Jason Boche’s.  That was basically my first day in a nutshell.  On a break during day two at the moment, an so far it has been a good experience.  More on that later, I hope.

Posted by: tonywilburn | August 18, 2011

Federal Cloud – Is it a Cloud or isn’t it?

Since I started working for a Federal Cloud provider, I’ve had to re-think the way I look at things.  I’ve been in the D.C. area for a couple of years now and have worked on several government agency IT projects, but the cloud has changed things.  First, everyone knows about the red tape.  Yes, there is a lot of that, and yes it does slow things down.  The other is the security concerns.  While everyone is worried about the security of the cloud, with the government those concerns are increased and rightly so.  This post came about as I was reviewing the material for the vSphere 5 VSP.  As part of the instructional material, there is a slide describing the three types of clouds.  Public, Private, and Hybrid.  Simple right.  Public is hosted by a third party, such as ourselves, Private is hosted by the system owner, Hybrid is, well, a hybrid of the two.  The next slide talked about the definition of a cloud, a cloud is a virtualized environment that has been developed to provide self service.

This is where things get muddy, or should I say cloudy?  The company that I work for provides a multi-tenant cloud for Federal use only.  So, from the start, it’s not truly public, since the public does not have access to it.  While different agencies may have virtual machines residing on the same cluster, non federal agencies will not.  Again, I think the reasons are valid and obvious.  Now let’s look at self-service.  By the definition given in the VSP training this has two requirements.  One is you can purchase the required virtual components (CPU, memory, storage) for a new virtual machine without interaction from other parties, the other is that you can increase those components on demand.  The training used a vending machine as a metaphor.  As you can imagine, this isn’t possible with the Federal Government.  There are strict procedures that must be adhered to when purchasing and procuring equipment or services.  This slows the process down, and is at times frustrating for us vendors, but it is your money they are spending and given the whole debt ceiling,  government spending debate. going slow is not a bad thing.  But for the government, purchasing cloud services is less like a vending machine and more like, well like standard government procurement.

Let’s take self service one step further.  Self service is not only purchase on demand, it’s also provision on demand.  This is possible in a Federal cloud, if you plan for it.  You can purchase a set of resources that you pay for at a reoccuring monthly rate.  You could then use these resources as you see fit.  So, if you purchase more memory than you need, more CPU than you need, more storage than you need, you could create and destroy virtual machines as often as you want.  Need to add memory to a VM?  As long as you have some lying around, go right ahead.  Or maybe you want to free-up unused memory on one VM and give it to another, be our guest.  Resource pools can be wonderful things.

So it’s not a public cloud, it’s not a private cloud, it’s not a hybrid cloud.  Above that, it’s not built for self service, at least not fom the purchasing aspect.  So by VMware’s definition, it isn’t even a cloud.  So what is it?  I’ve heard the term “Community Cloud” floated around.  That’s probably as good a description as any, if you think of government agencies as a community.  Of course, as with all communities, there are going to be sections of the community that don’t want to associate with others in the community.  In the case of the community cloud, this will be due to security reasons.  Systems rated low, medium and high will most likely need to be kept separate, and then of course there is Defense and Intelligence that like to stay off to themselves, and not associate with anyone else, but you have those people in your community don’t you?  If you can’t think of anyone, then it’s probably you 🙂

So is it a cloud?  If so what type?  Should VMware and the virtual community shift the way we think of clouds to accomadate federal requirements or is there a fourth type of cloud?  Surely the United States government isn’t the only government that has these concerns and strictures.  Feel free to weigh in.

Posted by: tonywilburn | September 15, 2010

VMworld 2010- My impressions

I apologize for not blogging more, life has been hectic since changing jobs.  I did get away for my annual pilgrimage to VMworld.  This is my 5th year in a row, and I have to say, I was not very impressed.  Much of my frustration has to do with the sessions.  Or more accurately, my inability to get into sessions. 

In years past, there has been much complaining by people that signed up for VMware late, about not being able to register for sessions and having to stand in an unregistered line and hope they can get in.  So this year, no registration for sessions.  This has led to incredibly long lines and sessions closing a full 15 minutes before scheduled start.  But, of course, the session doesn’t start early just because the doors are closed, if you were lucky enough to get in, you have to sit there for as much as 30 minutes waiting, checking email, blogging, tweeting, etc.  Personally I was denied five sessions that I tried to get into, that is before I gave up trying.  I will admit, later in the week, at least the organization improved as the lines were better defined and ushers were posted at the end of the line with signs that had the room number so that you can see where you needed to be.  Some sections had ushers that had learned how many people could fit in a room and could tell you if you had a shot of getting into a session by the length of the line.  So kudos to the support staff.

I’m not sure why this bugged me so much as I often leave sessions filling unfulfilled.  I guess I have been doing this so long that I expect more content.  Instead I sit through a session of people telling me what I already know and presenting it as something that they newly discovered.  Either that, or it turns out to be, not a technical session, but a sales session, with a vendor telling you why you need their product.  I’m okay with that, but let me know that it’s a sales pitch up front so I can make a better informed decision.  I will probably stick with Advanced sessions only from this point on.

Speaking of this, social media has changed the way VMware sessions are booked.  With the heavy usage of blogs and twitter by the VMworld community, some sessions were in high demand.  I think Scott Lowe’s session was full over 30 minutes ahead of time. 

The long lines for sessions also kept me from seeing as much of the Solutions Exchange as I wanted.  In the past, with pre-registration, after a session I would head to the Solutions Exchange and talk to a vendor or two before checking in at my next session a whole 5 minutes before the session started.  Doing this between every session would allow me to meet with several vendors or network with peers.  Under the new system, it was a mad dash from one session to the next, in hopes that the line was still short enough, thirty minutes before the session started.  A colleague of mine was actually lining up for sessions an hour in advance.  So I didn’t see as many sessions as I wanted, talk to as many vendors as I wanted or meet with as many people that I follow through blogs or twitter as I wanted.

Now, to the good.  Herrod’s presentation was amazing.  I am a huge proponent of VDI and the things that are happening in that space are much needed and highly anticipated.  There were some good session.  Some I saw, some I didn’t get to in time.  There were some very good vendor presentations in the Solutions Exchange.  I think there was something there for everyone and a lot of VDI enabling products to see.  The labs were great.  I should have spent  much more time there.  While there is only so much you can do in the alloted time, especially if you stick with the script, they did an amazing job in the lab.  The labs were actually hosted “in the Cloud” as Herndon, VA and Tampa FL as well as in the Moscone Center.  I only did a few labs, but they were very responsive.

I was able to do some networking, meet up with new friends and old.  My company has several attendees here from literally all over and I was able to have dinner with some old friends and make some new friends within the company.  I am sorry I missed seeing so many people that I had hoped to see.

Now, I’ve never had to plan an event larger than a kids birthday party, so I can’t imagine all the hard work that the VMware staff put into this, and yet, I can’t help filling underwhelmed.  The impressions of many is that the Moscone Center isn’t large enough, even with the addition of the West Hall, for 17,000 people.  But, I have been told, that the Oracle Openworld conference is over twice the size and held in the same conference center.  Are the attendees there jammed together or is it somehow organized to handle such a large capacity?

What I can tell you is that VMware is listening to it’s people.  Many people expressed displeasure that the event was not held in Vegas, and next year, it’s in Vegas.  Many people have expressed a dissatisfaction with the cold sandwich lunches provided.  This year there were some very good hot lunches to be had.  Many people have expressed dissatisfaction with the scheduling of sessions and labs.  This year it was first come, first served.  VMware is continually trying to improve VMworld just like they continue to improve their products.  And like changes in their products, some I like, some I am against. 

Even though there were somethings I didn’t care for, it was still a positive experience, and I look forward to attending VMworld 8.0 in Vegas next year.

Posted by: tonywilburn | May 23, 2010

Real World Troubleshooting

So, the other day I was standing in line waiting to add money to my METRO card when I saw one of the best examples of the wrong way to troubleshoot.  There was a woman in front of me adding money to her card.  She was trying to rush things, so with credit card in hand, she hit the button to pay with a DEBIT card.  She then inserted her credit card and looked at the machine like it was crazy when it asked for her PIN.  She then canceled the transaction and tried again.  This time she correctly chose credit and when asked to insert and remove her card quickly, she did this at lightning speed.  She removed her card so quickly that the machine didn’t have time to register the card.  So when she saw the message saying to insert her card, instead of slowing down and inserting the card at a normal speed, she threw her hands in the air and canceled the transaction.  She still wasn’t giving up however and this is where things got comical.  She put the credit card back in her purse and took out a dollar bill.  Now every machine in America that takes dollar bills has a picture on the mechanism that accepts the bill showing the correct way to insert the bill.  Of course she didn’t look at this and inserted the dollar bill incorrectly.  When the machine spit her bill back out, she instantly dug out another bill and inserted it the wrong way as well.  When the machine promptly spit this bill out she again threw her hands up in the air and squatted down on the ground, and started searching through her purse for quarters.  She found four quarters and as there was absolutely no way she could screw this up, she was finally able to add the money to her card.  Now, I’m sure there are some of you that would ask, if I saw all of this, why didn’t I step in and tell her what she was doing wrong.  Well, she never slowed down when moving from task to task.  She never stopped to take a breathe, ask for help, or read the many instructions on the machine.  Maybe she was one of the many tourists in the D.C. area some would say and couldn’t read the instructions.  The thought crossed my mind, but as she walked away she apologized in perfect English, so I don’t think that was the case either.

So what does this have to do with technology?  Well, I think it’s the perfect example of what not to do when faced with a problem, technological or otherwise.  Many times I’ve seen colleagues fail to correctly troubleshoot an issue because they hadn’t looked at any documentation beforehand.  RTFM as they say.  Her second mistake, another classic, she blamed the computer for her failings.  People seem to believe that computers have a mind of thier own or able to things other than what they were told.  She gave the computer the wrong instructions and expected it to do what she wanted, not what she told it.  Third, she paniced.  Instead of slowing down and trying to figure out why what she had been doing hadn’t worked, she immediately tried another solution.  Fourth, why didn’t she try the most obvious “fix” first.  If she had a dollar bill or four quarters, why didn’t she use them to begin with?  Instead she tried the most expedient solution, even if it wasn’t the best solution.

So what should she should have done?  What should you do when you are troubleshooting an issue?

1.  Make sure you know what you should be doing before you do it.  RTFM.

2.  Take your time.  When you panic, when you rush things, you make mistakes that cost you more time than it would if you had slowed down and done things properly the first time.  I know that no one can work, the phones are ringing off the hook and the CIO is screaming to know who is at fault.  Don’t worry about all that, take a deep breath and concentrate on the task at hand.  You can fix this.  You know you can.

3.  Ask questions.  Don’t be afraid of looking stupid.  Face it, if she had asked me for help the first or second time she had an issue, I would never have written this blog entry.

4.  The easiest fix, isn’t always the best.  Take the time to look at all available solutions before choosing your course of action.

Four simple steps, I’m sure you could add more, but if you follow these rules, your endeavors have a much greater chance of being successful.

Posted by: tonywilburn | April 20, 2010

Setting MPIO with NetApp Virtual Storage Console (VSC)

Recently I discovered the NetApp Virtual Storage Console (VSC) with vSphere.  I really like the way it sets the MPIO for my VMFS LUNs.  I had trouble finding step by step documentation on setting this up, so I put together my own guide.

NOTE:  This must be done for every Initiator Group on each SAN Controller.

Launch NetApp System Manager.  Choose LUNs in the left pane.  Choose the Initiator Groups tab in the right pane.  Click on Edit and Check the box to enable ALUA.

Log on to the vCenter Server.  Copy the latest NetApp VSC to the vCenter Server.  Launch the executable.  Setup is an easy and straight forward wizard.  I won’t go into the details of it here.  Once the VSC is installed you will be prompted to register it.

Launch vCenter Client from a workstation.  You will receive a security warning when logging into vCenter Client.  Check the Install box and click Ignore.

You will now have a NetApp tab.  Choose the NetApp tab to access the plugin.

The plugin will begin to discover your network components.

You will need to provide the credentials to log in to your controller.

NetApp will show a summary of your SAN.  Click Finish.

If the MPIO settings show alert you will need to let NetApp adjust the settings.

Right click on the host and click on Set Recommended Values.

Only the MPIO settings are necessary, but I leave all the boxes checked, just to get Green lights on all the settings.

The Status will now show Pending Reboot.

Reboot the vSphere host.  After the host is running again Update the status.

After the update the MPIO should show normal.  If the Status still shows alert, I find that if you wait a couple of hours, it will turn to green.  Not sure why there is a delay in the status update.

The Multipath settings should now show Round Robin, with two paths active.

That’s it.  Just do this for every vSphere host that you have and you will have 2 active paths for every LUN.  Much better than using defaults or changing the settings for every LUN on every host.

Posted by: tonywilburn | March 24, 2010

The shot heard ’round the world

So last week Bridget over at Tech Target sent an email asking for my opinion for this article she was writing about the Microsoft VDI announcement.  I gave it a moment’s thought and sent her back this comment which she used in the article:

I never imagined that two little sentences would be posted and quoted and re-quoted as much this one remark has been over the past few days.  So let me delve into this a little more and explain why I said what I did.  Before I got into virtualization, I was a Novell Engineer.  I was so well versed in Novell products that for awhile, I was a Novell Field Engineer, or in Novell’s terms a Designated Support Engineer.  Novell, in many people’s opinions,  had a superior product, yet NetWare and more importantly Novell Directory Services (NDS) has been crushed by Microsoft and Active Directory.  Some people would argue that Lotus Notes and GroupWise at one time were better products than Exchange, yet Exchange now owns the corporate email market.  Most of us old-timers will expound to great lengths about how great Word Perfect was, and now Word Perfect wouldn’t even be able to get on Celebrity Apprentice.  Then, of course, there was Netscape.  You remember Netscape, the ultimate in browser experience, don’t you?  How did Microsoft overpower all of these arguably superior products?  Through integration.  Active Directory was bundled with Windows Server, just as Internet Explorer was bundled with every Windows version since Windows 95.  Now Microsoft’s latest target is VMware.  How have they attacked VMware, why integration, of course.  Hyper-V integrated with Windows 2008 and 2008 R2 to be exact. For more years than I can remember, Microsoft has owned the desktop space.  Even before there was a Windows product, most applications ran on MS-Dos.  Now, they see VMware as attacking that domination with View.  Why Microsoft sees this as such a challenge is beyond me.  VMware hasn’t designed their own desktop OS, they’ve only virtualized Microsoft’s.  In doing so, they have enabled Microsoft to charge for two licenses instead of one.  More on that later.  Now to the announcement, among other things Microsoft has teamed with Citrix for not only the new RDP protocol called RemoteFx, but also a “trade-in” program which lets customers trade in their VMware View software licenses for the same number (up to 500) of Microsoft VDI Standard Suite subscription and Citrix XenDesktop VDI Edition annual licenses, free of charge.  Granted Microsoft and Citrix have worked together for years, as Citrix was almost a requirement to use Microsoft Terminal Services.  But in none of the cases that I sited above did Microsoft need to partner with another company in order to oust it’s competition.  It’s like when the schoolyard bully finally meets his match and comes back with a friend to try again.  That only makes the bully look weaker and his intended victim even stronger.  There.  I said it again.

Microsoft’s VDI license announcement:

I’ve been trying to decide if I should say what I really feel about this part of the announcement or just shake my head and walk away.  Seems I’m not the walk away type.  I feel this much hyped announcement was very, very weak.  First, we all know that Microsoft practically gives away the OEM copy of Windows XP/Vista/Windows 7, so that it will be pre-installed on your PC and you won’t want to go through the hassle of changing it to anything else.  Yet, if you buy this same software from the store, Microsoft charges over $200.  Windows 7 Professional is $261.76 today on Amazon.  This drives up the cost of any VDI solution, be it VMware View or XenDesktop, making ROI more difficult than it should be.  On top of that Microsoft charges a fee to attach to that desktop from another desktop or thin terminal.  And if that other desktop or thin terminal is running a flavor of Windows, guess what, you are charged for that too.  Now Microsoft has made licensing “easier”.  If you are a large enough customer that you have an SA agreement, you are allowed to connect to that Virtual Desktop from any secondary, non-corporate network devices, such as home PCs and kiosks.   If you do not have an SA, you will need to purchase a VDA license.  Starting July 1st, 2010, customers that intend to use devices that do not qualify for Windows Client SA (such as thin clients or third party contractor PCs), will require a license called Windows Virtual Desktop Access that can be purchased for $100 a year.  The previous VECD license was $110 a year, giving you a savings of $10 for the new licensing.  Also, a little talked about penalty is the license can only be associated with an end point every 90 days.  So, if you have a consultant using his own desktop for one month, that license is unusable for 60 days.  Why is this?  I paid for a license, yet I can’t use it how and when I want?  I’m sure this makes sense to someone out there, but to me, it sounds like I am leasing a car and I can drive that car as much as I want until my wife drives it, then I can’t drive it for 90 days, even if she just drove it to the grocery store and back one afternoon.  This just doesn’t make sense to me.

Another thing I find interesting is Microsoft and Citrix are pushing this “trade-up” plan.  Yet you “trade-up” from VMware View which is built on ESX Enterprise Plus and includes Thinapp to Microsoft VDI Standard Suite.  You’ll have to pay extra for:

  1. Complete Remote Desktop Services capability, including the option to deploy session based desktops in addition to VDI desktops.
  2. Microsoft Application Virtualization for Remote Desktop Services.

On the Citrix side, you are getting the VDI Edition.  There are two levesl above this, Enterprise and Platinum.  I’ll let you see the breakdown of these below.

So, I look at this as good news, bad news.  VMware “gets” desktop virtualization.  Way back in 2006 when I was doing my first VDI implementation, VMware understood what I was trying to do and worked with me on it.  Microsoft, at that time, did not understand  virtualizing a desktop on a hypervisor, at least the Microsoft employees that I tried to work with didn’t.  Citrix only wanted to talk about virtualizing the applications, which didn’t go far enough to suit my needs.  Now, finally, four years later, Citrix and Microsoft “get it”.  Now if they would only give the customer what they need for a price that makes sense, maybe we could have parity and a true competition that would drive innovation.  This was a step toward that, however a very small, almost grudging step.

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