Book Review–VMware View 5: Building A Successful Virtual Desktop

In the last few of months I have began working with VMware View both in my home lab and for my day job working for a VMware partner. In the past my core focus around VMware had to do more with virtualized sever workloads and my experience with VDI/EUC has been around using Citrix’s XenDesktop solution (XD 3/4). Along with getting up to speed with VMware View 5 I have also set a personal goal to pass the VCP5-DT exam (my study resources HERE) in the coming months. In an effort to accomplish both goals (general knowledge/exam prep) I have been reading several books on the subject. The first one I have finished is VMware Press’s “VMware View 5, Building a Successful Virtual Desktop” by Paul O’Doherty. Below is a breakdown of each chapter included in the book and my brief comments covering it.

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Chapter 1 – Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Overview – High level overview of the components needed both from a VMware View perspective (Connection Server, Security Server, Composer, etc) but also the needed VMware vSphere infrastructure (vCenter, ESXi, etc). Outlines the different licensed versions of View and the feature sets that go along with them. Also covers some basic storage design and end user data management topics, but gets into deep detail in the next chapter.

Chapter 2 – VMware View Architecture – Expanded conversation around storage and IOP needs for successfully implementing a View deployment, good content here. Discusses the PCoIP protocol and the tuning properties that are available.

Chapter 3 – VMware View 5 Implementation – Chapter is a play by play on installing the needed components to stand up your View environment. Starts at installing vCenter and ESXi. Finishes with installing the View components, Connection Server, Composer, Transfer Server, and Security Server. Great chapter to walk someone through getting their environment up and running quickly.

Chapter 4 – Application Virtualization – Aka the ThinApp chapter. Good read on understanding how ThinApp works and walks you through creating a ThinApp package.

Chapter 5 – Building Your Virtual Desktop – Outlines the process of building a base golden image on Windows 7 to deploy your virtual desktops from. Covers the use of Persona Management and importing the ADM templates into a GPO.

Chapter 6 – View Operations and Management – Discussion on using folders to better manage your environment. Covers the various pool types that are available in View and how to create them and what the various pool settings are used for. Also covers the various disk types that can be used with your virtual desktops. A great breakdown on Composer and use of replica’s. Additional information covering upgrading ThinApp packages.

Chapter 7 – VMware vShield EndPoint – Covers the installation/configuration of VMware’s hypervisor based anti-virus solution. Also goes into using Trend Micro’s Depp Security product. The other portion of the chapter covers the installation of VMware Update Manager and patching your environment.

Chapter 8 – A Rich End-User Experience – Review of techniques of optimizing your environment. Goes into some detail on using the Teradici Apex 2800 offload card and the latest enhancements of the PCoIP protocol. Provides base settings to use to tune PCoIP via the included ADM templates. The chapter digs deep into how to setup a PCoIP performance test environment using free tools WANem and Wireshark. Haven’t had time to do this is my lab environment, but definitely something worth checking out. Also go covers the VMware View Planner utility and the free PCoIP Log Viewer. Great chapter.

Chapter 9 – Offline Desktops – Chapter covering the use and implementation of Local Mode desktops.

Chapter 10 – Migrating from Older Versions of View – Walks through a scenario of upgrading an existing View deployment (in this case View 4.5) to View 5. For those planning an upgrade of their environment might find this chapter beneficial.

Chapter 11 – High Availability Considerations – For someone familiar with vSphere 5.x the topics will be a review. Discussion around using Fault-Tolerance, Storage Heartbeats, configuring iSCSI multi-pathing. For protecting vCenter steps through the process of installing vCenter Server Heartbeat software. Also goes into installing/configuring Microsoft Failover Cluster Services for use with Microsoft DFS to provide availability to user data shares.

Chapter 12 – Performance and Monitoring – Probably my third favorite chapter, goes into great detail on the installation of vCenter Operations (vCOPs) and adding the View Adapter for performance monitoring.

Final Thoughts – Depending on your current level of knowledge or familiarity with VMware View you may find the book doesn’t go into enough detail on the nuts and bolts of the VMware View product itself. If you are starting with little to no working knowledge you may find the book by Mike Laverick and Barry Combs “Building End-User Computing Solutions with VMware View” a better fit. If you have a stronger grasp of the product and are looking move to a “Level 200” level you will find the chapters on Endpoint, End-User Experience, and Performance Monitoring beneficial.

-Jason

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