Visio Stencil Set for 2014 VMware vSphere and Horizon

VMware Horizon ArchitectureI’m excited to share a new Visio stencil set for 2014 that I’ve created which contains some popular shapes for VMware Horizon View, Workspace and vSphere. You can download the Visio Stencils here: These are not official VMware stencils, but have been created from existing external content (thanks to Maish Saidel-Keesing at TechnoDrone) in addition to using Adobe PhotoShop and pulling images from public PDF documentation.

I think the way to go with diagrams and visual content creation is to use Adobe PhotoShop CS6 Extended. It has excellent 3D capabilities and (time permitting) you can create some really nice icons and shapes for your blogs, presentations or whitepaper. PhotoShop CS6 isn’t cheap, although if you buy a Mac then Apple will sell it at £169 for student and teacher editions.

I hope you enjoy using the Visio stencils!

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VMware Partner Exchange 2014 in San Francisco!

PEX_2014_GeneralSession‘Master the New Reality’, the theme for this week as PEX 2014 kicked off in style. I managed to sit next to the press and bloggers during the general session and Twitter was on fire as VMware announced it’s commitment to the Software-Defined Enterprise and bold moves in 2014 including the intent to acquire AirWatch. I’ve been working for VMware since 2011, and despite that I’m still buzzing with excitement after listening to what’s coming in 2014, especially with End User Computing. Dave O’Callaghan and Carl Eschenbach reflected the thoughts of us all at VMware in respect to how important partners are for delivering professional services. Carl also stated that the VMware strategies remain the same in 2014 as they did last year; End User Computing, Software Defined Data Center and Hybrid Cloud.

IMG_20140211_131942My experience as a VMware employee was just as exciting for me, as it was for the partners attending the event. Fuelled by Starbucks coffee (you’re never more than 100 yards from a Starbucks in San Francisco!), my aim for PEX was to mentor some budding VCDX candidates and deliver EUC3150-WS ‘Doing it for Real! Architecting VMware Horizon View”. Despite having to catch a flight back to the UK immediately after my presentation, leaving the participants working on the Horizon View case study, it was still great meeting both new and familiar faces.

If you’re a VMware partner and have never attended Partner Exchange before, then I would strongly recommend it. It’s smaller than VMworld, but still a massive event with over 4,000 attendees, 150 breakout sessions, in addition to workshops and partner roadmaps. If you attend PEX in 2015 then I have no doubt that you’ll come away buzzing with a bunch of VMware tech you want to try out, and armed with knowledge to implement your strategy or solutions with VMware.

I’m also really pleased to hear that my friends at Colt won Service Provider of the Year, with Gideon Wilkins and Ian Hutchinson picking up the award yesterday (Feb 12 2014). You can see Gideon discuss what Colt is all about in this video: I will certainly look forward to continue working with Colt in 2014 and beyond.

Also during Partner Exchange, in a hotel that I cannot name… the VCDX defences are underway. Having only recently completed my VCDX defence in Barcelona last year (VMworld Europe 2013), I know exactly how nervous some of the candidates will be. I managed to catch up with a couple of them prior to their defence, and hopefully I was able to give them some encouragement and confidence that this is real and achievable goal. You’ve got to give these guys credit, especially with a good friend and colleague still suffering from the jet lag after a 20 hour flight!

All of this has got me looking forward to VMworld this year, can’t wait to see you all there!

Microsoft Lync 2013 with VMware Horizon View 5.3 virtual desktops

Microsoft Lync 2013 with VMware Horizon View 5.3 ArchitectureSince VMware Horizon View 5.2 there has been  support for Microsoft Lync 2013. In fact when I say ‘support’, I mean that both Microsoft and VMware have both developed the architecture that provides a great user experience. Prior to Horizon View 5.2 only VOIP phones were supported and there were bandwidth constraints that made this unviable and resulted in a poor experience for end users.

VMware have released a whitepaper on Horizon View 5.2 and Lync 2013, and you might also want to take note of KB article 2064266 and 2045726. In addition Microsoft have a Lync 2013 technical resource page which covers the Lync 2013 VDI Plugin. If you’re new to Lync 2013 or VMware Horizon View then this post will provide you with an architecture overview of how Lync 2013 integrates with virtual desktops running with Horizon View 5.3. [Read more...]

Horizon View 5.3 Feature Pack 1 – Installation Troubleshooting

If you’re not already running Horizon View 5.3… why not?   Since Horizon View 5.3 was released VMware have already extended it’s functionality again with Feature Pack 1. If you’re not familiar with Feature Packs, they’re essentially shiny new updates and features to the core product release. These can be updates to View clients (E.g. iOS, Android, Windows) or the View server functionality itself. Anyway, the topic of this post is troubleshooting as I’ve seen some instances where the Feature Pack installation fails.

Horizon View 5.3 Feature Pack 1 provides the following features and updates:

  • Multimedia redirection (MMR) for Windows 7 (previously limited to Windows XP)
  • Flash URL redirection
  • Real-time Audio-Video (RTAV)
  • HTML Access
  • Unity Touch

In addition Unity Touch, HTML Access and RTAV are extended to support Windows Server 2008 and Windows 8.1, although HTML access is Tech Preview for Windows 8 or 8.1.


I’ve noticed that a few people have had issues installing the Feature Pack which may be due to the customization of the Windows 7 virtual desktop master image. Firstly, if you followed the VMware View Optimization Guide for Windows 7 then you may have disabled some Windows services that are required by the Feature Pack. Once such service is “Desktop Window Manager Session Manager (UxSms)” which is a required component for Windows 7 MMR. If this is disabled then you will get the following error: “Error 1920.Service Desktop Window Manager Session Manager (UxSms) failed to start. Verify that you have sufficient privileges to start system services.

If you don’t want to use all of the Feature Pack components listed above then you can choose not to install one or more, so if you don’t use Windows 7 MMR then simply deselect it during the Feature Pack 1 installation. Otherwise, enable the Desktop Window Manager Session Manager services (set to Automatic) and the Feature Pack will install.  This service allows for Aero, 3D effects and high resolution support.

Note: This service is always on with Windows 8 and cannot be disabled.

If you have problems installing other components then check that required services are not disabled, or there are no restrictions in place preventing the VMware virtual Webcam or Audio drivers from being installed.

VCDX Preparation & Tips – Phase 2… Caffeine

On the morning of the defense I head straight for the coffee shop and order a double shot latte, then a biscuit and another coffee! I’m not a morning person, but my defense was due to start at 9am so a good intake of caffeine was much needed to get me through the day ahead. Following my last blog post about the preparation I thought I’d share the experience of the actual defense and the structure of the day. Due to the NDA I can’t reveal the specific content of the defense itself, but I can talk about the process and what you should expect.

When I arrived for the defense I was greeted by the VCDX moderator and I must add that he was fantastic in making sure I understood the schedule, had plenty of coffee and he’s such a cool guy I was able to relax. When it’s time to go into the meeting room you’ll get called in and given a brief of what’s expected. The first thing on your list is to present your design, and the clock starts counting down. 75 minutes remaining… [Read more...]

VCDX Preparation & Tips – Phase 1… Waking up

VMware VCDXToday I was delighted (for once) to be woken up by my children at 5am shaking me to get me out of bed. It’s a nasty habit, but it is the first thing I do when I wake up is check my phone for Tweets, Emails, Messages, and so on. Still in a semi-sleep state of consciousness I saw the email with my VCDX results. My hands were shaking, quite literally and it took me a good 20 seconds (which seemed like hours) to read the attachment and realise that I passed. I am VCDX #122.

Exactly one year ago I was in two minds whether to apply for the VCDX certification. Mainly because I had only one vSphere design under my belt, and I didn’t think it would be good enough. Working for VMware Professional Services as a Senior Consultant at the time gave me one HUGE advantage. I remember walking over to say hello to one of the engagement managers and she said “Oh by the way, we’ve got a design engagement for coming up which I’ve marked you for.”. It was then I decided that the effort I’d put into that design would have to exceed the customers expectations and deliver the quality the VCDX title demands.

I’m writing this blog post to help anyone that has the VCDX certification as a goal. Everyone has different reasons for wanting to achieve the title. For some it will help them with that next career move or promotion, whilst others simply see this as a personal accolade they wish to strive for. For me it was the latter but it soon became apparent, because I can’t keep quiet, that I put a lot on the line having told practically everyone in my team, people at VMworld, partners, and customers, that I was going to be defending in Barcelona. Suddenly Twitter was alive with my friends and colleagues wishing me luck. But what if I failed?  After all this was my first attempt!  To top it off, I have only just joined a new team at VMware so I felt that I needed to prove myself. [Read more...]

VMware Horizon View 5.3 – Features Deep Dive

Now that VMware have announced VMware Horizon View 5.3 at VMworld in Barcelona this year, I’d love to share some of the exciting new features it brings. Just four days ago I presented a session for partners on the new features of Horizon View 5.2, but now VMware extends 3D graphics even further with vDGA, support for Windows 8.1 and View Agent Direct Connect Plugin (just to name a few!). What I’d like to share with you are some of the more technical aspects of this release, so without further ado, let’s talk about one of my favourite features: 3D Graphics!

vDGA (Virtual Direct Graphics Acceleration)

Street Fighter IVThis feature allows you to configure direct passthrough for a virtual desktop to a dedicated physical Nvidia GPU. Just plain awesome. In fact the VMware stand at VMworld has this on demo showing Street Fighter IV running at 60fps!   This is not only cool to look at, but the real applications for this such as CAD and design studio apps can really benefit from vDGA. Rather than the cost and logistics of sending your CAD engineers a high powered workstation, send them a thin client instead and keep your IP (Intellectual Property) and power inside the data centre.

This was previously a ‘Tech Preview’ feature with View 5.2, but now it’s out of tech preview you can start to look at dedicated 3D graphics workloads in your environment. One thing to note is that you’ll need a supported thin client or Windows thick client.

VMware Horizon View 5.3 vDGASo how this works is actually quite simple. Your ESXi hosts have multiple dedicated Nvidia GRID K1 or K2 graphics cards (or GPUs) that have a 1:1 relationship between a virtual machine using GPU pass-through. In fact this uses VMware DirectPath I/O. Please don’t expect to get any Nvidia GRID cards in your half height blade servers any time soon though, this requires PCIe x16 slots. On each ESXi host you configure DirectPath I/O by selecting which devices you want to pass-through. Download the Nvidia GRID driver for Windows and install in your virtual desktop and you’ll see the GPUs listed in device manager (Display Adapters).

If Nvidia are reading this and would like to dontate a GRID K1 card for my home lab then I’ll be very happy! [Read more...]

Results are in! The ‘Unofficial’ VMware Horizon Tech Discussion Survey

Almost one month ago now I was at the London VMUG when I got talking with other virtualization gurus, customers, and industry comrades when I realized there was a thirst for more information about VMware Horizon Suite, and in particular Horizon Workspace. The latest version (Horizon Workspace 1.5) was announced last week, and I needed to get some focus on the topics YOU are interested in learning more about. I am setting myself a goal to do some presentations this year, and they are most likely going to be focused on Horizon Workspace. But is it a technical deepdive or implementation overview that people want to know more about?

So I conducted a short but targeted survey to identify the ‘hot’ topics for Horizon Suite. This is obviously very much focused on end-user computing (I don’t like to use the term VDI here), and here are the results!

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VMware Horizon Workspace 1.5 GA has been announced!

Less than 24 hours ago VMware announced Horizon Workspace 1.5 which further boosts the End-User Computing technology stack. You’ll hear a lot of talk around ‘mobile’, which I’ll talk about in a moment, but I’m actually more excited about how Horizon Workspace compliments View with a self-service application portal, automated delivery for your SaaS and ThinApp applications, and Horizon Data. Sure these features were part of Horizon Workspace 1.0, but with support for Oracle this brings the technology even closer to the enterprise. Let’s have a look at some of the new features of Horizon Workspace 1.5 [Read more...]

‘Unofficial’ Survey – VMware Horizon Suite Implementation & Design Challenges

With so many blogs, podcasts, and books on VMware virtualisation, we are all very lucky to have a wealth of information at our disposal. However, having recently spoken to customers and also community members at the last VMUG, I have noticed that there is still a big demand for more valuable content based on VMware Horizon. There is so much to talk about in regards to End-User Computing and in particular the VMware Horizon Suite, so this is something I will be focusing on for the remainder of 2013. I will be presenting on some topics this year, and certainly writing more blog posts on topics like Horizon Workspace.

To help me focus on topics that are in demand, I’ve put together this survey. If you are a blogger or just love to Tweet, then please share this. It only contains 5 questions and it will close on 2nd August 2013. Once I’ve collected the results I will share them here on my blog. This is not an official survey, but it will be interesting for us in the community to see if it’s technical deep dives or design best practices that you want to learn more about.

If you have 5 minutes, then please let me know your thoughts by completing the short survey here:

VMware View Composer Linked Clone Technical Deepdive

VMware View Composer Linked Clone WorkflowFollowing on from my previous video blog where I described how VMware View Linked Clones are created, I have decided to make this available as a more detailed written article. VMware View Composer is a service that can run on either the vCenter server or on a standalone dedicated machine. In this technical deep dive I describe what makes a linked clone, the role of View Composer and exactly what it does.

View Composer consists of a web service (SIM), the Universal File Access (UFA) service and other components it relies on such as ADutil and the vCenter API. View Composer receives instructions from View Manager as XML messages, and initiates the linked clone creation using vCenter API calls and the SIM service (Scalable Image Management, a.k.a Composer). In essence it’s a workflow engine. [Read more...]

VIDEO: Monitoring VMware Horizon View for Performance Issues with ESXTOP

After stopping for a coffee break on my 250 mile journey home this week, I posted this quick video on how to monitor VMware Horizon View virtual desktop for performance issues using ESXTOP. I discuss the key performance metrics to look at, such as CPU Ready Time (%RDY) and Co-Stop (%CSTP) in addition to memory ballooning (MCTLSZ) and swapping to disk. Enjoy!

Determining if multiple vCPUs are causing performance issues: