Be Careful of the Mixed Messaging Surrounding Windows XP Support

According to a recent article in Computerworld,

“Windows XP owners can expect most antivirus vendors to continue providing them with up-to-date signatures long after Microsoft pulls its patch plug in April, but that won’t keep their machines safe.”

Don’t be fooled thinking this a good thing for your Windows XP computers. If you continue to use XP beyond April 8, 2014, understand there will be NO fixes to new vulnerabilities that hackers find and use. Antivirus and Anti-Malware software cannot patch the underlying vulnerability to an operating system. The extended antivirus updates will keep your system safer, but not secure!

You know the problem. Now, what do you do if you still have hundreds (or thousands) of endpoints running Windows XP? VMware Horizon Mirage is the solution to solve the Windows 7 migration task. Mirage also helps tackle the difficult desktop management problems that administrators face every day.

The typical steps required to migrate an endpoint from XP to Windows 7 include moving the user data off of the endpoint, complete downtime during the migration, and then copying the user information back to the migrated endpoint. VMware Mirage’s approach is much different:

  • Allow users to work on their systems while the Windows 7 image is being loaded
  • Allow user data and settings to remain on the system during the migration
  • Preserve the exact XP image and roll it back to the user if something goes wrong
  • Take that preserved XP image and present it into a virtual machine
  • Use the same solution to continue to manage your images and application along with a solid disaster recovery method.

If you have already started on the XP migration and find it’s taking longer than expected, don’t fear! Mirage can use the image you have created and accelerate your process. Mirage makes the Windows 7 migration easier, and saves you considerable time in managing your endpoints. The looming deadline for Window XP support is coming and cannot be ignored. This migration can be the first step to completing an End User Computing (EUC) strategy.

- See my company blog on this topic at: http://gantech.net/connect/blog

Secret Starbucks Drinks

Caramel Apple Frappuccino

Apple juice to the first line

Whole milk to the second line
Cream base (4 pumps for venti, 3 pumps grande, 2 pumps tall)
Dark caramel (3 pumps for venti, 2 pumps grande, and 1 pump for a tall)
Cinnamon dolce syrup (3 pumps for venti, 2 pumps grande, and 1 pump for a tall)
Caramel ribbon crunch pieces
Caramel drizzle
Get it with whipped cream and cinnamon dolce topping
If that seems like too much caramel for you, try asking for:

Cream base to the first line
Apple juice to the second line
Caramel syrup (2 pumps for venti, 1.5 pumps grande, and 1 pump tall)
Cinnamon dolce syrup (2 pumps for venti, 1.5 pumps grande, and 1 pump tall)

Enjoy!

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End User Computing Considerations

End-user computing (EUC) is undergoing significant transition, driven by the expectations for mobility, collaboration, and user-choice. It is no secret that current approaches are becoming harder to sustain.

Over the next few years, IT must transform the old desktop management methods that have made end-user environments costly to run and difficult to change. In doing so, they will embrace approaches that change how users and IT work.

Specific changes I expect are:

  • Applications and device ownership becomes optional for companies and users
  • Support becomes less complex and should drop operational cost
  • Users have access to data from any device, but still adhere to company policies
  • Management of platforms shifts to management of applications
  • Managed applications are delivered to many types of endpoint devices
  • Users have self-service capabilities for file and application recovery

Areas of EUC

Physical Desktop

Despite the drop in PC sales, there will still be plenty of physical desktops in the environment. There are new management tools available that make image and application deployment much easier than some of the legacy tools used today. It would be to your advantage to have a solution that manages the image and applications of both the physical and virtual workstations.

Laptops that Provide Mobility

Mobile working makes it harder to deploy new applications quickly, and also provide OS updates and patching. Keeping systems safe with backups for the mobile work force is a challenge. Having the solution that manages your desktops also manage your mobile worker is a definite advantage.

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)

In many opinions, over the last few years, VDI has been considered the backbone of EUC. Companies have struggled to obtain the benefit of central management that VDI brings, but perhaps have forced the solution beyond where it makes sense. Now, with better tools to manage the physical endpoints, this allows VDI to provide a solid solution where it fits best.

Tablet and Smartphone Devices

my opinion, there are two ways to look at the management of tablets and Smartphones. Do you manage the device if it is company-owned, or just manage (and protect) a container of company information if the device is personally-owned. Think about the company information at the center of a target with “rings of access” around the center. As a user, the more control you want of the data (read-only vs. edit) the more control you will give to the company to manage your device.

Where does it all go?

Imagine having a core console as an access point for the management of the entire EUC environment. What does this mean?

  • Access to the Window based environment and manage across both the physical and virtual end-points,  such as:
    • Backups
    • Image and application deployment and enforcement
    • Application repairs
    • Users file recovery
    • Complete endpoint recovery
  • Create, configure, manage, and entitle pools for the VDI solution along with the services that allow access to the environment.
  • Seamlessly move physical endpoints to a virtual solution with minimal downtime.
  • Support the mobile work force with recovery and updates as they travel.
  • Mange and deliver legacy applications (through virtualization or app layers) where they are run as long as necessary.
  • Control and deliver, through a catalog service, new applications that are web-based or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) type. As applications are replaced and upgraded, they will move from the legacy solution to the application catalog.

Today, there are solutions that are close to delivering the consolidated management console. What you need is an EUC solution today, which prepares you for your future EUC needs.

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VMware Horizon Mirage with Chuck Mills (@vchuckmills)

In part 1 of a 2 part series Chuck Mills takes us through an overview of VMware Horizon Mirage and live demo.  Chuck will be back with us on July 24th to continue with the live demo and answer more of your questions.  Also a special thanks to Chris Halstead for support all the great quesitons on Twitter with the #vBrownBag hash tag.

Follow this link to watch the session

http://tinyurl.com/oqo87my

Thank You,

Chuck

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Cost of Desktop Management – Application Virtualization

Today, organizations are focusing on the importance of having a holistic End-User Computing model by combining operating system solutions with virtualization technologies that enhance the User-Endpoint infrastructure. Along with the traditional PC solution, there is a very real and needed trend to address end user-centric computing, desktop virtualization, and cloud solutions. These solutions are growing in popularity because of the acceleration and adoption of new and unique consumer devices (think Tablets and Smartphones,) and the user’s demands for mobility.

Enter application virtualization….Changing the desktop model to be a virtualized set of resources (OS, applications, and user data with personal settings) provides the benefit of independently managing the layers, and applying them where/as needed across many endpoints. As organizations move to Windows 7, VDI, and session-based solutions, there is often a lack the resources and skill sets required to transform applications into solutions that meet the needs of a fluid business landscape. This is where application virtualization becomes a building block of the new endpoint model.

Application virtualization was initially designed to deal with application conflicts; but then it continued to grow because IT operations realized it was a viable alternative software deployment solution. IT managers liked it because application delivery evolved into a strategic role by offering a low-cost and efficient way to deploy software to users without installing and maintaining the applications on the client endpoint. This saves time and resources (money), and also provides additional security and control. Alternatively, developers like it because they no longer need to struggle with the challenges of writing new applications that don’t conflict with the applications currently installed.

It is no secret that applications are the critical resource that each user needs in order to be productive. By adopting application virtualization, an organization experiences accelerated deployment, improved support, and flexibility, while reducing the effort of implementing new technologies. The ever changing conundrum for IT is how to take hundreds of applications in various formats and standardize them in a common format. Application virtualization provides a solution, however the resources and time needed to convert applications into new formats can be a challenge. So, always remember to:

• Start with a Plan

• Produce Reliable Virtualized Applications

• Package Once, Deploy Everywhere

• Cater to Your Mobile Workforce

The new End User Computing model is happening now.

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vExpert Honor for 2013

This is truly an honor. Thank you VMware!

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EUC

VMware’s EUC Vision

VMware came out with their new End User Computing (EUC) strategy in March. This has been an area of interest for me for quite some time. I was on the VMware Customer Council before taking my current position. Partners cannot serve on the council. I saw many of the pieces two years ago that are now in the EUC solution. It has been a long wait.

So the EUC for VMware consist of View which is the VDI solution, Mirage, which is a image management solution for physical desktops and Workspace which allows the delivery of VDI desktops, applications and data from a single pane of glass along with VDI desktops from a browser. Everything has the name horizon in front of it.

  • VMware Horizon View
  • VMware Horizon Mirage
  • VMware Horizon Workspace

Rolls right off the tongue, right?

View

This release is 5.2 and it has some very nice improvements. The 5.0 release of View is where VMware finally produced a solid product. There several nice enhancements that I will talk about later. Now with the Blast technology, you have the ability to open a VDI desktop in a browser. I played with technology a year ago with WSX for Workstation. (below)

It’s nice see this progress to a final release in such a short time.

Mirage

Mirage is my favorite product from VMware right now. I have followed the product before it was acquired by VMware in May 2012. The solution gives you the ability to manage physical desktop images from a central location, with easier updates, OS fixes and hardware migrations. I’ve done a lot of work with this product. Plenty of information and some crazy things I have done with Mirage in the future. Nice addition VMware.

Workspace

Workspace is one the newest products from VMware (1.0 release). It allows you to access your VDI desktops, SaaS applications, ThinApp applications and your data (think Dropbox) all from several types of endpoints. I have this installed and need to put together the use cases that will drive this solution.

So this is just a quick overview of the VMware EUC strategy with much more information to follow. I have everything installed but need to finish pulling it all together. Stay tuned.

Happy Virtualizing.

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I’m Back with Good News

Ok – where do I begin?  It has been a long time since I made an update to this web page. Since my last post, I have accepted a new position with Gantech, Inc. I’m the Innovation Architect focused on delivering virtualization solutions around the VMware product line.

Gantech

Allegis Group was a good company to work for, but I watched as they drifted away from the technologies that I enjoyed working with. I met some wonderful people there and very happy for the experience.  Thank you, Allegis.

My move to Gantech was to continue chasing my passion for virtualization and also to create forward thinking solutions. I will focus on the solutions that include the products have spent the most of the last few years with.

I’m currently working with:

  • View 5.1 and 5.2 beta
  • Mirage 3.6 and the beta
  • Horizon and the beta

I have updated by home datacenter to vSphere 5.1 and installed vCops for View.  I’m working on an effective and affordable DAAS solution.

There is a lot to write about and I will make 2013 the year to get the information to you.

I’m sorry for the time gap and hope you will benefit from the information here.

Happy Virtualizing.

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Update to My Datacenter

My plan was to have a second part to my datacenter story to show all the virtual machines I have running in the environment. But, there were a few things that happened and I want to create this quick entry.

  • I was adding a light to the laundry room and turned off the wrong breaker. This shut down my entire datacenter. After spending a few hours restarting everything, I decided I needed a UPS. I know, this is something I should have purchased from the beginning, but with this mishap, now was a good time to act. I got an APC xs1000, charged it, shutdown my datacenter and installed it. Right now I’m seeing about 30 minutes run time on battery. I plan to create scripts that will automatically shut down the environment if I lose power. This also will protect me from myself if I decide to do any more work around the house.
  • I found that you can put 16GB of memory in the HP Microservers. I placed an ordered for one server and tried it, success! I then ordered the rest to upgrade all of the servers. Now I have 3 servers running 16GB each for a total 48GB for the entire datacenter. This allows me to expand the number of VMs in my environment. Now I don’t have to choose between my Wanova server and my Octopus server. I will provide a complete list of what I have running in a future entry.
  • Finally, I’m heading to VMworld in San Francisco and plan to update this blog while I’m there. There are so many events to attend along with the sessions. For me being on the Customer Council, a VMUG Leader and a vExpert, has given me the opportunity to attend several receptions, lunches, etc. I’m not bragging or complaining, just hope I can attend it all.

Here is the memory I purchased for the servers:

Happy Virtualizing.

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The vChuck Home Datacenter – Part 1

I wanted to setup a home lab to install and work with some of the VMware products. I had played around with setting up ESX in Workstation some time back and knew that was an option. My friend Dan Berowitz has done a great job of this for a few of the versions of vSphere. I thought about it and decided to take another route. I wanted to install things on physical servers to create a mini Datacenter. I did not want to:

  • Take up a lot of room
  • Create a lot of noise
  • Use so much electricity that the local utility company sent me a rewards card.

I started my research and found an excellent article on the HP Microservers.

http://techhead.co/running-vmware-vsphere-on-an-hp-microserver

I purchased my first server, Iomega ix2-400 and other parts listed below.

I used this Dual Port NIC.

Memory

ESXi installed perfectly along with the Iomega storage.  I created a server for vCenter and a Windows 2008 domain controller as virtual machines. I ordered two more servers and the parts needed to bring them up to the same configuration as the first one.

I used 3 dedicated D-Link switches, one for internet, one for vMotion and one for storage.  I have an Apple Mini Mac with Fusion and the View client. My other endpoints are iPad2, Acer A200, Acer Notebook and my Android phone. I’m using DPM and it very nice to have all but one server shutdown during my “downtime” and then fire back up when I need it. This is a very quiet, energy friendly and affordable setup.

Thank you to VMware for giving the vExperts the opportunity to use their products in such way that we can learn this stuff and make it solutions elsewhere.

 

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Virtualization – A Success Story

I have a great story regarding the acceptance of virtualization. When I was the Director of IT at Maryland Legal Aid, I would present at Legal Services conferences about the benefits of virtualization. In most cases the audience would get excited about the whole thing and then I would hear nothing from them. Charlie was the IT person for the Florida Legal Services.  She is a 60+ year old woman who believed in the virtualization concept based on what I presented. I went to Florida to help her convince her boss and vendor that this was the way to go. I met with the vendor that supported the datacenter and met a lot of resistance. Then I met with the Executive Director and promised that this would work.
Charlie continued to push both the vendor and her boss for a virtual solution. I had many phone calls with Charlie and a few with the vendor to try and get this moving.

Long story short, I left Maryland Legal Aid and just recently caught up with Charlie. They have virtualized most of the datacenter, including some legacy software that could not be re-installed. Her vendor has 3 VCPs in the company and is promoting virtualization for the rest of their clients. Charlie had an outage with the Exchange server (still physical) and the Executive Director asked when it could be virtualized. She said it was in the budget for next year. He moved it up to this year and in fact told her to virtualized right away. Niiiiiceee, very nice!

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