The Virtual School Is In Session, Please Take your Seats


Once upon a time, there was a little school (70,000 users) with a  little problem (desktops over 5 years old) with a little idea. The school was trying to find a way to make the tax money go further. The newest desktops were 5 years old with many more approaching 10 years.  Depending on the school within the district meant different endpoints, different applications and even different quality.  With so many students having home PCs, the school was also interested in allowing these students to work with their applications while not at school.

The school decided to try something new… desktop virtualization.

But if you had to create a desktop virtualization design for a school or your organization, how would you begin? What would you focus on?  What do you think are the most important design components?  That is what we will focus on during a Ask the Architect TechTalk on June 18th at 1PM Eastern time.  Not only will we focus on the hypevisor, which is Microsoft Hyper-V, we will also focus on the three Citrix FlexCast models used, the image delivery solution, applications integration and how the XenDesktop farm is designed.

There will be many interesting points throughout the TechTalk including this one: Continue reading The Virtual School Is In Session, Please Take your Seats

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My virtual desktop profile is important


Mark Twain said “When angry count to four. When very angry, swear”.  Unfortunately, I’ve heard many users swear. It is amazing how one little action can cause so much anger towards the IT organization or bring a new project to its knees.   Take the following, real world scenario, as an example:

An organization had a profile strategy in place.  Users started working in the new system. One day, a user had a profile corruption issue. To solve the issue, the profile was deleted.  This meant the user had to recreate their entire personalized environment. After the profile was deleted, the user quickly noticed all of their documents were deleted.  Upon closer inspection, the user stored their documents in the “My Documents” folder. When the profile was deleted, the My Documents folder was also deleted.  Can you say Bye Bye data?  Bye Bye 3 weeks worth of work.

Not convinced that profiles are important, then let me give you another example (You can’t make this stuff up):

An organization was running a hosted VM-based VDI desktop solution for a few months and decided the profile solution required modifications.  Upon the updates, every user lost all of their personalization configurations.  NOOOOO

The user’s profile is one of the major ways the pooled virtual desktop becomes personalized. Forgot about virtual desktops for a moment. The user profile is important for traditional desktops. Continue reading My virtual desktop profile is important

How many desktop images do I really need?


One of the main goals with desktop virtualization is to reduce the number of required desktop images. The fewer number of images, the easier it is to support and maintain the desktop environment, which makes desktop virtualization so promising when compared to the traditional desktop approach. The goal is a single image, but oftentimes, other factors play a role in slightly increasing that number. Take, for instance, the ABC School District.

The design called for 5 different desktop images, as shown in the figure.
Continue reading How many desktop images do I really need?

How Much Bandwidth Do I Need for My Virtual Desktop


Do you ever wonder how much bandwidth you need to do a desktop virtualization implementation? Regardless of the flavor of virtual desktop being implemented (hosted shared, hosted VM-based VDI, local streamed, etc), the network plays a critical role. That should not be surprising (if it is, we need to have an even bigger discussion). If you don’t plan your network bandwidth appropriately, you will have unhappy users, who will make you unhappy.

As we would expect, the user experience degrades as the latency increases and the bandwidth decreases. Proper network planning must be based on the type of work users are performing and the overall network topology. Back in the XenApp-only days, many people used 20 kbps as an estimate for network bandwidth requirements. Can we use that for virtual desktops? NO (although I could configure XenDesktop to only use 20 kbps).
Continue reading How Much Bandwidth Do I Need for My Virtual Desktop

I Choo, Choo Choose You


From the words of Ralph Wiggum, I Choo, Choo, Choose You [to be my FlexCast model].

Choosing the correct FlexCast model always leaves people wondering if they made the right decision.  The answer to this question requires us to look closer into the user requirements.  For example, the ABC School District Reference Design was recently published, and as can be expected from the title, it is based on a large school district (70,000 total users, 20,000 concurrent).  How did we decide which FlexCast model was most appropriate?
Continue reading I Choo, Choo Choose You

The truth about XenDesktop 4 scalability


We’ve heard about it, we’ve seen it and we’ve read about it from Citrix, from VMware, from Microsoft and from just about everyone else. We see one report showing one technology is better than the other but then we see another report showing the exact opposite.  Doesn’t this leave you wondering what you should do next.  You might be wondering what in the world am I talking about?

I’m talking about SCALABILITY!
Continue reading The truth about XenDesktop 4 scalability

Danger, Danger My Server Crashed


We all know the impact a server failure can have on a group of users, but what if that server was a core component of a desktop virtualization solution?  That’s a lot of unhappy users.  Before desktop virtualization, nobody gave a second thought about desktop availability. If a desktop failed, it only impacted a single user and chances are you wouldn’t hear much. However, if a certain server fails in a desktop virtualization environment, that one server could impact 50, 100 or 1,000 users.  I can guarantee one thing, you will hear that many users.
Continue reading Danger, Danger My Server Crashed

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My virtual desktop journey