Vizioncore, a wholly owned subsidiary of Quest (the vWorkspace guys!), have released a free Management Pack for System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 which enables the monitoring of VMware virtual infrastructures. Now, before I get into the features and capabilities of what the MP gives you, it’s important to point out that this is the first free MP to deliver these capabilities, and may stir things up a little over at both Veeam and Bridgeways, who both have established MP’s for OpsMgr to enable monitoring of VMware environments. It’s important to say, both Veeam and Bridgeways offer trails of their solutions, so it would be important to compare the different MP’s for yourselves, however looking at a high level, one of the key elements that Veeam seems to have today, is that it’s PRO-enabled, thus provides more automated, dynamic and agile responses within the environment based on changing conditions. That’s not to say both Bridgeways and Vizioncore won’t evolve their technologies in the future, and bring in PRO capabilities, however today, you would have to classify it as a differentiator for Veeam. One you have to pay for however.
So, what are the key features of the Vizioncore MP?
There’s even more features here…
What’s nice from my perspective, is the growth of the ecosystem around the Microsoft virtualisation platform, from Partners that have, in the past, been quite VMware focused. That’s more Vizioncore than Quest, but still, it’s moving in the right direction.
If you’re interested, you can get all the info, and download the MP, from here.
Way back in March, I blogged about the 1st beta release of the MAP Toolkit 5.0. Well, we’ve been through a second beta since then, and finally, a couple of days back, shipped the product, which I’m pleased to say, is available to download here.
For those of you not in the know, what does MAP actually do? Well, from here:
Secure and Agentless Inventory
MAP provides secure, agentless, and network-wide inventory that scales from small business to large enterprises. It collects and organizes system resources and device information from a single networked computer. Assessment tools often require users to first deploy software agents on all computers to be inventoried, but this tool does not. MAP uses technologies already available in your IT environment to perform inventory and assessments. These technologies include Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI), the Remote Registry Service, Active Directory Domain Services, and the Computer Browser service.
You can use MAP to inventory the following technologies:
Comprehensive Data Analysis
MAP performs a detailed analysis of hardware and device compatibility for migration to Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2, and Microsoft Office 2010. The hardware assessment looks at the installed hardware and determines if migration is recommended. If it is not recommended, then the reports tell you why it is not.
The device assessment looks at the devices installed on a computer and reports availability of drivers for those devices. Device assessment can be used for migration and consolidation scenarios for Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, and SQL Server 2008 R2.
MAP identifies heterogeneous IT environments consisting of Windows Server and Linux operating systems, including those running in a virtual environment, and provides discovery of Linux-powered LAMP application stacks. MAP’s VMware discovery feature identifies already-virtualized servers running under VMware that can be managed with the Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager platform, or be migrated to the Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisor.
For customers interested in server consolidation and virtualization through technologies such as Hyper-V and Virtual Server 2005 R2, MAP helps to gather performance metrics and generate server consolidation recommendations that identify the candidates for server virtualization and suggests how the physical servers might be placed in a virtualized environment.
In-Depth Readiness Reporting
MAP generates reports containing both summary and detailed assessment results for each migration scenario. The results are provided in Microsoft Excel workbooks and Microsoft Word documents. Reports are generated for the following scenarios:
Software Usage Tracker Feature Overview
The MAP Toolkit’s Software Usage Tracker feature provides Microsoft Volume Licensing customers with consistent software usage reports for key Microsoft server products: Windows Server, SharePoint Server, System Center Configuration Manager, Exchange Server, and SQL Server. MAP’s software usage tracker provides secure, agentless, and network-wide inventory that collects and organizes software usage information and client access history for the following Microsoft servers:
With the MAP software usage tracker, you can run updated reports whenever you need to accurately assess current software usage and client access history in your environment. This reduces time and administrative costs for managing your server and client access licenses (CALs) and helps you to streamline the management of your software assets.
Not bad for a free tool, right?
The biggest question I get back from people when I talk about MAP is along the lines of ‘this sounds great, but how do we use it?’
Thankfully, there’s a couple of ‘getting started guides’, dedicated to both general usage, and the Software Usage Tracker, but on top of that, Matt Hester, from the US IT Pro Evangelist team, has released a series of 6 videos showcasing MAP 5.0. So far, he’s published the following:
In the meantime, if you’re desperate to see the remaining 3 videos, you can grab them on TechNet Edge:
If you’re interested, you can download the tool here.
That rhyme/rap was not intentional. Even in this day and age, I doubt a song about virtualisation technologies could get in the charts, although you never know…
Anyway, back to the real world…
Following up from yesterday’s post on the SP1 announcements, the interest in RemoteFX is already growing, with people wanting to get their hands on it, try it out, see how it behaves, how it scales, how it integrates, and more. Before any of that though, isn’t it a good idea to know how it all works? Well, there are lots of blog posts out there from both Microsoft, and Partners like Dell, Nvidia, and AMD to name but a few, but in terms of depth, you’d do well to find a more comprehensive, honest overview of the technology. I’ll warn you though, it’s quite deep!
Read it here…
So, on to the specs. I’ve already downloaded SP1, and installed it on my whitebox Shuttle PC, which has an Nvidia 8500 GT GPU (I’m not sure on the Video RAM – I haven’t checked, it was 1am!). I’ve enabled the Remote FX bits (under Add Roles –> Remote Desktop Services) and Hyper-V, and I’m good to go, right? No. Not on my box :-(
According to this TechNet library page, the minimum specs for RemoteFX are as follows:
There are several hardware requirements that must be met when deploying a RemoteFX server:
In my case, I’m let down by 2 factors here. Firstly, I don’t have a CPU which has EPT or NPT, although it is a Core 2 Quad Extreme, but not quite extreme enough obviously. Secondly, I don’t think my GPU has a huge amount of video RAM, but I think it has DirectX 10 support – time will tell on that one, when I get round to testing it! I don’t need the RemoteFX Encoder in my test environment, so we can ignore that hardware-based addition for now. Hyper-V runs fine on my box, so no issues there, and the final point is relevant to Session Hosts specifically, which isn’t on my agenda right now. So, SLAT and GPU – not sure how I’m going to get round the SLAT one, but buying a new GPU with plenty of GPU Video RAM shouldn’t cost the earth.
How do you know how much video RAM is required? Well, it depends:
As you can see from the table, as the resolution increases, the amount of video RAM required (per VM) increases. As you increase the number of monitors, the same thing occurs. It’s important to note that this solution is inevitably going to affect density, quite considerably, as you simply can’t get that many GPU’s into servers today but this will change, with GPUs of different shapes, sizes, and chassis creeping out over the coming months and years. Watch this space I’d say…
I didn’t intend for the original post on Quest’s excellent vWorkspace technology to lead to a ‘Part 2’ but it seems only fitting, with a raft of useful information that has become available to add to that of the original post! It was Brian Madden’s post that triggered me into posting, as he showcased a video detailing some of the capabilities of EOP Xtream, but not just on it’s own. Oh no. This was in conjunction with RemoteFX. The same RemoteFX that just became available to everyone, as part of the SP1 beta bits we just announced.
One of the common misconceptions with RemoteFX is that it’s a replacement for RDP. Wrong. The best way to think of RemoteFX is it’s a capability. RDP is a transport, just like EOP Xtream, ICA HDX, Ericom Blaze etc. So, RemoteFX enhances the actual graphical capabilities of the VM itself, with host-side rendering, and whichever transport you’re using, is what gets the user to their virtual desktop, and what presents that desktop back to the user. RemoteFX is aimed at LAN scenarios, ideally with latency less than 20ms, but as soon as you go beyond that, especially in WAN scenarios, this is where RemoteFX + RDP starts to suffer. RemoteFX + EOP Xtream, or ICA HDX is a different story however…
Rather than embed the video, you’ll have to head on over to Brian Madden’s blog post to see it for yourself! You may have to hold back the giggling when the alarm, followed by country and western music comes on. You’ll know what I mean when you watch it…If only that music was always available when difficult questions were asked!
Brian certainly thinks it’s cool, and gives his own views on how he thinks EOP Xtream works (seeing as the guys are a bit tight-lipped on the intricacies of it!), which makes for an interesting read.
What about customers running this in real life?
It’s all well and good hearing about features, and capabilities from different companies, but what about those people actually running it, in production? Wouldn’t it be great to hear from them? Well, on the 14th July, between 10-11am GMT, you can attend a live webcast where you can hear how Lancashire Police, partnered with Quest, to deliver and manage a virtualised desktop environment with vWorkspace and Hyper-V. You’ll learn about how the solution enables mobile officers to communicate in real time with the the station’s core systems, without having to return to complete paperwork. This helps improve the officers visibility in the community, and because no data is stored on individual laptops, sensitive information stays secure in a central location.
If you’re interested in attending, you can register here.
Downloading as we speak!
Just over a month ago, straight from TechEd North America, we announced SP1 for both Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, and stated, at the time, the beta would be available before the end of July. Well, it’s available now, from here.
What’s in there?
Well, Dynamic Memory for one, which I provided some useful resources for a few weeks back, along with RemoteFX, which has plenty of useful background reading here. As a recap, what are Dynamic Memory and Remote FX?
Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V introduces a new feature, called Dynamic Memory, in the Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 Beta releases. It allows customers to achieve increased density when they’re consolidating physical servers into a virtual realm, providing them with predictable performance and linear scalability. With Dynamic Memory, IT administrators are able to pool available memory on a physical host and then dynamically dole that memory out to virtual machines running on the host, based on current workload needs. For a technical overview of the new Dynamic Memory feature, download the Dynamic Memory Technical Overview whitepaper. RemoteFX, a key feature of Remote Desktop Services (RDS) lets IT administrators deliver a rich graphics experience to end-users through virtualized desktops. Using new protocol enhancements between Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7, end users can now access virtual machines on a wide variety of target devices and still get a rich graphics experience with server-side graphics processing. Learn more about RemoteFX and download the Remote Desktop Services Datasheet.
Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V introduces a new feature, called Dynamic Memory, in the Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 Beta releases. It allows customers to achieve increased density when they’re consolidating physical servers into a virtual realm, providing them with predictable performance and linear scalability. With Dynamic Memory, IT administrators are able to pool available memory on a physical host and then dynamically dole that memory out to virtual machines running on the host, based on current workload needs. For a technical overview of the new Dynamic Memory feature, download the Dynamic Memory Technical Overview whitepaper.
RemoteFX, a key feature of Remote Desktop Services (RDS) lets IT administrators deliver a rich graphics experience to end-users through virtualized desktops. Using new protocol enhancements between Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7, end users can now access virtual machines on a wide variety of target devices and still get a rich graphics experience with server-side graphics processing. Learn more about RemoteFX and download the Remote Desktop Services Datasheet.
There is a load of reading to be done here too, which will keep you busy while you’re downloading the SP1 bits:
Once I’ve finished the download, and had some time to play around with it, I’ll make sure I report back with any useful information, but also, perhaps a cheeky video if I get the chance…
Once again, you can download the SP1 bits from here.