Eliminate Standalone NAS & What’s new with Horizon 7

Thought I would post the links to 2 new on-demand webinars. The Horizon 7 webinar has some Nutanix but mostly focused on Instant Clones, App Volumes and user impact.

Horizon 7: New Features and How it Impacts User Experience

The AFS webinar has some great questions and there is a demo at the end as well.

Eliminate Standalone NAS for your file server needs with Nutanix Acropolis File Services


The Tale Of Two Lines: Instant-Clones on Nutanix

There was a part of me that wanted to hate on Instant Clones that are new in Horizon 7 but the fact is they’re worth the price of admission. Instant-clones has very low overhead to provide true on-demand desktops or as VMware is tagging it, Just-In-Time desktops.

On-demand desktops with View Composer..... not happening

On-demand desktops with View Composer….. not happening

In my health care days the non-president desktops and shift change always resulted it some blunt force trauma around 7 am and 7 pm when staff would start their day. They only real way to counter balance the added load of login storms was to make sure the desktops were pre-built. This of course means you need so have some desktops sitting around doing nothing waiting for the these two time periods in the day, or use generic logins and then the user never disconnects which was another bag of problems.

Instant-clones ability to clone a live running VM by simply quiescing the VM is really amazing. Have you ever changed the name of the a desktop and then windows tells you to reboot? If your like me your try to do 5 or 6 other things before you have to reboot which usually ends up in a mess. Instant-clones uses a feature called clone prep to add the VM to AD and change it’s name, all while not having to reboot the VM. When you see a power on operation inside of vCenter it’s actually just quiescing the desktop so there is very low overhead.

The steps during Clone Prep. MS does not support Clone Prep but they didn't for View Composer so I don't see it being any different.

The steps during Clone Prep. MS does not support Clone Prep but they didn’t for View Composer so I don’t see it being any different.

When I went to test instant-clones I wanted to see if on-demand desktops was actually possible without destroying node densities. I had two test runs with Login VSI, 1 run with 400 knowledge users with all the desktops pre-deployed and 1 run with 400 knowledge users but I only started with 50 desktops. I had set the desktop pool to always have at least 30 free desktops until the pool got to 400 desktops.

Instant-clones delivers on-demand desktops with very low overhead.

Instant-clones delivers on-demand desktops with very low overhead.

The darker blue line represents the on-demand test and you can see that the impact over 400 hundred users is pretty small. This is pretty remarkable from a CPU and memory consumption on boot that is being almost eliminated.

It’s not all unicorns and rainbows however, instant clones does have some limitations in the first release:

No dedicated Desktop Pools
No RDS Desktop or Application Pools
Limited SVGA Support – Fixed max resolution & number of monitors
No 3D Rendering / GPU Support
No Sysprep support – Single SID across pool
No VVOL or VAAI NFS Hardware Clones support (Smaller desktops pools may take longer to provision)
No Powershell
No Multi-VLAN Support in a single Pool
No Reusable Computer Accounts
No Persistent Disks – Use Writable Volumes \ Flex App \ Unidesk \ RES …….

vMotion Is supported

Like anything use case will dictate when this gets used but its a powerful tool inside of Horizon. I plan to show some of the differences between View Composer and Instant Clones in my next posts. Also keep in mind that you still need high IO to service your desktops. Size for the peaks or face the wrath of your end users.


Tech Preview: Nutanix Delivers Native File Services

Acropolis File Services provides a highly availability solution for hosting user and shared department files across a centralized location with a single namespace. Acropolis File Services removes the burden of manual configuration, Active Directory knowledge, load balancing expertise and scaling the solution is controlled thru the Nutanix Prism UI. The Acropolis File Server will greatly simplify non-persistent desktops environments and other use cases that require shared storage for user data.

Customers can deploy Acropolis File Services on existing AHV Clusters in the Tech-Preview. The Acropolis File Server benefits from all of the storage centric features of the Acropolis Distributed Storage Fabric so management and scaling is easy and intuitive. Compression, dedupe and erasure encoding (EC-X) can all be used with the Acropolis File server and if performance needs are meet with existing nodes, storage only nodes can be used to increase capacity.

As shares are created on the Acropolis File Server, load is distributed across the cluster seamless to the end user. Daily datacenter operations are covered as you scale up the Acropolis File Server and deal with physical nodes being added to the Nutanix Cluster and dealing with typical failure scenarios.


If a share called \\FileServerNameFQN\Users was created and contains top level directories \Bob, \Becky,\ Kevin – \Bob would be on say VM1, \Becky on VM2, \Kevin on VM3 and so on. A string hashing algorithm based on the directory names is used to distribute the top level folder directories. This makes non-persistent VDI very easy to setup and deliver without running into bottlenecks.

Watch the below video to see how easy it is to deploy and expand file services in your Nutanix cluster.

<Corporate Announcement – File Services>

New ‘Acropolis File Services’ with Native Support for VMware Horizon UEM and Citrix Profile Manager


Horizon Toolbox 2

To be honest I never knew this tool existed before today. Remote assistance has always been a hassle when doing troubleshooting shooting so I look forward to giving this a spin.

New features in 2.0

Console Access
– List all VMs for desktop pools, and you can filter VMs by VM name or DNS name.
– Clicking the VM name, the vSphere console for that VM will pop out.
Power-on policy
– Lists all desktop pools and their power policies.
– Power Policy can power on all VMs in a desktop pool with some schedule, like 8:00 AM on all work days.
– You can setup power policy for each desktop pool.
Client IP address auditing
List detailed information for all broker sessions, including user name, Client IP addresses, login time and log out time.

Installation file
– GUI installation process

Auditing performance
– Compared with toolbox 1.5, auditing performance has been enhanced due to improved SQL query.

Remote assistance
– Update the workflow so it’s more stable with Windows Remote Assistance. In addition, installation on helpdesk is no longer needed
– Compatibility improvement for different Horizon View version
– The end user side installer makes sure Windows Remote Assistance model is correctly configured.

Toolbox Download

Nutanix View 6 Reference Architecture


Top 20 KB Arictles for VMware Horizon View

More of a bookmark for myself. Why repeat the past?

  1. Manually deleting linked clones or stale virtual desktop entries from the View Composer database in VMware View Manager and Horizon View (2015112)
  2. Pool settings are not saved, new pools cannot be created, and vCenter Server tasks are not processed in a Horizon View environment (2082413)
  3. Generating and importing a signed SSL certificate into VMware Horizon View 5.1/5.2/5.3/6.0 using Microsoft Certreq (2032400)
  4. The time stamp on a snapshot image does not update automatically in VMware Horizon View (2074301)
  5. Network connectivity requirements for VMware View Manager 4.5 and later (1027217)
  6. Manually deleting replica virtual machines in VMware Horizon View 5.x (1008704)
  7. Connecting to the View ADAM Database (2012377)
  8. VMware Horizon View Best Practices (1020305)
  9. Forcing replication between ADAM databases (1021805)
  10. Restart order of the View environment to clear ADLDS (ADAM) synchronization in View 4.5, 4.6, 5.0, and 5.1 (2068381)
  11. Provisioning View desktops fails due to customization timeout errors (2007319)
  12. Generating a Horizon View SSL certificate request using the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) Certificates snap-in (2068666)
  13. Legacy applications fail to start with the VMware View 6.0.x agent installed (2091845)
  14. Troubleshooting a black screen when logging into a Horizon View virtual desktop using PCoIP (1028332)
  15. Resolving licensing errors when deploying virtual Office to a system with Office installed natively (2107369)
  16. Troubleshooting SSL certificate issues in VMware Horizon View 5.1 and later (2082408)
  17. The Event database performance in VMware View 6.0.x is extremely slow (2094580)
  18. Configuring USB device filters and redirecting Human Interface Devices (HIDs) in View Client (1011600)
  19. Finding and removing unused replica virtual machines in the VMware Horizon View (2009844)
  20. PCoIP Disconnection Codes (2012101)

First Posted at: http://blogs.vmware.com/kb/2015/04/refresh-top-20-horizon-view-kb-articles.html


VMware App Volumes on Nutanix Best Practices with #UberAgent

Well I am happy to say there really isn’t a lot of knowledge needed to wrap up the best practices for running App Volumes on Nutanix.

In general create 1 container for all of your App Stacks and turn on inline dedupe(Performance Tier). Could you put the App Stacks on the same volume as your desktops? Sure but then you can’t inline dedupe with no performance penalty. By turning inline dedupe on any time you go to create or update your App Stacks your applications will get fingerprinted. When the App Stack gets attached to your desktop it will be a read heavy workload. Any reads that have fingerprints associated with them will go into the content cache which is deduped on read. Your applications have a great chance to be served out of RAM instead of SSD or HDD! The RAM happens to be sitting right beside the CPU so you’ll save some CPU cycles to boot from the Nutanix Controller Virtual Machine(CVM). With the use of Nutanix Shadow Clones all of the caching can be done locally regardless of were the AppStack vmdk is being hosted.

Because you don’t have to keep inline dedupe turned on you can turn on inline compression for desktops. VAAI and inline compression will save a ton space if your plan on doing full clone desktops. The space saved will allow you not to buy storage heavy nodes and save on power and cooling too. VAAI can save around 20X of space and inline compression can save over 2X plus performance improvements if you’re moving big files around on the desktops.

Inline Compression Savings

Inline Compression Savings

I was running Uber Agent and Splunk to grab some results when I was working on Horizon DaaS thanks to Helge Klein . There is a ton of information that the Uber Agent can grab for you.

Here are the log on times for 300 users in a 48 minute window generated with LoginVSI and inline compression turned on.

UberAgent - Logon Times

UberAgent – Logon Times

I found attaching an App Stack to a desktop added just under 2s to the logon time compared to applications that were nativity installed. Pretty small penalty if you consider the consequence of updating your apps with View Composer or traditional methods.

One graph that I thought was super interesting that was generated UberAgent was the Total Start IO. The total number of IOs generated from the applications starting up.

UberAgent - showing how IOs are used starting applications

UberAgent – showing how IOs are used starting applications

Imagine if you could get all of those IOs severed from a dedupe RAM cache? 🙂

The below graph is taken from the Prism UI. It shows in blue the hit rate in the content cache which is over 97% and the green line shows the hits.

App Stacks being delivered with RAM

App Stacks being delivered with RAM

The below picture shows the physical savings with inline dedupe turned on from a performance perspective. You can also manually fingerprint your golden image since it won’t be changing much and also enjoy the benefits of inline dedupe without the overhead.

Inline dedupe saving  from the applications and fingerprinting the golden image.

Inline dedupe saving from the applications and fingerprinting the golden image.

The next graph is just the total number of IOPS. Why? Because everyone loves IOPS! Just over 4,500 IOPS. I turned off video during the test so more time could be spent launching applications.


To recap, 1 container for all of your applications and turn on inline deupe => done.


#NutaniXmas Book Giveaway

Give away will happen Friday. Use the hashtage #NutaniXmas


VMware EUC & Nutanix Relationship via @theCUBE

Courtney Burry & Sachin Chheda on theCUBE

* Talks about VMware and Nutanix partnership.

* Partnership on the Horizon 6 RA

* Workspace is about applications


VMware Horizon 6.0 with View – 445 desktops Created in 54min on Nutanix

Check out Booth #1535 at VMworld 2014 – Below is a video of using VCAI with VMware Horizon with View. 445 desktops created in 54 minutes using a 3460 in 2U!


VMware Horizon View 6 + Nutanix: Full Clones? No Problem!

View Composer was original designed to save capacity for Horizon View and then later was used to fix the IOPS issues for VDI. Nutanix can quickly provision machines without the need of View Composer and provide performance with it’s global flash pool and smart metadata.

Any Horizon View Admin at some point has probably had to deal with a View Composer issue at some point(same is probably true for MCS). Maybe the database gets out of sync with vCenter, the View Composer credentials gets unknowing changed or someone deletes\moves the computer account of your golden images. Using Nutanix VMCaliber Clones 400 Full Clone desktops can be created in 49 Min! Only 4 more minutes than using View Composer with VCAI

The machines clones in 8 – 12 seconds per desktop but the image being sysprep vs quick prep which View Composer provides is where the difference in time is accounted for.

Test Results – 8 node cluster – 2 * 3460

Sysprep causes ~20% increase in IOPS vs Quick Prep. The reads will be mostly served from cache so it’s not a big deal. Also most people that use full clones use them as persistent desktops and combine inline dedupe so they can leverage existing application deployment tools instead of having separate ways to deal with both physical and virtual desktops.

Keep it Simple Stupid!