VDI: Coming To Life

With the upcoming release of VMware's Virtual Desktop Manager 2 (VDM) product, the customer-installable Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) draws closer to becoming a reality. VMware has yet to release pricing, nor have they published a SKU for direct customer consumption,...

September 14, 2007

2 Min Read
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With the upcoming release of VMware's Virtual Desktop Manager 2 (VDM) product, thecustomer-installable Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) draws closer to becoming a reality.VMware has yet to release pricing, nor have they published a SKU for direct customer consumption,but nonetheless, it lives in a private beta format now with a public beta to come in the nextmonth or so. If you want to participate in the public beta, go here to get started.

The Virtual Desktop Manger (VDM) is the connection broker piece that allows administrators tomanage desktops distinctly from their server counterparts. Minimally, it will require Windows2003 SP1, and if you have an Infrastructure 3 Enterprise installation, you can install the VDMonto a virtual server. No additional hardware needed. And VMware recommends that you keep yourdesktop on ESX hosts separate from your virtual servers.

In the article "Virtualization: Not Just For Servers Anymore," we touched briefly on theconnection broker as part of the unique VDI infrastructure. Desktop Pools, or Resource Pools, indesktop virtualization, refer to a grouping of virtual desktop workspaces made available in apersistent or non-persistent state. In the former you'll be able to allow users to save theirsettings and return to the saved workspace, while in the latter you can destroy the desktopworkspaces altogether. These pools can also be static or dynamic. For example, in a 25 desktoppool, the pool can either always contain 25 desktops, or it can grow (to a max of 25 in thisexample), spawning new workspaces as the requests arise. The pool can also shrink if themachines are not in use, destroying the idle workspaces. Obviously, destroying desktopworkspaces isn't super efficient for answering on-demand, real-time requests, however it keepsthings lean. Additionally, you can utilize ESX resource pools as a way to provide users, thatsay, partake of pool X to have 75% of the available machine resources, while the users of pool Yhave access to the remaining 25%.

Now consider a complementary solution. Say you have a need for real desktop horsepower. What ifyou could round out your VDI solution with an integrated hardware/virtual workstation solution? IBM has an HC10 workstation blade system that can be fronted by a connection broker to distributeout higher end desktop resources. This blade configuration is similar to an HS20 or HS21 bladeconfiguration with a BladeCenter E or BladeCenter H chassis, but the blades have been configuredwith workstation-class processor and graphics. If only this could be fully integrated withVMware. According to IBM reps, these blades cannot be virtualized, so you'd have two managementpoints: your VMware VDI solution for knowledge or call center workers, and the other to brokerour workstation blades to garner additional horsepower requirements. So, it's not quite thereyet, but the possibility exists.

VMworld attendees got a glimse of VDI in action at the HP-sponsored terminals scattered across theMoscone Center and in the hands-on labs. So even without the hardware-based solution, VDI iscoming to life.

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