VMware View 3.0

VMware's VDI solution makes virtual desktops real, but not particularly easy to manage

  • Review
  • Specs
  • Images
  • User Reviews
  • Buy Now 1
VMware Australia View 3.0
  • VMware Australia View 3.0
  • VMware Australia View 3.0
  • VMware Australia View 3.0

Pros

  • Building a VMware View infrastructure is relatively simple

Cons

  • Management leaves much to be desired, user experience can be spotty, Web interface is fairly picky about which browser is used

Bottom Line

All in all, VMware View is a functional VDI implementation with more than a few quirks and foibles.

Would you buy this?

  • Buy now (Selling at 1 store)

  • Hp Vmware Vcenter Operations Standard 25-vm Lic... 1895.00

Everyone in the pool

Once the core components of View are installed and running, at least one desktop pool needs to be built to support the users. The primary source of the desktop pool is a single VM that's built like any other Windows VM. The base OS is installed, then patches and service packs, followed by applications, and so forth until the VM is completely prepped and ready for a user. This source VM is then joined to the domain, and the VMware Agent is installed. The Agent is a small piece of code that runs on every View desktop and permits interaction with the View server.

Additionally, all the Microsoft Sysprep code must be installed on the vCenter Server to facilitate the automatic building of new desktops from the single image. This is the code that permits Windows machines to be cloned and run on the same network as unique entities, with various unique parameters such as the SID (security identifier) modified during the cloning process.

Once all those pieces are in place, the source VM is shut down, and a snapshot is taken of the system. This snapshot forms the basis of all subsequent desktop VMs.

Back in the VMware View Web interface, a desktop pool can now be created. Desktop pools can be built in several ways. The most common is likely to be linked clones. This method is used by View to allow for a large number of desktops without requiring that each desktop have a separate base disk image. Even a small desktop VM might require a 10GB disk, and creating a pool with 100 desktops would then require 1TB in storage. However, using linked clones, the total storage requirements of 100 users will only require a fraction of that space. View manages this trick by using the snapshot of the source VM as a baseline and creating links to that baseline for each VM. Thus, each desktop runs as an extension to the primary, with any and all changes made to the VM during normal use stored as a delta to the original. Also, View offers the option of creating a user disk with a fixed limit for users to store files separately from the linked clone.

In production, you'll want to use Microsoft Active Directory Group Policy to limit or prevent users from storing anything locally to the VM or to the user disk by redirecting My Documents and other directories to file shares served elsewhere. This is very similar to a normal Microsoft Terminal Services or Citrix installation.

The pool of desktop VMs can also be created with support for persistent or non-persistent desktop sessions. The difference here is whether or not a user is tied to a specific desktop instance, or if they simply log in to the next available desktop. In a call-center scenario, non-persistent desktops are probably the best idea, since users likely won't be using more than one or two applications, nor will they need a place to park their personal files.

Otherwise, persistent desktops are likely to be the best bet. This assigns a specific desktop to a specific user during their initial log-in, and they will always be connected to that desktop for each subsequent log-in, much like they would with a physical desktop beneath their desk.

Regardless of the parameters, creating the desktop pool is accomplished the same way: via a JavaScript-based wizard delivered from the View Web interface. It's not pretty, but it gets the job done. There are some caveats to be mentioned, such as the inability for a desktop pool to be properly created if the source VM maps to a floppy or CD-ROM ISO image. In fact, pool creation will fail if this is the case, with seemingly nonsensical "File not found" error messages. Only by changing the mappings to "Client Device" will the pool build as it should. This is decidedly non-obvious and became a very annoying issue in my deployment. Judging by the number of questions asked about this problem on VMware's forums, this is a relatively minor problem and easy to fix, yet is largely unknown and poorly documented. As with VMware's ESX and vCenter products, the error messages and logging in View could be greatly improved to alleviate such problems.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Be the first to comment.

Post new comment

Users posting comments agree to the PC World comments policy.

Login or register to link comments to your user profile, or you may also post a comment without being logged in.

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?