Category : Virtualization

VR market takes a stab at the enterprise

Random42-Oculus-GearVR-HeadsetAccording to Forrester Research, there will be 52 million units of virtual reality head-mounted displays by 2020. This is in part due to the businesses and consumers that are becoming VR users. However, Forrester advises a strong marketing and executive plan to incorporate virtual reality into the enterprise. Although upbeat, as products such as Samsung Gear VR and Google Cardboard will boost adoption, there is an ecosystem of VR that is emerging. The devision is not entirely clear, as headsets will be split between high-end and mid-tier adoptions. Forrester Research did not gauge the market for the cheaper VR headsets such as Google Cardboard. In addition, Microsoft cited that there will be 80 million VR headsets by 2020, but this number is only a variable and could include the lower end VR headset models.

Forrester Research argues that there could be a VR market right now in 2016, but uses the age old support tactic of “the technology is 95 percent there”, isn’t that what every major tech startup says when no one is biting on their new technology? Despite my calling their bluff, I do think VR is going to blow up in the next few years, however if we are being realistic for the enterprise, I think augmented reality is going to blow VR right out of the enterprise water. Before 2020.

 

 


 

If you would like to educate yourself in more detail about the information presented in this blog post please visit: Enterprises to target VR market, virtual reality headsets to hit 52 million by 2020

Microsoft’s HoloLens Platform is Open to Partners

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Microsoft took a leap this week, deciding to open it’s Windows Holographic platform to hardware developers creating virtual and augmented reality devices. Windows 10 partners can create their own mixed-reality worlds for users to both communicate and work, thanks to the same software that powers Microsoft HoloLens. Microsoft has invited it’s hardware partners to build PCs, displays and accessories with the Windows Holographic platform.

Microsoft wants users and partners alike to visualize using a VR device and being able to see their hands as they manipulate an object, or even bringing in a holographic representation of a person, object, or concept into a users personal virtual reality in order to collaborate on big projects. Microsoft is looking a the bigger picture by encouraging partners to take a jump  with their HoloLens platform. Already working with partners such as Intel, AMD, Qualcomm, HTC, Dell, Lenovo, and more, that jump doesn’t look so unimaginable. The Windows Holographic includes a holographic shell ans interaction model, perception APIs and Xbox Live services. The HoloLens 3D augmented reality headset is untethered and rather than taking a users entire field of vision like VR gadgets, the HoloLens adds 3D objects to the real world vision of the user. The newest version of the reality headset is already in the works, which will encompass even more capabilities such as multi-tasking, new voice commands, photo applications, Bluetooth for devices, and support for the Edge Web browser.

Personally, I can’t wait to get my hands on one of these even if just for a little test, and if Microsoft is successful in their efforts that shouldn’t be too hard to do.

 


 

If you would like to educate yourself in more detail about the information presented in this blog post please visit: Microsoft Opens HoloLens Platform to Partners

Can’t Install AV on a Hyper-V Host or it Breaks Networking… Wow

Problem: Antivirus and Hyper-V (Why can’t I start my virtual machine?)
A little while ago our support team ran into some problems starting virtual machines after they install antivirus software in the management operating system.  The root cause of the problem is that a number of these programs monitor file access in a way that interferes with Hyper-V’s attempts to open virtual machine files.  If you see this problem – you have two options:

  1. Don’t install antivirus.  If you are running a server core configuration, or a full server configuration, and you have nothing running in the management operating system other than Hyper-V, and you do not have people logging in and browsing the web in the management partition, etc… Then you do not really need to have antivirus software installed as there is limited risk of a virus.
  2. Install antivirus and set up the following exclusions (most antivirus programs allow you to exclude specific directories, files and processes from scanning to help deal with issues such as these):
  •         Default virtual machine configuration directory (Normally this is C:ProgramDataMicrosoftWindowsHyper-V)
  •         Custom virtual machine configuration directories
  •         Default virtual hard disk directory (Normally this is C:UsersPublicDocumentsHyper-VVirtual Hard Disks)
  •         Custom virtual hard disk directories
  •         Snapshot directories
  •         Vmms.exe
  •         Vmwp.exe

 

Bootcamp – Windows on a Mac?

Mac’s are really popular because of the design of their laptops. The metal casings are pretty steamlined and very durable. Because of this people are using Mac’s more and more. However many businesses are still using Windows as their dominate OS. So when you find a Mac user, they are trying to do many of the things a Windows machine does, but with great difficulty. Because of this Macs allow users to install Windows on their machines. This can be done in two ways. You can use software such as VMWare or Parallels to install a virtual machine consisting of the Windows OS, the issue is that is that your splitting your hardwares CPU and RAM thus making the speed less than what it could be. Your other option is to use Apples native software Bootcamp, and create a dual boot system so that you can use either OS and maintaining your hardware’s full powers.

Requirements
To use Boot Camp, you need:

1 -An Intel-based Mac with a built-in or external USB keyboard, and a built-in trackpad or USB mouse.
2 – Mac OS X v10.5 or later.
3 – The latest firmware updates available for your Mac.
4 -At least 10 GB (for Windows XP or Windows Vista), 16 GB (for 32-bit Windows 7), or 20 GB (for 64-bit Windows 7) of free space on your startup disk (for the Windows partition).
5 – Boot Camp Assistant, which is located in /Applications/Utilities/ . You can also open Launchpad and type Boot Camp Assistant in the search field.
6 – Supported Windows installation media. Boot Camp does not include Windows

Hyper-V: Shrinking a VHD

If you are using Hyper-V virtual machine, with thin provisioned (or dynamic) virtual disks, you may find yourself needing to compact those virtual disk files (.VHD) to reclaim free space.

Typically you would compact a virtual hard disk in situations such as the following:

  • After you install the guest operating system (which uses many temporary files)
  • After you delete large amounts of data
  • When you are preparing the virtual hard disk for archiving, for deployment to another computer or CD-ROM, or for distribution

To ensure that you get the smallest possible file size when you compact the virtual hard disk, you need to do some file system maintenance before you compact the disk. In the guest operating system of the virtual machine that is using the disk you want to compact, do the following:

  • Remove any temporary folders or unwanted folders or files.
  • Empty the Recycle Bin.
  • Defragment the disk.

Note that when running a defrag, you will actually grow the .VHD file prior to compacting, so make sure the host server has enough free space to accommodate it.

Shut down the VM, then go to the settings and go to the disk settings and click edit. This will bring up the disk edit wizard and the keep the first selected option, Compact.

Depending on the size of the .VHD file, and the available “white space” within the file, compacting may take a significant amount of time. So be sure to plan your downtime accordingly.

You may receive the error message “The system failed to compact disk.vhd. Error Code: The requested operation could not be completed due to a file system limitation” when attempting to compact the .VHD file.
First, check to see that there are no VSS backups on the VHD by running a “vssadmin list shadows” command in an elevated command prompt.

Second, delete any VSS backups that are present by running “vssadmin delete shadows /all“. If this fails to delete the VSS backups, you may need to resort to the “DiskShadow” utility in WS2K8 and WS2K8R2. (There’s some more information on DiskShadow here (free registration required) and also here.)

Beefy Thin Client-HP Compaq 8200

bva is doing more and more VDI installations within the small to medium size businesses.  The request for having sessions that have many screens is one of the main requests that we get with is always an interesting request.  Some of the common requests that bva gets in the experience are as followed:

  • speed
  • stability
  • remote capabilities outside of the network/LAN
  • multiple monitors (2, 3, and 4 monitors)
  • having minimal latency issues
  • having no data on

There are many great thin clients out there that can handle two monitors without issue but when you go to more that 2 monitors the cheaper units create an issue. The graphics card in the cheaper units (base model) cannot handle the multiple monitors over 2 screens.  bva likes Wyse terminals and all the HP terminals.  For environments where you need a little more power and need up to 4 monitors, bva would recommend the HP Compaq 8200 Elite Ultra-slim PC.  Its about $500 which is a little more expensive then the base models ($178) but the experience is well work the investment.

VMware vSphere 5 is Really Impressive Technically

BVA really likes vShere and have a lot of confidence in the product and offering.  On July 12 VMware launched vSphere 5, a cloud computing infrastructure suite that essentially is a one-stop virtualization shop. An all in one really, which is very impressive.  vSphere 5, whose predecessor vSphere 4 came out about a year ago, is the largest integrated software product ever launched by VMware, adding four completely new modules—(vCloud Director, vShield 5.0, vCenter SRM 5.0 and vSphere Storage Appliance (optional).  VMware also announced that it has made available an iPad version of the management interface in the Apple App Store. Here are 10 of the most important points made at the July 12 VMware announcement event in San Francisco.

  • Cloud Infrastructure Suite
  • Virtualize Critical Business Applications
  • Path to 100% Virtualization
  • Simple Self Service
  • Major Upgrade for the Infrastructure Suite
  • Simplifying Adoption to vSphere
  • IT Transformation Journey
  • Hybrid Cloud Models
  • vCloud Director
  • vShere 5

SolarWinds Virtual Manager 4.0

Are you thinking of running your VMware virtual infrastructure on Amazon’s EC2 public cloud service? You might want to look at SolarWinds’ Virtualization Manager 4.0. An integrated virtualization manager, it tracks compute, network, and storage resources used to let you predict capacity limits and help you with your planning. It can even estimate what it will cost you to run in EC2, Amazon’s Pay-As-You-Go cloud capacity.

Virtualization Manager is a low-cost, easy-to-use comprehensive package that boasts Capacity Management, VM Sprawl Control, Performance Monitoring, Configuration Management, and Chargeback Automation in its listing of features.

Note that this product only works for the VMware environment — Hyper –V (Microsoft) or open-source hypervisor platforms are not supported.

Solar Winds VM began shipping in early June. It is available as a virtual appliance. Cost is $2,995 for fifty powered-on VMs under management. Downloadable as a free trial from http://www.solarwinds.com/products/virtualization-manager/.

bva’s Recommended SAN for Virtualization

BVA has been performing many virtual implementations in recent months and over the course of 10 years we have been involved with many different types of SANs on the market.  Shared storage for the small to medium size businesses are starting to become a norm and with lower cost points for virtual server software it more advantageous for companies to go with that architecture. Our most common project these days are moving 6 to 15 production servers into a three-cluster virtual node architecture with shared storage leveraging VMware or HyperV.  After testing and playing with a few different SAN’s, bva favorite is the The NetApp FAS 2040.  It has up to 136 disks (136 TB) storage capacity, FC-SAN, IP-SAN (iSCSI), and NAS (CIFS/NFS) protocol support.

Full SAS capable which is more than capable to handle the typical i/o for small businesses today.  Full Fiber Channel capable, full SATA or FC/SAS/SATA disk mix.   Single and dual active-active controller models are capable for an aggressive price point. The SAN also has (2) two 4Gb FC ports as well as (4) four GbE ports and 1 SAS port per controller which is very versatile.  (4) Four GB cache per controller which is the standard configuration when we are doing our typical installation.

The NetApp 2040

The FAS 2040 systems offers unified file and block storage. That means one solution for CIFS, NFS, iSCSI, and FC SAN storage protocols. The units Data ONTAP operating system provides storage efficiency through higher utilization of capacity via thin provisioning and SnapshotTM technology.  The unit is also very scalable by way of having the option to add more drives to an existing original enclosure. It means being able to combine existing and expanded data-management resources in the fastest, most elegant solution.

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI); Session Based Computing

Spring is fully upon us and the summer heat is looming in the not too distant future. Many of us are planning out our summer vacations to beat the heat and spend time with our friends and families. While our minds are probably already off to some beachside locale, there is still a bit of time before we’ll be flying there ourselves. In the meantime, perhaps now is as good a time as any to look into moving your business over to an older and simpler way of computing.  Session based technology has been around for many years and at one point in the late 90’s/early 2000’s it was a very popular desktop architecture.  For a variety of reasons it became less popular primarily due to the desktop hardware cost decreasing significantly.  Session Based computing is where you take all the data and processing activity off the local desktop and have it take place on a robust server.  By doing this you can have multiply desktop sessions running on a single server if you were so inclined.  For best practice methodology, bva recommends putting all sessions spread over two (2) servers to ensure up-time and load balancing for the user community.  The great advantages of Session Based Computing are the following:

  • Smaller Footprint
  • Eco-Friendly and More Green
  • All Data on Servers, No Loss of Data
  • Seamless and Consistent Interface over Different PC’s
  • Ability to Leverage Older PC Hardware for Production
  • Ability to Leverage Newer Operating Systems Virtually Without Conflict
  • Application Virtualization Ensures Seamless User Experience

The most popular products leveraged today for this type of architecture are as followed:

  • Remote Desktop Services (Terminal Server)
  • Citrix Systems
  • Vmware View

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is another name for Session Based Technology. VDI is an emerging architectural model where a Windows client operating system runs in server-based virtual machines (VMs) in the data center and interacts with the user’s client device such as a PC or a thin client. Similar to session virtualization (formerly known as Terminal Services), VDI provides IT with the ability to centralize a user’s desktop; instead of a server session, however, a full client environment is virtualized within a server-based hypervisor. With VDI, the user can get a rich and individualized desktop experience with full administrative control over desktop and applications. However, this architecture, while flexible, requires significantly more server hardware resources than the traditional session virtualization approach.

Key benefits of VDI are:

  • Better enablement of flexible work scenarios, such as work from home and hot-desking
  • Increased data security and compliance
  • Easy and efficient management of the desktop OS and applications