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2011

View 4.6 has been released

Same days ago VMware has released the new version of View. It include several bugfix, it fully supported the new vSphere 4.1 U1 and has some enanchments.

The most valuable new feature is that now the security server can accommodate PCoIP connections... So no more VPN (or public IP addresses for virtual desktops) is required to use PCoIP over Internet.

Other features like a Client Hypervisor or new tools specific for profiles and GPO management are still missing.

 

VMware View 4.6 Release Notes:

http://www.vmware.com/support/view46/doc/view-46-release-notes.html

 

The upgrade take

I've tested the upgrade without read the upgrade guide (it's not a recomenended practice, but was a way to test how easy or difficult was the upgrade).

 

The vSphere 4.1 was already upgrade last week (with still old VMware Tools on virtual desktop to avoid problem with View Agent 4.5), so only the View part was interested.

 

The upgrade is very simple and fast and it most case does not require any reboot. To be honest the enviroment was simple with only one Connection Server and one Secure Server and some pools.

 

For VMware Composer, only warning to keep the existing certificate (by default it prompt to create a new one)... no need to reboot the vCenter Server, so it's very clean and simple.

For the Connection Brokers (both Connection Server and Secure Server) the upgrade is more simple and still no reboot is required. For the Secure Server the new parameter for PCoIP is asked (a public IP address).

 

For the View Client a reboot is prompted, but seems that the new client works also without it. The client (as also in the 4.5 version) can be simple download from a Connection Broker.

 

For the virtual desktop, in order to use PCoIP with the Secure Server the new View Agent is required. For other operation (for example RDP with a Secure Server) also the old 4.5 agent works fine.

Upgrading the agend require a reboot, but could be the right time to also upgrade the VMware Tools or apply latest Windows Updates.

 

To upgrade the desktop pool, a simple recompose operation can be applied using the new snapshot from the "master desktops".

 

Note from my enviroment:

  • all Windows servers virtual with Windows Server 2008 R2
  • desktop pools are some with Windows XP Pro and others with Windows 7 Ent, in both cases with 32 bit architecture
  • I've tested only with a Windows XP (32 bit) and Windows 7 (64 bit) clients
  • desktops are in my local language, servers are all in english language

Windows 7 SP1 Support

Officially there is only an experimental support for Microsoft Windows 7 SP1 RC operating systems.

But I've also tried to create a pool with Windows 7 SP1 and seems that there aren't big issues.

Internet PCoIP

As written the big news is the support of PCoIP though a Secure Server... this finally can open the usage of this protocol in a simple way also of WAN connection where the RDP solution was not efficient.

 

I've tested with the new client and it works like a charm, it's easy, it's works and also performance are quite good.

IMHO this is the right approach, instead of require VPN client and connections. Also the client can be unmanaged so have VPN connections on it may be a potential security hole (although several solutions can be used to mitigate this problem, but they require more complexity).

 

Note that a new port (4172) is required to use PCoIP with a Secure Server and also a public IP (strange but it require an IP, not a DNS FQDN). IMHO a pure tunneled solution with only the port 443 was a better solution... But at least it only require two ports (443 and 4172) and the public IP can also be owned by firewall that natted the secure server.

More info

VMware View 4.6 PCoIP Software Gateway (PSG) from Andrelei Bovici
http://myvirtualcloud.net/?p=1685

 

Security server vs VPN thread (it's shot but interesting)

http://communities.vmware.com/message/1703783#1703783

When use RDP?

Also if now PCoIP can be used with a Secure Server, there are some cases where the RDP protocol must be used (so could be used to keed each pool with the dual protocol option):

  • old client version: for example from thin client or from special software (I've tested with the Dell Latidune On option, but of course actually can not use PCoIP with the Secure Server)
  • client without PCoIP support: like smartphone, Mac Client or most Linux Client
  • tablet: actually most are without PCoIP support (but seems that the iPad View Client will have this support)
  • Aero Theme requirements: with RDP and Windows 7 client is possible use Aero, with PCoIP no

To read about the VCDX3 certification see previous posts:

http://communities.vmware.com/people/AndreTheGiant/blog/2010/11/20/my-thoughts-on-vcdx-certification-part-8

 

This post is specific for VCDX4 certification, considering the full path (not the VCDX3 upgrade path).

 

Some days ago VMware change the default page of VCDX certification pointing to VCDX4 instead of VCDX3.

And also has publish some useful docs:

The first has just the same content of the web page (with a wrong info in "Recommended Courses"). So seems better read directly from the web page...

The second explain the Defense steps. Sone changes from previous defense.

The third is the new application form. Several changes from previous versions.

 

What's new?

A well now difference is that VMware no longer requires qualifying exams to be taken in a specific sequence. However, required exams must be passed before the submitting the VCDX4 Application.

Admin and Design exam can be scheduled online (not sure for DCA exam, because the exam booking seems to go still by phone) and give individual certifications (VCAP-DCA and VCAP-DCD).

Those exams are quite different from previous versions (DCA is 100% lab based, DCD has more design aspects and more than one "Visio diagram").

 

Most of VMware steps seems to be removed, so now the Application is open to all who qualify. There is no longer a requirement to receive an invitation to apply. Seems good... but also strange. In VCDX3 there where some specific dates to application submission... Now?

 

But the big difference is on the Defense: unlike previous years, currently, there are no plans to have VCDX Defenses coinciding with the VMworld events in 2011 at this time. This could be more flexibility, or maybe date and places are choose according with design submission? But could also mean less opportunity.

Note that invitations to apply are no longer required. So the only way to know a possible data is bookmark the official page (http://mylearn.vmware.com/mgrReg/plan.cfm?plan=18233&ui=www_cert) and check back for more VCDX Defense date/location postings. Or stay tuned on twitter or on the community.

 

And what about the Application Form? It seems less structured than the previous versions. A lot of pieces are missing, and I suppose that they now must be fit in the Design Documents. Good from several point of view... But dangerous if you forget something.

Actually there aren't any templates for the Design Documents, but I think that the part that has been removed from the Application, must be put those documents. For some hints are in my previous post (http://communities.vmware.com/people/AndreTheGiant/blog/2010/11/20/my-thoughts-on-vcdx-certification-part-3) and Duncan Epping article (http://www.yellow-bricks.com/2011/02/02/using-the-vsphere-plan-design-kit/).

Other docs?

Seems that two more documents will be released:

  • VCDX4 Blueprint - coming soon
  • VCDX4 Defense Prep Tips - coming soon

I suppose that the second one will be similar of the previous "VCDX3_Defense_Prep-2010_06_17.pdf".

I'm curios on what will be in the first one... I hope that is will be a template or at least a track for the design documents.

How long does it take?

When also the date for defense will be available, probably the right time could be 6-9 months, as written also in:

http://www.seancrookston.com/2011/01/31/how-long-does-it-take-to-become-a-vcdx/