ifill24
Contributor
Contributor

Specific type of separate virtual environment required within ESXi

Hello,

I have a server running ESXi 5.1 with a dozen VMs each with its own public facing IP. The VMs all run a version of Windows, either XP, Vista or 7, though mostly XP. The problem I want to solve is that often a single VM should perform more than one task simultaneously or have a second user work on the machine directly in a different area than the first.

What is the best product from VMWare or tool outside VMWare that allows a user running Windows to have a separate application running in the background? For example, while a user works on the VM, he wants to run a program to check a website or perform another action on the machine. In order to do that he must give up control of the mouse, which makes it impossible to do two tasks at once.

The software to solve this must be lightweight and not slow down/inhibit the machine much at all.

13 Replies
NealeC
Hot Shot
Hot Shot

Hello ifill

What you're describing isn't an issue that Virtualisation itself will fix.  You can't have 2 users doing something on a physical PC running the Operating Systems you listed below.

So whilst you keep X number of VMs running xp/vista/7 then you can have X number of users actively doing a task.

If you want to have a single VM instance that mutliple users can connect to and run workloads then you are looking at Horizon View Horizon (with View) VDI & Application Virtualization | VMware United Kingdom

or some other similar VDI solution.

There isn't a way to "use" vSphere to make a VM multi-user if the operating system it's running wasn't designed to be.

XP wasn't

Terminal Server(RDS), Citrix, Horizon were

Regards

Chris

-------------- If you found this or any other answer useful please consider the use of the Helpful or Correct buttons to award points. Chris Neale VCIX6-NV;vExpert2014-17;VCP6-NV;VCP5-DCV;VCP4;VCA-NV;VCA-DCV;VTSP2015;VTSP5;VTSP4 http://www.chrisneale.org http://www.twitter.com/mrcneale
ifill24
Contributor
Contributor

Isn't it possible to run a lightweight sandbox virtual machine within XP that simulates an environment to open a webpage? Scrap the multi-user requirement for now. What I'm mostly concerned with is checking/interacting with websites in the background to assist the user who is working on the XP machine. My guess is this is probably quite difficult without virtualization, using a program in theory that acts as a browser and runs a script to interact with a website while running invisibly in the background. Is Workstation the lowest cost solution in terms of processor/memory resources? It runs another XP machine within the XP machine, but all that's really needed is a separate desktop within a window that contains the same characteristics of the machine it's running on.

Thanks for the helpful info Chris.

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COS
Expert
Expert

IMHO, for the XP capability to have multiple logons, I would take whatever app you have and put it on 2003 Server.

For the Windows 7 capability to have multiple logons I would take whatever app you have and put it on 2008 Server.

The server versions allow up to 3 logons simultaneously which should give you what you want, but at a cost.

ifill24
Contributor
Contributor

For the purposes of the VMs it has to be XP or a consumer based operating system. The solution I'm looking for is more to access a webpage and interact with it via automated script in the background than to have a separate user on the machine.

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NealeC
Hot Shot
Hot Shot

Hi ifill24,

Is it possible to describe your application/process a bit more in detail (without giving away anything secure).
I'm struggling to understand what you need the user or the VM to do.

If it's a script accessing a webpage, is it not possible to run a batch file in the background to access these websites you have?

If you have an example of how you work now, or how you want it to work

e.g. Bob has to click on a webpage every hour to keep X alive or hit refresh on a legacy website to update stats.

That might help.

Regards

Chris

-------------- If you found this or any other answer useful please consider the use of the Helpful or Correct buttons to award points. Chris Neale VCIX6-NV;vExpert2014-17;VCP6-NV;VCP5-DCV;VCP4;VCA-NV;VCA-DCV;VTSP2015;VTSP5;VTSP4 http://www.chrisneale.org http://www.twitter.com/mrcneale
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ifill24
Contributor
Contributor

If it's a script accessing a webpage, is it not possible to run a batch file in the background to access these websites you have?

If you have an example of how you work now, or how you want it to work

e.g. Bob has to click on a webpage every hour to keep X alive or hit refresh on a legacy website to update stats.

Pretty much what you describe - the user needs to automate information collection from a website and sometimes to interact with it, via automation in the background without using the mouse or keyboard. Bob clicking on a webpage every hour while doing other work on the computer sounds about the same.

Forgive my lack of knowledge, how does a batch file get the website to load in the background and to interact with it there?

Thanks for the information.

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NealeC
Hot Shot
Hot Shot

Ok, so we are getting into pretty non-vmwarey stuff but let's carry on 🙂

The only ambiguity I've got left really is the "interact with it, via automation in the background without using the mouse or keyboard" bit.

But let's say that it was a weather website and you wanted to collect the temperature at hourly intervals then you could

  1. Set up a scheduled task in windows to run a script hourly.
  2. Create a powershell script which downloads the webpage and then parses it looking for the temperature (or whatever data) and saves that to another file or database

Really the way to automate anything is list out the steps that the user is currently performing and describe each of them explicitly then script that action.

e.g.

Using PowerShell to Query Web Site Information | Learn Powershell | Achieve More

I think from here, you need someone to analyse your workload/activity and create you a script locally 😉

Regards

Chris


-------------- If you found this or any other answer useful please consider the use of the Helpful or Correct buttons to award points. Chris Neale VCIX6-NV;vExpert2014-17;VCP6-NV;VCP5-DCV;VCP4;VCA-NV;VCA-DCV;VTSP2015;VTSP5;VTSP4 http://www.chrisneale.org http://www.twitter.com/mrcneale
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ifill24
Contributor
Contributor

The only ambiguity I've got left really is the "interact with it, via automation in the background without using the mouse or keyboard" bit.

But let's say that it was a weather website and you wanted to collect the temperature at hourly intervals then you could

  1. Set up a scheduled task in windows to run a script hourly.
  2. Create a powershell script which downloads the webpage and then parses it looking for the temperature (or whatever data) and saves that to another file or database

Getting a script to run on a computer and open a webpage and click somewhere is not an issue. What I can't figure out is if it was accessing a weather site hourly, it would have to take over the keyboard and mouse to physically interact with the website. The user would have to pause work while it did this. For simple information gathering perhaps downloading the webpage in the background and parsing would be fine. But for more complex interactions with websites involving log-ins it has to be either a) a script that can interact in the background with a website or a special browser that has a capacity for scripted background interaction b) a simple virtual clone sandbox of the desktop or a browser window.

Thanks for the powershell tip

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ifill24
Contributor
Contributor

Did I lose you Chris? So close to a solution. Albeit possibly off the vmware course.

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NealeC
Hot Shot
Hot Shot

Hello ifill,

Sorry, nope not lost.  I have my VCAP-DCA510 exam on Thursday....so head is full of VMA/esxcli/powercli 🙂

I'll pick this up next week and have a think.

Any more explicit details/screenshots (redacted where necessary) of what happens today step by step (presuming what needs to be done is already being done somehow by a person manually).

That will speed us up next week.

Regards

Chris

-------------- If you found this or any other answer useful please consider the use of the Helpful or Correct buttons to award points. Chris Neale VCIX6-NV;vExpert2014-17;VCP6-NV;VCP5-DCV;VCP4;VCA-NV;VCA-DCV;VTSP2015;VTSP5;VTSP4 http://www.chrisneale.org http://www.twitter.com/mrcneale
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ifill24
Contributor
Contributor

Chris,

The person working on each VM must login to a website to check on transactions for trading. Automating a login to check and record information somewhere on a website is no problem, but to check of course requires use of the screen, mouse and keyboard (even though the computer is doing the work). Running that in the background without interrupting the user is what I'm looking to solve.

Good luck tomorrow!

Ivo

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ifill24
Contributor
Contributor

Chris,

How's it going, did you ace the test? Let me know if my question remains unclear in any way.

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NealeC
Hot Shot
Hot Shot


Thanks ifill, but no.  fell a bit short.

Rather than fill this thread up more do you want to mail/tweet me and we can't take it off the forum?

-------------- If you found this or any other answer useful please consider the use of the Helpful or Correct buttons to award points. Chris Neale VCIX6-NV;vExpert2014-17;VCP6-NV;VCP5-DCV;VCP4;VCA-NV;VCA-DCV;VTSP2015;VTSP5;VTSP4 http://www.chrisneale.org http://www.twitter.com/mrcneale
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