Another customer exchange, this one relating to high performance user experiences in VDI environments, that I thought I would share…
The company develops graphical software for the engineering industry. Having successfully virtualized the datacenter with vSphere they’re currently considering some sort of virtual desktop initiative. Being very sensitive of their intellectual property and with remote development sites, there are concerns with not only moving data large distances but also losing control of those resources. The developers typically rely on high-end systems that leverage GPU cycles on graphics cards, and therein lays the question – in the words of their systems administrator:
Knowing what we know about ESX, since it’s doing all of the hardware abstraction for the OS’s, even if you had a great video card in a host, it would never see it or utilize it because vSphere only presents the generic VGA experience with emulated OpenGL, etc. My question to you is, does View work differently with this? How can I bring high-end graphics to an end user with View?
The Connection Manager performs several functions in a View environment. It coordinated the building and configuration of the client pools by integrating vSphere and Orchestrator to create VMs, Linked Clones, and pools of desktop resources for consumption by entitled users. The most prevalent paradigm is the base desktop image with thin clones, connected to thin clients at the end points. These VMs are good all around performers, but not really suited for high end graphics. The VM uses a generic VMware graphics adapter, with usually no more than 128 MB video RAM. Good for office workers, but not intense graphics workloads. There is another way to get a high-end user experience using View. You just need to think of virtual desktops, not just virtual machines.
Another primary function of the Connection Manager is… well, to connect clients with desktop resources. The Connection Manager is a Broker. It is the proxy that connects an end point running the View Client software, such as a Thin Client, workstation, or laptop to an OS that is running the View Agent. This client request is brokered through the View Manager and establishes the relationship between client device and desktop resource. While in most cases that desktop resource is a VM, it can also be a Terminal Server session or a physical PC it these have the View Agent software installed.
When looking at it from a performance perspective, a standalone desktop with the View Agent installed allows a client to leverage all of those physical resources through the View infrastructure out to the end point. You could have a farm of high end workstations in your datacenter, and provision them to clients all over the world. All of the heavy lifting and rendering would be done locally, and the end user would see the end result on the thin client. . Blade PCs, intended for desktop users, can also be provisioned via View in this manner also. You could look at these for dedicated desktops, or even purchase some Dell Precisions loaded with memory and graphics cards, and stand them up on racks in your datacenter. People could connect via a thin client from anywhere using View and have access to physical resources.
More importantly, the PC is in the datacenter. This means that all of the software, rendering, CPU horsepower, and more importantly, the intellectual property of the company are retained in the datacenter. This protects both the hardware and software corporate assets. There is a much higher level of security within your environment when you can retain control of all assets within your datacenter.
This question spurred a great deal of discussion internally, with fantastic results. Hopefully this will get some of you thinking of View as not just VMs connected to Thin Clients, but as more of a true Virtual Desktop solution for the workplace.