Posts Tagged ‘virtualization’

From Desktop Administrator to Virtual Desktop Administrator

January 9, 2013 Leave a comment

To risk sounding like Yoda: “Needs bring change, change brings progress, progress brings evolution. Evolution brings balance.”  Say good-bye to desktop administrators as we now know them.  

The desktop administrator’s role in the computer world is evolving on a major scale.  Why the change?  The desktop admin’s current role will increase greatly in a world full of virtual desktops that replace physical desktops.  This role will have to evolve and change in order to manage all the new cloud services demanded by future users. 

The new world of desktop replacement virtualization (DRV) invites the true concept of ubiquitous computing, where users will have the ability to consume computing resources anytime, anywhere, on any device, always tailored to them. These on-demand virtual desktop services will simply be accessed from the cloud, much like storage or networking today. As you can imagine, the management of these services will grow exponentially alongside the skills needed to manage these services.  

I believe that we already have the foundational skills needed, and they are found in a role common to all organizations: the desktop administrator.  To understand, let’s take a quick recap of who currently owns the world of virtualization and on-demand computing resources today.

Unbalance of Power in today's Virtualization

The Current “Unbalance” of Power in Virtualization

In today’s server virtualization environments, all the power and decision-making responsibility currently sits within the storage and infrastructure roles.  That is, all the decision-making happens in the server and infrastructure areas because this is where all the components of virtualization live. This is always going to be true for server virtualization.

 But what about desktop virtualization which enables personal cloud computing? Ironically, today’s desktop administrators have little or no decision-making role in this area, and yet they are the ones asked to create the images and policies needed for the virtual desktop environment.  In virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) today, the technology decision-makers are the SAN and Infrastructure administrators. As shown in the “balance of power” pyramid below, we live in a world dictated by storage needs and not desktop computing needs.

Balance of Power for VDI Today Where Storage Rules

Balance of Power for VDI today where Storage Rules

The “Re-Balance” of Power

Simply asked, why should virtual desktop decisions be dictated by storage admins?  Virtual desktops and specifically DRV virtual desktops should be managed in the same management ecosystem or perspective as the physical desktops. Control over virtual desktops should be dictated by need and placed squarely with the virtual desktop administrator, where it belongs. The relevancy of the desktop admin now grows exponentially and evolves into a virtual desktop administrator.

Change and evolution of this role is a good thing — it means that we are getting better and more refined skill sets and job opportunities. In the world of true desktop replacement virtualization, where virtual desktops run as fast as or faster than physical desktops, the new virtual desktop administrator can also put to rest any fear or uncertainties around job obsolescence. As shown below, a “balance” of power will return to the virtual desktop administrator. Everyone will play their own key role in desktop virtualization. Just as the virtual desktop administrator will manage the virtual desktop resources, the storage, network, and infrastructure admins will do the same for their responsibilities.

Re-Balance of Power for Virtual Desktops in the Future

Re-balance of Power for Virtual Desktops in the Future

The New Virtual Desktop Professional

I see the virtual desktop administrator of the future as having the lion’s share of power over his or her area of responsibility, making sure that people using these virtual desktops are in the correct pools, which are mapped with the correct resources. Storage, infrastructure and network admins will be there to offer services working together as equal parts of a team, but not dictating how the virtual desktops should be architected or implemented.

Unbalance always feels off and generally yields the same results.  Those of us who already use a DRV virtual machine from a V3 Appliance as our primary desktop have already experienced this balance. We are done with an unbalanced virtual desktop world which, at its best, can only yield virtual desktops acting as a supplement to a physical desktop or laptop. 

Gartner forecasted this shift many years ago in their infrastructure optimization model as, “enabling increased efficiencies derived from a balanced infrastructure by moving from cost center to strategic asset.” The combination of DRV managed by a virtual desktop administrator on a V3 Appliance out-of-the-box will enable any given organization to become a strategic asset, and the desktop administrator to re-affirm their role as a vital 1st class citizen in the IT organization.

I believe 2012 will truly be the year of the virtual desktop administrator. Congrats to those desktop administrators who are currently making the transition over to a virtual desktop administrator, and a warm welcome to those on their way!


Desktop Cloud Computing for the Cloud Generation is Now On-Demand

January 9, 2013 Leave a comment

Early in my career at Microsoft we all received a book called, “Business @ the Speed of Thought” by Bill Gates. In it he described many of the factors and business decisions that made Microsoft what it has become. One of the chapters was titled: “Adopt the Web Lifestyle.” In this chapter, I remember reading an excerpt that, at the time, seemed very far reaching and yet describes our world today.

“Within a decade most Americans and many other people around the world will be living the Web lifestyle. It will be a reflex for these people to turn to the Web to get news, find entertainment, and to communicate. It will be just as natural as picking up the phone to talk to somebody or ordering something from a catalog is today. The Web will be used to pay your bills, manage your finances, communicate with your doctor, and conduct any business. Just as naturally, you’ll carry one or more small devices using a wireless connection to stay constantly in touch and conduct electronic business wherever you are.”

I think we can all agree that Bill Gate’s vision of the web lifestyle was right on. Quite simply, Bill’s description of the web lifestyle is how many of us live today. I also believe that he and many other visionaries have helped set the stage for the next generation, which is even more exciting than the web lifestyle. This next generation user is growing up in a world being defined as the “Cloud Generation”.

The Cloud Generation has demands.

My children are a part of this growing cloud generation where they don’t need to care where their data is stored as long as it can be accessed at any time. Everything is now on-demand. This new cloud generation persona dictates when they want it, where they want it, on whatever device they choose, and it is always where they left it. Dropbox, iCloud, and Amazon are part of this daily computing experience. The only issue is that most of the current cloud services used by people have been centered on data storage and data connectivity. What about data creation?

Unfortunately, we still live in a world where many data creation devices are stagnant legacy physical computing devices like laptops and desktops.

Meanwhile, we also have this convergence of a new breed of cloud-connected devices like tablets, e-readers, and smartphones. To get what they want out of the web today most people have both old and new devices, but I believe that this comes with a price. The price we pay for this is that we have data in multiple locations, both local and in the cloud. Where is central data management at the personal level? Why is this still acceptable? While there are apps that help with this, they are not being developed at the rate people are acquiring new devices.

I am frustrated every time I look for a file and can’t find it because it was created and stored on another device.

Convergence will force us to evolve.

I know that this cloud means something different to everyone, and yet that is the best part about it.  Clouds are formed by convergent winds rising from a low pressure area.Desktop

Convergence, converge, converging is defined as


1- (of several people or things) Come together from different directions so as eventually to meet

2- Come from different directions and meet at (a place)

Technology Clouds.

Infrastructure clouds, application clouds, and data clouds are either already here or being developed as I write this. In the past, the convergence of users, devices and infrastructure has been a delicate balancing act. Today, the cloud allows us to get all the benefits without the balancing act. This means that in a cloud, users get to dictate what they want. While in the case of a corporation, they also get central data management. It will still take time and careful steps to ensure that this happens correctly.  So to sum it up, in the immortal words of “Dr. Leo Marvin,” we need to take “baby steps” to make sure the evolution and access to, and interaction with, the cloud is correct. I cloud, I clouded, I am clouding, I am a clouder…

I believe the first step in this evolution requires defining a new way to offer end user computing in the most flexible and simple way. Yes, virtualization technologies will shape the underlying foundations here, but a different perspective is needed to make this happen. We have always taken proven technologies and evolved them to meet the needs, not the demands, of the day.

The technology is here to make this a reality. But in order for it to work as the primary computing for the cloud generation, it first must adhere to some fundamental elements.

Fundamental elements:Desktop Cloud Computing

User Experience

Application Flexibility

Device Variety

On-Demand Availability

Offline Compute

User Experience: The cloud generation demands performance and quick response. A cloud desktop must have the ability to outperform a physical desktop in order to get used; otherwise it will turn into a supplemental desktop at best. Applications of all types (doesn’t matter which) should enable increased productivity.

Application Flexibility: Applications must still work in the way that users are familiar with, regardless of whether they are in the cloud or not. The cloud should enhance the way a user interacts with the applications, making users more productive.

Device Variety: The cloud generation places very high demands on the many types of devices in the marketplace, but each user dictates what device they want to use and where they want to use it.

On-Demand Availability:  The cloud generation will not accept any downtime. The end user dictates when they use the computing resources, regardless of the time of day.

Offline Compute: A user may choose online or offline options for computing. This allows users to compute even when there is no connection to the cloud. When an offline connection is being restored, a cloud desktop will automatically synchronize the user’s data in the cloud so the user always has the latest up-to-date changes. The user will never have to worry about multiple copies of data again.

I realize that these are the first of many fundamental elements that will shape, define, and enable how we use and manage the cloud. The cloud is a very exciting place to be. It’s like the first time I made my first web service calls across the web. Sure it was SOAP (simple object access protocol), but who cares because it was so cool to interact with an application across the web. Today I fear that those who don’t embrace these cloud concepts, or those who want to hold onto old methods for computing, will find themselves having it defined for them. That, or they can hang with those who embraced the mainframe lifestyle and now live on some secret government installation off the grid.

I work at V3 Systems which is in the business of providing Desktop Cloud Computing and buddy, business is a-booming. The wave of the cloud generation has their demands and we at V3 are up to the task of providing the first wave of desktop cloud infrastructure which enables desktop cloud computing. Simply, here at V3 we believe that in order for this to begin to work, we must guarantee that users will have the correct user experience, device flexibility, on-demand availability, with offline capabilities (if the user chooses).

The guarantees we now deliver will help usher in this wave of cloud computing and the generation of cloud users. Don’t believe me? Call us, and we’ll get you a test account so you can experience it for yourself.

Infrastructure Mashup

February 8, 2011 Leave a comment

Original post January 6, 2011  –

In a previous technology life I was fortunate enough to create really fun software targeted at the web. The fun part was creating logical units of work that could run independently of the container to which it was published. Other developers could then reuse the components within their applications internally to the company.  With advancements in web technology, the evolution of this technology and approach spawned into many of these building blocks created at first for internal consumption and then much later for public consumption.  The adoption and creation of the web mashup was born. Utilizing standard protocols made this a reality. As a developer I now had a ton of flexibility and tools to create applications built for utilization and consumption regardless of whether they were published internally or externally. The flexibility of the components alone was impressive; the only frustrating aspect was the lack of clear direction to what or how I should proceed. As with all technology adoption timing is everything. Today we have a number of applications that are completely made up of others services organized in a way that makes sense for a given business application.

Applying technology patterns and practices to other technology disciplines is very intriguing to me. Today I believe we are in a very exciting time in the industry where this pattern of a mashup can be re-applied.  Due impart to the cloud frenzy, it can now be applied to infrastructure.  This was evident to me when I saw multiple full page ads by vendors advertising cloud computing in the Wall Street Journal. Each ad with its own spin or interpretation on what the cloud is and why the consumer should care. The problem with all this advertising is that Cloud computing means something different to everyone. If I were an organization looking to put together a cloud initiative, I would be frustrated trying to figure out a direction.  The issue this situation presents is the wide array of implementation options, which can be a blessing and a curse. I call it the Cloud Infrastructure Mashup. I believe it’s not going to be a one size fits all approach, but one where each organization gets to choose the best services that meet their needs, and mash them up.

The Cloud offers many of the building blocks needed to build these infrastructure mashups.  Storage, applications, data platforms, network, communications, and hosted infrastructure can be delivered on-premise or in the cloud. Left out of the mix of offerings are desktops. Where are the desktops? More importantly, when are they going to be in the mix? Today the only way to offer desktops of this nature is to offer them via VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure).  Often times the mere mention of Virtual desktops is visited with adverse reactions. Many organizations have bought off on the promises of what VDI can provide, but testing reality proves to be dismal.   Desktops are one of the last great frontiers to tackle in this world of  cloud computing?

Microsoft and Google are trying to offer their OS in the cloud as well as many other vendors. Honestly I thought we were still a few years off from completely ditching the laptop or desktop for the cloud based operating systems–until now. I have used virtual desktops in the past and was along the line of thinking “VDI is generally pretty lame”. However, over the last month I have been made a believer of VDI, and this is the genesis of the mashup idea.

I am a solution architect for Fusion-io and the work I have been doing with one of my customers, V3 systems, is the catalyst for my change of heart. Their engineering staff helped me see the VDI light again with their solution.

V3 created an optimization layer for their purpose built VDI appliances that is coupled with  Fusion-io’s PCIe based solid state as local storage to offer the fastest, highest populated, and simplistic approaches to VDI I know of. All this happens regardless of the hypervisor.  I know how fast the Fusion-io storage is and I was blown away with what their optimization layer does with Fusion’s technology to provide unbelievable benefits for VDI.

So it came as no surprise that after some initial testing of 50 virtual desktops on one V3 appliance the cogs started to turn. My first thought was “I want a virtual desktop–in fact I want more than one.” The virtual desktops served up by the V3 appliance were night and day faster than my local box. Which happens to be an Intel i7 with 16gb of ram.  Hence the Infrastructure mashup concept was formed and a flood of old application mashup feelings came rush’n back…

Finally a viable approach to VDI that actually works and fulfilled the promises of what VDI should bring. Also a core building block for the cloud to give organizations functional VDI options, whether it is on the local LAN, WAN, hosted, or in someone else’s public/private cloud.

Organizations stand to gain the greatest benefit in this infrastructure mashup world. Internal IT organizations now have the ability to utilize compute power on-premise, public, or hosted. Or just like the application space a mixture of all clouds together at the same time to create a solution.  With so many options for the cloud, VDI solutions V3 has built will be the key in allowing organizations to dictate what the cloud means to them and how desktops can fill a giant void. The beauty here is that what the cloud means to one should mean something completely different to another. Organizations that approach it in this way like I said will be the true benefactors.  Delivering building block services in this case for VDI truly accelerate the viability of the cloud and how the cloud can be a strategic asset to any organization. I have full confidence in what V3 has accomplished will be game changing.  The last frontier for the cloud is here and companies can finally tackle how to solve the age old cliché of doing more with less.

This V3 Appliance is the first practical solutions to having computing power where you need it when you need it.  I look forward to having this type of compute power on a Google TV in my living room working faster than my local machine sitting on my desk.  From my perspective they got VDI right.  The beauty here is that V3 systems has the ability to grow this space, set the direction and provide a very feasible and adaptable approach to utilizing the cloud for desktops. Riding the wave of application mashups was really fun and I can only imagine that this wave will be exponentially greater in size and excitement.

Great work V3!  It will be exciting to see the direction and thought leadership you will provide to the VDI world.

Chris Featherstone is a Solution Architect for Fusion-io.  Fusion-io is a leading provider of data-centric computing solutions – a combination of hardware and software that places data closer to processing, resulting in dramatic improvements in both performance and efficiency.