In the last three years I work a lot with customers who are evaluating and deploying VDI. 2010 will be the year that VDI really hits off and a lot of customers already recognized that it is a very good way to deploy your desktops, manage them and save a lot of money in these hard times. A few weeks ago I wrote an article about it. 2010. The Year VDI Really Starts
So what is VDI?
VDI is a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure that runs in the datacenter and end users get a connection (broker) to that image. By leaving the image, the applications and the data into the datacenter VDI is very secure and almost always available at request independent from the end point and users location. VDI can be available anywhere, anytime, any place.
In a brand new series of articles I am going to provide you an easy way to get started with VDI and to see if VDI is something for you.
These articles will cover the Hypervisor, the installation of Windows, customisation, deployment, but also applications, virtual or not, userprofiles and users data.
In the past I wrote over one hundred articles and several of them are still accurate so I will reference to them when they add value.
Following this series of articles will enable you to start with VDI and help you to understand the choices in VDI. Making the wrong choice in an early stage will destroy your setup in the future bringing you a lot of work and a lot of pain.
In this first article I am going to explain you the Hypervisor on the server.
What is a Hypervisor?
The Hypervisor is installed on the server and is a link between your physical hardware and the virtual hardware. One of the problems we see in desktop deployment is that every series of computers contains it's own hardware. Deploying an image created on a Dell optiplex will not work on an HP desktop. The reason is that when we install Windows, the system is updated and adjusted for the hardware it is created on. Managing that computer and deploy it on totally different hardware will disable you from running the system. Probably you get a blue screen stating that the wrong disk driver is loaded or that there is no network interface available.
You can avoid that by installing a intelligent deployment system like Altiris Deployment Solution. But plain Deployment Solution will not be able to cover this. You have to help the system to do this. A cool tool for doing this is HII. Hardware Independent Imaging.
How to install and configure HII can be found here: Deployment Console, Part 5: Install HII Tools and Configure Them for a Multi Site Environment
To make it easy I created an ultimate HII file that can be found here: Deployment Console, Part 9: The Ultimate DS 6.9 HII .bin
In the VDI space the Hypervisor is actually helping us. When we install the hypervisor on five total different machines, the VDI images on top of the Hypervisor can be transferred to each machine because the Hypervisor is a kind of a filter or layer between the VD image and the actual hardware available.
So our first step should be starting to install or run the Hypervisor on the computer you are going to start with for your first VDI deployment.
In this case I am using VMware as hypervisor. Over 80% of the hypervisor currently deployed outside is VMware, so the chance to see VMware is much greater then seeing other Hypervisor like Xensource, Xenserver, Red hat KVM or Microsoft Hyper-V.
The Hypervisor can be deployed by using Altiris Deployment Solution, installed manually or you can even create a bootable usb stick to do this.
For doing manual installation you can check the VMware forums. There are over 100 articles explaining this.
Using Altiris to do fully automated installation can be found here: Scripted ESX4 Install from Deployment Server 6.9
But to make it easy you can also build an USB stick to boot from. I created an article for a how to that can be found here:Create Your Own ESXi 4 Bootable USB Stick
After you made your decision how to deploy the Hypervisor, you have to choose between wich hypervisor to start with.
Vmware has two Hypervisor that can do the job: VMware ESX and VMware ESXi.
ESX adds cool functionality like Vmotion that brings the VDI images to another host when the hardware starts failing. Is great for High availability and offers full cloning solution. But it is expensive.
ESXi is free and easy to start with. But there is no failover and you have to work through the cloning process because that is no standard procedure.
To get over several of the hurdles in ESXi you can use VirtualStorm. www.dinamiqs.com There will be a free 30 day trial version available to start with, so ESXi is actually a good choice for now.
In the next articles I will explain how to build your Windows 7 master image, explain what a master image actually is and what choices you may make to start with. Then I explain the value of Symantec Workspace virtualization and start with importing applications to SWV.
After we have our master image completely built and developed, I will explain how to build a customization file so that you can deploy this hundreds of times without having the need to add every VDI image to the domain and customize them. This is a fully automated task.
Any comments, additions and remarks are welcome, so feel free to send me those.