Horizon View & vGPU – Part 1 – Intro

Well some time has certainly passed since writing about vSGA & vDGA! I think everyone knew that the technology would finally come where we could dynamically allocate graphics hardware to our virtual machines, beyond direct mapping. VMware and NVIDIA announced vGPU several months ago, to be honest Citrix has had this technology for a few years (thanks exclusivity contracts), and it has been making some major waves in the AEC and OGE industries. Since my day job focuses mostly on VMware and their product offering, I felt it was appropriate to write a few articles about vGPU and how it is configured with VDI.

vSGA and vDGA

Let’s run through a quick overview on Shared Graphics and Direct Graphics allocation, as it will help to understand how vGPU is so groundbreaking of a graphics technology for virtualization.

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vSGA gives you the ability to provision multiple VM’s (Linked-Clones or Full VM’s) to single or multiple GPU’s. Graphics cards are presented to the VM as a software video driver and the graphics processes are handled by an ESXi driver (VIB). Graphics resources are reserved on a first come first serve basis so sizing and capacity is important to consider.

horizon view vdga

vDGA differs from vSGA in that the Physical GPU is assigned to the VM using DirectPath I/O so the full GPU is assigned to a specific machine. vSGA allows multiple VM’s to provision resources from the GPU, with vDGA you install the full NVIDIA GPU Driver Package to the VM and the Graphics Card shows up as hardware in Device Manager. In Horizon View 5.3.X and 6.X it is now out of Technical Preview and fully supported. vDGA has increased its support for Graphics Boards including the GRID K1, K2 & newly announced GRID 2.0 graphics boards.

What is vGPU?

With vSGA we had shared allocation from a single/multiple graphics board for multiple virtual machines and vDGA was direct mapping of a physical graphics board, now let’s talk about vGPU. vGPU is a technology that has multiple layers, a ESXi VIB Driver that acts a GPU Manager for ESXi, Certified NVIDIA vGPU Profiles for virtual machines, and NVIDIA GRID Software Driver packages for the Windows Operating System inside the virtual machine. Each layer serves a specific function that will create a valid and certified driver experience for several Windows applications like AutoCAD, Revit, SolidWorks, and other 3D rendering applications. So let’s dive into the technology that gives us the rich experience for VDI.

virtual-gpu-technology

As opposed to direct allocation in vDGA, vGPU allows each desktop to be assigned a specific amount of Graphics RAM based on a certified vGPU profile, those profiles can be of various sizes based on common use cases. The benefit of this profile based graphics allocation is that there is no translation of graphics like in vSGA, the GPU are sent directly to the graphics board using the NVIDIA vGPU manager inside the hypervisor. It is similar to the technology that is used with physical network adapters, but obviously carving up graphics RAM is different than carving up IP traffic. The amount of RAM ranges from 512MB – 4GB depending on the graphics board(s) installed in your servers. I have listed the profiles for GRID 1.0 below, I will talk about GRID 2.0 profiles later on (yup it is different).

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As you can see there is a ton of potential profiles that you can assign to users, you need to take careful consideration into these profiles as the max number of users per board will add up. I have worked with several customers establishing baselines from existing physical workstations to determine the proper vGPU profile to use.

NVIDIA vGPU with GRID 2.0

NVIDIA announced at VMworld 2015 the release of their new line of GRID graphics boards (PCIe and MXM) called…..you guessed it GRID 2.0. With GRID 1.0 we had 2 board options K1 & K2 for PCIe but GRID 2.0 has 2 graphics board, the Tesla M60 for PCIe lanes and Tesla M6 for MXM blade servers (vendor specific). The Tesla M60 on paper compares more to the K2 card with the density of the K1. The new Tesla M60 has the ability to server up to 32 vGPU users on a single card but there is a catch to all that awesomeness…..licensing.

Wait what? NVIDIA is in the licensing business, unfortunately yes they are. The old GRID 1.0 model of choosing the various vGPU profiles depending on the card you have purchased is long gone. With GRID 2.0 you license based on the use case that you want to deliver. I have a picture of the 3 use case options with the associated vGPU profiles they offer below.

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So let’s talk about licensing now, NVIDIA will allocate certain vGPU profiles based on licensing one of three NVIDIA GRID experiences: Virtual PC, Virtual Workstation and Virtual Workstation Extended. Each experience can be licensed with a specific number of  users connected to various profiles at that level. With GRID 1.0 you had three aspects to implementing vGPU: the NVIDIA VIB driver, assign a vGPU Profile to a virtual machine, and installing the NVIDIA vGPU OS Driver package. Now with GRID 2.0 there are two more items to that list, the Licensing Manager and GPU Mode Change Utility. The licensing manager can be installed using Windows or Linux instance, this is where you will apply your purchased license file from NVIDIA’s choice of distributors. The GPU Mode Change Utility is used to change the mode of the Tesla M60/M6 from compute mode to graphics mode as the boards ship with graphics mode being restricted, this will allow you to provision vGPU profiles to virtual machines. Keep in mind that licensing the Linux OS is only available on the two higher experiences. I will go through setting up GRID 2.0 profiles in Part 3 of this vGPU blog series as there are some tweaks that have to happen to activate the licensing to get a vGPU profile.

Next up is Part 2 of the vGPU Series – GRID Installation & Configuration.

VCP6-DT Exam Review

It has been quite some time since my last post, ironically my last post being about the announcement of the VCP6-DT exam, well I am back to post my opinion about the exam and the steps that I took to study.

Please note: I am not disclosing any information about questions or answers about the exam, all of the information that I will be describing can be found as part of the Exam Blueprint for this exam.

For the past several months I have been conducting a lot of upgrades to Horizon View 6.X for customers, but what I don’t get a lot of time playing with is the Suite based features that Horizon View now includes like Mirage, Workspace and vCenter Operations Manager for View (now called vRealize for View). Workspace specifically has come a long way from its 1.0 iteration to being a simple deployment model that can be spun up in less than 2 hrs. (Believe me, I’ve done it several times now!) All this being said I narrowed my focus on studying for this exam with some of the areas that I don’t play with a lot on a daily basis.

By default, I followed the Exam Blueprint to a “T” because anything that could be considered a question will be covered in this document. I recommend anyone that has a home lab or access to some additional equipment to build up a full instance of vCenter, Horizon View Desktop, Mirage, Workspace and vRealize for View. There are reviewers guides and documentation that will enable you to simulate production scenarios in your lab, I’ve included some below:

The official exam is the VCPD610, VMware Certified Professional – Desktop. The exam consists of 120 questions with a time limit of 120 minutes, with a pre-exam survey of 10 questions that doesn’t count towards your exam time. The typical License Agreements and Legal blah blah is there as well. Scoring for the exam is weighted on a mathematical formula and you can range from receiving a 100-500 on the exam with a passing score of 300.

I felt that the amount of information that could be tested for this exam was pretty large so I felt the 120 question format was appropriate. I thought that flow of the exam and quality of questions was on par for a VCP level exam. I was quite please with the amount of studying and preparation that I did for this exam. I passed the exam and can now add VMware Certified Professional Desktop to my resume.

VCP6-DT Exam is released!

On December 4th, VMware announced the new VMware Certified Professional – Horizon View 6 Desktop Exam.

VCP-DT

This is very similar to the VCP5-DT exam but with some additional content surrounding the entire Horizon View suite like Mirage and Workspace.

  • creating and administering virtual desktops
  • configuring and administering View, Mirage and the Workspace Portal
  • configuring host networking and storage
  • working with DRS, HA, and other cluster-related vSphere features

Having already passed the VCP5-DT, I am really excited to get to studying the VCP6-DT Exam Blueprint (which you can find here). Below you will find the various paths that are required to be eligible for the exam.

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VMware Learning Zone announced!

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One of the perks of being awarded vExpert 2014 status was the opportunity to beta test some new initiatives from VMware, one of those being the Learning Zone. This is a great tool to watch some quick tip videos ranging from 3-90 minutes videos on the various verticals that VMware has like Datacenter Virtualization, Software Defined Storage and End User Computing.

This learning platform has so much potential from user submitted videos to VMware specific departments showcasing upgrade scenarios, How To’s, performance tweaking and guides for advanced configurations way beyond the Next Next Finish that so many websites have….like mine!

Really excited to be a part of the feedback portion of this platform and look forward to submitting some videos myself!

vExpert 2015 Applications are open!

vExpert

I can’t believe it has already been a year, but I started blogging about 14 months ago and have had an awesome experience with the whole community driven knowledge transfer. Sometimes I don’t get much time to blog but sometimes I do, I’ve always tried to create articles for myself and others that aren’t just filler but for people that run into common, sometimes overlooked, issues.

Corey announced a few days ago that applications are now open for vExpert 2015. You will find the links below if you are a new applicant or a returning vExpert as the fast track process has been improved. As always there are 3 tracks to apply for: Evangelist, Customer and VMware Partner. Some information from this post has been used from Corey’s post on VMTN.

Evangelist Path

The Evangelist Path includes book authors, bloggers, tool builders, public speakers, VMTN contributors, and other IT professionals who share their knowledge and passion with others with the leverage of a personal public platform to reach many people. Employees of VMware can also apply via the Evangelist path. A VMware employee reference is recommended if your activities weren’t all in public or were in a language other than English.

Customer Path

The Customer Path is for leaders from VMware customer organizations. They have been internal champions in their organizations, or worked with VMware to build success stories, act as customer references, given public interviews, spoken at conferences, or were VMUG leaders. A VMware employee reference is recommended if your activities weren’t all in public.

VPN (VMware Partner Network) Path

The VPN Path is for employees of our partner companies who lead with passion and by example, who are committed to continuous learning through accreditations and certifications and to making their technical knowledge and expertise available to many. This can take shape of event participation, video, IP generation, as well as public speaking engagements. A VMware employee reference is required for VPN Path candidates.

Links!!!

2014 vExperts: Fast Track application: http://bit.ly/1ikZ8hi
New vExperts: 2015 vExpert application: http://bit.ly/LMJqB5

DFW VMUG User Conference 2014

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It seems like I was just in San Francisco at VMworld 2014 (I was!) but we are already into what feels like fall in Dallas and the DFW VMUG User Conference has arrived. This years conference was held at the Irving Convention Center and was well attended, over 500 attendees came out for the event. I am proud to be a part of this great VMUG community and had support from Houston and Austin VMUG members as well.

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Our local VMUG President, Brad Christian @vHipster, kicked things off with an introduction and moved right into a VMword update from one of VMware’s local reps. We also gave away a VMware lab!

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Scott Lowe @scott_lowe, who is well known in the VMware blogging community, also VCDX #38, delivered an excellent keynote to start the day off discussing what it will take to evolve your skill set in the next generation of IT, automation and aligning IT with your business.

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I was only able to attend a few sessions, but one of the sessions that I got added to the day was a deep dive of the vSphere Hardening Guide guru Mike Foley @mikefoley. He discussed the actual chances of VM escape vs. physical and logical security steps that most overlook.

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During lunch, Damian Karlson @sixfootdad, Cody Bunch @cody_bunch and Tommy Trugden @vTexan gave a vBrownbag branded presentation on the VMware community and how you can be a part of the great community that they have helped bolster. Of course they gave out vBacon shirts….because everything is better with Bacon!

Cody Bunch was at the Rackspace booth doing a book signing for his Open Stack Cookbook!

codybunchbooksigning

The remainder of the day was spent catching up with my fellow VMUG’ers and meeting new people. It’s amazing how many people had their first VMUG experience at this conference.

Some lucky person got that awesome Lab Giveaway,  very jealous….

Like last year, we will have the full list of all the presentations and slide decks on the VMUG Workspace site.

DFW VMUG User Conference is almost here!

DFW VMUG Logo

The year has certainly flown by because we are coming up on the DFW VMware User Group’s Annual User Conference. It is being held at the Irving Convention Center on September 16 from 8-5. Register here and to see a detailed agenda.

We have some great keynote speakers lined up including: Scott Lowe (@scott_lowe), Tommy Trogden (@vTexan) and Damian Karlson (@sixfootdad). There will be a complete download of what was announced at VMworld, VMworld sessions discussing vCAC, NSX, VSAN, Horizon Suite and more! We even have the vBrownBag crew that will be doing a live Q&A during lunch and a vExpert Panel.

Not only will we have some great speakers and session but an entire room filled with vendors like: VMware, Symantec, Veeam, EMC, PernixData, PureStorage, Nutanix, Nimble, Arista, Cisco and many more!

Oh did I mention the swag giveaways….that’s right, Raspberry Pi with vTools, shirts, giveaways, gift cards and more.

Be sure and register, hope to see you there!

A New Chapter in My Career…

careerchange

Today is a new chapter in my career. Yesterday was my last day as Technology Manager for Rogers-O’Brien Construction, over the past 3 years I learned a ton of information about IT, virtualization, management and even some cool construction techniques. It was at RO where I found my passion for virtualization and got the support both inside and outside the company through associations like the AGC IT Group and the DFW VMUG.

I am excited to say that I am going to work for an up and coming converged virtualization hardware platform and services company called HVE Connexions as a Sr. Virtualization Engineer. As many have told me already, I am moving to the dark side! Once I get back from VMworld – San Francisco I will be dedicating more time to my blog, it’s been hard finding time to write articles these past few months, and contributing more articles about VDI, virtualization as a whole and even some new stuff that you might hear about in a few weeks…..I wonder what it could be!

Stay tuned for more!

VMworld 2014 is almost here!

VMworld2014Yes it is that time of year again, the mothership opens its doors and all the vNerds go out to San Francisco and attend sessions, technical panels, demos and meet with vendors. VMworld 2014 – US will be held in San Francisco on August 24-28, click here for link. VMworld 2014 – Europe will be held in Barcelona on October 14-16, click here for link.

With the recent announcement of Horizon 6 and the expected announcement of new versions of vSphere and vCenter, this should be a very exciting VMworld.

If you haven’t already registered, get to it! Be sure to scan Twitter daily for vendor calls for free dinners, parties and other fun things to do while you’re there.

If you have registered, make sure you sign up for sessions and HOL (Hand’s On Labs) before they run out, you can find the schedule builder here.

As for me, I will be limiting myself to 3 sessions a day, I learned what to do and not to do from last year, and will spend plenty of time with current and potential vendors. I am also excited to be attending the vExpert/VCDX party on Tuesday, it should give me an opportunity to see some old faces and meet some new ones that I have been jabbering with on Twitter this year. Here is a breakdown of the sessions I plan on attending, be sure and check out all the great sessions that are lined up for what looks to be a very informative conference.

Sunday

VCAP-DCA Exam

Monday

EUC-1221: VMware Mirage Best Practices & What’s New

SDDC-1176: Ask the Expert Bloggers

Tuesday

NET-1589: Reference Design for SDDC with NSX & vSphere

EUC-1476: What’s New with View and PCoIP in Horizon 6

STO-2754-SPO: New Kids on the Storage Block, File and Share: Lessons in Storage and Virtualization

vExpert/VCDX Reception

Wednesday

INF-1192: Ask the Experts: Design Advice for Small and Midsize Business

NET-2745: vSphere Distributed Switch – Technical Deep Dive

INF-2311: vCenter Server Architecture and Deployment Deep Dive

EUC-2028: VMware Horizon & NVIDIA deliver Flexible, High Performance 3D Desktops

VMworld Party

Thursday

EUC-2035: Horizon 6 Technical Overview

EUC-1323: View Troubleshooting – Looking Under the Hood

Then go home😦

It may sound strange based on the sessions I’ve signed up for, but many of the people that I work with around the globe on issues, I met at VMworld last year. Some of theses sessions are to help brush up on new technologies or items that I am considering proposing to our company. It should make for a great session list, and I couldn’t be happier that my fellow DFW VMUG member Rick Boyett is presenting a case study on VDI. Good Luck Rick! Wayne, Brad, John, Matt and I will be up front heckling and trying to make you nervous.

There will be plenty of new information surrounding VMworld on Twitter, if you don’t have a handle, get one, follow me and get informed.

See you there!

My date with the VCAP-DCA at VMworld…

After taking a small hiatus from blogging for a bit to deal with some awesome challenges at my day job, I have finally decided it is time for me to start studying for my VCAP-DCA exam. This post will not be about the materials that you can easily Google, or visit my VCAP Study Guide page, instead I will simply say that I have less than 90 days to get ready for my exam, which I scheduled while I’m out in San Francisco for VMworld 2014.

Over the course of the next 90 days, I will start digesting the Exam Blueprint and do some simple/complex walk-throughs of various topics that may or may not be on the exam.

To start with I will use these awesome materials listed below along with the latest version of the Pearson Vue VCAP-DCA study guide. My buddy, Wayne Conrad just picked this book up as he is studying for it as well.

VCAP5-DCA Information

Certification Path

VCAP5-DCA_20130623sm

Exam Blueprint

Autolab

Unofficial Exam Study Guide

vBrownBag Exam Study Guide – Nick Marshall

Mastering vSphere 5

Storage Implementation in vSphere 5

Studying isn’t fun unless you do it with some buddies, so we have been doing a small Google Hangout 2-4/month covering various topics as well, if you are interested check out the DFW VMUG Google+ Community Page for more details.

Check back soon for my first round of articles highlighting the exam blueprint and the books, labs, etc needed to get to studying for this beast of an exam!