Tag Archives | end-user computing

VMware Horizon Workspace on NetApp

horizon

If you have been following this blog anytime in the past 6 months or so, you have undoubtedly seen a fair number of posts around Project Octopus, Horizon Data, etc. in its various incarnations. I have also blogged extensively about Zimbra, upon which Horizon Workspace was partially based.

Well, the latest change to the name is Horizon Workspace. VMware (finally) officially announced details around the functionality and availability of the components of the Horizon Suite today, including Workspace.

Horizon Workspace, for those not familiar, is a solution aimed at the mobile workforce. A solution for helping enterprises deal with the influx of BYOD. This is an obvious break from the past, as we all know. It’s a way to combine access to Apps, Desktops and Data all from within a single “workspace”

netapp_logo

Being part of a company supplying data storage to SMB and enterprise companies alike, NetApp is obviously very interested in technologies that utilize large amounts of data, and or shift data around in the datacenter to make it more viable to the business. Freeing the data for use by everyone in the organization in a way that encourages collaboration and ease of use is a huge enabler to business efficiency.

NetApp is also very conscious of the shift toward new protocols for sharing data, as well the need to store data in a secure fashion to maintain compliance standards (evidenced by the Iongrid acquisition). We can see the potential impact to protocols like CIFS/SMB and we will continue to be on the forefront of innovations in this space.

As a follow-on to the Horizon Workspace annoucement, we will be talking about our integrations with the product at VMware Partner Exchange next week. We will talk about the storage efficiency capabilities that deduplication and compression make possible, how NetApp is offering a unique backup and recovery solution (using NetApp Snap Creator) for Horizon deployments, as well as the non-disruptive operations afforded when deploying Horizon Workspace on top of NetApp’s Clustered ONTAP platform.

Please join me for session EUC1388: Sharing Enterprise Files Safely and Efficiently along with Mac Binesh from VMware on Wed. 2/27 from 11-noon. You’ll hear what we are working on to position NetApp as the preferred storage vendor upon which to deploy Horizon Workspace and the broader Horizon Suite. You can also visit the booth for demos of our combined capabilities or look for me around the show… I’ll be happy to fill you in on the exciting solutions we have in store!

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File Sharing and Sync Platforms – Part II

As I was catching up on my weekly dose of TWiT, I was reminded to go back and revisit my series on file sharing and sync platforms from late last year. You see, TWiT had an ad for Citrix ShareFile and it served as a convenient reminder for a follow-up to my introduction on this topic.

End User Computing (EUC) is becoming an important topic for VMware. From View, to Mirage, to Horizon, and the announcement of the creation of the Horizon Suite place a huge emphasis on this line of products. The depth and breadth of these products is, of course, creating the need for all-inclusive and very detailed architectures around these solutions. It is when placing these solutions on top of NetApp storage that I get most excited.

In this post, I would like to share with you some unique capabilities and benefits that can be had by implementing the Horizon Data component on NetApp. This can serve as a teaser for what I’ll be presenting at my session at VMware PEX this year, as well.

#1 – Support more users in less storage space

This benefit is two-fold. Not only can you spend less on the actual physical disks required for implementation due to deduplication, compression, and a combination of Flash Cache and SATA, you will free up that CAPEX for the purchase of additional user licenses of Horizon Data allowing more of your users to enjoy the benefits of Horizon Data. More users equals greater productivity benefits.

Pretty cool! What storage vendor would say that? You guessed it… NetApp!

#2 – Provide data security immediately & efficiently

What good is sharing your files in an enterprise file sharing system unless they are as safe and secure as any files you would place on your company file server. With a combination of Horizon Data, and NetApp Snap Creator, you can create application-consistent backups of your Horizon user data with minimal administrative overhead, just like you would any application already supported by Snap Creator. Snap Creator leverages NetApp snapshot technology to provide quick point in time backups at both the VM and application level to protect you in case of failure. Because the backups are snapshot-based, they take up very little space and can be restored in a fraction of the time of traditional backups.

I will be sharing these and many more detailed and interesting tidbits in my session at PEX. Join me if you can, or stop by the booth and we can have a conversation around our efforts!

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VMware PEX – 2013 Edition

Well, it looks like the first conference of the new year for me will be VMware’s Partner Exchange in Las Vegas. I just got word yesterday evening that my breakout session was selected for this year’s edition of PEX. Earlier in 2012, I presented at the NetApp technical boot camp, so I am really happy to be participating again. That as my first official speaking engagement since joining NetApp.

The title of my session will be:

EUC1388: Sharing Enterprise Files Safely and Efficiently with Horizon Data and NetApp

In this session, I’ll be speaking about the joint value proposition of Horizon Data from VMware and NetApp.

Here is my session abstract:

“While there are many vendor choices for storage for your Horizon Data environment, when deployed on NetApp, enterprise file sharing can be both efficient and secure. In this session the audience will have an understanding of the collaborative work between NetApp and VMware around implementation, data protection, efficiency and scalability capabilities. The audience will come away with the knowledge that Horizon Data is the preferred enterprise file sharing solution in the industry, with NetApp as the preferred storage vendor.”

More to come as we get closer to the event! (PEX runs from February 23rd to 28th, 2013)

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VMware Zimbra vs. Microsoft Exchange

zimbra

Introduction

In this post I would like to propose the idea that VMware Zimbra Collaboration Server can serve as a drop-in replacement for Microsoft Exchange in Enterprise environments of all sizes. I would also propose that Zimbra is better suited for multi-tenant ISP deployments than Exchange. Let’s discuss the pros and cons of Zimbra and give you the background to consider Zimbra for your next e-mail deployment or customer engagement.

Background

Technically, VMware Zimbra is part of VMware’s End-user Computing catalog, but I would also consider it as a good example of a Tier-1 application, once deployed. E-mail is becoming so critical to the operations of any size business that it needs to be designed, implemented and maintained with the same level of care as any other Tier-1 app.

Benefits Overview

That said, the ease with which backup and restore can be performed in Zimbra far outweighs the capabilities of Exchange. A good backup/restore strategy is one of the cornerstones of any Tier-1 app deployment worth its salt. Add to that the fact that Zimbra has orders of magnitude better scaling capabilities than Exchange, all at about 50% of the price, on average.

Storage Benefits

Combine Zimbra with NetApp storage platforms and technologies and you will see even more efficiences around the storage required for backup, attachments, etc. (using NetApp’s deduplication technology) in addition to ease of management. Snapshot technologies allow quick backups of e-mail and attachment data resulting in quick restoration when you run into issues. Cloning technologies (FlexClone) will allow you to reduce time required for upgrades by allowing staff to test upgrades with a live copy of recent production data. Replication technologies (SnapMirror) will allow you to move data backups to remote locations for disaster recovery or remote backup facilities for compliance purposes.

General Comparisons

Here are some other comparisons that can be drawn between the 2 platforms:

Key Features Exchange 2010 ZCS 7.x

Platform Architecture

Core architecture “Extensible Storage Engine (ESE)” is over 20 years old and is a non-modular .edb file which doesn’t separate message and metadata, so is not conducive to tuning. Database availability group (DAG) uses components with a DNA based on Windows failover clustering, but has yet to be proven for large deployments.

Modular architecture offers Web 2.0 features and cloud scalability. Message and metadata are separated to allow granular tuning and optimization flexibility.

Platform Reliability & Robustness

Microsoft is considering moving the storage engine to SQL Server.
Microsoft has yet to prove the robustness of the new architecture.
ZCS leverages a Linux-based operating environment for greater levels of robustness using proven open source components.
Uptime measured in years instead of weeks.

Platform Scalability

Exchange doesn’t support the use of tiered storage, so adding more users is more costly than in Zimbra.

ZCS supports storage tiers and can scale to millions of users at lower cost.

High Availability

DAG only provides mailbox protection, not protection for the Exchange infrastructure.
DAG has a learning curve and only applies to Exchange.

ZCS in conjunction with SRM is a proven, scalable and effective high availability solution.
Companies can leverage their existing HA/DR solution with ZCS.

Platform Extensibility

Recommendation is to use Microsoft’s proprietary shell. SOAP API has limited server access. Outlook add-ins require significant developer effort and are difficult to support.

SOAP API allows server access. Uses the web services framework for client access and Zimlets for integration with 3rd-party services.

Platform Openess

Microsoft is a closed ecosystem. Developers cannot change or extend platform or APIs.

Based on open source code and extensible using open source programming languages.

Support of Open Standard Protocols

Limited support for the SOAP protocol. No support for REST, CalDAV, CardDAV and ICS.

Support of open standard protocols such as SOAP, REST, CalDAV, CardDAV and ICS.

Rebranding

Outlook Web Access has only a single theme in Exchange 2010, so users cannot switch between themes.

Complete re-branding of the client is possible. Ajax web client has feature parity with the desktop client.

Web-client End-user Access

Limited browser support for OWA.

Rich Ajax/HTML web client is supported on a broad range of browsers and platforms.

Mac Desktop

Parity with Outlook.

Zimbra’s desktop client is supported with Mac OS X and has feature parity with the web client.

Linux Desktop & Server

No Outlook client for Linux. No Exchange server for Linux.

Zimbra desktop functions on Linux and has complete feature parity. ZCS server components love the Linux platform.

Mobile Support

Fully supports push using Microsoft’s ActiveSync technology.

Supports ActiveSync push for calendaring and e-mail.

vSamurai’s Take

Zimbra has been a passion of mine since I started using it back in 2006-2007. My previous company had evaluated implementing Exchange, Zimbra and a couple of other solutions. Due to our IT management and staff being huge proponents of Open Source, we decided on the Zimbra solution. I am very glad that we did. To be honest, despite the fact that we had users who were used to the Outlook client, we didn’t have much pushback when we moved to Zimbra as it has full feature parity with Exchange. I expect that your results may be the similar if Zimbra is given a serious look for new e-mail implementations or during hardware/software upgrade cycles in pre-existing implementations of Exchange.

Expect to hear more soon about the ins and outs of deploying Zimbra in your or your customer’s environment. SaaS is here and this is just one part of VMware’s End-user computing strategy, so look for more in the future from them as well.

Update:

Thanks go out to Jim Millard who had a good point on Twitter, which is that I forgot to compare ActiveSync capabilities between Exchange and Zimbra. Well, the good news is that Zimbra Network Edition fully supports ActiveSync capabilities for push of e-mail and calendar appointments.
I use it everyday, in fact, between a Zimbra e-mail account I have set-up in 01.com’s zMailCloud and my iPhone 4. You configure it just as you would an Exchange account on the iPhone (see here). I receive meeting requests that can easily be added to my calendar with automatic reminders as well. You can also deploy Zimbra to work with Blackberry Enterprise Server.

To be sure, these features are only available with the paid Network Edition of Zimbra, however, they are still much less costly than Exchange. Based on my experience, I believe the mobile functionality to at least match that of Exchange, however, I recommend that you look at doing a PoC and ultimately make that decision on your own as your results (as with everything) may vary.

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