Category Archives: HP

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, Client Consolidation, and Blade PC’s… Oh My!

I’ve begun researching VDI because I believe that the PC is no longer necessary in medium to large environments that can operate with less than workstation class performance.  The potential advantages of replacing PC’s with Thin Clients that connect to full fledged XP installations are compelling.  I’ve been researching all of this for a couple weeks now, and I have to say that VDI, CCON, CCI, is in a pre-1.0 state.  I’ll explain it all below.

There are three terms going around to describe Client Consolidation technology.  They are:

  • VDI: Virtual Desktop Infrastructure
  • CCON: Client Consolidation
  • CCI: Consolidated Client Infrastructure

They all essentially mean the same thing.  My definition of CCON is centralizing desktop/PC systems by hosting them in the data center.  All computing functions other than KVM are hosted and managed in a computer room away from the user.  The user uses a client device or application to access the centralized computer.  There are multiple terms battling to be the methodological name for this technology.  VDI was the first term that I saw used.  VDI is the trendy name in my view, and has been co-opted by VMware and turned into a product.  CCON is the name used by an IBM employee named Massimo Re Ferre’ who is a heavy contributor to VDI technology research.  Client Consolidation happens to be the name of IBM’s implementation of VDI (what a coincidence).  CCI is a product name used by HP after they abandoned the use of VDI.  Another name that’s out there is “Centralized Computing.”  Centralized Computing is the term used to define the days of mainframes and dumb terminals. 

My preference for the academic name of this technology is Client Consolidation (CCON).  I believe that CCON is the most descriptive, most open name of all.  CCON is general enough to encompass all of diverse technologies in this area.

There’s a lot of overlapping information and noise out there.  I want to explain the bottom line as I see it.

The technology “models” (Re Ferre’, 2007) for CCON are:

  • Shared Services (Citrix)
  • Virtual Machines (VMware, Xen, others)
  • Blade PC’s/Blade Workstations (HP, ClearCube)

You will ultimately have to select one (or more) of those methedologies for a production rollout.

Client consolidation is all about the use of RDP to connect to Windows systems.  RDP is what it’s all about (some solutions prefer/support ICA).   If you know how to use Remote Desktop, you’re most of the way to understanding what CCON is all about.   Everything after this is about services and features built around the use of RDP accessed Windows systems (VM’s, Blade PC’s).

The components of CCON are:

  • Client Access Devices (thin clients, repurpossed PC’s)
  • Connection Broker (software)
  • Host Systems (VM’s, Blade PC’s)

 VDI-CCON

Client Access Devices are straight forward.  You need a device that can understand how to connect to remote systems using RDP.  The client device can be a full blown XP/Vista PC, or a thin client running the proper client software.  You’re going to hear a lot about Windows XPe in this space.  XPe is a stripped down version of Windows XP often used for development and loaded onto many thin clients. 

Host systems are also straight forward.  You can run your XP/Vista/Other hosts as VM’s or on Blade PC’s.

Connection Brokers is where all the fun is.  Connection Brokers handle the setup, and advanced features of CCON.  Brokers decide (based on policy) which VM/Blade should be assigned, the features that are available to the user, and in some cases the robustness of the service.  I think of Brokers as travel agents.  A client shows up to the broker with a request.  The Broker knows how to handle the request based on requirements and makes all of the arrangements including the connection.  The broker is usually finished at that point, though the broker is an intermediary in some solutions.

That’s basically what CCON is all about.

CCON is barely at a 1.0 level.  There’s very little information out there (other than Citrix) and all of the solutions are patch up jobs.  There’s no long standing, widely accepted solution.  Most of the solutions that I have found have been assembled piecemeal.  The absolute best information that I have found comes from Massimo at http://it20.info/misc/brokers.htm.  He’s created a table with extensive descriptions of all the features he’s been able to confirm for brokers and clients.  It’s not a complete list of brokers and features, so do your own research and testing (HP SAM, IBM TMP missing).  Regardless, it is a must read if you are going down the CCON road.

Two other items of interest are VMware’s VDI forum and HP’s CCI forum.  Notice that there is very little activity at those forums.  That’s because most people still aren’t working on this.  Also, VMware’s product is in Beta.  That’s right…VMware’s broker is vaporware, yet they’re calling it VDM 2.0.  Now that’s good marketing.

That’s it for now.  Please let me know if you have any questions or if you have something to add.  There is so much information out there that I’m positive there is more to come.

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If you’re looking for a Blackberry alternative, look here:

Tom Yager of InfoWorld did an exhaustive review of the Blackberry 8300 and 8800, as well as several alternatives.  This is a great resource for anyone considering an alternative to Blackberry.

Ever wonder if that laser printer nearby is poisoning you?

I came across this report recently and found it interesting since I use many of these products.  The International Laboratory for Air Quality and Health, Queensland University of Technology did a study to determine how much particle emission and other matter is emited by laser printers.  Most printers did well, but some printers commonly used in business environments could be making you sick.  Click here to get the article and study.

“Summary of Results for Printer Emission Investigations, Based on the Ratio of Submicrometer Particle Number Concentration Peak Value Emitted by the Printer to the Background Value (measured by P-Trak)”

non-emitter (ratio 1) low level emitter (ratio < 1.1-5) middle level emitter (ratio < 5.1-10) high level emitter (ratio > 10)
HP Color LaserJet 4550DN (1) Canon IRC6800 (1) HP LaserJet 1020 (1) HP Color LaserJet 4650dn (1)
HP Color LaserJet 8500DN (1) HP LaserJet 5M (3) HP LaserJet 4200dtn (1) HP Color LaserJet 5550dtn (1)
HP LaserJet 2200DN (1) HP LaserJet HP Color LaserJet 8550N
HP LaserJet 2300dtn (1) 9000dn (1) (1)
HP LaserJet 4 plus (1) RICOH HP LaserJet 1320N (1)
HP LaserJet 4000N (1) CL3000DN (1) HP LaserJet 1320n (1)
HP LaserJet 4000TN (1) HP LaserJet 2420dn (1)
HP LaserJet 4050N (2) HP LaserJet 4200dtna (1)
HP LaserJet 4050TN (6) HP LaserJet 4250n (old)
HP LaserJet 4si (1) (1)
HP LaserJet 5(b) (1) HP LaserJet 4250n (new)
HP LaserJet 5000n (1) (1)
HP LaserJet 5100tn (2) HP LaserJet 5(a) (1)
HP LaserJet 5N (2) HP LaserJet 8000DNa (1)
HP LaserJet 5si (1) HP LaserJet 8150N (1)
HP LaserJet 5si/NX (1) TOSHIBA Studio 450 (1)
HP LaserJet 8000DN (2)
HP LaserJet 8150DN (3)
Mita DC 4060 (photo copy) (1)
RICOH Aficio 2022 (1)
RICOH Aficio 3045 (1)
RICOH Aficio 3245C (3)
RICOH Aficio CC3000DN (1)
TOSHIBA Studio 350 (1)

You need a couple special BIOS settings for Proliant servers running ESX 3.

I was upgrading one of our ESX servers (HP dl580 G2) last week and ran into a little problem. I would get Kernel Panic errors everytime the machine booted after install. The exact error was: Mod: 4670: vmkernel not loaded: cannot PSOD.

I did some searching and found this: Required MPS Table BIOS Settings for ESX Server on ProLiant.

I made the recommended changes and my server worked perfectly. I also checked one of my new servers (HP dl585 G2) and found that it is pre-set to Full Table APIC with no OS selection option.

Funny thing is that the dl580 had an ESX problem for about a year that was probably related. That machine had ESX 2.5.2 installed. ESX only detected 1 processor and no hyperthreading. I played around with it, but never fixed it because it was mainly used as a test server. Thankfully it’s all working now.

When you think you’ve seen it all in IT, you haven’t.

I’ve seen anything and everything in my years working in IT.  I’ve seen things I’ve been told I wouldn’t or couldn’t see such as Token Ring, Novell, and Twinax.  I’ve seen Cisco back-plane failures, UPS failures, and computer voodoo.  And what I saw today is high on the list.

I just ordered a couple of HP dl585 servers.  One was a pre-built system and the other was a config-to-order.  The pre-built system showed up a couple weeks ago.  The box was so banged up that it looked like the server fell out of the truck.  The box looked like moldy swish cheese.  Unfortunately we accepted delivery and were somewhat stuck with it.  We powered it up and it worked perfectly.

Today I received the CTO server.  The box was in good condition.  There was no sign of trouble.  We rack the server and try to boot.  The server refuses to boot, and gives us blinking yellow lights.  We track down the error to Processor 1.  We remove the heat sink and processor, and what do we find?  Bent pins in the processor socket.  The irony of it all was suffocating.

I ordered the replacement parts and should be getting them tomorrow.  This is why I love IT.  IT is like those Choose Your Own Adventure books from when i was a kid.