Not long ago, we did a demo of VMware’s VDI product at HTC. To be honest, we were underwhelmed at the time. Fast forward to December and VMware remedied that problem with the release of VMware View. We are just in the beginnings of the trial for the View 3.0 product and we haven’t gotten our first virtual desktop running under it, but already our expectations are set pretty high.
Yesterday, we had a conference call with our VMware partner and some of VMware’s technical and sales resources. We talked specifically about the packages available with the View product line and what the two basic packages buy us. First, VMware is offering an Enterprise and a Premier bundles of the VMware View software. Enterprise is basically the upgraded version of VDI. Premier on the other hand includes the features we were looking forward to utilizing – namely thin provisioning, View Composer and maybe even VMware ThinApp.
Going into the virtual desktop foray, we knew that storage was likely our biggest hurdle. We knew that the SAN storage is much more expensive than the SATA drives we currently bundle in desktops, so our gigabytes will become a premium in the virtual world. The thin provisioning/linked clones technology is huge as we drive further down this road. I think that this technology has the potential of cutting our storage utilization by 1/10th of the estimated need we projected in November.
All that said, we were concerned about the price point from VMware for the product, especially once I saw that we needed the Premier bundle, but VMware surprised us with the list price being only $200 per virtual desktop with a buy in as low as 10 virtual desktops in a starter pack. I have not seen our actual quote from our partner, but I assume we may get some sort of price break, but the value of the bundle is great in my eyes.
The bundle includes not only the license to run 10 virtual desktops, but also an ESX server license – not just the free hypervisor, but he full VI3 enterprise license, and it includes a copy of VirtualCenter Foundations (a scaled down, 3 ESX only version of vCenter). Our thought is to purchase two of these 10 user starter bundles, which will give us two ESX servers on which to run our virtual desktops and two hosts to provide some level of redundancy for our virtual desktops – with a cluster utilizing HA, DRS and VMotion.
We still must cross the Microsoft licensing hurdles. And, I read earlier this week that Microsoft has again changed their licensing, so we’ll see what impact that has on us, but for now, we’re making progress. Should be an interesting week next week looking into thin provisioning with my co-worker. I’m pretty excited.