Windows Tips & Tricks UPDATE [mailto:Windows_TipsandTricks_UPDATE@email.windowsitpro.com]
Sent: Monday, January 05, 2009 5:21 PM
To: John A. Cook
Subject: An introduction to Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization

 

Windows Tips & Tricks UPDATE

January 5, 2009

 

 

IN THIS ISSUE
Q. What is Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V)?
Q. When should I use Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V) as opposed to Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V)?
Q. Why isn’t virtualization supported for the Exchange Server 2007 Unified Messaging (UM) server role?
Q. How do I make System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) 2008 highly available?
Q. Is a Windows Server 2008 partition manager available?


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Articles

Q. What is Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V)?
John Savill

A. MED-V is a desktop virtualization product planned to become part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) MED-V is based on Microsoft’s acquisition of Kidaro, a company that made desktop virtualization tools, and aims to resolve a number of problems with application compatibility on newer OSs. One such problem is applications that run on Windows XP or Windows 2000 but aren’t compatible with Windows 7 and Windows Vista. A large amount of testing and application "shimming" (a process that lies to an application to make it run on an OS it shouldn’t) is required to make sure legacy applications will run on Vista. The effort needed can be a major obstacle to adopting newer OSs and it’s quite possible that a given application simply can’t run on Windows 7 or Vista.

You have two choices today for applications that can’t run on a new desktop OS. You can run the application on a terminal server (assuming the application can run on a terminal server) and have users remote to the terminal server to run the application. Your other option is to use a client virtualization solution, such as Virtual PC, to run a legacy OS image, such as Windows XP, that can then host the legacy application. The virtual approach means the user has their normal desktop and another desktop that represents the Virtual PC image of XP. This is confusing for most users, with two Start buttons, two sets of menus, two file systems, two desktops, and so on.

MED-V builds on the Virtual PC approach by using Virtual PC 2007 as a client-side virtualization platform to host an XP or Win2K image that runs the legacy applications. The MED-V application then seamlessly integrates the application running on the legacy OS with the user’s main desktop. MED-V integrates Start menu options, notification tray icons, clipboard sharing and file system interoperability between the VM and the local OS. The architecture is shown here.


Click to expand.

The user doesn’t know that a virtual machine (VM) is running on the desktop, nor that the application they are using isn’t running on their local OS. As shown here, MED-V handles the transplanting of the application window from the VM to the user’s local desktop. Essentially the only hint to the user that the application is running in a different environment is that the application will use the theme of the XP or Win2K VM instead of the Windows Aero theme that may be used on the local desktop.


Click to expand.

MED-V handles not only the integration of legacy applications and the local OS but also provides the mechanism to store and distribute VM images, provides image updating, and implements policies about what data can be transferred between the VM and the local desktop and the length of time the virtual image can be used.

MED-V integrates with Internet Explorer and can be configured to automatically redirect certain URLs entered on the local PC to a legacy IE version running in the VM. This redirection solves problems with websites that aren’t compatible with the latest Internet Explorer browser.

You will also be able to use MED-V as a delivery mechanism for virtual images and give users two complete desktops. In this scenario, they would essentially run a Virtual PC window on their desktops and not take advantage of MED-V’s seamless application integration.

MED-V is currently only planned to be supported on Vista and XP 32-bit platforms and will be available as part of MDOP in the first half of 2009.

MED-V may change the way companies adopt new OSs, because instead of performing all the application testing and validation under the new OS before adopting it, a company can upgrade to the new OS and run applications that aren’t supported or tested in the MED-V environment. The company can then migrate applications to Vista over time. At least, that’s what Microsoft would like.

In the future, you’ll see MED-V transform away from making legacy applications run on newer OSs, because Microsoft is stressing better compatibility between OSs. MED-V will become a tool that helps deploy complete virtual desktops to address scenarios such as giving corporate images to non-corporate machines and enabling better business continuity through easy virtualization deployment, uses that will help productivity of contract, offsite, and work-at-home users.

Q. When should I use Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V) as opposed to Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V)?
John Savill

A. APP-V and MED-V address two very different scenarios. APP-V virtualizes at the application level, placing applications in a sandbox-type environment. Applications can’t see one another through the user of virtual file systems, virtual registries, or virtual services but the applications are still running on the local client OS. APP-V is great for resolving conflicts between applications and expediting application testing deployment, as APP-V applications aren’t locally installed on a computer.

MED-V, set to be available in the first half of 2009, virtualizes at the OS level and is used to resolve incompatibility problems between applications and an OS. MED-V is also a solution for the delivery and maintenance for virtual machine (VM) images on a client desktop.

If your problem is that applications are incompatible with one another or you need to deploy apps quickly with minimal testing, you want APP-V. If you have applications that won’t run on a new client OS or you want to manage VM images then you want MED-V. Either way, you need the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack to get access to the technologies. It’s highly likely you may need to use both technologies for different applications within your organization.

Q. Why isn’t virtualization supported for the Exchange Server 2007 Unified Messaging (UM) server role?
John Savill

A. Microsoft provides support for virtualizing all of Exchange 2007’s roles except for UM, because UM uses a third-party Real Time Collaboration (RTC) stack. The vendor that made the stack doesn’t support virtualization, so virtualizing UM would cause a support problem.

A number of companies have virtualized the UM role with no problems, but it’s officially unsupported until the RTC vendor supports virtualization. UM running on early Hyper-V builds had voice quality problems but these have been resolved.

Q. How do I make System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) 2008 highly available?
John Savill

A. SCVMM 2008 doesn’t have built-in high availability capability. The best practice to make SCVMM 2008 highly available is to place SCVMM 2008 in a virtual machine that you’ve made highly available though host clustering on the Hyper-V servers. Place the SQL Server instance it uses on a highly available SQL Server cluster.

Q. Is a Windows Server 2008 partition manager available?
John Savill

A. The Microsoft Management Console MMC Disk Management snap-in comes with Server 2008. Another option is EASEUS Partition Manager 3.0 Server Edition. I’ve tested Partition Manager and it allows a lot of flexibility in resizing and moving partitions, as shown here.


Click to expand

Partition Manager also allows you to hide partitions from the OS, copy partitions to other areas of disk, and shrink a partition while copying it so it can fit in more areas. The tool includes a utility that creates a bootable CD that you can use to modify partitions outside of the OS if required. Some operations require a reboot to boot into the Partition Manager utility, which is shown here.


Click to expand

Full information on the new tool can be found at EASEUS’s site.

 

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