These days, I am playing with VMware View 4.0.1. This is because a customer wants it “gradually” deployed within the company – so we have some time to do it. However, it’s always nice to have a bash in your development environment before going full-blown into testing. I did that and the first thing I discovered was that the product set is still not supported on Windows 2008! Now I am making the assumption that if Windows 2008 is not listed in the “Supported Operating Systems” list then it’s not supported. Even though it’s an inconvenience, I didn’t mind it too much because the plan is to have the “View Connection Server” as a separate entity anyway and we’ll probably replace it when the support comes. It’s more of an issue with “View Composer”. If you’ve followed my postings in the last couple of months, you’ll know that we have a Windows 2008 x64 vCenter 4 Update 1 environment. View Composer has to go onto the server as it’s installed as a service. So, as things stand, they both can’t coexist!
Just for fun, I did try installing it on our vCenter server (after a snapshot, of course!) and found that the preparation and installation steps work OK until you reach the point where it needs to contact the database using the DSN. It just can’t connect. I must admit I didn’t spend much time on trying to resolve it because always intended it to be a “quick test” but the situation is inconvenient, to say the least!
I mentioned it to two VMware representatives at different times and asked when support will be available so that we can plan accordingly but didn’t get an answer. This is unusual but I guess that was because those were “courtesy” calls (because I downloaded an evaluation version) and the representatives probably weren’t technical but I expected them to pass the issue on to their technical people. Why would you call otherwise?
Fortunately, we can go ahead with the environment for our customer in this case because we had already decided to keep their VDI environment separate from their service environment (to avoid “compatibility issues in case of upgrades” – funnily enough!) so it won’t be show-stopper for now. However, it will be an issue for everyone else in our organization if they’re not lucky enough to have the choice of keeping their VDI environments separate.
Let’s hope that VMware fixes this issue soon (in the next version which has been “imminent” for a while!) but please do let me know if you think I am missing something here!
Update (1 July 2010 21:40 BST): I did a bit of experimentation today and found that DSN created for View Composer didn’t work because I created the 32-bit version of it. When I tried the regular i.e. 64-bit version, the installation worked OK. This is strange because installation of the vCenter server required a 32-bit DSN, even though it’s a 64-bit server! That said, View Connection Server still refuses to install if you try it on Windows 2008.
So, what does it all mean? If you have the liberty of working with a completely new setup with a separate vCenter server to manage your VMware View 4 environment then you should work with Windows 2003 SP2 servers and upgrade later when Windows 2008 support becomes available. If you already have an environment with a vCenter server running on Windows 2008 x64, the only option for now is to install View Composer 2 (if you need it – as it’s an optional component) on the vCenter server and it’ll work if you create a x64-bit DSN. You could then use View Connection servers running on Windows 2003 SP2 servers. I’ve not done extensive tests on it yet and it might not be supported by VMware so please use this option with caution but if you’re stuck in that situation and you need the environment, currently this seems to be the only way out!
Update (17 July 2010 00:45 BST): Soon after the release of vSphere 4.1 which requires a 64-bit vCenter server, VMware released a KB article (http://kb.vmware.com/kb/1011292) officially acknowledging that View Composer 2.0 doesn’t work with it. It also contains the following: “Our upcoming VMware View 4.5 will be supported on VMware vSphere 4.1”, implying that all View components should work on a 64-bit environment.