VMWare Virtual Workstations

I am a newb to VMware and virtualization.  I need to know the answers to some things:

This first question is very important.  I need to understand exactly how this works.  What is in the VM....where is the user's data.

1.  When you create a VM for a virtual client or workstation, what is in that VM?  Is it just the OS or does it include their "My Documents" and such data?  If not where does their data reside?  How is it separated from the baseline VM OS?

2.  Some of you have probably used VMware for a while...do you prefer thin clients or zero clients, and why?
rand1964Asked:
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
I think the easiest way to answer this is that a Virtual Machine is a true, real computer that does *everything* your host computer does.

It has programs, applications, My Documents, files of all kinds, photos if you want them.

A VM can be connected to a host machine via folder mapping and files and documents can be moved back and forth.

Some VM's are use to run legacy software that a host cannot.

I have a Windows 8 Pro 64-bit host, VMware Workstation V10, and Windows 7, Vista, XP, 2000, NT4, 98, 95 and DOS machines. They all work and they all do different things.

... Thinkpads_User
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AkshayNaikCommented:
VMware has two OS virtualisation product. VMWare workstation and VMWware ESXi host.

VMWare Workstation :-
1. VMWare workstation is host based application.
2. We need to install VMWare workstation setup on Windows OS machine.
3. Through Workstation, You can create different virtual machines & all machine data will reside on host windows machine in vmware file format like .vmdk, .vmx etc..

ESXi Host :-
1. ESXi host is bare metal application which directly need to install on hardware.
2. It does not require any separate Windows OS for same.
3. All ESXi host VM machine data will reside on hardware storage whcih will be accessible through ESXi host.
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AkshayNaikCommented:
Below is the details for VMware disk selction.

Thick Provision Lazy Zeroed :-

Create a virtual disk in a default thick format. Space required for the virtual disk is allocated during creation. Any data remaining on the physical device is not erased during creation, but is zeroed out on demand at a later time on first write from the virtual machine.

Thick Provision Eager Zeroed :-

Create a thick disk that supports clustering features such as Fault Tolerance. Space required for the virtual disk is allocated at creation time. In contrast to the flat format, the data remaining on the physical device is zeroed out during creation. It might take much longer to create disks in this format than to create other types of disks.

Thin Provision :-

Use the thin provisioned format. At first, a thin provisioned disk uses only as much datastore space as the disk initially needs. If the thin disk needs more space later, it can grow to the maximum capacity allocated to it.

==========================================

we can use thin provision if server usage I/O is less. Like any application server.

We can use Thick provision if server usage I/O is high. Like any database server.
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Aravind SivaramanTechnical Subject Matter ExpertCommented:
VMware workstation is installed on the top of the existing OS Windows, Linux, MAC and on top of it we are creating VM's

What is a VM? VM is set of files which comprises a Operating System. If is similar to our normal physical system.  When we create a VM we provide location on the physical system (Eg : D Drive) where a folder gets created on the name of VM and all files required for operating would be present on it.
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coolsport00Commented:
Hmm - let me take a bit further step back & kind of bring together what all has been already shared here.

1. What is "in" the VM and 'how does this work'? Well, let's start first with VMware Workstation itself. Workstation, of course, is what we call a host-based, or Type 2, hypervisor. What that means simply is that it is software that gets installed on an Operating System ... a Windows OS.... that allows the creation of virtual computers, or Virtual Machines (VMs). Within VMware Workstation, you can then create a VM. When you create a VM, VMware Workstation creates several files that make up that VM - .vmx (configuration settings for the VM), .vmdk (this file is what makes up the 'hard disk' of the VM; you can have more than 1 .vmdk if you want more than one disk for the VM operating system [i.e. .vmdk ¿ c: drive and .vmdk-1 ¿ d: drive]), .vswp (this is analogous to a swap file), .log (hopefully this is self explanatory, but these files log VM activity). Now, those files in & of themselves do nothing. For example, if all you did was create a VM & power it on, you would get the same info displayed in the VM console as you would from a monitor connected to a PC or server with no Operating System on it. So, like any other 'computer', you need to install an OS, which is normally done either by directing the CD Drive of the VM to either the 'Host Device' (which is the CD drive of host computer VMware Workstation is installed on), or by pointing to the OS .iso file saved somewhere on the Host (or some network drive, as you can browse local & network directories). So to further expound on your question, everything that is in a Windows OS, for example, when it is installed on your VM, is "in" the VM. I think the confusion here though is where do those OS files reside? Well, the OS gets installed on the .vmdk file; but that .vmdk file realistically is a file that takes up space normally on the local/host computer that VMware Workstation is installed on. Why do I say 'normally'?... well, you can choose where to install your VMs (and thus the files that make up a VM), which may or may not be on the local host system. In VMware Workstation, you can click on the Edit menu > Preferences > Workstation item, then select the "Default location for virtual machines' (which can be a directory on the local VMware Workstation host/computer, or a network location)
2. I don't understand this question - do I prefer thin or zero client? Neither is needed here. You install VMware Workstation on a desktop or laptop with a Windows OS. You then create VMs in VMware Workstation and install supported OS's in that VM (Windows or Linux). You can view the VM console within VMware Workstation, or if your VMs will be on a network, you can connect to them with Remote Desktop (you can use RDP from the local machine, regardless if your VMs are on a network, though).

Hope that helps.

Regards,
~coolsport00
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rand1964Author Commented:
I appreciate all the "copy and paste" that I can go Google myself and even those that were elaborated on, but not a single one of you has answered questioned number 1.

My question is where is the user's data?  is it seperate from the VM?  Is it in the VM?  Or can it be both?

Where is the baseline OS in the VM?  Where is the Windows 7 "My Documents" contents?  Is it mapped to another set of disks or is it in the VM?

If the OS becomes corrupt and I blow away the VM is the users data destroyed?
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
My question is where is the user's data?  is it separate from the VM?  Is it in the VM?  Or can it be both?

User's data is in the same location in any Windows machine real or virtual. The virtual machine looks and feels like a real machine and data is in the same location.

Data can be in both locations but there is no automation about this. If you want the data in a VM, you can put it there, but you need to keep it synchronized.

Remember, the VM looks just like a real machine in terms of user's data.

... Thinkpads_User
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rand1964Author Commented:
User's data is in the same location in any Windows machine real or virtual. The virtual machine looks and feels like a real machine and data is in the same location.

that's what I was looking for.  So do most administrators "home" their user's data to another location or do they leave it where itis at in the VM Windows location?

What I can't understand right now is how is it that I change one baseline OS image with security patches, for example, and all the VM workstations receive this update, yet the data for each user on the VM workstations is unique?
I kind of thought maybe the OS was "seperate" from the user's data in the VM to allow this to happen?
So does every single user have a seperate VM, an isn't that difficult to backup and keep up with?
If a specific user get hacked or infected, how do I blow away the VM without losing his data?
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coolsport00Commented:
Umm...I didn't copy/paste, nor Google... I am a VMware expert with much expertise on the use of VMware products, such as Workstation (review my EE profile).

I shared with you where the data resides - but to further answer your question is.. 'it depends', as yes, it can be both within the VM or not. Generally, for VMware Workstation VMs, user data resides in the guest OS. Why?...because traditionally, VMware Workstation VMs are used for test purposes or local use, not for use on a production/domain network. So, the My Doc info, which is a system folder in a Windows OS, is installed within the OS in the VM's .vmdk file, which in turn resides on the local host system (or again directory to a network share). Profile user data (i.e. C:\Users\%username%), is installed within the VM system volume which is installed on the VM's .vmdk file (location of VM files can be set... again as I mentioned above).

My Docs can be directed to a network, as in group policy home directory redirection, so in that case user data would NOT be within the VM, but on some network share. If NO folder redirection is used, then the user data will reside within the VM guest OS's system volume....again, which is installed onto the .vmdk file. And, the location of that file, as I mentioned, is either on the local/host OS VMware Workstation is installed on, or on a network directory.

If the guest OS of the VM crashes, then yes, just like a regular computer, the data is lost, UNLESS you do backup of the data to a different location/directory.

~coolsport00
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
So do most administrators "home" their user's data to another location or do they leave it where it is at in the VM Windows location?

This is a user's preference.

If a specific user get hacked or infected, how do I blow away the VM without losing his data?

Only if they have backed it up. Virtual Machine backups are not automatic and need special software and backup devices to back them up. That is a whole other topic.

.. Thinkpads_User
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coolsport00Commented:
Ok, let's step back a second. Share what your goal is. What are you wanting to use VMware Workstation for? What is the use-case you want to use a VM for?

~coolsport00
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coolsport00Commented:
"Do most admins 'home' user data to another location..." - for a VMware Workstation VM, no. For an organization that has desktops/laptops that user's use (not a Workstation VM), yes... My Doc/Home folders generally are redirected to a network share and that network share is backed up with some kind of back up software (we use Avamar).

If a user is logged onto the Workstation VM and gets a virus or whatever and corrupts the OS of that VM, is the VM hosed? Mostly, yes. Why do I say mostly? Well, 1 of 2 reasons of why this may not be. One, if you back up user data from the VM to some other location, you have the data. You just need to recreate the VM, then restore the data. Another option (but keep in mind here, this is generally NOT a backup solution), you can occasionally take a snapshot of a VM. What that does is 'save' the "state" of that VM at the time of the snapshot. So, if a Windows update, or application upgrade or update is installed in the VM after the snapshot is taken, and that update/upgrade causes the OS to crash, what you can do is 'revert' the VM to the point in time the snapshot was taken and the VM is back to a working state. The data in the VM is as current as the time the snapshot was taken. Keep in mind, a snapshot shouldn't be used for more than maybe a week or 2. Snapshot files (a snap is an extra file that is created and placed with the other VM files) can grow and take up disk space and if left can corrupt a VM if left for extensive long periods (months, for example).

Regards,
~coolsport00
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rand1964Author Commented:
k, let's step back a second. Share what your goal is. What are you wanting to use VMware Workstation for? What is the use-case you want to use a VM for?


These are going to be production workstations.  We are replacing ALL of our physical desktops with VMWare and Nutanix.
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coolsport00Commented:
Ahhh... OK. So, what you REALLY need to be inquiring about is NOT VMware Workstation, but VMware Horizon VIEW. It sounds like you're doing a VDI project...is that accurate?

If using View, then generally, you will redirect user data (Home folders) to some network share. And, I've not used it (somewhat 'new' feature), but you can also use what's called Persona Management for user PROFILE data (i.e. the C:\Users\%username% info). That feature is somewhat similar to roaming profiles Microsoft has, but somewhat different. You can read more about that on pg. 227 here in the View Admin Guide:
http://pubs.vmware.com/view-52/topic/com.vmware.ICbase/PDF/horizon-view-52-administration.pdf

Regards,
~coolsport00
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
So from the point of view of the user, the VM is just a machine and the same user rules apply about using and storing data. Just make sure all the mappings for folders are in place.
.... Thinkpads_User
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
@rand1964 - Thank you. I was happy to help and good luck with your virtualization project.

... Thinkpads_User
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