VMview PCoIP experience (testing remotely WAN session during snowstorm)

From home, I’ve been working almost entirely through PCoIP sessions to View desktops for the past two days.

In the interest of seeing how this would work for a GIS type person in the field, I set up a clean (from Microsoft media) image of WinXP and went through all the various Windows updates, VMware tools/agent installs, and some other stuff.

Plus some some troubleshooting.  This was during a snow storm, working with an IP Sec VPN connection from a local cable modem across two carrier networks into my customer’s VPN Gateway.  From there, my packets had to travel across several timezones back to a VMview lab environment.  Using the View Manager’s web interface and the vCenter desktop client, I created a new VM and a new VMview Pool.

Once the new VM was running smoothly I made some baseline observations in the View Manager and ESX vCenter consoles before continuing.

As I proceeded with testing various use cases, I was able to successfully connect my Garmin GPSMap76csx and my iPhone to applications running in the View Desktop.  Just to be clear, these were two USB devices physically plugged into my View/PCoIP client (at my house), but logically connected to a virtual Windows XP desktop running at the far end of a VPN tunnel.

Even though I had a display and these two devices sitting next to each, the communications between what I did on the device and what I saw on my computer screen were traveling through over 6,000 miles of networks.

As you may expect, the interaction between the Garmin GPS device and it’s desktop software counterpart had some sluggishness.  So did the interaction between the iPhone and iTunes.  However, despite this slight delays in what would normally be instantaneous interactions, it all worked.  The network delays gave a feeling of running these activities on an older/slower computer, but the applications and devices connections performed their work without any errors.

During this test, the clean image WinXP image was configured with:

  • Windows Firewall, Windows Update, and some Apple services running automatically.
  • VMview Agent software/services.
  • VMware tools.
  • Garmin GPSMap software and device drivers.
  • rebooted just prior to observing the CPU, RAM, and network utilization.
  • the only app launched manually was the MS SysInternals ProcessExplorer to observe the perf.
  • ProcessExplorer was set up to monitor/display a lot of activity to ensure the PCoIP has something to display to the client at all times.  The PCoIP server activity and the network traffic are also being monitored and displayed.  By keeping this process explorer window in the foreground at all times, and selecting a lot of items to monitor, it effectively forced the remote VM to provide constant screen updates even if I had turned away from the computer and stopped providing user interaction.
  • VM configured as Dual Core AMD Opteron 8218 2.61Ghz with 2.0GB RAM.
  • running XP Pro 2002 SP3 with patches up to date.

After a full reboot, the VM had 35 running processes, 386.3 MB Physical RAM, and 1.5% to 10% CPU Utilization.

After viewing the results, the ViewClient session was minimized for several minutes.  With no need to display anything, the VM’s View processes quiet down significantly.   CPU Utilization dropped to a range of 0% to 1.5% and stayed at or near zero until I brought the client display session back to the foreground.

vSphere reported “Active Guest Memory: 389 MB” and “Consumed Host CPU: 235 MHz”.

During a 1 Hour and 33 minutes session which began with a VM image rebooted and performed numerous use case tests, the VM sent ~32MB of data to the client via it’s PCoIP server.

I did not attempt any multi-gigabyte synchronizations with the Garmin or iPhone, but numerous 230MB transfers completed without error.


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