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I don't know even if I put the question right, but here's what I'd like to accomplish. I have avoided specifying exact Vmware virtualization product here because I'm not sure which one would be most suitable for the task at hand.

I am developing an application that works in local network. This application has to run on several computers at the same time, and it's important to me, as a developer and tester, to see (literally) how it behaves at all times on all computers.

Is there any way to connect to screens of virtual machines deployed on ESX, ESXi, Sever 2.0, or some other product, so that I can see something like grid of screens, say 4x4 or 6x4 or whatever number of scaled screens, at the same time? Ability to interact with screens directly from grid (by double-clicking a screen, for instance, and then getting full resolution screen) would be greatly appreciated, of course.

I hope that someone understood what I meant here. :)

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5 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

ESXi allows you to open multiple consoles and you can control them from there.

Alternatively if you find a good VNC or RDP client that you can tile and arrange to your preference, you can just run those on the virtual machines and connect from your management computer.

There are pay-for products like Vision from Master Solution that is meant to control and monitor computer labs that will "Grid" and control remote systems. This may be closer to the kind of control you're looking for, but like I said you pay for it and you install a small client on each system you wish to monitor.

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Though I didn't get an answer I was hoping for, that VMware has something like that in their software suite(s), I think I'll be fine with tiling VNC windows around on a separate virtual screen. You've been very helpful, thanks! –  mr.b May 25 '10 at 14:52
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I think this tool is the best one for what you are trying to do, free from VMware: VMware Guest Console

http://labs.vmware.com/flings/vgc

It allows you to do what you want nicely in terms of tiling multiple guest consoles (Under Virtual Machine Menu), and allows you to issue commands against multiple VMs, view and kill processes, and other mass operations as well which is pretty nice.

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+1 for introducing this tool. It looks awesome. –  Jed Daniels May 27 '10 at 4:51
    
+1 Funny, I stumbled upon this tool by googling, and it didn't appear to me that it has capabilities of connecting to multiple screens at once. Great thing if it does! Thanks! –  mr.b May 27 '10 at 8:57
    
I have installed VGC and I'm not sure how do do what you suggested? Which option from Virtual Machine menu? Once I open VM console to each virtual macine it: 1) doesn't allow me to tile those windows by right clicking on taskbar and selecting tile windows, it's grayed out, and 2) has no display scaling option, i can resize windows manually but then i can see only top left corner of whole display. But, other than that, it's a great tool to centrally manage multiple VMs! –  mr.b May 27 '10 at 9:13
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ESX/i lets you have lots of consoles to VMs open at any time, you'd have to move them around to create the tile effect you mention but yes you can do that. You can click on any specific console to control it but the resolution won't change (not for ESX/i anyway, it will for Server/Workstation/Fusion).

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Not sure about VMWare but VirtualBox bundles a RDP service that can be enabled for each VM.

You can then launch a rdesktop viewer for each of the required VMs and leverage your desktop manager (eg: Compiz/Fusion) for the tiling and click to maximize effects.

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I don't quite get your point - VirtualBox has out-of-the-box ability to connect to each VM using RDP, even without guest OS installed? –  mr.b May 25 '10 at 14:53
    
Precisely. quoting virtualbox.org/wiki/VirtualBox: Unlike any other virtualization software, VirtualBox fully supports the standard Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). A virtual machine can act as an RDP server, allowing you to "run" the virtual machine remotely on some thin client that merely displays the RDP data. –  jlliagre May 25 '10 at 15:34
    
I have just learned that virtual machines hosted under any VMware server support VNC. Didn't have chance to try it out yet, though. See petri.co.il/virtual_using_vnc_and_vmware_server.htm for specifics if you are interested. –  mr.b May 25 '10 at 17:09
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I like to use vFoglight to monitor our virtual environment. http://www.vizioncore.com/products/vFoglight/

The product does cost but it is pretty nice. I can watch the performance many VMs/hosts all at the same time and even be notified via email if one of them fires off an alarm (a performance hit).

You can setup custom dashboards to watch almost any aspect of a VMs performance. Also, as long as your Foglight box is up you can view history up to the full life of a VM.

A couple of exerts from the literature:

-Capacity Planning - Plan, manage and optimize infrastructure capacity for improved performance and better resource utilization. -Resource Utilization Management - Identify underutilized capacity and predict overutilization of resources for future planning. -Guest Process Investigation - Drill-down into the processes running within virtual machines to understand internal performance and resource utilization.

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