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E-Book: Making VDIs Work for You


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Microsoft’s latest release of Hyper-V delivers a number of new improvements and features that are exciting for new and old adopters of this platform alike. If you’ve been waiting for the “right time” …

Microsoft’s latest release of Hyper-V delivers a number of new improvements and features that are exciting for new and old adopters of this platform alike. If you’ve been waiting for the “right time” to join the Hyper-V party, R2 is it! However, like any virtualization platform, maximizing the benefits you can get from this technology is contingent upon a successful deployment. In this expert e-guide from, gain expert insight into the “dos and don’ts” of a Hyper-V deployment. Learn what common mistakes IT shops often fall victim to and find out which key considerations cannot be overlooked.

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  • 1. E-BookMaking VDIs Work for You Sponsored By:
  • 2. E-Book Making VDIs Work for You E-Book Making VDIs Work for You Table of Contents Setting Up Storage for Virtual Desktops Requires Planning and Perseverance Desktop virtualization: Better data protection? VDI project plan: Start with right applications and use pilot program Getting started with VDI: TCO savings at finish line Resources from Dell, Inc. and MicrosoftSponsored By: Page 2 of 16
  • 3. E-Book Making VDIs Work for YouSetting Up Storage for Virtual Desktops RequiresPlanning and PerseveranceRich CastagnaWhen configuring storage for a virtual desktop environment, you‟ll run into a lot of the sameissues you had to deal with when you set up storage for your virtual servers. But virtualdesktop infrastructure has its own special challenges, along with a new vocabulary featuringsuch colorful expressions as “boot storm” and “linked clones.”The benefits of virtualizing desktop PCs are pretty straightforward. You instantly get morecontrol over operating systems, applications and data that in all likelihood previously existedin isolation and was left generally unprotected. But the road to realizing those benefits canbe a bit bumpy, with your storage systems having to bear bigger loads—both in terms ofcapacity and performance—than they‟ve likely ever seen.The numbers can be daunting. If you‟re virtualizing 1,000 desktop PCs and they had anaverage of 300 GB of disk each, the shared storage supporting your virtual desktops mayhave to provide up to 300 TB of capacity. Of course, sharing some common files likeoperating systems—via linked clones—can knock that total down considerably but you‟restill going to need a hefty chunk of disk real estate.Capacity is only half the problem. Shared storage has to have the oomph to handlehundreds of simultaneous requests, like when the dread boot storm occurs as scores orhundred of users try to boot up and log on at the same time. That kind of demand can bringa storage system to its knees, and it may take more than just a few minutes for it torecover. And shutting down at the end of the day can have the same effect.But both of these issues are very manageable. All you have to do is throw massive amountsof disk capacity at your virtual desktop infrastructure and beef it up with huge caches andsome solid-state storage to boot (literally). But if you live in the real world—and you don‟thave a bottomless budget—you‟ll have to approach configuring virtual desktop storage alittle more scientifically and with a little more precision.Sponsored By: Page 3 of 16
  • 4. E-Book Making VDIs Work for YouThe process of configuring VDI storage starts long before any desktops go virtual. You‟llneed to understand traffic patterns and have a solid understanding of your storage systemscapabilities. Rather than a complete overhaul of the supporting storage environment, it‟slikely that strategic upgrades to the installed gear will suffice.Rich Castagna is Editorial Director of TechTarget‟s Storage Media GroupSponsored By: Page 4 of 16
  • 5. E-Book Making VDIs Work for YouDesktop virtualization: Better data protection?Virtual desktop infrastructure technology can ease the burden of data protection for laptopsand desktops, but it may not be a good fit for all types of end users.By Lauren WhitehouseOf all the data your company owns, data residing on desktops and laptops is often the leastprotected. Why? The distributed nature of endpoints makes it difficult to centralize andconsolidate backup, and since desktop/laptop data exists outside the confines of the datacenter, backup administrators often dont see its protection as their problem.Virtual desktop infrastructure technology can address this problem by bringing data thatwould otherwise live on end-user devices into the data center.VDI products enable the centralization of entire personalized end-user desktop operatingenvironments so that they can be efficiently accessed, managed and protected from acentral location. This allows organizations to reduce operational costs, improve servicelevels, and satisfy compliance and information security requirements, all while maintainingan identical—and in some cases, improved—end-user experience.One caveat is that, as with server virtualization, desktop virtualization will have an impacton IT infrastructure. Server, storage and networking will all be impacted. EnterpriseStrategy Group (ESG) research shows that nearly two-thirds (64%) of current VDI usershave made some form of new storage purchase to support their implementation, since datathat used to reside on users PCs is stored on data center hardware in a VDI environment.And VDI isnt a one-size-fits-all solution. Some groups of users arent well-suited to it, sodifferent measures should be put in place to protect their data.Distributed computings backup problemMost IT organizations today give short shrift to protection of PC data. According to recentESG research, only 26% of nearly 500 midmarket and enterprise IT respondents said thatall of their desktop PCs are backed up, and only 18% of organizations back up all of theirSponsored By: Page 5 of 16
  • 6. E-Book Making VDIs Work for Youlaptops. Furthermore, 24% of respondents said they have no data protection process at allfor their desktops, and 29% dont back up their laptops. With desktops and laptopsincreasingly carrying business-critical data, the expenses incurred for a system loss orfailure are much greater than simple hardware replacement—most notably, lost end-userproductivity during downtime and more time spent reconstructing lost data.Many IT organizations take proactive steps to centrally administer backup, ranging frommanually copying files to a network share thats integrated in automated server backupprocesses to directly backing up desktops/laptops via server-based backup client agents.The former could create gaps in protection, while the latter introduces challenges due to thesheer volume of devices and the required software licensing to protect them.Other companies take a different approach, allowing desktop/ laptop users to do itthemselves. Users might manually copy files or use a standalone PC-based backup productto automatically back up data to a local storage device, such as CD/DVD, USB drive ormemory stick.Alternatively, some leverage backup software-as-a-service (SaaS) to enable automatedbackup of data to a third-party location. In these situations, copies of corporate dataproliferate outside the custody and control of the IT department (and sometimes the user),potentially introducing additional risk to the organization.While most IT organizations dont adequately protect end-user data, the hardware thatcontains that data is susceptible. With an average hard drive failure rate of 2% to 4%, acompany with 500 laptops could have as many as 20 of these devices experience a diskcrash. In addition, the portable nature of laptops makes them an easy target for theft/lossand prone to damage from being mishandled/dropped.In spite of these dangers, some IT organizations dont see the risk of data loss outweighingthe costs of desktop/laptop backup storage capacity and operational overhead. Moreover,many organizations cite a lack of business or legal requirements mandating data protectionand simply procure, configure and re-image replacement hardware and let users worryabout data reconstruction.Sponsored By: Page 6 of 16
  • 7. E-Book Making VDIs Work for YouVDIs backup remedyVDI enables a users complete desktop environments -- including OS, profile, applications,user data and customizations -- to be deployed as a self-contained package, remotelyaccessible from anywhere. Administrative and management tasks are, therefore,streamlined and centralized.While youre not likely to implement VDI just to solve the PC backup problem (a host ofdifficult desktop computing challenges are driving its adoption), moving PC images to thedata center puts them under the umbrella of the data centers data protection policies,processes, infrastructure and operational staff, which enables more efficient backup andrecovery. And as an integrated component of server backup, desktop and laptop data canbenefit from advanced features such as data deduplication.Its important to note that VDI isnt a solution for everyone. VDI could be too “locked down”for certain classes of users, such as knowledge workers. Organizations generally use orexpect to use VDI for distributed workers such as remote employees and telecommuters, aswell as for task workers in roles such as data entry and call center (who may require a morelimited desktop environment). And while theyre not ideally suited for VDI because their useof technology extends beyond a traditional set of limited tasks, VDI for knowledge workersoffers benefits against the leakage of sensitive company information.However, those user profiles that arent a good fit for VDI will remain vulnerable without analternative desktop/laptop backup strategy. Organizations adopting an “out of sight, out ofmind” attitude regarding endpoint protection could leave themselves open to risk.BIO: Lauren Whitehouse is an analyst focusing on backup and recovery software andreplication solutions at Enterprise Strategy Group, Milford, Mass.Sponsored By: Page 7 of 16
  • 8. E-Book Making VDIs Work for YouVDI project plan: Start with right applications anduse pilot programExperts and early adopters say a VDI project plan demands a different type ofinfrastructure, and recommend starting with specific applications to gauge the effects.By Dave RaffoWhen constructing a VDI project plan, experts and early adopters advise data storageadministrators to start with a pilot or test program to gauge the changes and costsassociated with a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI).With VDI storage, desktop operating systems are hosted inside a virtual machine running ona centralized server. While this makes it easier and cheaper to manage and secure data, itchanges the game for storage capacity, performance and administration.Because it requires hundreds or thousands of desktop images to boot simultaneously, VDIbrings about things like boot storms that stress a storage system and often changes theway storage is provisioned, backed up and recovered, replicated and secured.VDI adoption involves steep I/O demandsThe steep I/O performance issues associated with VDI adoption almost always requirenetworked storage, but solid-state drives (SSDs) and a large cache are also recommended.However, these technologies bring additional costs to an organization‟s IT infrastructure.“A virtual desktop infrastructure requires a different style of storage than what people mightbe used to,” said Ray Lucchesi, president at Broomfield, Colo.-based Silverton ConsultingInc. “VDI begs for enterprise-class storage.”Sam Lee, senior solutions architect at systems integrator Force 3, said storage I/O becomesa major performance bottleneck in a typical VDI deployment, and recommends using SSDsand spreading the workload.Sponsored By: Page 8 of 16
  • 9. E-Book Making VDIs Work for YouA storage system for VDI needs to be able to handle peak I/O for all users simultaneously atcertain times, such as when most users‟ log on in the morning or log off at night. Lee saidSSDs must also be load-balanced for peak efficiency. To run smoothly, Lee said, VDI canrequire approximately 20 to 100 IOPS per desktop during peak times.“A lot of people vastly underestimate how much I/O a single desktop can use,” he said.“When you use VMware View or Citrix Provisioning Server, they make a writable snapshot.That‟s what a virtual desktop is. Every snapshot on every desktop reduces space butincreases the load on storage I/O because you centralize the I/O to one or two LUNs. Whenyou have 150 desktops on one LUN, that LUN gets oversaturated.”According to Lee, “you have to spread it out; you can‟t have a single SSD for 1,000 users.On a Fibre Channel disk, you can probably put three VDI users per spindle on a 10K driveand five users per spindle for a 15K drive. You can get about 200 users per SSD LUN.”VDI and thin clients improve log-in times, cut costsSlumberland Furniture in Little Canada, Minn., has been using virtual desktops via thinclients on its showroom floors for approximately seven years, and added its first SAN in late2006. Slumberland uses Compellent storage systems with Cisco Systems Inc.‟s Cisco UnifiedComputing System (UCS) and Windows Terminal Services for thin clients. Seth Mitchell,Slumberland Furniture‟s IT manager, said his VDI farms can require 7,000 to 9,000 IOPS.He expects to add SSDs to the Compellent systems next month, but has avoided I/Oproblems by using 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10 GbE) connectivity and spreading the load acrossenough Fibre Channel drives.Mitchell said his current setup supports 160 VDI user sessions per server, allowing oneadministrator to handle 1,000 clients while giving sales people on the show floor fasteraccess to information.“We have quite a few disks because we‟re latency sensitive and IOPS hungry,” Mitchell said.“We started with 64 disks on our top tier; now we‟re at 80 disks. We get enough IOPSwithout any trouble. We have yet to even make it sweat. Our log-in time is greatlyimproved with VDI; it used to take 50 seconds to log in, now it‟s seven or eight seconds fora typical user.”Sponsored By: Page 9 of 16
  • 10. E-Book Making VDIs Work for YouOne IT manager for an insurance provider said he migrated over 12,000 users globally toCitrix thin clients for a VDI project as part of a data center overhaul that includedconsolidating to three primary data centers from eight. He estimates the new setup hassaved about $10 million so far and projects future savings of about $50 million.The insurance firm uses EMC Corp. Symmetrix storage and Silver Peak Systems Inc.‟s NX-8504 WAN optimization devices to reduce latency. The manager, who asked not to beidentified because company policy prohibits him from speaking to the press, said VDI and agood remote access solution makes his disaster recovery (DR) situation easier to manage.“One of the benefits we find from desktop virtualization is that I can now support remoteusers as if they‟re local. I give them a desktop if they‟re at home or sitting in the airport justlike I could if they were in the office,” he said. “That‟s totally changed the way we approachDR. I can have people work from home instead of bringing them into a temporary DR site orsetting up a permanent DR site in a nearby building.”Still, he doesn‟t anticipate moving the entire company to VDI.“We see it as a specialized solution for high-profile users,” he said. “For the typical rank andfile call center people, no, we won‟t go to the expense of rolling out VDI. For people whoneed a custom programming language or are doing application testing, that‟s where we seevirtual desktops.”VDI proof of concept: Which applications are best for VDI?In its “Storage for VDI Buyers Guides: Planning and Considerations & Storage Systems”publication, Broomfield, Colo.-based analyst firm Evaluator Group Inc. said good candidatesfor a VDI project plan are sales force automation (telephone sales, customer service),knowledge workers (designers, developers and engineers) and officer workers who share astandard set of applications.Many organizations are easing into VDI by piloting it for specific applications or a group ofworkers who fit one of the above categories.Brian Diegan, vice president of network services at Hermitage, Pa.-based First NationalBank (FNB), said his bank is doing a VDI proof of concept for an application used by itsSponsored By: Page 10 of 16
  • 11. E-Book Making VDIs Work for Youtellers across 300 locations. He expects the most common application for tellers to loadwithin three milliseconds to four milliseconds vs. the approximately four seconds it nowtakes. FNB uses VMware for server virtualization, but Diegan said he would probably useCitrix for VDI because it makes better use of bandwidth.“The biggest challenge of VDI is bandwidth for us,” Diegan said. “We have 700 tellers, andwe have to work through a learning curve with them. We don‟t want anything to change forthem.”BIO: Dave Raffo is the Senior News Director for the Storage Media Group.Sponsored By: Page 11 of 16
  • 12. E-Book Making VDIs Work for YouGetting started with VDI: TCO savings at finish lineData storage is a major consideration for organizations implementing a virtual desktopinfrastructure, from capacity planning to performance to costs.By Carol Sliwa, Features WriterData storage is no small consideration for any organization that decides to implement avirtual desktop infrastructure (VDI).Taking the VDI approach, an IT department can deliver a full desktop image to its usersfrom virtual machines (VMs) running on servers in the data center. Ideally, the users won‟tnotice a difference between the virtual and traditional PC desktop experience. But thecompany could opt for less costly thin-client devices or even repurpose aging PCs/laptopsbecause there‟s no need for local storage of the operating system, applications and data.VDI considerationsDesktop images and user data are stored and backed up centrally, and the potentialdemands on back-end systems are not inconsequential, especially in a large virtual desktopinfrastructure environment.“It requires an infrastructure build-out to occur in all the other disciplines of infrastructure,”including servers, networks and storage, said Mark Margevicius, a research vice president atGartner Inc., Stamford, Conn. “You can‟t just go forth and say, „This is a PC replacement,and it‟s only about a PC.‟ On the contrary, this is really about building out your data centerto support all those clients.”Storage costs sit like the solid mass below the water line of an iceberg, Margevicius said,and centralized storage is more expensive than PC-based storage. It must also be backedup, he noted.“Network storage is very important in this virtualized environment,” said Mark Bowker, ananalyst at Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) in Milford, Mass. “Where many machines areSponsored By: Page 12 of 16
  • 13. E-Book Making VDIs Work for Yourunning on the same physical server for availability purposes and even for mobilitypurposes, it‟s essential to have some type of network storage in place so those images canbe quickly restarted on a different physical machine or easily move between physicalmachines.”One of the leading virtualization vendors, VMware Inc., a subsidiary of EMC Corp., agreesthat shared storage is beneficial in a virtual desktop infrastructure environment, but thecompany offers no directive on what form that storage should take. Jon Bock, a seniormanager in product marketing, indicated via an email interview that the company has seenlarge virtual desktop infrastructure deployments in both storage-area network (SAN) andnetwork-attached storage (NAS) environments.“There remains a fair amount of debate in the industry regarding whether NAS or SANscales better, including for VDI environments, but no universally accepted answer,” Bockwrote. He added that customer‟s choices tend to be driven by their comfort level withmanaging iSCSI or Fibre Channel (FC) SANs, or block storage vs. NAS system or file-basedstorage.Conserving disk spaceAnother option under consideration is the latest version of VMware‟s View, which MetroHealth sampled last year as part of a private beta test. The View 3 portfolio, which becamegenerally available in December, includes a new Composer management component thatuses VMware‟s Linked Clone technology to create desktop images that share virtual diskswith a master image to conserve storage space by as much as 70%, according to VMware.In addition, any desktops that are linked to the master image can be patched or updated bysimply updating the master image, with no effect to a user‟s settings, data or applications.Because a user‟s data and settings are separate from the desktop image, they can beadministered independently, according to VMware.Chris House, a senior network analyst at MetroHealth, said View 3 could help Metro Healthto reduce imaging time from weeks to potentially a few clicks. Metro Health currently re-images all 1,500 desktops when it needs to push out a Windows service pack update or animportant application upgrade. The client architecture team spreads the re-imaging overSponsored By: Page 13 of 16
  • 14. E-Book Making VDIs Work for Youseveral weeks to avoid storage bottlenecks because bandwidth is limited for replicationbetween the XP arrays, which are located in separate data centers in Grand Rapids, Housenoted.Antivirus updates now go out at random times over the course of a week, so those are nolonger a problem, he added.House recommends that potential VDI users undertake a pilot project to analyze theaverage I/O per second of a block of actual production desktops and to monitorperformance during routine tasks, such as patching desktops and installing software. Then,he suggested, they should look for and test arrays that can deliver the necessaryperformance, especially during peak I/O times.“The most important thing to consider when planning a VDI deployment is storage. Youhave to size it for performance instead of just sizing it for capacity,” House advised.“Storage is the No. 1 common denominator across the entire environment and if it doesn‟tperform well, everyone suffers.”Planning and managing storage capacity in VDI environmentsVirtual desktop infrastructure technology is still a work in progress, and capacity planningand management remain among the greatest challenges confronting any IT department thatelects to employ hosted virtual desktops.“How much storage do you allocate per user? It‟s a very tough question to answer becausewhat we‟re trying to do with hosted virtual desktops is to deliver an identical userexperience [to what you] would normally get on a PC,” said Mark Margevicius, a researchvice president at Gartner Inc., Stamford, Conn. “If my PC that I run today in the office has a120 GB hard drive, are users going to anticipate 120 GB of storage individually -- each andevery person? That‟s the million-dollar question. When I speak to customers, they reallystruggle with this.”The latest versions of Citrix Systems Inc.‟s XenDesktop and VMware Inc.‟s VMware View(formerly VMware VDI) could alleviate some of the capacity issues with new features thatSponsored By: Page 14 of 16
  • 15. E-Book Making VDIs Work for Youcan limit redundant data, reduce the amount of disk space needed for desktop images andprovision users off the same image.The future of VDI adoptionBut Mark Bowker, an analyst at Milford, Mass.-based Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG),remains dubious about the ROI model for VDI. He said users are still trying to figure outhow to get a return.“Take a government agency, for example, where security is a top concern. They‟re stillwilling to implement VDI for the security advantages,” he said. “But if you take a typicalcorporate environment that doesn‟t have that same security challenge or mandate, maybethere isn‟t as much of a compelling issue to deploy VDI until the technology continues tomature.”Gartner claims an organization implementing VDI, or what it refers to as “hosted virtualdesktops,” can save between 2% and 12% over the TCO of a traditional PC environment,Margevicius said.VDI-based desktops account for about 1 million units of the overall worldwide desktopmarket today. Predictions call for growth to 50 million units by 2012, yet that wouldrepresent roughly only 5% of the overall market, according to Margevicius.But Taneja Group‟s Byrne predicted that the innovations from VMware, Citrix and otherstorage vendors will help make VDI more attractive to more IT organizations and continueto render the storage portion of the VDI TCO equation more reasonable.“Any IT administrator or user who‟s read about the storage issues in VDI over the years,particularly up until early 2008, really needs to take a fresh new look at what‟s happening inthis space,” Byrne said.BIO: Carol Sliwa is the Features Writer for the Storage Media GroupSponsored By: Page 15 of 16
  • 16. E-Book Making VDIs Work for YouResources from Dell, Inc. and MicrosoftLeveraging Windows 7, Dell Desktops for Virtualization, Cloud Infrastructures andBeyondPower Management in Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 and 11th-GenerationDell PowerEdge ServersPresentation Transcript: The Real Deal About Windows Server 2008 R2, Part 2 -Best New Features for SMBsAbout Dell, Inc. and MicrosoftDell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL) listens to customers and delivers innovative technology andservices they trust and value. Uniquely enabled by its direct business model, Dell is aleading global systems and services company and No. 34 on the Fortune 500. For moreinformation, visit, or to communicate directly with Dell via a variety ofonline channels, go to To get Dell news direct, By: Page 16 of 16