E-Guide: VDI for SMBs: Making it cost effective & understanding the storage aspect

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Virtual Desktop Infrastructures (VDIs) have a reputation for being expensive because they have different requirements than server applications. Fortunately this expert E-Guide discusses VDI costs and VDI best practices for SMBs so your organization can maximize the benefits of its purchase. Also learn about VDI’s implementation challenges directly related to storage in a brief dialogue featuring Tony Asaro, CEO and founder of The INI Group.

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E-Guide: VDI for SMBs: Making it cost effective & understanding the storage aspect

  1. 1. E-GuideVDI for SMBs: Making it costeffective & understanding thestorage aspectVirtual Desktop Infrastructures (VDIs) have a reputation for beingexpensive because they have different requirements than serverapplications. Fortunately this expert E-Guide discusses VDI costs andVDI best practices for SMBs so your organization can maximize thebenefits of its purchase. Also learn about VDI’s implementationchallenges directly related to storage in a brief dialogue featuring TonyAsaro, CEO and founder of The INI Group. Sponsored By:
  2. 2. SearchServerVirtualization.com E-Guide VDI for SMBs: Making it cost effective & understanding the storage aspect E-Guide VDI for SMBs: Making it cost effective & understanding the storage aspect Table of Contents VDI best practices: Making VDI cost-effective for SMBs A dialog about VDI and storage Resources from Dell VMwareSponsored By: Page 2 of 9
  3. 3. SearchServerVirtualization.com E-Guide VDI for SMBs: Making it cost effective & understanding the storage aspectVDI best practices: Making VDI cost-effective forSMBsWhat you will learn in this tip: Virtual Desktop Infrastructures (VDIs) have a reputationfor being expensive because they have different requirements than server applications.Learn about VDI costs and get VDI best practices in this tip.Desktop applications have far different requirements than server applications—server appsare architected and optimized for shared network storage, while desktop apps are not. Inaddition, desktop apps rely heavily on low-latency built-in/internal storage and are disk IOintensive.Putting desktop apps in a VDI environment means they will have to deal with additionallatency and contention for storage access. This is especially true during boot-up when mostusers tend to boot-up their desktops at approximately the same time. IT best practicesultimately say to effectively support those virtual desktops with user-acceptableperformance requires more expensive shared storage.To meet those user expectations, that shared storage often has to be what the EvaluatorGroup calls “highly capable” storage. Highly capable storage is storage that can provide lowlatency and high IOPS, plus technologies such as solid-state drives (SSDs) with intelligentcaching, flexible data placement, and/or data tiering, thin provisioning, wide striping, andread/write time-versioned snapshots. None of this is cheap or free. At the end of the day,shared storage is always more expensive than desktop internal hard disk drives (HDDs) orSSDs. This leads to the inevitable and false conclusion that VDI can never be cost effectivefor small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). But to understand how it can be costeffective requires first understanding the problem VDI solves.The problems VDI solvesThere are numerous problems VDI is designed to solve. VDI noticeably increases desktopuptime and availability. In other words, it eliminates or mitigates the blue screen of death,the frozen cursor or the hourglass that never stops. It does this by centralizing the desktopimage and data and just using the processing power of the desktop. It feels like any otherSponsored By: Page 3 of 9
  4. 4. SearchServerVirtualization.com E-Guide VDI for SMBs: Making it cost effective & understanding the storage aspectworkstation to the user while storing nothing locally. This also solves or eliminates a scoreof other problems such as malware infections, illegal software, and organizationalcontraband data such as MP3s, videos, or potentially non-compliant materials. It alsoeliminates the concept of desktop data migration and makes it a lot easier to back up userdata.Solving these problems saves quite a bit of effort, frustration, and possibly money.However, most of those savings are not actually cash expenditures. But better desktopuptime and availability means significantly greater user productivity and easier backups,compliance, data security, among other assets, and that can add up to real savings, too.Cost-effective VDI strategiesOutside of the cost justifications just mentioned, once again the question for most SMBs ishow to they get the benefits of VDI without breaking their IT budget on storage? Theanswer to that question requires a little bit of “outside-the-box” thinking.One solution to this conundrum is to use VDI optimization software. This type of softwarepre-acknowledges writes and some commands, while stacking others, before it gets to thestorage system. It is writing to cache instead of disk, essentially spoofing or fooling the OSinto thinking the storage system has acknowledged its commands and/or writes before itactually does so.This VDI enhancement not only reduces the IOPS requirements, it also reduces the amountof shared storage capacity by up to 90% (HDD and SSD), reduces the cost of that capacity,and reduces the number of controllers or systems required to meet VDI performance. Thenet cost reduction can be as high as 75% putting the cost on a par with or lower thaninternal drives but with all of the VDI benefits. The only current provider of this type ofsoftware today is Atlantis Computing, which works with both Citrix XenDesktop and VMwareView.Another method is to use a shared or clustered file system. A shared or clustered filesystem can work similarly to VDI optimization. It pre-acknowledges commands and writesbefore it is committed to the storage system. Cost reduction is on a par with VDISponsored By: Page 4 of 9
  5. 5. SearchServerVirtualization.com E-Guide VDI for SMBs: Making it cost effective & understanding the storage aspectoptimization. And just like VDI optimization there is currently only one vendor, Sanbolic Inc.that works with Citrix, Microsoft and VMware.Finally, consider going one step further. Don’t go halfway and just virtualize the desktop,virtualize the applications, too. Provide only presentation access devices to the users. Utilizethe server and virtual server infrastructure to provide all of the application processing. Thistype of solution requires a mobile device that provides the presentation layer for theapplication or the ultimate portable thin client computing. Many SMB users are already usedto this type of solution. Tablets and mobile smart phones are thin, yet converged, feature-rich devices that function as a presentation layer for applications that are served up from aprivate cloud (local servers) or public cloud. The application and the data stay in the cloud.This requires modifying the application to run in the private or public cloud. That part isgetting easier and easier with tools from Citrix, Microsoft, VMware and even Oracle, as wellas startups like Framehawk Inc. This type of thin client computing requires a bit more workup front with an ongoing high payoff in reduced costs, fewer headaches, and increasedmobility.It is possible to make VDI cost-effective for SMBs. It just requires a little bit of imagination.Sponsored By: Page 5 of 9
  6. 6. SearchServerVirtualization.com E-Guide VDI for SMBs: Making it cost effective & understanding the storage aspectA dialog about VDI and storageBy Tony Asaro, ContributorA systems integrator on the front lines of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI)implementation offers some solid advice.The following is a discussion I had with Keith Norbie, vice president of sales at NexusInformation Systems. Nexus is a system integrator that focuses on virtualization andstorage. Keith and I talked about virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and itsimplementation challenges directly related to storage.Tony: What’s your role in your organization and what have you been doing so far in the VDIspace specific to storage?Keith: I’ve been with Nexus for 12 years and in the industry for 20 with a focus on storagein the last 11 years.We’ve developed a storage vision with virtualization as the centerpiece. We’ve sizedworkloads for databases or backup, and looked at I/O profiles in a number of differentcharacteristic formats and scientifically measured them. IOPS is an important factor for VDIto deliver what I call a “DirecTV” system for users.Tony: You take a look at how many desktops you’re going to have and what the I/Oworkload is going to be on a storage system.Keith: Yes, and there’s another depth beyond basic IOPS analysis. There arecharacteristics, including how bursty and unpredictable those IOPS can be. We get into thescientific measurement process to understand how users are using workloads. Everyone’sgot a laptop or some kind of I/O initiator in each of their devices, and all the storagerequirements have been localized out to those points. As hectically fragmented as VDI is,you need to look at each of those endpoints and find out what they require beyond staticIOPS utilization. Everyone talks about boot storm, but I would say it’s as much that as it isantivirus and selective intense-usage purposes. Have you ever had Word kind of hang onSponsored By: Page 6 of 9
  7. 7. SearchServerVirtualization.com E-Guide VDI for SMBs: Making it cost effective & understanding the storage aspectyou because you try to reformat something and it wanted to reformat the entire documentbased on a stylized setting?Tony: It happens frequently.Keith: It puts your computer into like a 30-minute freeze. Imagine that across 1,000 units.You just completely took your entire back office down. That doesn’t happen pervasivelyacross every single user using Word at the same time, but it’s the things you haven’t reallyexperienced yet in the modern massive implementation of VDI that become factors youhave to account for.Tony: I was just talking to a school district that has approximately 1,000 users on VDI rightnow. They were getting boot storms eight times a day because students log in and log offwith each period.Keith: I’ll give you another real-world scenario. I ran across an organization that had aSAN. They had plenty of storage with lots of free capacity. Everything was running. Theyalmost felt their storage was idle. They naturally just threw in the VDI and virtualized somedesktops for users in their call centers. Well, the problem was the I/O generated on the SANhad 15 spindles and they couldn’t generate enough IOPS for their couple of hundred users.They simply created a very bad user experience. They couldn’t figure out that it wasbecause they simply were running it on an under-horsepowered array.Tony: Have you found that the initial adoption of VDI has been stalled because of not reallyunderstanding the nuanced issues created by virtual desktops?Keith: Yes. I’ll just say the technology available from multiple array manufacturers and VDIsoftware makers, and the technology that’s out there, is very robust and very doable. Butit’s both a lot harder than you think and a lot easier. Folks who want to just jump off and doit and not think -- those are the folks who are going to get burned in this area.Tony: What are some of the ways you can overcome the IOPS issues within a VDIenvironment?Sponsored By: Page 7 of 9
  8. 8. SearchServerVirtualization.com E-Guide VDI for SMBs: Making it cost effective & understanding the storage aspectKeith: It depends on the environment and how much, in each of those areas we discussed,you need to factor for. In the case of the IOPS requirements, just throwing more spindles atit impacts heating, cooling and rack space. Yes, you can just throw in more spindles, butthat comes with a significant downside. You need to factor in the front end plus managingall that capacity. It’s a dynamic math equation that’s really individualized per environment.I’m not a fan of ripping out everything and bringing in something totally new. I want tounderstand each of the components in the environment and then modify to meet themathematical fulfillments of what the environment is telling you.Tony: And you can build these mathematical models even around the lack of predictability?Keith: Yes, because a great deal is predictable. Our measurements give us all the knownusage spikes, whether it’s from boot storms, antivirus or other factors. We know whenpeople are logging on, but every environment is a little different.Tony: Planning some performance headroom for those things you can’t predict is veryimportant.Keith: Exactly. And there’s another factor; there are a lot of emerging technologies. Takingadvantage of some technology breakthroughs can be really beneficial to get them that plusone.Sponsored By: Page 8 of 9
  9. 9. SearchServerVirtualization.com E-Guide VDI for SMBs: Making it cost effective & understanding the storage aspectResources from Dell VMwareIntegrating Desktop Virtualization into Your Cloud StrategyPresentation Transcript: Designing of Desktop Virtualization Architecture7 Secrets to Desktop Virtualization Project SuccessSponsored By: Page 9 of 9

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