Real World Desktop Virtualization - Why Processors Matter


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In the old days, just a couple of years ago, the typical end-user sat at their desk, turned on their workstation, and started working with one operating system, a handful of prescribed applications, and a set of files that were carefully stored on the hard drive. Now end-users are highly mobile,collaborate with colleagues in and out of the office, and require constant access to a wider-range of applications and shared files. All this sets the stage for desktop virtualization which provides the access and end-user experience required for productivity along with the capabilities required for sound IT management. The end-user and IT benefits of desktop virtualization are realized by shifting processing power from the workstation to the data center. Finding a server/processor platform that fully supports virtual desktop environments is key to success. Dell and Intel provide such a platform with servers, processors, and storage that are designed to run virtual environments.

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Real World Desktop Virtualization - Why Processors Matter

  1. 1. Real World Desktop Virtualization – Why Processors Matter Contents Introduction. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Why Desktop Virtualization is Good for End-Users . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 How Desktop Virtualization Delivers IT Benefits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Choosing a Desktop Virtualization Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Power to the Data Center. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Virtual Server Processing Power from Dell and Intel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Conclusion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Brought to you compliments of: Introduction In the old days, just a couple of years ago, the typical end-user sat at their desk, turned on their workstation, and started working with one operating system, a handful of prescribed applications, and a set of files that were carefully stored on the hard drive. Now end-users are highly mobile, collaborate with colleagues in and out of the office, and require constant access to a wider-range of applications and shared files. All this sets the stage for desktop virtualization which provides the access and end-user experience required for productivity along with the capabilities required for sound IT management. The end-user and IT benefits of desktop virtualization are realized by shifting processing power from the workstation to the data center. Finding a server/processor platform that fully supports virtual desktop environments is key to success. Dell and Intel provide such a platform with servers, processors, and storage that are designed to run virtual environments.©2011 Dell and Intel
  2. 2. Back to top Why Desktop Virtualization is Good for End-Users End-users that enter their office or cubicle at 8:00 am, fire up their desktop, work with a set of applications and on files that reside on their hard drive, leave their desktop for meetings and lunch, then shut down at 5:00 pm and go home are becoming a rare breed. They’ve been rapidly replaced by end-users that fire up their Smart Phone when they get up, read and answer emails at breakfast and on the subway, turn on their laptop when they get to work, take their laptop (and their smart phone) to meetings and lunch, and then put in some time at home after work. These same end-users extend work hours to weekends and, with the help of mobile devices, work throughout business trips. No matter where end-users are or what device they are using, they need to be highly productive. They want to work in a familiar environment that reflects their personal options and preferences. They want reliably performance. Even as they use data heavy applications (collaboration, business intelligence, CRM, financial) and rely on lighter weight devices, they want speed and processing power to increase. That list of demands creates a challenge for IT departments with traditional environments that include highly mobile laptops with 500GB hard drives and 8GB SDRAM. While toting their lap- tops, applications, and files between home, the office, customer locations, and branch offices, end-users change preferences and options, sometimes in inadvisable ways. Their calls to the help desk require technicians to guess what the problem with an unseen laptop might be. Add to those laptops the smart phone in most employee pockets and occasional tablet and IT managers in a 100 person company might be trying to corral 250 end-user devices to accomplish needed management and maintenance tasks while keeping the end-user community up and running. Rolling out new applications and upgrades, backing up hard drives, installing and maintaining security software and other necessary maintenance tasks can become incredibly time-consuming. By de-coupling operating systems, applications, and files from end-user hardware, virtualization allows IT to deliver work environments from the data center. End-users use secure login and authorization to access and work with their devices as if everything was stored on the hard drive. End-users do have to get used to their digital resources living in the datacenter but the benefits of that arrangement outweigh whatever new login and authorization routines come with it. Anywhere, anytime, any device access to familiar work environments and needed files along with reliable performance fits end-user work behavior. And, it’s nice to know that IT maintenance tasks are being performed back at the data center without interrupting work. How Desktop Virtualization Delivers IT Benefits End-users aren’t the only desktop virtualization beneficiaries. IT staff also find time and cost sav- ings by simplifying desktop management while ensuring performance and reliability. Rather than scrambling to corral mobile devices in order to roll-out new applications or upgrades, perform backups, or update security systems, technicians accomplish the needed work in the data center.2 ©2011 Dell and Intel
  3. 3. Back to top Streamlined management of end-user devices offers immediate time/cost savings opportunities. So does IT’s ability to thin out the hard drive capacity of end-user laptops. Distributing high-end laptops that deliver the kind of capacity and performance demanded by end-users can also be cost-prohibitive for SMBs that are trying to maintain budget levels. When end-users are using their laptops for intensive processing, the expense of high-end processors is justified. Since intensive processing is hardly constant, a lot of processing power goes to waste. Industry analysts including the Enterprise Strategy Group expect an increase in desktop virtual- ization adoption as companies migrate from Windows XP to Windows 7. Windows XP support will end in 2014 and companies are already planning how to accomplish the move. In a virtual environment, the new operating system can be delivered from servers to end-user machines that might continue to access other operating systems and incompatible applications. And, end-user hardware does not have to meet the processing requirements of the upgrade. The IT project is simplified and costs are reduced. (Gartner predicts that the price for Windows 7 migrations falls from $1,274 – $2,069 per PC to $100 in a virtual desktop environment). Virtual environments offer another important Windows 7 upgrade assist; applications that require Windows XP can be run on a virtual Windows XP desktop. That enables end-users to hang onto certain applications even after the migration, which reduces end-user issues and help desk calls. Of course, desktop virtualization allows end-users to run multiple operating systems on the same device, which further simplifies provisioning and management. Day-to-day IT tasks also shift their focus from end-user devices to the data center. Backup, security updates, helping end-users choose and set preferences and options are all accomplished on servers. This centralization of IT management allows for much more control which, in turn, leads to less end-user support and better end-user productivity. Security is a huge issue for every SMB, especially one that must comply with federal regulations. When data resides on hundreds of end-user devices, installing and maintaining security measures requires finding and checking laptops or anything with a hard drive. When the majority of corporate data resides on servers in the data center, security is centralized. Servers are protected. End-users are authenticated through Smart Cards or other methods. Stronger security — special passwords, authorization, etc. — can be put in place for sensitive, regulated data and applications. Virtual desktops wouldn’t benefit end-users or IT without high-performance, high-availability virtual servers. There’s no reason to thin down end-user hard drives and processing power if they can’t trust their access to power in the data center. Virtual servers also decouple the operating systems, applications and data from hardware, which enables workloads to be automatically balanced to meet the needs of the end-user community. While traditional server environments set up one-to-one relationships between server hardware and applications (a financial database server, an email server, etc.), virtual servers run multiple applications and operating systems. Not only does this allow server consolidation, it ensures the reliability of services and applications. If a virtual server goes down automatic fail-over sends processing tasks to another virtual server that has available capacity. Ensuring the reliability is another way to cut down the number of calls to the help desk.3 ©2011 Dell and Intel
  4. 4. Back to top Choosing a Desktop Virtualization Model While the benefits of desktop virtualization are many, SMBs differ in business model, end-user community location and behavior and along a host of other variables. IT managers have to understand desktop virtualization models and apply those that work best for their organization. There are seven models of desktop virtualization. SMBs might deploy one or more models depending on their need and ability to segment end-users by resource requirements. Terminal services – Think back to mainframe computing and you have a quick analogy for ter- minal services. End-user PCs are fairly static offering access to specific server-based applications that are configured for particular data input and transaction operations. Bank tellers, healthcare administrators working with patient records, and account clerks are good examples of appropriate terminal services users. Their PCs are display and input devices. Virtual hosted desktop (VHD) – VHD allows every end-user to access his or her own virtual machine complete with applications, files, operating system, and settings. All resources are stored and managed centrally from the datacenter. Since end-users are accessing and interacting with their work environment, which might include graphics or data intensive applications via the internet, performance and reliability are essential. Blade PCs – Blade PCs move the chipset, processor and graphics silicon from the end-user PC to a small card that’s mounted on the rack of a central unit in the datacenter. Mouse, keyboard, and display functions remain on the client PC. This allows and one-to-many relationship between end-users and blades. Management and security is greatly enhanced while end-users get the benefits of VHD. OS Image Streaming – When mobility isn’t required, OS image streaming offers IT and end-users the benefits of VHD without the costs. End-user devices are bare metal. An OS image is streamed from the datacenter and executes locally using the client CPU and graphics capabilities. Clients do not require a hard drive. Software is prepared for streaming so that launch and initiation software goes first followed by other higher-demand applications. Remote OS Boot – Like OS streaming, remote OS boot streams a complete OS image to a PC that has a deactivated hard drive or no hard drive at all. However, clients boot directly from a storage area network (SAN) device and the SAN becomes the hard drive. This eliminates the need for soft- ware preparation and streamlines the user experience, management, and server requirements. Application Streaming or Application Virtualization – Application streaming offers the management and security control of terminal services while allowing application caching for off-network use. (Data resides on the computer while cached applications are in use, which might not be appropriate if high-levels of security are warranted.) Client operating systems are installed on and executed from local hard drives. Applications are streamed from the data center but run on an abstraction layer and are not installed in the OS registry or system files. Virtual Containers – Virtual containers offer a good method for providing standard, general- purpose work environments or create single-purpose virtual appliances. Virtual machine images4 ©2011 Dell and Intel
  5. 5. Back to top that include operating systems and applications are streamed to local clients for execution. Local graphics capabilities and processing power ensure that all applications are responsive. As can be seen from these very quick descriptions, every virtualization model presents its own pros and cons, costs and benefits. Many of them can be used in combination and they all impose different levels of datacenter build-out and end-user device reconfiguration. One thing is consis- tent across models; the data center has to support an increased amount of processing and has to deliver greater levels of performance and availability. Power to the Data Center Every virtual desktop environment requires more work — more execution, more authorization, more processing, more delivery — to be performed in the data center. End-users shift their expectations for laptop power to expectations for server power that will support the work they do on laptops and other mobile devices. In fact, since the data center is home to processing power, end-user expectations for speed and reliability might actually increase. Shifting workloads to servers with capacity not only assures end-users that the speed they rely on will be available, but it also allows for server consolidation. Rather than dedicating servers to par- ticular applications or data processing tasks only to have all of that processing power sit idle from time to time, workloads are automatically balanced across a group, or farm, of virtual servers. Server consolidation means fewer servers. Fewer servers consume less electricity and require less cooling, which further decreases energy consumption. Smaller data centers require less space; they can scale up in power without requiring physical expansion. Processor technology can add to the energy savings by intelligently throttling down power consumption to the lowest level required to deliver the needed performance. More significantly, processors that support the greatest levels of consolidation enable data centers to scale cost-effectively and continue to deliver to end-user needs and expectations. Successful desktop virtualization depends on a highly reliable, high-performance data center. And that depends upon virtual servers that include the right processor technology. Virtual Server Processing Power from Dell and Intel Together, Dell and Intel provide a broad array of high-performance, high-availability servers and storage devices that are designed to support virtual desktop environments. Given the number of desktop virtualization models and server configuration options available, Dell is also ready to provide expertise and consultation that helps IT managers and their organizations choose the infrastructure elements that will meet current requirements and offer seamless scalability as the organization changes and grows. Dell Servers with Intel Processors Dell’s family of PowerEdge servers are available in tower, rack, and blade models — all of which can be tailored to a company’s size and virtualization plans. In order to fully support virtual desk- top and server environments emphasis is placed on reliability and performance.5 ©2011 Dell and Intel
  6. 6. Back to top Redundant components — no single points of failure — make Dell PowerEdge servers highly reliable. Should a fan, power supply, or other component fail, its backup unit will take over until the broken primary unit is replaced. On top of being redundant, components are hot pluggable: they can be removed and replaced while the server is up and running. Reliability is also assured with dual internal SD (Secure Digital) modules for storing virtualization hypervisors. End-users do not lose access to applications when fixes are being made. Redundancy and hot pluggability create a safety net that protects access to the critical line of business applications. Performance is assured by Intel Xeon 5600 series multi-core processors, which offer 6.36X better performance per watt than single core processors. That means that even intense data retrieval or graphics creation and manipulation processes run fast. End-users don’t have to wait for the information they need to complete orders, process invoices, or generate end-of-the-quarter financial reports, even when it’s being accessed via a virtual desktop. Intel Xeon 5600 series multi-core processors further boost performance and savings through: • Intel® Turbo Boost Technology – Server performance is automatically maximized by increasing core frequencies which enables faster speeds for either specific threads or very heavy workloads. • Intel® Intelligent Power Technology – The processor and memory don’t always need the same amount of power. Intel Intelligent Power Technology automatically shifts both CPU and memory to the lowest power state that still delivers the performance required. That not only saves on energy used to run the server, but reduces the heat output which, in turn, reduces cooling requirements. Intel Xeon processors are also known for energy efficiency. Power consumption is scaled to workload. Even if servers are left on to accommodate around the clock workers and off-hours processing, less energy will be used at off-peak periods. That adds power savings benefits above those gained through server virtualization and consolidation. Additional energy savings is gained through: • Automated energy efficiency – Idling cores (those that are not needed to support current workloads) are powered down to near-zero consumption independently of working cores to reduce overall power consumption. • Automated low-power states – Processor, memory, and I/O controllers are automatically reduced to the power state that will support performance needed by the current workload. Dell EqualLogic Storage Dell EqualLogic storage devices, which, like Dell PowerEdge servers, come in a broad array of configurations, are built to accommodate virtual server environments. All devices assume data- base growth and can scale out performance and capacity. SMBs purchase only the storage they need knowing that expansion can easily happen at any time. This prevents over purchasing and under-utilization. It’s also why these devices are considered extremely cost-effective.6 ©2011 Dell and Intel
  7. 7. Back to top Like PowerEdge Servers, EqualLogic storage devices have redundant, hot-swappable compo- nents (fans, power supplies, disk drives with hot spares). Those features, along with a fault- tolerant, redundant controller and enterprise-class RAID protection, enable devices to offer 99.999% availability. Dell Services Rolling out new technology inside any company, especially technology that requires end-users and IT to think differently about where processing is happening, where applications and data reside, and how they are accessed and secured, presents a challenge. IT managers in SMBs have some work to do before they and their organizations realize any benefit from desktop virtualization. Dell helps to ease the move to desktop virtualization with services that help IT managers under- stand what changes have to be made to the data center, how to supplement current server and storage capacity, how to fully utilize virtual servers and maximize consolidation, and what particular servers and storage devices will deliver the performance required. Dell consultants can work on-site or via telephone to prescribe configurations that are needed today and to anticipate when and how business growth will demand additional capacity and performance. Servers and storage devices are configured and tested at Dell before they are packaged for ship- ment. When they arrive in the data center they are ready for out-of-the-box implementation. IT might want consultants to be on-site to help with implementation or continue to access advice and information over the phone. Building a relationship with one vendor that understands and can supply a data center environment that supports desktop virtualization is an important convenience for IT managers inside SMBs. Dell and Intel have worked together to create a broad array of high-performance, high-availability servers that are right-sized for near future requirements and able to scale with increasing demand. Conclusion End-user work styles and times and places are changing, forcing IT managers inside SMBs to find cost-effective means of providing high-perfomance, high-reliability access to operating systems, applications, and files. Desktop virtualization allows IT to decouple end-user devices from the services they run to turn the lightest weight clients into productive work tools. Rather than housing all work resources on the client device, end-users access applications or whole work environments from servers and storage in the datacenter. While desktop virtualization can be accomplished through a variety of models, the data center always becomes the focus of performance and availability enhancements. Dell and Intel have partnered to deliver the server processing power needed to support virtual desktop environments. Along with consulting and implementation services, Dell provides IT managers with a single vendor relationship on which to build a cost-effective virtual infrastructure that meets current needs and can easily scale as business demands.7 ©2011 Dell and Intel