Lately I’ve been doing a lot of discussions with companies around Virtual Desktops (VDI) and these meetings usually fall into 2 types. First type is “what is VDI” or “VDI Best Practices” and even sometimes it’s “Why VDI now” or VDI 101. Normally this is an open discussion around why they are looking at VDI, what sort of use-cases have I seen with other customers and typically the discussion is around design ideas. The 2nd type of customer meeting is usually a “Scale-out VDI” or I like to say, how to take your VDI POC to the next level. Don’t get me wrong, there are other things/reasons/discussions around VDI but it seems lately that’s where I’ve spent some of my time.
In the 101/201 types of meetings companies are on the fence relative to wanting to do VDI, and they for sure are on the fence on what VDI solution they want to move forward with. I normally explain to customers that I’m a VMware Fanboy and a lot of my experience and hands-on has been with VMware View so I normally ask them to forgive me if the discussion is centered around View 4.5 (and View 4.6). I will tell you that in most cases, View and some of the other solutions on the market use the same general design principals so even if they choose not to go with View, the information I’m sharing will be useful to them. Here are a couple of things I try and share with the customer.
First and foremost, make sure you understand the use-cases for VDI. No company does 100% VDI for all employees so it’s important to understand that it will be the same for them. It’s okay not to be 100%. Secondly we talk about sizing for VDI. Most customers start their Proof of Concept (POC) on their existing storage array which is fine, unless you know that you will be rolling VDI out as quickly as possible at the end of the POC. If you plan to do that, make sure your array is sized to support your growth. I normally use 15 to 20 IOPS per desktop when sizing an array. In other words, take the number of desktops and multiple times 15 or 20 IOPS. That IOP number is what we can call the IO pool. Your IO pool will dictate how many disk drive spindles you will need to support it. For instance, a 15k RPM SAS drive supports about 180 IOPS per drive. So, if you have 500 desktops, and you use 20 IOPS per desktop as a typical size, your IOPS pool will need to be about 10,000. 10,000 IOPS divided by 180 IOPS (drive) equals about 56 spindles. Before I get nasty comments below, these (Desktop IO, Drive IO etc) numbers can vary all over the place so keep that in mind. One thing I should point out, an SSD (EFD in EMC Terms) can do 2000 IOPS to 5000 IOPS but have a low amount of useable space so a combination of the 2 technologies (SAS / SSD) can help drive down the number of spindles a TON. In certain cases, it can cut the spindle count in half !!!
As a side note, people don’t normally do POC’s as a means to see if an array works, or if VDI is the right fit for them. I think there is enough documentation on the internet to get that squared away. Most POC’s are trying to zero in on their design around the Desktop OS (how many different kinds of desktop images will you support), profile management and most important working with the end users to make sure their VDI experience is “as good, if not better” then what they are using today. VDI will die on the vine if the user community refuses to embrace it. My recommendation is to pick a few of the “not so quiet or shy” end users to help with the POC. Don’t worry about where they are in the org chart, work with those end users that really understand how to network with others. I fit that bill nicely. If I like something (or not like something) I’m usually not shy about sharing it with others. If you win me over, I’ll help you win others over as well. Make sense?
So that is a really high level 101 but should get you moving in the right direction. Below are a couple of blog sites and other things you should check out as you move down the VDI path.
Various Blog posts around VDI
· We have a vSpecialist on our team by the name of Andre Leibovici. He has a GREAT online VDI sizing calculator over on his blog site. You should spend some time with it. http://myvirtualcloud.net/?page_id=1076
· If you know you will be going down the VMware View VDI path and you really want to make sure you know what you are doing, you would be CRAZY not to check out Brian Knudtson’s VMware View Administration Training system over at ww.TrainSignal.com – it’s AWESOME. As part of VMware’s vExpert program, David Davis with TrainSignal hooked me up with access to it and I’ve been really impressed with it. Here is a brief description of it:
o View is VMware’s solution for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). This course is designed to teach the knowledge and skills necessary to support a VMware View Infrastructure. This includes defining, configuring, monitoring, troubleshooting and maintaining the users, pools, applications, data, and components that make up the VDI system.
· If you’ve never installed VMware View and are looking for a fantastic “How to install VMware View” then this is the site for you. Paul Slager has pulled together a multi-part install guide for VMware View 4.5 (with 4.6 update) and when I first started messing around with View, this site was bookmarked for future reference. Especially when you start diving into Linked Clones and how this all works together. Not to mention, there are dependencies you need to think about as you install View.
· From a storage design perspective, check out a blog post I did called “Follow up PCoIP Questions”. Don’t get confused by the title, towards the bottom I posted a preso I did called “Why Virtual Desktops Today” that has some Storage design considerations. Specifically around SSD/EFD’s and EMC’s use of it with FastCache and FastVP. By the way, FAST stands for Fully Automated Storage Tiering.
· Security has been a pretty good use-case justification for VDI. I did blog post called “Secure Virtual Desktops” that talks further about it. I posted a demo of RSA’s Data Loss Prevention solution on the site as well, you should check it out if you’ve not seen it before.
Various EMC and VMware Documents:
· EMC VDI Reference Architecture (VNX+VMware View)
· VMware / Imprivata White Paper (if you are in Healthcare – you should check this one out)
So there ya go !! This should help you get started down the VDI path. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment. Also, feel free to leave a link to a VDI blog post you found helpful.