Data Center Tech Blog

This week’s VMworld 2014 conference in San Francisco brings VDI into sharp focus as a workload that clearly benefits from flash technology. With solid-state drives (SSDs), physical servers supporting VDI can support more VMs per-server than would be possible with hard-disk drives (HDDs), allowing IT groups to scale-up resources far more easily.

In practical terms, this means that more end-users sessions can be supported on fewer server “footprints” – while guaranteeing predictable performance and service-level agreements (SLAs) for end-users accessing corporate applications from a central-site data center.

Historically, VDI got off to a slow start in the early 2000s. The idea was right – but the technology that would enable widespread adoption wasn’t there yet. Since then, many gains have been made in virtualization in data center infrastructure (including blade server adoption), networking bandwidth, and in leveraging flash drives for speed – all of which are increasing VDI adoption today.

What’s Driving VDI Adoption?

Several forces are at work here as VDI becomes more widely used:

  • The need to reduce system administration expenses caused by the traditional and time-consuming practice of one-by-one updates to each individual desktop.
  • Speed and ease of deployment for new applications.
  • The need for secure access to corporate data that is centrally managed.

Business Drivers for VDI

It’s important to understand that business needs are primary drivers for VDI adoption. Why? Companies want to become more cost-efficient and more responsive to end-users’ needs.

From a business perspective, the push to centralize application updates and maintenance, to contain IT costs, and to reduce “sneaker-net” maintenance of hundreds of individual desktops – all are playing a key role.

Leveraging Flash For VDI Adoption

So why is flash so valuable to VDI deployments?

Flash storage helps to solve many questions related to VDI pain-points. Recent posts on this blog shared how flash can be most advantageous for various VDI tasks such as Desktop Recompose, VDI Pool Creation, and the I/O Blender Effect.

flash boot storm

Importantly, SSDs avoid the “boot storms” that slow desktop response times when large numbers of end-users start their VDI personal-desktop applications, all at once. SSDs allow IT organizations to increase the number of VMs supported per server, without sacrificing performance and application response times.

SanDisk® tested VDI configurations to determine the impact of flash on increasing VM density. These tests showed that, as VM density per server increases, the ability to scale up was much greater with SSDs than with hard-disk-drives (HDDs).

Here’s a link to a technical paper that details how SanDisk’s technical experts deployed and tested VDI on SSD-enabled systems to gain performance advantages: PDF download In one such test, using VMware Horizon View, the total number of I/O operations per second for the SSD configuration delivered 50% more IOPS, when compared with HDDs.

Flash and Virtualization Are Enabling Software-Defined Storage

SanDisk drives have been certified by VMware for use in VSAN deployments. SanDisk EVP John Scaramuzzo announced that support at the time of the VMware Partner Exchange (PEX) in March.

SanDisk SSDs support the acceleration of I/O among the VMware ESX servers – using the SSDs for high performance read/write caching – even when hard-disk drives are present in the VSAN solution. The vSAN solutions provide a software-defined network for virtualization. Each vSphere host must have at least one SSD when participating in the VSAN cluster. The more SSD capacity the host has, the greater the performance boost, because more I/O can be cached to the SSD.

As the SanDisk technical paper describes, VMware’s Horizon View is used for VDI, connecting multiple types of end user devices to personal virtual desktops that are running in the vSphere infrastructure in the data center. VMware vSAN can be used as the means of tying all the virtual desktops together.

Conclusion

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) has delivered on the solution once envisioned in the 2000s—making it a reality in many companies, universities and government agencies worldwide. Using VDI, hundreds, or even thousands, of end-users can access data and applications, stored in a well-managed central site, enhancing security, cost-efficiency and data protection.

Flash storage can enhance the customer experience, by ensuring a smooth flow of data back-and-forth, between the end-user‘s client device of choice – and the central-site repository for apps and data. Importantly, flash use avoids the frustrating phenomenon of “boot-storms” that have developed in the early morning – as all employees start up their systems.

That alone would make for a compelling use case. But flash also speeds overall performance of enterprise applications and email, making the entire data center more responsive to the timely delivery requirements for end-users’ desktop data.

Accelerate flash VDI

If you’re attending VMworld this week in San Francisco, SanDisk is showing how SSDs transform VDI deployments – making them faster and more efficient. We’ll have speakers and technical experts, including Biswa Bhattacharjee, who will walk you through the way these deployments are configured—and installed – and the business benefits of doing so. Make sure to stop by our booth, #1023, and see how VDI workloads accelerated by flash. Learn more here.

 

VMware VDI Desktop Recompose Testing Using SanDisk® ULLtraDIMM – Impact on User Downtime

SanDisk® Partners with VMware to Design APIs for IO Filtering for Server-side Solid-state Caching

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