The VMware View Bootcamp ends today with a talk about the View Reference Architecture. Mac Binesh, a Sr. Technical Marketing Manager outlines some of the typical costs associated with and benefits of adopting a virtual desktop infrastructure. I found the content a fitting end to the View Bootcamp series. When I look back at the previous discussions I realize that many of the regular posters have already come to realize the ways that a product such as View can benefit their organization, and not just with regard to CAPEX/OPEX per physical desktop. My notes from the Day 9 video. What is a Stateless Desktop?

  • Referred to as a “floating” desktop in View 4.5/4.6
  • Generic user desktop that is allocated to a user at login
  • User changed to the desktop are discarded at logoff
  • No User installed application
  • The VM returns to the desktop pool upon log off
  • Lower cost per VM can be realized with tiered storage
  • Starting with View 4.5 the “floating” VM can be placed on solid state disk on a blade server; previously the VM could only reside on the SAN

Reference Architecture Goals and Benefits

  • The reference architecture represents a validated VDI solution that was built and tested by VMware
  • The reference architecture represents a realistic desktop workload, a task/knowledge worker
  • Lower the CAPEX (capital expense) costs as measured on a per desktop basis
Benefits of Using Stateless Desktops
  • To the User:
    • Fast login times
    • Fast access to applications
    • Easy to reboot the VM
  • To the IT Department:
    • Improved SLA’s
    • Easier to manage than physical desktops
    • No “storms” (boot, login)
    • No SAN required
    • Scales easily
  • To the Business:
    • Reduced CAPEX and OPEX compared to physical desktops
    • Enhanced user productivity (more stable and consistent desktop experience)
    • Enhanced IT productivity (less to manage)
    • Plus all the other benefits associated with leveraging VDI
Cost Analysis
  • Since 2008 the datacenter hardware required by VMware View has decreased in cost by approximately 75%.
  • CAPEX Datacenter (Hardware) Cost Per Stateless Virtual Desktop (figures from VMware): $242
    • Qty 12: 8 core server w/96GB of ram: $212,796
      • 12 desktops per server core
      • Windows 7 23-bit with 1Gb of ram.
    • Datacenter switch: $11,842
    • SAN (20TB): $69,450
    • Qty 32: 160GB SSD drives for servers: $15,968
    • Total: $309,756 ($242 per desktop)

Key Use Cases

  • Remote Office/Branch Office OR Business Process Outsourcing
    • Reduced costs since desktops and users are centrally managed.
    • Sensitive data stays in the data center.
    • Streamlines application and desktop deployment.
  • Labs, Kiosks, and Training Centers
    • Supports distance learning environments.
    • Rapidly provision desktops.
    • Enhanced security with centralized control and management.
    • Reduced costs and increased control.

View 4.5 Scalability Testing and Results

  • For VMware testing the following architecture was used:
    • Linked clone replica base image resided on local SSD storage
    • Parent base image, user data, and the VM’s .vswp file resided on the SAN (shared storage)
      • .vswp files and infrastructure VM’s  (parent base image and View servers themselves) resided on NFS
      • Standard file shares were used for Windows user data redirections
    • Non persistent automated pool that refreshes immediately
  • Test Strategy and Success Criteria
    • Establish a baseline for desktops per server
      • Gradually increase the number of desktops until the resources of the server are maxed out
      • Reduce the number of desktops until utilization is at an acceptable level (VMware used ~70% CPU utilization as their figure)
    • Start with two servers, then scale out in two server increments
      • Validate application performance with each server scale out
    • Monitor SSD utilization
  • Test Results
    • VMware was able to scale to 96 desktops on an 8 core server (12 VM’s to server core)
    • Varied reboots of VM’s were sustained without consuming 100% of the system resources
    • 10Gbit ethernet combined with the use of local storage made it obvious that the networking environment could handle a fully scaled server load
    • The traffic observed is similar to that of a typical file server
  • VMware View 4.5/4.6 with tiered storage will drastically lower CAPEX, and simplifies cost modeling of desktop virtualization
  • Testking has proven that VMware View 4.5/4.6 provides linear scalability across both compute and storage regardless of scale

References from the presentation plus some I have added:

I hope everyone has enjoyed my summaries of the VMware View Bootcamp videos. I was interested in viewing the videos simply because I am doing increasing amounts of work with VDI and virtualization in general. My focus is more on validating the data center architecture so I find these videos valuable as they remind me of the end to end requirements of the solution as a whole. Follow the Day 9 discussions on the VMware forum page.
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