WHITE PAPER RUN VDI IN THE CLOUD WITH PANZURA SKYBRIDGE

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1 WHITE PAPER RUN VDI IN THE CLOUD WITH PANZURA What if you could provision VDI in the cloud as a utility, colocating ondemand VDI instances and data next to each other and close to your users, anywhere in the world? If you could do that, you d be able to eliminate latency between the instance and the user, and you d be able to take advantage of cloud economics for VDI. In this white paper, we ll show you how you can use Panzura SkyBridge to do that Panzura WPSkybridgev

2 Introduction You ve seen what VDI can do. Desktop management is easier, less expensive and your users get remote access to a secure desktop environment. But deploying VDI is still complex and expensive, even with all the tools and technologies available to help. The problems and the costs shift from the desktop to the datacenter and network. Latency is a VDI killer, so you put VDI farms as close as possible to the users on the network. Storage is another choke point for VDI, so you ve added flash storage to reduce disk latency and improve performance. Usage patterns are also hard to predict, so you overprovision an already costly infrastructure. On top of that, small sites and temporary projects are hard to support. Servers and storage to support VDI at a distant office or construction trailer with just a few users just doesn t make sense. What if you could provision VDI in the cloud as a utility with a single click, colocating ondemand VDI instances and data next to each other and close to your users, anywhere in the world? If you could do that, you d be able to eliminate latency between the instance and the user, and you d be able to take advantage of cloud economics for VDI. We ll show you how in this white paper. The Benefits of Virtual Desktops A Forrester study found that 29 percent of companies in North America have deployed some form of desktop virtualization. Most of them 47 percent are looking to lower costs, though the benefits extend well beyond that. That s a good thing, too, because as we ll discuss, the cost equation doesn t always work out. Virtual desktop infrastructure simplifies provisioning, facilitates remote access and makes desktop management, security and control of the desktop environment much easier. There are several forms of desktop virtualization. In this paper, we focus on serverhosted VDI (e.g. VMware Horizon View, Citrix XenDesktop), with all of the necessary infrastructure deployed seamlessly in the cloud as an extension to your corporate network. Provisioning VDI eliminates the need to configure and provision each PC. VDI allows IT to quickly provision a complete virtual desktop to any user on the network. Since virtual desktops are most often created from a gold image, little or no configuration is needed once the gold image is created. IT can also publish only specific applications. The vast majority of applications can be supported on VDI. Remote Access VDI simplifies remote access for many companies. Users can connect from any device, or bring their own PCs and connect to a VDI session. VDI is perfect for many remote access scenarios, especially for users who may need to login from home or a different office periodically. Desktop Management Managing a fleet of PCs can be expensive. VDI centralizes management and takes away the painful process of managing, updating and supporting hundreds or thousands of PCs. Security & Control VDI makes it much easier to control access to corporate data since applications and data are management centrally. IT can prevent users from storing locally, disable or restrict access for specific users, applications or even do things like restrict printing or file downloads to local devices. Controlled thirdparty access to data VDI lets you give contractors or partners restricted access to specific applications and data. By provisioning virtual desktops for thirdparty users, you can maintain complete control over their access to corporate resources. 2

3 Challenges with Virtual Desktops VDI also faces some challenges. Server and storage costs, idle infrastructure and complexity have hindered deployments. Filers VDI Manager Virtual Desktop VPN Clients Active Directory Servers Storage Infrastructure Costs Unused Storage Full Storage Figure 1: Complicated VDI Infrastructure creates challenges Backup According to Gartner, to upfront capital costs for virtual desktops can be 20 to 40% more than traditional PCs. Storage alone can account for up to 50% of the costs. The high cost of separate infrastructure, investment in third party tools and management overhead can turn companies off. Yet cost savings are one of the main reasons many companies are interested in VDI. A Forrester survey found that for 47% of companies, cost savings was a key factor in considering VDI. It s Complicated Getting VDI right is hard work. To make sure VDI performs and functions well for users, IT has to select and size infrastructure carefully and plan the deployment. There are many factors to consider: the number and type of users, user and server geolocation, data proximity to the virtual desktops, network connectivity, application requirements, and various technical details such as whether to use persistent or nonpersistent desktops. The promises of singleclick provisioning have proven to be elusive. All Those Servers and Storage Arrays Doing Nothing VDI can be complex and infrastructureintensive, but also often means overprovisioning servers and storage. There are two reasons you end up with more hardware than you need: VDI and virtualization in general can eat storage alive. They are I/O intensive workloads, so to improve performance, companies often provision far more storage than needed to spread the I/O across more disks and alleviate bottlenecks. But that means paying for much more storage than you re actually use, or investing in SSDs. Even if you ve done a great job planning the deployment, it s hard to know exactly how many active users you ll have next year. You don t want to go back for more budget early on in the VDI deployment, so you take a conservative approach and get more than enough. All flash, hybrid arrays and hyperconverged systems with SSDs can help, but only makes sense at scale. And flash storage adds to the cost side of the equation. The Hidden Problem with Virtual Desktops VDI has a dark side, too. Despite IT s best intentions to create a better user experience, VDI can be unpopular with users. A Forrester Research study found that only 13% of users are completely satisfied that IT has a sufficient understanding of their needs. Since VDI replaces the local desktop client experience for many users, there s a high risk of user dissatisfaction. Why? 3

4 The LWord... Latency VDI requires a solid network connection between the user and VDI farm. With the wide availability of Wifi and 4G, it s getting much easier for users to stay connected. But the network connection is still a challenge for many users. The further the user is from the VDI server farm, the more network latency they ll encounter. Wifi connections and multiple hops over public internet infrastructure can also contribute to latency. Up to a point, this is tolerable. The remote desktop protocols are designed to work well with 50 to 100ms of latency. But with too much latency, the user will see their cursor lag behind as they move the mouse, then jump past the point they thought they had stopped. Solving this can be expensive, and often falls short. Common approaches include: Put VDI servers closer to the users. If you have enough users in one region, you can build a VDI farm at a regional office. Use pointtopoint private networks. MPLS and private VPN solutions offer lower latency than public internet connections, but come at a cost. Use network optimization to help improve performance. Packet shaping, WAN optimization and other technologies can help improve performance, but also add to the overall cost. Costly for Small Sites or Temporary Use In theory, VDI is a great solution for smaller sites. In practice, it only works well if as we discussed above the user is close to the VDI farm. And when you provision VDI for international offices, you need to have an IT person onsite to install, configure and maintain the VDI infrastructure and applications. Given the challenges, it s no wonder user satisfaction is an issue. Can the Cloud Make VDI Easier? VDI in the cloud, or DesktopasaService (DaaS) has real potential when you want to extend virtual desktops or applications beyond a core set of users in your main offices. There are several cases where it makes sense to consider VDI in the cloud: Small Offices, Branch Offices and Home Workers If users aren t close to a corporate datacenter, latency can be an issue, but putting VDI servers in place to service just a few users doesn t make economic sense. Using a cloud provider s regional data center can reduce latency between the user and the virtual desktop or application. Global Expansion, Mergers & Acquisitions When you need to bring a large number of users on board at once spinning up VDI instances in the cloud can speed things along significantly. It bypasses the long lead times for provisioning infrastructure onpremise in a new location. Temporary Sites Architecture, Engineering and Construction firms often need to set up temporary sites at project locations for a few months to a year. VDI in the cloud makes it easier to provision, and eliminates unnecessary infrastructure costs. Business Partners Connecting business partners or clients to your applications is normally tricky, if not completely impossible. Provision virtual desktops in the cloud especially for geographically distant partners can make this easier. 4

5 Does Cloud Make Everything Better? VDI in the cloud, or DesktopasaService (DaaS) can solve some of the challenges: Cloud Economics You get the economics of the cloud, turning big upfront infrastructure investments into an operating expense. As cloud compute and storage costs drop, you get to take advantage of the lower costs. Try telling your storage vendor that you want to pay monthly only for the storage you actually use, and you want your per GB costs to drop as drive prices do. Pay as you go Cloud services like Amazon or Microsoft Azure make this a real possibility for virtual desktops. If you can easily run desktops in the cloud, you can spin up systems only when you need them. Compute charges are also typically only accrued when cloud instances are in use, so when users are inactive off hours, for example you don t pay for compute. Provision Anywhere Since cloud providers have global datacenters, you can provision virtual desktops just about anywhere in the world. It s a lot faster than racking servers in a colocation facility and getting all the software installed and set up. This also reduces session latency since the user is closer to the desktop instance. The Last Mile Problem: The Downsides of VDI in the Cloud VDI in the cloud also amplifies some challenges and introduces new ones. If you re looking to tie cloud VDI in to your corporate data center and applications, you re going to encounter a last mile problem. There are a number of missing pieces that make it hard to take full advantage of cloud VDI: Cloud expertise required. To set up cloud, you need to become an expert on how to configure cloud instances and all the associated storage, networking and security. Connecting back to the corporate network. Connecting your internal network directly to a cloud instance can be difficult and expensive. It often means setting up a VPN network, creating specialized routing tables and potentially paying to colocate some of your servers in a facility close to the cloud datacenter. Separate environments. Cloud gateways let you connect some of your storage to the cloud mostly to simplify backup and archiving. But from an operational standpoint, your data center and the cloud are different environments with islands of storage, virtual servers and applications that aren t tightly connected. No file locking or version control. If you have files that are copied to the cloud, they re effectively separate copies. If users access and change them in the cloud, you end up with multiple versions. And because there s no integrated file locking between your site and the cloud, you can t protect files from being overwritten. Application and file latency. When you deploy VDI in the cloud, user data is typically kept onpremise. This requires a VPN tunnel between the cloud and your data center, which is costly and slow. Virtual desktops may be closer to the users, but all you ve really done is move the latency problem from the user session itself to the applicationdata connection. Directory services integration. Since the cloud is effectively an island of infrastructure, there s no easy way to tie your internal user authentication into a cloud VDI farm. 5

6 Solving the Last Mile Problem for VDI in the Cloud Panzura SkyBridge solves the challenges and complexity of running VDI and application virtualization completely in the cloud. It creates a complete virtual site in the cloud with a single click that connects securely to your existing corporate infrastructure. Skybridge effectively lets you take advantage of the public cloud to set up virtual sites and run VDI in any region, but it looks and acts like part of your overall infrastructure. PUBLIC OR PRIVATE CLOUD AUTHORITATIVE STORAGE Hong Kong Figure 2: Panzura SkyBridge Bangalore Here s how SkyBridge works: A Single Locking File System for Everyone, Everywhere SkyBridge connects to Panzura s Global File System, so all of your users are connected to the same set of consistent files whether they re using a traditional PC, connected to an internally hosted virtual desktop or a cloud hosted virtual desktop anywhere in the world. Panzura s file locking also works across your sites and the cloud. Users can collaborate confidently without worrying about accidentally overwriting files or waiting for files to replicate over the network (to learn more about Panzura s file locking, you can download our white paper). Add a Virtual Site Anywhere By adding a Panzura Cloud Controller as virtual appliance in the cloud, SkyBridge connects a cloud site to the Panzura Global File System. SkyBridge can provision controllers in any cloud region at a supported public or private cloud provider. Controllers in the cloud and at your offices all connect to the same consistent, locking file system. Once the controller is provisioned, SkyBridge can provision the associated applications and establish secure connections between your corporate infrastructure and the cloud. Although SkyBridge is designed as a platform to support many different applications such as search, antivirus, or file auditing we ll focus on VDI in this paper. 6

7 Provision a VDI Farm Anywhere in the Cloud with a Single Click With SkyBridge, it s easy to provision a VDI farm in any cloud region in just minutes. From an IT perspective, there are only a few parameters involved, all of which are automated with a single click through SkyBridge: Select cloud zone for deployment. For example, in Amazon, you can choose any of 11 regions. Securely connect your datacenter to the cloud. You provide a range of IP addresses to SkyBridge, and it configures and initializes the connection between the cloud and corporate datacenter. Once the connection between your datacenter and the cloud is established, it behaves just like a Layer 2 VPN connection, so the cloud looks like it s part of your infrastructure. No complex routing configuration is required. Provision Panzura Cloud Controller. SkyBridge automatically deploys a virtual Panzura cloud controller in the selected region and connects it to your existing Panzura Global File System. Provision VDI components. For example, with Citrix, SkyBridge automatically sets up Citrix XenDesktop or XenApp, Citrix ShareFile Storage Zone Controllers for mobile file access, as well as all relevant Windows Server and Microsoft SQL components. Access control. SkyBridge integrates with your existing Active Directory instance to authenticate users. Since a Panzura controller is already provisioned in the same cloud region, the data is right next to the user session. You can easily repeat this process in any cloud region to put VDI sessions close to your users. Once a VDI farm is set up, users simply login to Citrix Receiver using their existing credentials and access a desktop or application with one click. The virtual desktop s location in the cloud is transparent to the user. They can t tell whether they re accessing a system in the cloud or the company data center. Why Panzura SkyBridge SkyBridge makes it possible to run virtual desktops and applications in the cloud seamlessly, all connected to your corporate infrastructure. With SkyBridge, you don t need to be an expert in cloud computing infrastructure. You can easily: Provision virtual desktops and applications when you need them, where you need them. SkyBridge lets you use the cloud to quickly deploy VDI anywhere in the cloud without requiring the traditional VDI hardware capital expense. Create a hybrid VDI cloud. Your existing VDI farms are connected to the same global file system as any cloud VDI farms you create even if you re using different VDI solutions. Offer a mobile desktop. You can give users access to a desktop session anywhere in the world. Put applications and data close to the users. No matter where the users are, you can put VDI sessions and the user data close to them, eliminating latency issues even for far flung users on other continents. Consolidate infrastructure from small sites to the cloud. Since you can put VDI farms in the cloud region closest to each office, you don t need local infrastructure at those offices to deliver VDI. Simplified networking. SkyBridge solves routing and connectivity challenges. It automatically connects your datacenter to the cloud without requiring any specialized networking setup. Take advantage of cloud economics. By deploying VDI in the cloud, you avoid big upfront expense of servers and storage to support it. Avoid data transfer charges. If you re connecting onpremise data to VDI in the cloud, you ll rack up data transfer charges. With SkyBridge, data and compute are both in cloud, so you don t have to worry about data transfer costs 7

8 The SkyBridge Platform Beyond VDI Panzura SkyBridge is a platform that solves the last mile problem for hybrid cloud. It lets you extend your corporate data into the cloud so you can take advantage of the cloud for VDI and potentially many other applications. SkyBridge has tremendous value for VDI because of the massive issues with the economics, configuration, and maintenance of onpremises VDI, but also allows any application in to run in the cloud. Highperformance computing, antivirus, file auditing, search, indexing and rendering applications can now run natively in the cloud without any changes. By connecting to existing corporate datasets, SkyBridge lets you take advantage of the elasticity of cloud compute and eliminate onpremise performance issues caused by running applications in the corporate datacenter. Figure 3: Panzura SkyBridge makes it possible to run many applications in the cloud, such as highperformance compute, antivirus, file auditing and search By solving the last mile of hybrid cloud computing, SkyBridge transforms a cloud datacenter into a corporate datacenter. Data is always immediately available and consistent in every datacenter including the cloud. Best of all, you don t need a degree in cloud computing to use it. Learn More Please visit or contact us at or For more information on Panzura s Global File Locking technology check out the white paper. 695 Campbell Technology Parkway #225 Campbell, CA (408) For more information: For sales: 8

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