Increasing Storage Performance, Reducing Cost and Simplifying Management for VDI Deployments

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1 Increasing Storage Performance, Reducing Cost and Simplifying Management for VDI Deployments

2 Table of Contents Introduction Benefits of VDI Storage challenges of VDI Dell EqualLogic arrays optimize storage performance for VDI deployments Desktop deployment management scenarios Dell EqualLogic FS7500 NAS for users homes Dell EqualLogic virtual-appliance-based software streamlines storage management Case Study: Kane County Conclusion

3 Introduction Enterprises are implementing virtual desktop infrastructures (VDI) to reduce the complexity of managing large numbers of client devices. By encapsulating the operating systems, applications and user data into isolated layers, IT organizations can reduce complexity, increase security and support the mobile workforce. A VDI deployment demands flexible storage that can handle the consolidation of user data, operating systems and applications. I/O transaction rates to storage vary during the day. For example, spikes are seen when large numbers of users boot their devices and log on or log off at the same time. Storage for user data must be managed carefully to provide the right blend of security, performance, data protection and capacity at a reasonable cost. Administrators need to provision and manage large numbers of desktop virtual machines (VMs), which can present an overwhelming task for VDI administrators without the appropriate storage architecture and tools. Dell EqualLogic PS series iscsi storage area networks (SANs) flexibly address VDI performance and capacity requirements. Hybrid arrays that combine solid-state disk (SSD) drives and Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) drives within a single enclosure are an ideal solution for handling intensive I/O spikes. Frequently accessed data pages are automatically moved to SSD drives to deliver high performance during I/O storms, while less frequently used pages are stored on SAS for cost-effective scaling. Dell EqualLogic arrays integrate with VMware to automate and simplify key storage functions, which reduces provisioning and administration time and prevents errors. Cost-effective capacity-focused arrays can provide the space for user data while the EqualLogic FS7500 network-attached storage (NAS) solution featuring the Dell Fluid File System presents CIFS and NFS file services for user homes. This white paper will explore two possible desktop deployment management scenarios: VMware View and EqualLogic Desktop Deployment Utility. 3

4 Benefits of VDI Physical desktop challenges The full-featured thick-client PC has long been the standard in desktop computing. But the many different types of PC hardware and users who require access to their desktop environment from anywhere are increasing the cost and complexity of desktop administration. Standardization is the traditional answer to this type of challenge, but PCs are notoriously difficult to standardize because of the many different types of hardware and users need to modify the desktop environment. As a result, the relatively low cost of PC hardware is increasingly offset by the high cost of management and support. VDI benefits Organizations are addressing these challenges by hosting user desktops as virtual machines in a centralized infrastructure, an arrangement know as VDI. The user interface to the desktop virtual machine is transmitted over the network to the end-user s client device. VDI makes it possible to centralize and streamline provisioning, configuration, resource management and workload management for desktop environments, resulting in a dramatic reduction in administrative workload. Users can access their desktop environment from any connected client and access multiple desktop environments from a single client. Storage challenges of VDI One of the biggest hurdles in delivering VDI performance and cost efficiencies has been that VDI places highly variable I/O demands on the supporting storage infrastructure. The nondeterministic nature of these workloads coupled with synchronized boot, log-in and log-off operations creates storage design and management challenges. If the storage is not able to service these requests with acceptable latency, the client devices experience delays and the 4

5 user experience is compromised. The VDI shared storage solution also needs to meet the capacity requirements created by the consolidation of large amounts of inexpensive stand-alone desktop storage into a centralized infrastructure. Dell EqualLogic arrays optimize storage performance for VDI deployments Providing cost-effective high performance with automated tiering The automatic workload tiering capability of the EqualLogic PS6000XVS series efficiently meets variable VDI performance demands. Dell EqualLogic PS6100XS, 6010XVS and PS6000XVS hybrid arrays feature SSD and SAS drives in a single enclosure. These arrays have intelligent software that constantly monitors data access patterns. Frequently accessed data is automatically moved to SSD drives in real time. SSD drives can perform a much higher number of I/O transactions, so they can handle the performance needs of the VDI workloads during I/O storms. Workloads can occupy multiple tiers, with read-intensive base images stored on low-latency SSDs and application data for each user stored on the high-capacity SAS drives. EqualLogic arrays use auto-tiering to effectively mitigate I/O storms while meeting high storage requirements at an affordable cost. Test demonstrates ability to handle I/O storms To validate these benefits, Dell performed performance benchmark testing to determine the upper limits of desktop VM density that can be achieved using VMware View when deployed over a single PS6100XS array, leveraging the latest storage capacity and performance optimization features. The test was designed to simulate a real-world scenario where 700 workers simultaneously start up their virtual desktops. At the peak of the resulting boot storm, the PS6100XS delivered 9,600 I/O operations per second (IOPS) with 19.3 ms 5

6 latency. When 700 users logged in simultaneously, the PS6100XS handled a workload of 6,300 IOPS with 8.7 ms latency for 32% read and 68% write. During the peak load, approximately 90% of the array IOPS were served by the SSD drives, which helped to deliver optimal performance. Off-loading storage-related tasks to storage array Dell EqualLogic was one of the first storage solutions to incorporate support for vstorage APIs for Array Integration (VAAI). This integration enables off-loading of storage-related tasks such as hardware-assisted locking, full copy and block zeroing to EqualLogic storage. VMware vsphere delegates these tasks to the storage layer to enable quick deployment of virtual machines from templates, improve storage performance and reduce network traffic and host compute overheads. Desktop deployment management scenarios Deployment with VMware View Composer VMware View Composer delivers advanced virtual image management to conserve disk space and streamline virtual desktop provisioning and deployment. VMware View Composer reduces storage requirements for virtual desktop machines by up to 90% and enables organizations to more effectively manage their desktop images. Using VMware View Composer, administrators can create hundreds of linked clones from a few base images, with each clone acting as a separate desktop but requiring only a fraction of the disk space needed for a full desktop. Linked clones can reduce storage capacity requirements by avoiding storage duplications, because only the changes from the base image are captured in each clone. 6

7 Deployment with EqualLogic Virtual Desktop Deployment Utility The EqualLogic Virtual Desktop Deployment Utility enables rapid deployment of desktop VMs from templates in a space-efficient way. This tool is integrated with VMware View and employs EqualLogic Template Volumes and Thin Clones to achieve space-efficient VDI deployments. It enhances productivity by automating VM pool creation, VM registration, and patch and update management. The Dell Virtual Desktop Deployment Utility automates the creation of View Manual Desktop Pools and delivers considerable space savings in a manner similar to View Composer (available in higher end VMware license packages). The tool creates VDI environments similar to View automated pools, thereby offering more choices to the VDI administrators. One of the advantages of the Virtual Desktop Deployment Utility is that there is no need to create datastores before deploying a pool. All operations required for creating datastores and providing access to the ESXi hosts are done automatically by the tool itself. This is in contrast to the View management interface, where the datastores need to be created in advance and presented to View during the creation of the automated pool. Thin clone technology in EqualLogic storage allows administrators to clone volumes without initially consuming any new storage space. This feature is well suited for VDI environments in which it is necessary to create many copies of virtual machine images. Dell EqualLogic FS7500 NAS for users homes Mixing VM data and users data causes the VM size to grow over time, leading to additional capacity requirements, slow access to data and high latency, and ultimately a degraded user experience. The EqualLogic FS7500 scale-out NAS retains user data in a separate, central location from which that data is 7

8 mounted when the user logs in. This model provides enhanced capacity utilization, high performance, low latency and an improved user experience. By separating user data from VMs, VDI administrators can ensure that users have access to their individual data from any client device. The EqualLogic FS7500 scale-out NAS provides multiple data protection, data management, data portability and access control advantages. These advantages include file-level snapshots for fast, simple backup and individual restoration of user files; unified management of NAS and SAN storage through a single interface; and expansion of file services performance on the fly. The EqualLogic FS7500 appliance is also integrated with the Microsoft Active Directory and Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP), enabling user roles, quotas, permissions and files to be managed from one location. Dell EqualLogic virtual-appliance-based software streamlines storage management EqualLogic automates many common storage configuration and management tasks, helping to reduce complexities in VDI environments and eliminate sources of error in storage setup and administration. Auto-Snapshot Manager Dell Auto-Snapshot Manager / VMware Edition (ASM/VE) provides data protection at the VM level. ASM/VE uses VMware vstorage APIs to create instantaneous, space-efficient, online hypervisor-aware snapshots, clones and remote replicas of VMs and Virtual Machine File System (VMFS) datastores. Administrators can set automated schedules for snapshots, clones and replicas. 8

9 Dell Multipath Extension Module The Dell Multipath Extension Module (MEM) automatically manages network connections. It creates iscsi sessions to all members that a volume spans. As the storage environment changes, MEM responds by automatically adding and removing iscsi sessions as needed. The availability of multiple connections to the SAN increases bandwidth to the SAN, provides load balancing across multiple connections and reduces the impact of failure of a single network port. Storage Replication Adapter for Site Recovery Management The VMware vcenter Site Recovery Management (SRM) Storage Replication Adapter (SRA) helps simplify disaster recovery management, automation and testing for virtualized data centers. Combined with the native EqualLogic PS series auto-replication feature, SRM enables administrators to easily replicate data, configure VM protection groups and test recovery plans. EqualLogic Datastore Manager Dell EqualLogic Datastore Manager provides fast and efficient storage integration and management of EqualLogic storage in VMware environments. This tool is used to create new datastores, expand existing datastores and monitor datastores from vcenter in a matter of minutes. Virtualized scale-out storage architecture EqualLogic virtualized scale-out architecture allows enterprises to scale their storage without complexities as their needs grow. Organizations can start small, with as little as a single-array SAN. Additional arrays can be added if additional capacity or performance are needed. When a new array is added, existing volumes are automatically and non-disruptively distributed across expanded storage pools, so storage can be scaled without disruption. 9

10 Case Study: Kane County Challenge The fourth-largest county in Illinois, Kane County has 2,000 employees and $460 million in revenues. Six years ago, the county s IT environment included mainframes, a token-ring network and a monolithic storage system. The county undertook an initiative to catch up with the leading edge of technology under tight budgetary constraints. Solution The county virtualized 100 physical servers using VMware on Dell PowerEdge servers and implemented Del EqualLogic PS series arrays split between its main data center and a disaster recovery site six miles away. Benefits Between virtualization and Dell EqualLogic storage, we saved $1 million over three years that we were able to give back to the county to use for other purposes, said Paul Netzel, SAN administrator for Kane County. In the old days, servers would go down once a day. But with virtualization on Dell PowerEdge servers and Dell EqualLogic storage, we re never down now. With EqualLogic it takes any IT generalist five minutes to set up an iscsi LUN. The county would have to hire more IT staff without these infrastructure improvements. 10

11 Conclusion A VDI deployment can place high capacity and performance demands on the underlying storage platform. The automatic workload tiering capabilities of Dell EqualLogic PS6000XVS arrays can easily support very fast access to high-demand data in a multi-tiered workload environment. Test results show that the EqualLogic PS6000XVS series arrays, using a combination of SSD and SAS drives, provide an optimal balance between performance and capacity that is well suited for supporting VDI environments. Dell EqualLogic PS series storage is fully VMware virtualization-aware, enabling automation and optimization of key storage functions such as desktop provisioning, network connection management, disaster recovery management and addition of new arrays. The result is a substantial reduction in the total cost of ownership for VDI. 11

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