Enhancing the HP Converged Infrastructure Reference Architectures for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

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1 Enhancing the HP Converged Infrastructure Reference Architectures for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Incorporating scalable, available SSD technologies into Citrix XenDesktop and VMware View deployments Technical white paper Table of contents Executive summary... 2 Introduction... 2 Micro branch... 3 SMB/Branch... 3 Departmental... 3 Enterprise... 3 Why HP for VDI... 3 Advantages of the HP approach to shared SSD storage... 4 Advantages of bladed storage... 4 Hardware configurations... 4 System/Environment setup... 6 Configuring SSD-based VSA storage on Microsoft Hyper-V... 6 Configuring SSD-based VSA storage on VMware vsphere Configuring VSAs as shared storage... 9 Incorporating VSA SSD storage into VDI solutions... 9 VMware View Citrix XenDesktop Bill of materials For more information... 13

2 Executive summary With the latest releases of their core desktop virtualization products, VMware and Citrix have enabled the use of storage tiering as a method for improving performance and addressing traditionally difficult issues, such as boot storms in VDI environments. HP reference architectures are easily enhanced with the addition of current storage technologies that allow users to manage all storage within the solution in a single console as well as scale SSDs simply and cost effectively. This paper outlines the process of building expansion nodes into VDI solutions based on HP ProLiant servers. It also provides a sample bill of materials (BOM) to assist with ordering. Target audience: This paper is intended for solution architects, technologists and IT professionals responsible for implementing and managing infrastructure for virtual desktop solutions. Introduction HP is well-equipped to handle a variety of VDI deployment scenarios. These range from 12-user micro branches to 250 plus-user SMB and large branch deployments; from 500 plus-user departmental implementations to enterprise deployments numbering in the tens of thousands. Figure 1 shows HP applied architectures for a variety of use cases. Figure 1: HP applied reference architectures. 2

3 Micro branch HP is enabling the micro branch for VDI. Very small branches have traditionally had issues implementing VDI. This has tended to be a result of either network pipes that were too small, lack of local management resources, an inability to justify shared storage for a small environment, or some combination of these reasons. HP Micro Branch Architecture POD alleviates issues with micro branch deployment by allowing remote management of resources while simultaneously placing cost-effective shared storage in very small branch locations. This allows the use of the LAN for display protocols which enables the best possible end user experience without worrying about WAN cost and bandwidth. Best of all, since it is based on HP ProLiant Servers and HP P4000 SAN products, it is managed via the same tools and consoles as all of the other architectures. The solutions outlined in this paper do not pertain to the Micro Branch architecture. SMB/Branch VDI is not just for the enterprise. Businesses of all sizes as well as branch locations for large IT departments can reap the benefits of centralized management and data control as well as power efficiency that VDI brings. HP Branch Architecture POD brings cost-effective virtual desktops to a broader range of use cases. By enabling local hardware with remote management, you can share IT resources across multiple locations and minimize feet on the street administration costs and headaches. Just like micro branch, the LAN becomes the network of choice for display protocols, enabling an outstanding end user experience. Should you desire to host remote locations from a central datacenter, implement either the departmental or enterprise reference architectures. Departmental Even the largest IT shops have a need for segmented, simple to scale resources. HP is well positioned to handle departmental deployments of thousands of users with PODs built on HP BladeSystem and HP P4500 G2 SAN. Simple to scale while remaining cost effective, these PODs are a simple solution to VDI in the enterprise space. Designed with scalability and service delivery in mind, this is the perfect architecture for companies starting with a moderate (sub user) VDI implementation that believe they may scale into the many thousands of users or large IT shops looking to grow VDI as a service over time. Since it is possible to gradually scale storage as well as servers, this reference architecture remains cost effective as you grow. Enterprise The HP approach to Enterprise VDI is to make it easy to scale by a large number of users while keeping management simple and deployment even simpler. The Enterprise Reference Architecture, based on the P4800, is for those organizations that start big and growing even bigger. It is designed to support between 1,500 and 100,000+ end users while scaling in large numbers and remaining space efficient. (Nobody should need to consider building a new datacenter to house desktops. Build infrastructure efficiently one time and replicate it easily many times over.) Regardless of your VDI needs, HP offers cost-effective solutions across use cases that embrace a centralized management and control paradigm that helps maximize return on investment by minimizing complexity. Why HP for VDI HP P4000 Virtual SAN Appliance (VSA) turns ProLiant servers into highly available, shared storage. While others can offer SSD to help alleviate boot storms and improve overall performance, HP approach offers unique advantages. 3

4 Advantages of the HP approach to shared SSD storage Dramatically simple scalability: The two-node cluster outlined in this document is designed to scale in a linear fashion. You can simply increase the node count to increase IOPs and increase the benefits outlined in the previous section. This layer scales regardless of storage from direct attached disks to large-scale SAN resides on the back end. Availability: HP P4000 bladed storage is highly available. Consisting of hot plug drives with physical RAID-5 as well as multiple servers and storage blades that are tied together in a virtual raid configuration, HP bladed storage can handle failures at the disk, disk container, and server level while continuing to run. Reduction in IT staff required to manage VDI: One of the chief benefits of the HP P4000 storage, whether bladed or not, is the lack of complexity that comes with deploying and managing it over time. This means a single administrator can manage the entire infrastructure stack with no specialized storage skillsets required. This is a huge boon to the efficient management and deployment of VDI environments that touch so many pieces of the overall IT sphere. Advantages of bladed storage Converging storage with HP BladeSystem carries a number of advantages over traditional storage approaches. Security: Storage traffic for bladed storage does not have to leave the enclosure, resulting in fewer access points and a built-in shield against prying eyes. Simplicity: No cables to configure, no paths to wire, and no in-depth switch setup mean setting up your storage is as simple as setting up your Virtual Connect environment and then walking away. Space efficiency: Bladed storage is more space efficient than traditional storage. This becomes especially important as you scale up to thousands of users. After years of consolidating servers and shrinking datacenter space requirements desktop virtualization is once again moving resources back to a centralized location. Every bit of density helps eliminate the need for excess floor space. Performance: HP bladed storage is fast. Apart from the obvious benefits of the SSD technology, all HP bladed storage takes advantage of robust, resilient internal communication paths that are incredibly low latency and very high speed. This translates to improved login times, reduced application launch times, and an overall improvement in end user experience. This end user experience improvement can make an enormous impact with regard to acceptance. Hardware configurations The solution built on HP BladeSystem is created by adding an HP SB40c Storage Blade to at least two (2) virtualized management servers inside an enclosure (or enclosures if you wish to split the pair). The management servers should be running either Microsoft Hyper-V or VMware vsphere 4.1. Figure 2 shows the location of each SB40c in relation to each management server. You may place the pair in any adjacent slots. 4

5 Figure 2: Blade-based SSD/management server. In the rack mount configuration, an HP ProLiant DL380 G7 is recommended as the basis for building the management server/storage tier. As with blades, the server must be running either Microsoft Hyper-V or VMware vsphere 4.1. Since all drives are in a single cage connected to a single array controller, you must build two separate logical drives on the array controller. One logical drive is created as a RAID 1 array using the two 10K RPM small form factor SAS disks mentioned in the Bill of materials later in this document. This will serve as the boot disk for the host. The second logical drive is created by using the remaining small form factor SSDs and creating a RAID 5 array. Figure 3 shows the layout. 5

6 Figure 3: Rack mount SSD/management server. System/Environment setup Prior to configuring VSA for a particular virtualization solution, ensure that you have your networking configured correctly. For rack mount servers it is recommended that you use a dedicated adapter for iscsi traffic. For a blade-based installation, you should configure the Flex NICs as in table 1. Table 1: Flex NIC configuration for blade-based installations Network Bandwidth Management Production (Optional) iscsi Mb Mb Remaining bandwidth Configuring SSD-based VSA storage on Microsoft Hyper-V In order to build a Virtual SAN Appliance using SSD on Microsoft Hyper-V, follow these steps on each host connected to the SSDs. Install Microsoft Windows 2008 Server R2 on each of the two servers running SSDs. Make sure that the most recent ProLiant Support Pack is installed. Use the network teaming utility to bond the NICs on the host. Use the HP Array Configuration Utility to create a single array with a single RAID 5 logical drive of full capacity on the storage blade. Do not initialize this array in the Disk Management utility in the Server Manager. Install the Hyper-V role on the host and ensure that the iscsi network is available to virtual machines. Note: It is recommended that you use these hosts for management virtual machines as well. Ensure that you have all networks defined that will be needed for management and that the Hyper-V role has access to these networks. 6

7 Insert the VSA DVD or attach the ISO via ilo. Migrate to the..\vsa_hyperv directory on the DVD and run the Setup.exe file. The file will unzip and start the installer. Be patient as the process may take a few minutes. A screen similar to Figure 4 appears. Follow the prompts and enter the following information as in table 2. Figure 4: Initial VSA installation screen for Microsoft Hyper-V. 7

8 Table 2: Values for VSA installer on Microsoft Hyper-V. Screen Instructions Welcome License Destination Network Virtual Machine Physical Hard Drives Summary Results Click on Next Read and Accept the End User License Agreement and then click Next Enter a destination for the files and then click Next Enter a host name and the network configuration information for the VSA. The address you enter here will be used to manage the VSA in the P4000 Centralized Management Console. Click Next when finished. Assign a name to the VM, choose Use Physical Hard Drive(s), select Power on VSA and then click Next Select the SSD array you created. Click Next Validate that the information you entered is correct and click Next. The progress screen will indicate installation progress When the installation is complete you may click on Proceed to the section on Configuring VSAs As Shared Storage Configuring SSD-based VSA storage on VMware vsphere 4.1 In order to build a Virtual SAN Appliance using SSD on VMware vsphere, follow these steps on each host connected to the SSDs. Install VMware vsphere on each of the two servers attached to the SB460c with the SSDs. Use either the vsphere client or vcenter to configure the server for your environment. Ensure that a network is defined for virtual machines to communicate iscsi traffic. Format the SSDs as a datastore. Ensure that you can house a file at least as large as the physical capacity of the array when you format the disk. Insert the DVD on the system you will run the vsphere Client application from. From within the vsphere Client or vcenter, click on the File menu and then choose Deploy OVF Template. Use the following table to fill in the appropriate values in the setup wizard. Prior to powering on the VM, choose Edit Setting for the VM. You will add a hard drive. When you define the size ensure that you choose the SSD Datastore created in step 3 and choose a size that is within the physical boundaries of the array. Power on the VM and open the console. When the prompt appears, type in Start and hit Enter key. Hit Enter when prompted to Login and follow the prompts to configure Network TCP/IP Settings. Do not make any other changes. Log out when you are done. 8

9 Table 3: Values for VSA installer on VMware vsphere. Screen Instructions Source OVF Template Details End User License Agreement Name and Location Datastore Disk format Network mapping Ready to complete Browse the DVD to the..\vsa folder and select the file VSA.ovf and then select Next. Review the screen and select Next Accept the EULA and then click Next Give a name to the VSA and select Next Choose a datastore to house the software. If your server has a local RAID array it is generally okay to place the VSA there as it will not be vmotioned. Select Next when you have chosen the datastore Choose Thick Provisioned Format and then choose Next Map the VSA to your iscsi network and choose Next Click Finish after validating your choices Configuring VSAs as shared storage On a Microsoft Windows or Linux system, install the P4000 Centralized Management Console (see P4000 documentation for where to retrieve the CMC). Once installed, follow these steps to build a shared storage repository using the SSD-based VSAs you created in the previous section. Consult the P4000 documentation for more in-depth configuration information. Discover the systems using the Find Systems command on the Find menu from within the CMC. Under the Tasks menu, choose Management Group and then select New Management Group. Follow the wizard to create a new management group with the two VSAs you created. Create a Standard Cluster from within the wizard. Choose Skip Volume Creation at this time. Consult the documentation from your solution vendor to determine the size of the volumes you will need to create. Present the volumes to your hosts as you would any other SAN volume. Incorporating VSA SSD storage into VDI solutions Each VDI solution vendor may have different capabilities for addressing tiered storage demands. This section highlights the recommended placement of various files based on vendor solutions. Consult each vendor s documentation for software installation procedures and best practices. VMware View 4.5 VMware View 4.5 possesses the ability to place different files on different storage tiers in order to optimize price/performance at each tier. Figure 5 highlights the layers of storage and makes recommendations for what files to place at each tier. Note that some files, such as linked clones, may be placed in more than one tier based on use case. 9

10 Figure 5: Storage configuration for VMware View 4.5 Citrix XenDesktop Utilizing Citrix XenDesktop and its provisioning services allows distribution of the image files on different storage tiers to obtain the best price/performance. See Figure 6. 10

11 Figure 6: Storage configuration for XenDesktop 5. 11

12 The provisioning server of XenDesktop allows for a single, standard image to be shared between multiple VMs. The cache, or write-back file, for each VM in standard image mode can be stored with the VM, on local storage, or on the server. This write-back file is deleted on logout. Best practices for this type of cache is to put it with the VM on local storage. When using standard image files with differencing disks, maintaining changes across logins, these differencing disks are maintained and stored on the Provisioning server. Bill of materials This section presents two bills of materials for a two-node solution. For the bladed SSD solution, it is assumed that you will run the VSA on a bladed management server. This negates the need for extra servers. In the rack mount configuration, the server is sized to act as both a management server and as an SSD-based VSA storage host. Table 4: Bill of materials. Qty Description Blade-based SSD solution 2 HP SB40c Storage Blade and HP LeftHand VSA bundle 12 HP 120GB 3G SATA SFF MDL SSD OR 12 HP 60GB 3G SATA SFF MDL SSD Rackmount-based SSD solution 2 HP DL380G7 X5650 Performance Model 24 2GB PC R (DDR3-1333) Registered DIMMs 4 146GB SFF 10K RPM SAS 12 HP 120GB 3G SATA SFF MDL SSD OR 12 HP 60GB 3G SATA SFF MDL SSD AND 2 HP NC360T PCI Express Dual Port Gigabit Server Adapter OR 2 HP NC522SFP Dual Port 10GbE Server Adapter 12

13 For more information Existing reference architecture guides can be found at, HP P4000 page, HP P4000 documentation, To help us improve our documents, please provide feedback at 13

14 Share with colleagues Copyright 2011 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P. The information contained herein is subject to change without notice. The only warranties for HP products and services are set forth in the express warranty statements accompanying such products and services. Nothing herein should be construed as constituting an additional warranty. HP shall not be liable for technical or editorial errors or omissions contained herein. Microsoft and Windows are U.S. registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation. 4AA2-9483ENW, Created January 2011

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