$37 per Desktop for Storage: 750 Seats with Citrix XenDesktop on NetApp Storage

By Rob Briggs, VDI Reference Architect and Expert, NetApp

Citrix Synergy 2014

It’s approaching that time of year again. Hoards of people will be boarding planes and heading to Los Angeles, California. Lots of them on an early family trip to Disneyland. Those without kids and Mickey Mouse hats are likely heading to a different destination.  You got it, Synergy is fast approaching and Citrix is rolling out the red carpet and ready to blow our minds with “what’s next” in the world of desktop and application virtualization. Not to steal any of Citrix’s thunder, but NetApp has some pretty special news to share as well.

Over the years desktop virtualization has matured into a viable solution for businesses of all sizes. Initially the promise of having users access all of their data, desktop and application needs from a corporate data center was a vision with very little real world success. For desktop virtualization to be a reality you need good compute (CPU), enough memory (RAM) and great storage. Over the years, as technology has improved, we’ve seen the “bottleneck” for desktop virtualization change from CPU to RAM to storage. With today’s servers, compute and memory are no longer a bottleneck. The onus lands squarely on the storage provider’s shoulders. Businesses ask if their storage can handle the IOPS requirements for all of the users in their organizations and at what cost. NetApp, over the years, has consistently given customers the storage and tools needed to meet their IOPS requirements at a cost that is extremely competitive.

Citrix Ready VDI Capacity Program

NetApp and Citrix are announcing a partnering initiative to demonstrate a real world desktop virtualization scenario. This initiative is called the Citrix Ready VDI Capacity Program for Storage Partners. At its core, the program demonstrates two key aspects of a desktop virtualization storage solution. One being the capability to support the IOPS requirements for daily operations of 750 Citrix Provisioned (PVS) virtual desktops. The other being a storage solution that provides an excellent value for the business customer. Combining the two at a highly competitive price point was the ultimate end goal.

As part of this Citrix program, NetApp joined Citrix at their Solutions Lab in early 2014 to stress test a NetApp FAS2240-2 hybrid storage array. The stress testing took place against a 750 seat desktop virtualization environment based on Citrix XenDesktop 7.1. The end goal was to prove NetApp can deliver a storage solution at a very economical end user storage cost of $37 per desktop. Read the report here.


Key Highlights from the Performance Validation


1. NetApp’s FAS2240-2 (2U storage array with 24 internal SAS drives & IO optimization with NetApp Clustered ONTAP software defined storage) can easily support at least 750 virtual desktops (specified as the success criteria for the Citrix Ready VDI Capacity program) at a compelling $37 per desktop.

2. 935 virtual desktops were booted and logged in under 20 minutes, which is an acceptable SLA for real world production deployments.

3. Ultimately, 800 virtual desktops were successfully stress tested for steady state operations using LoginVSI, the industry standard VDI benchmarking tool. This exceeded the programs expectations of 750 virtual desktops.

4. Very low storage latency for boot, login, and steady state operations, ensuring a consistent end user experience.

5. Only 1.4TB of actual storage was consumed (total 7TB usable storage available) for the entire duration of the test.

6. NetApp’s FAS2240-2 storage array was very simple to setup and it was up and running in less than 2 hours.

7. Total LoginVSI testing was completed in less than 2 hours.

NetApp and Citrix have co-produced a whitepaper outlining, in detail, the great value and performance capabilities of NetApp’s FAS2240-2. It can be found here.

A storage solution for $37 per desktop is a very competitive answer to the reality of desktop virtualization. If you happen to be at Synergy this year, take a moment and stop by the NetApp booth. We’ll treat you well and show you how our solution can help your business. More details on all of our sessions, mini theatre events, and associated times can be found here.


Really interesting stat. I currently use Parallels for my desktop virtualization needs and I've found that your two points are right on par: computing and memory really isn't a problem anymore. In fact, I run Parallels on an older macbook and it runs just fine. The problem IS storage.

Also appreciate you walking through your performance validation steps. Makes how you arrived at your $37 per desktop number easy to understand.