Announcing: FlexPod with Microsoft Private Cloud – Validated with Citrix XenDesktop

Hi, I’m Rob Briggs, VDI Reference Architect within the NetApp Microsoft Technology Group.

As Mike Truitt and Bryon Surace of Microsoft discussed in their MMS Track Session, the first official Microsoft Private Cloud Fast Track 2.0 Validated Design has been released. The NetApp & Cisco “FlexPod with Microsoft Private Cloud” has been validated with Citrix XenDesktop to introduce a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) solution on top of the, already validated, Microsoft Private Cloud solution.  It is fully integrated with Microsoft System Center 2012 and Citrix XenDesktop 5.6.

Utilizing the NetApp/Cisco FlexPod solution architecture, Microsoft System Center 2012 and Citrix XenDesktop 5.6, we have been able to create a building block “pod” for VDI environments that is the most scalable solution on the market. With Cisco’s Unified Computing System (UCS) and NetApp’s Storage Efficiencies and Enhanced Performance, the team has been able to scale and validate one FlexPod unit to 2000 Virtual Desktops with all necessary support infrastructure built “in box”.

This validation of scale took place in Microsoft’s Enterprise Engineering Center in Redmond with contributions from Microsoft, Citrix, Cisco and NetApp.  Here is a summary of some of the key findings from this initiative:

  • Validated that a single instance of Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) 2012 and a single instance of the Citrix XenDesktop Delivery Controller successfully hosted 2,000 VDI workloads.
  • Validation of single-server scalability: (145) Windows 7 desktops with 1.5 GB RAM running knowledge worker Login VSI load on a single Cisco UCS B230 M2 Blade Server with 20 Cores and 256 GB RAM per blade.
  • Validated a fully virtualized environment where all VDI components (such as Active Directory Domain Services, Microsoft SQL Server, SCVMM, XenDesktop, File Services and Provisioning Server) were run in virtual machines.
  • Validated that the entire environment including Boot from SAN Host OS’s, Infrastructure Virtual Machines and 2000 Virtual Desktops could be run from one NetApp FAS3240 High Availability Controller.
  • Observed an 80 percent storage savings in comparison to a similar VDI environment without NetApp storage efficiencies.
  • Provisioned a 2000 seat VDI environment more than 25 times faster than VDI designs built with conventional storage by using Microsoft, Citrix and NetApp PowerShell scripts. In some cases a time savings of 98% has been noted.

Here is a diagram of the FlexPod stack we used for test in the Redmond lab:

There are plenty of additional details & valuable information in the Cisco Validated Design (CVD) document published today. This CVD, “FlexPod with Microsoft Private Cloud – Validated with Citrix XenDesktop”, includes full testing results and detailed deployment instructions for this VDI solution, and can be found at

This VDI solution, including all hardware and software components, is shipping NOW!  Please take some time to visit us at NetApp’s MMS Booth 221 or Cisco’s MMS Booth 300.  Or visit us online at and



Rob Briggs