“Fifty-five Dollars per Desktop” with NetApp All-Flash FAS for VMware Horizon View Reference Architecture

26078_55desktop.pngWhat’s in a number?

Storage for only fifty-five bucks per desktop?  Nice!  But what does that really mean?  “Cost per desktop” is a relative number.  Unless you understand what is behind the cost model that was used to develop the number, it’s not that useful.


In recent years there has been a lot of focus on the storage cost for desktop virtualization, probably because it’s been one of the biggest barrier to widespread adoption of end-user computing.  It’s been such a hot topic that last year even Gartner publically proclaimed that a target price for storage of $100 per seat (since revised downward) was need to help lower overall cost of VDI and make it more viable for customers.  So the whole storage-cost thing took on a life of it’s own, spawning over two hundred new storage for VDI-related vendors and solutions since 2010, all introducing new technology to address the opportunity.  Customers now have more storage options than ever to consider, but the decision process also got more complicated.


Weeding Through the Technologies

The rash of niche vendors and new technologies resulted in a cluttered, hyper-competitive landscape with a range of solutions from host-side caching, all flash arrays, hybrid arrays, converged infrastructures, VSAs, DAS and clustered DAS solutions. Each vendor stating their claim pursuant to cost per desktop - sometimes with little, or no published data to back up the claim.  So how do you pick the right storage?  For many customers, evaluating a single storage solution became a difficult task, let alone trying to make an “apples to apples” comparison of multiple solutions.


NetApp’s Approach: Full Disclosure

Reluctance by any vendor to publish all the details about claims they make should be a red flag for customers.  NetApp has always been totally open and transparent regarding assertions about their solutions .  A good example of this is the just published NetApp TR-4307 NetApp All-Flash FAS Solution for VMware Horizon View, a reference architecture in which NetApp tested typical VMware® Horizon View™ user and administrator workloads to demonstrate how the NetApp all-flash FAS solution eliminates the most common barriers to virtual desktop adoption.  All the pertinent information is documented in the technical report that you need to understand what went into the numbers: the test scenario, number of IOPS, workload characteristics, reads/writes, type of desktops, fail over, cloning methods, scalability…  It’s all there in black and white and NetApp blue so you can understand how this Reference Architecture, at a density of 4,000 seats, is a capable of delivering storage for end-user computing at fifty-five dollars per desktop.  That’s a very compelling number considering all the advanced data management features that comes with the solutions.


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Don’t De-emphasize Enterprise Capabilities

In the race to keep lowering costs, it seems that the enterprise class capabilities normally associated with storage seem to be of secondary importance… that is, until you need them.  Cost is important, but as flash and other technologies evolve, cost per desktop amongst storage vendors will continue to drop and become a leapfrog game, with vendors one-upping the previous vendor until the difference in cost is so insignificant it is no longer a differentiator.  The fact is, cost is only one of many criteria for a desktop virtualization solution: user experience, performance, data protection, disaster recovery, integration and management with solution technology vendors, assessment and sizing, support, and the track record and viability of the storage vendor you’re working with are some of the others that must be considered.  One of the hallmarks of NetApp has been our enterprise class performance and efficiency, which is why we included HA/DR simulation as part of the VDI test plan for All-Flash FAS for Horizon View.  When a storage failure prevents users from working, that inactivity translates into lost productivity and lost revenue.  Having a storage system with a robust set of data management and availability features is key to keeping the users working and lessens the risk to the business. NetApp clustered Data ONTAP has multiple built-in features to help improve availability, such as active-active high availability (HA) and nondisruptive operations to seamlessly move data in the storage cluster without user impact.


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Storage That’s Dialed In for Desktop Virtualization

To help make VDI a reality, NetApp has many technologies that help customers reduce cost. Technologies such as deduplication, thin provisioning, and compression help reduce the total amount of storage required for VDI. The NetApp® Virtual Storage Tier (VST), extended with Flash Cache™ and Flash Pool™, helps accelerate end-user experience while reducing spinning media. Storage platforms that scale up and scale out with clustered Data ONTAP® help deliver the right architecture to meet the customer’s price and performance requirements.


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And with the addition of NetApp All-Flash FAS Reference Architecture for VMware Horizon View we have even more options to help customers achieve their cost and performance goals for End-User Computing without compromising their enterprise class requirements.  That’s why I’m really excited about the new NetApp Reference Architecture for VMware Horizon View.  It delivers the price/performance customers are expecting (as low as $55 per desktop for 4,000 Horizon View desktops), and advanced data management.   I also want to point out that the $55 per desktop includes hardware, software and 3 years of premium support with 4-hour parts replacement!


Remember to do this…

Next time you’re evaluating storage for VDI:

  1. Start out with a thorough assessment of your environment to fully understand the workload characteristics and user requirements (NetApp has assessment and sizing tools available to help with this)
  2. Make sure your storage vendor provides all the information required to fully understand the “cost per desktop” number
  3. Consider the enterprise-class storage capabilities that are required (current and/or future) for your particular VDI deployment and determine if the storage you’re evaluating includes those, and at what cost. 

Having this context outlined above will enable you to easily eliminate storage vendors that aren’t a good fit, and more fairly evaluate those that are.


Reach out today to your NetApp Sales Rep or Partner to learn more about this, and other, All-Flash FAS Reference Architectures for Desktop Virtualization from NetApp.  Future updates will include information about full clones, antivirus scan, and patch installation testing, as well as an All-Flash FAS Solution for Citrix XenDesktop.