Storage Sizing for Desktop Virtualization: What you don’t know can torpedo your deployment

There is no question that desktop virtualization has become increasingly more popular over the past few years.  The trend is up.  We are seeing more deployments going into production, and more and more organizations with near-term plans to virtualize at least some of their desktops.  For many organizations the benefits realized from virtualized desktops easily offset any cons associated with an end-user computing project.  In contrast to just a couple years ago users are much less reluctant to give up their PC for an iPhone, tablet, or other endpoint device.  IT departments can confidently meet changing business requirements without giving up access and control of data.  Infrastructure costs have come down.  A lot of the initial barriers to adoption have been removed, or at least mitigated. However, one crucial factor to success remains a mystery for many organizations, and that is storage – and how to accurately size it for desktop virtualization.

The storage requirements for desktop virtualization are radically different than the requirements for server virtualization.  With server virtualization it was more about capacity.  The applications and workloads were much more standardized and predictable.  Desktop virtualization is a different animal.  It’s more about performance and there are a lot more moving parts.  Desktop virtualization comes in a few different flavors, too (it’s not just Hosted Virtual Desktops).  So as new desktop delivery models are introduced and adopted, as desktop virtualization technology evolves and gets deployed, as new use cases and requirements develop, it places new demands on the storage. But it’s more than just the number of IOPS that affect storage performance.  Other things, such as block size, latency, concurrency, sequential vs. random, … all need to be considered.  With desktop virtualization the list of variables that can impact the storage performance continues to grow.  Throw in helter-skelter User behavior and you can see how storage can easily become an “unknown” factor.  

21752_PQR cover.jpgFortunately, the folks at PQR have published a new paper “Storage design guidelines, Sizing storage for Desktop Virtualization” that takes the realities of VDI and lays them on the table, and then proceeds to provide the perspective and guidance that definitely takes the guesswork out of sizing storage for desktop virtualization.  I read the paper last week and thought it was very insightful.  The old adage “A job well done, never need be done again” (…OK, so maybe it doesn’t apply to mowing my lawn.  Shoot!) should apply to storage sizing.  Not that you will never need redesign your storage infrastructure over time (e.g., technology refresh, changing requirements…), but I’m talking about the initial sizing for your desktop project.  The goal for storage sizing should be, as my colleague Chris Gebhardt so eloquently puts it: “GET IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME!” Unless you’re a glutton for stress, frustration, and anxiety, you do not want to have to re-architect your solution soon after it goes into production (for obvious reasons).

NetApp’s expanding storage platform, flash strategy, and new mobility solutions, such as NetApp Connect, provide some really great options for customers deploying End-User Computing solutions.  Our integration with major vendors such as VMware, Citrix, Microsoft, Cisco and others ensure ease of manageability across a broad spectrum of EUC environments.  And NetApp’s clustered Data ONTAP infuses the data center and desktop environment with a new level of infrastructure dexterity, which provides organizations the agility they need to stay competitive.  But regardless of all the great innovative technology deployed, if you don’t get the storage sizing right you will not be maximizing your investment in EUC and could potentially be putting your deployment at risk.

I was glad to see that PQR puts some headlights on the realities of VDI, as well as the technologies and use case scenarios that need to be considered when sizing storage for desktop virtualization because much of what’s covered in the paper aligns with NetApp’s best practices and approach to sizing.  Getting storage right for desktop virtualization can be very difficult, so give yourself an advantage: download “Storage design guidelines, Sizing storage for Desktop Virtualization” now, and read it today.