To understand how all the pieces of a desktop virtualization or flexible computing solution can be put together, we will discuss a few examples. The focus will be on the key pieces of any solution including a hypervisor, connection broker, back-end storage, and client type. We will also talk about various components that can be added to optimize the solution.

Technical Community - Background Reading

Virtualization Frontier blog: Why Servergeeks Should Care About Desktops blog: Microsoft Extending TS Connection Broker to Handle VDI

Overview of Dell Virtual Remote Desktop Reference Architecture
Dell Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Sizing Study

Chat Transcript

DELL-ToddM joined.
DELL-ToddM Hello Everybody!
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DELL-ToddM Welcome Shanfont
shanfont What's the topic today?
DELL-ToddM Hey fholerc!
fholerc Hey
DELL-ToddM Topic for today is Virtual Desktop Solution Architecture examples
shanfont Nice
shanfont Brb everyone.
DELL-ToddM Intent is to talk about all the pieces you need to make a solution go
DELL-ToddM We will officially get started in about 10 or 15 minutes. Any specific areas that you guys are interested in?
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DELL-ToddM Hey Fred!
DELL-fgonce Hi Todd
shanfont Storage, what kind of storage we would need for virtual desktops and how much to allocate for each virtual desktop?
shanfont Just something to get started with—that's SAN storage that is.
DELL-ToddM Okay, storage is a good area to talk about
DELL-ToddM Of course, it depends on what you are doing.......
DELL-ToddM :)
DELL-fgonce I think the answer is, it depends, as Todd said
DELL-ToddM It usually takes about 5 to 10 minutes for the majority of the chat crowd to arrive
DELL-ToddM We might be competing a bit with the election today; so turnout for chat might be light while turnout at polls is high
DELL-fgonce Customers tell me they are creating VMs between 10 to 40 GB each.
DELL-ToddM The other competing factor today is that Scott is in jury duty this afternoon
DELL-fgonce So customers usually start by putting this on a few hundred GB of SAN storage. When their VRD solution grows to hundreds or thousands of users they start looking for alternatives
DELL-ToddM VRD = Virtual Remote Desktop, your friendly translation service :)
DELL-fgonce One of the technologies to help reduce the amount of storage is Citrix Provisioning Server.
shanfont When I evaluated Virtual Desktop Manager I set up a persistent pool of like three VMs, and it allocated the storage on its own, and from what I have seen it was over 200 GB for that pool
DELL-fgonce I use VRD to include both Citrix XenDesktop and VMware VDI
shanfont When is Dell going to have their own version of a thin client device? From what I see the 755 is what Dell offers
DELL-ToddM You limited the pool to 3 VMs?
DELL-ToddM We just announced a new device, the OptiPlex FX160 last week
DELL-ToddM It is what I would call a thin client, but I believe that we are calling it a flex client
DELL-ToddM The reason it is called a flex client is that it has the ability to do more than what a basic thin client can do
DELL-fgonce VMware View Composer will allow VDI VMs to share the same disk image, similar to Citrix Provisioning Server (Ardence).
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DELL-ToddM Welcome Mark! We are just getting started; you can select Action, Recent Room history to catch up if you would like
DELL-ToddM Is VMware View Composer part of VDM today, or is that a future product?
DELL-fgonce Future product
DELL-fgonce Test
DELL-ToddM I found a blog post on Brianmadden that talks about the VMware View Composer:
DELL-ToddM Right-click links to avoid exiting chat
shanfont I only created a pool of three because it took up so much space when I tried a pool of five. I only had 300 GB or so to work with
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DELL-ToddM How big was each VM? It's my understanding that the VMware VDI doesn't currently have a way to share disk images, so the size would increase with each VM
Mark_Norton Good article
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DELL-ToddM Here's a link for the FX160 home page:
shanfont Each VM was probably 75 GB from what I see, so that was probably why it needed so much space. I didn't realize that until now.
DELL-ToddM Oops never did officialy welcome the start of chat...Welcome to today's chat on Remote Virtual Desktop Architectures. Now lets carry on with what we were talking about
DELL-ToddM Shanfont - Your initial question was about type of storage; did you mean Fibre Channel or iSCSI? Or another type of storage choice (I think there are many)
DELL-fgonce This is one of the problems with hosting clients on servers is that you need to make them as efficient as possible. This is true for Citrix Presentation Server (Xenapp), VDI, XenDesktop.
shanfont We use iSCSI
DELL-ToddM iSCSI should work great. There has been some discussion about what type of disks to use, the slower ATA or higher speed SAS
DELL-ToddM I think that the decision between the 7200 RPM ATA and a 15 K SAS comes down to performance expectations
shanfont We have an EqualLogic, I think 100E, which has SATA drives
DELL-ToddM EqualLogic is kind of a different story with its ability to optimize performance across all disks in the array; so it will actually to better with SATA than most
DELL-ToddM Of course, if you have capacity issues, you will almost have to go with RAID-5 to optimize for most capacity
shanfont Really, we initially set up our storage pool with RAID-50
DELL-ToddM Using a solution like Citirix Provisioning Server (formerly Ardence), which allows for a single image to be shared, can drastically reduce the amount of needed storage
DELL-ToddM RAID-50 is good as well
DELL-ToddM Just RAID 10 is probably not the way to go for you
shanfont Gotcha
DELL-ToddM How many desktops are you planning to virtualize?
shanfont We were looking to do 60 or so. We just got the M1000e enclosures with M600 blades as our host servers. Looking to build up on that.
DELL-ToddM Interesting, Fred and I were just talking about using blades for these solutions earlier today
DELL-ToddM We both think that blades are a good solution because they allow you to be very efficient with power and space—more users in less rack space
Mark_Norton The M1000 allows for flex addressing as well
DELL-ToddM You will need hypervisor servers as well as a VDM server and possibly a separate Virtual Center server for a VMware VDI solution; are you planning to use blades for all?
Mark_Norton Flex addressing will let you replace a defective or degraded blade with a new one without having to re-address, or flush the MAC address tables
Mark_Norton Works with SAN WWN as well
shanfont Eventually we will go with all blades
DELL-ToddM I think that blades are a good solution for this, but can you just give your key reasons for selecting blades over maybe traditional 2U or 4U severs?
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DELL-ToddM Hey Duncan!
depping Hey, bit late...sorry about that
DELL-ToddM No problem. You can catch up with Action, Recent Room History
DELL-ToddM One aspect of the solution is the server hardware: blades, 2-socket, 4-socket
DELL-ToddM This is of course mainly for the hypervisor servers
shanfont Space, really. We have two 6850s and was about to get another and then looked at the blades and came to realize we would be able to have more host using less space. Room for growth.
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DELL-ToddM There is also a need for other servers that will manage and act as brokers
shanfont Can you explain the brokers a bit. I get confused on how that works with VDI
DELL-ToddM Blades are the most rack-dense solution, although you can now get a 4U R900 with 24 cores (four 6-core processors)
DELL-ToddM A connection broker allows for a user to simply go to one place to log on, and then be either directly connected to his VM or given a choice of his VMs based on who that user is
DELL-ToddM So users doesn't have to know where their VM is, or what its hostname or IP address is
shanfont We were going to get the R900 but long term we are better off with the blades. Price worked out to be better also
DELL-ToddM In small environements, with just a few users, a connection broker might not be needed
DELL-ToddM But as the number of users and desktops grows it becomes very difficult to manage all these connections without a broker
DELL-ToddM Welcome Steve!
DELL-ToddM In terms of brokers VMware has one in their VDI solution, and Citrix has one in their XenDesktop solution
DELL-ToddM Many customers will use the broker that is part of the solution that they have chosen
depping Leostream is also an often-used broker!
DELL-ToddM I have also seen some customers decide to use the Citrix broker with ESX hypervisor on the back end
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DELL-ToddM And there are additional brokers like Leostream out there as well. Good Call depping!
DELL-ToddM We have touched on storage, servers, and brokers
DELL-ToddM Another piece is the hypervisor
DELL-ToddM The choices are really ESX, XenServer, or Hyper-V (although I haven't seen anybody try to use Hyper-V just yet)
depping I just love the hypervisor ;)
DELL-ToddM My own opinion is that ESX is the most mature of these choices and has some great features like memory sharing that could be useful in a VDI environment
depping Indeed, Transparrent Page Sharing is really helpful
DELL-ToddM XenServer has some great pieces surrounding it in the XenDesktop solution like the provisioning server, Citrix broker, and XenApp (formerly presentation server or Metaframe)
shanfont ESX hypervisor, is it free for download? Do you need a license to run it?
DELL-ToddM Microsoft appears to be making some moves to position Hyper-V as a hypervisor for virtual desktops as well, but I don't think that it is here just yet
DELL-ToddM ESXi is available for free download
DELL-ToddM The question I have is can you use ESXi as the basis for a remote virtual desktop environment?
depping No problem at all
DELL-ToddM There are many features that ESXi does not have when not licensed and used as part of a Virtual Infrastructure solution (or managed by Virtual Center)
depping No clue why you would want to do it, cause if you buy VDI you also buy ESX
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DELL-ToddM No, VMotion is one big one, but that may not be an issue
DELL-ToddM I don't know if you can put free ESXi as a back-end hypervisor behind a non-VMware broker
shanfont We just purchased VMware's enterprise license so I don't see a need for ESXi, unless I'm missing something here
depping No you don't need it
depping Just use ESX
DELL-ToddM I agree; just use ESX :)
depping Although, ESXi is definitely the future
DELL-ToddM There are some really interesting things coming from VVware in the next year that were announced at VMworld
depping So test it and get used to it
depping Yeah, Offline VDI!
DELL-ToddM That should make the VDI solution more powerful—like linked clones
DELL-ToddM So this space is one to watch for improvements
depping Indeed
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DELL-ToddM I would like to thank everybody for coming to today's chat
DELL-ToddM Next week will focus on the client side of virtual desktops and examine the options
DELL-ToddM Of course, I always want to talk about servers and storage so we will probably end up covering that a bit as well :)
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DELL-ToddM Hey Tapioca and Josh!
Yosh Hi
DELL-ToddM The chat is just now ending, but I would be happy to hang around for a little bit longer if you guys have some questions
Yosh I was just stopping by to see what I can learn; don't have any question!
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shanfont Thanks Dell dudes
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depping Yeah, thanks again; next time I'll try to join on time
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DELL-fgonce Thanks Todd
DELL-ToddM Cool. The transcript will go up tomorrow morning
DELL-ToddM Thanks everybody