Storage Q&A: on the waste of VDI only Storage

Charlie: A lot of webinars coming up with Storage Switzerland. George Crump is with us to talk about these. George, we have everything from server-side flash, to stopping performance sprawl, 5 keys to successful hybrid cloud strategy, and avoiding the waste of a VDI-Only storage solution.

George: This is a pretty big time for us. We’ve got five webinars scheduled that people can sign up for, and then there are at least two or three that we’re getting ready to stand up. And the great thing about our platform is you only have to sign up once, and you get to all of them via our webinar channel. As far as this particular webinar, “Avoiding The Waste of VDI-Only Storage”, it really dives into the problem with VDI. What we’re doing with virtual desktop infrastructure is we’re taking the least expensive storage device (a laptop or desktop hard drive) and centralizing it on a SAN, and all of a sudden it becomes the most expensive device. We’re hoping to get an operational gain out of that, but if the cost to get those gains is too high it might overshadow those operational gains.

Charlie: Now some of the things we’ll talk about during the webinar, the challenges associated for deploying storage for VDI, what are some of those?

George: Well, VDI is really an odd workload, because in the morning when everybody gets to the office, you typically have what is called a ‘Morning Boot Storm’ or a ‘Log in Storm’. This means everybody is powering on their systems, and logging into their systems. It’s very, very, read intensive. Then, during the course of the day, most people are creating stuff right? They’re creating a Word document, they’re creating a new Powerpoint presentation, they’re creating a podcast like we’re doing now. All of that is very high write activity. And while it doesn’t sound like one laptop can create that kind of write activity, or that it should even break a sweat on a secured system. But multiplying this across thousands, and thousands potentially, of desktops can really become a problem.

Then as we kind of move toward the end of the day, we have the ‘Logout or Shutdown Storm’ (so the exact opposite of the morning), and then somewhere in the mix of all that we have patch updates, and virus scans, which are sort of their own little breed of I/O intensity. So this complete mixture is unlike other workloads that we typically deal with, like databases that are always this random I/O, typically read heavy or server virtualization (also random I/O), but typically very read heavy. VDI is very different.

Charlie: So you have to come up with solutions to make all these work, and I guess you’ll talk about that a lot in this new webinar today.

George: What’s interesting is that, the vendor community, the IT manufacturers if you will, have just flooded the market with a lot of different solutions. Some of them are sort of upgrades, and retro-fits to existing storage solutions while others are brand new things that we’ve never seen before. So what we’re seeing happen, and this is really where the title of the webinar comes from, is that people are buying a storage system just to do virtual desktop infrastructure. The problem with that is, it makes it even harder to cost justify the operational benefits that we’re hoping to get out of VDI implementation. So one of the things we want to talk to people about is how can we design a system that not only can do VDI, but also can do other workloads in the environment.

So for example: let’s do VDI and server virtualization, and maybe even databases. If we can do that and still maintain appropriate levels of performance so nobody suffers, then the ability to cost justify a storage investment on the VDI project just became that much easier. This is because now you spread the cost, if you will, across the server virtualization infrastructure as well as the database infrastructure.

Charlie: It sounds like the webinar will also help put people’s minds at ease as to what VDI can do for you.

George: I think that’s a really good point. When people look at VDI, at first it sounds like a really good idea, and then you dig just a little deeper and you can get scared off pretty easily. I think that given the right design and the right storage system, you can develop a very reliable and consistently performing, virtual desktop infrastructure. That’s the key (really in any area of IT success), but in particular in VDI, it’s the predictability of performance. If you can constantly get a B+, that’s fine. It’s when you’re getting A-’s all the time and then suddenly throw a C out there and everybody starts to panic. So we can develop a VDI solution that can give you that level of consistent, predictable performance, that really will make you successful.

Charlie: If people are reading this after the webinar [has taken place] how do they get in to hear everything that you all talked about?

George: The good thing about our platform is it instantly converts into an on demand version, so you can come back later. You get full access to everything, so you can certainly listen to the webcast and you can download all the attachments. Another benefit I should mention, is that you’ll have access to over 100 webinars that we have now on the site.

Charlie: The webinars from Storage Switzerland: you can learn just about anything you need for your data center, right there. So please join us at all of the webinars we have at Storage Switzerland. For George Crump, I’m Charlie Hodges.

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