VDI will eat your Storage System – and what to do about it

As we’ve mentioned in previous columns, in order for a VDI project to have any chance of success it has to deliver at least the same computing experience users had prior to their desktop being virtualized. That makes sense, but it’s not that easy. In fact, we’ve blogged about this in not so uncertain terms “Users hate VDI and why that’s a problem”. But why do many users dislike their VDI solutions? In a word it’s the “experience”. The infrastructure used often can’t keep up with demand so performance suffers and users’ virtual desktops slow down.

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VDI will Eat your Storage System

VDI projects have a voracious appetite for storage both in terms of capacity and performance. The “I/O blender” that occurs when the aggregated demands of hundreds or thousands of virtual desktops are turned loose on a storage system can bring performance to a crawl. The resulting spikes in demand plus the sheer scale of many VDI environments can be too much for any storage system. But when you put cost constraints into the equation you see the contradictory requirements that define most VDI projects.

1A Catch 22

The storage infrastructure has to have enough performance to keep latency in check, so that users get a near desktop experience with their virtual desktops. But there is a rub. How do you accomplish that, providing maximum performance while keeping costs under control? How does a company deal with what seems like a Catch 22 situation?

The easy answer is to use flash. What’s tricky is implementing a solution that gives you enough performance to meet user expectations without breaking the bank. The ideal solution would be a storage system that can deliver all-flash performance at a SAN price – or less. Atlantis Computing is a vendor claiming to do just that, provide all-flash performance and features at half the cost of SAN storage.

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Eric is an Analyst with Storage Switzerland and has over 25 years experience in high-technology industries. He’s held technical, management and marketing positions in the computer storage, instrumentation, digital imaging and test equipment fields. He has spent the past 15 years in the data storage field, with storage hardware manufacturers and as a national storage integrator, designing and implementing open systems storage solutions for companies in the Western United States.  Eric earned degrees in electrical/computer engineering from the University of Colorado and marketing from California State University, Humboldt.  He and his wife live in Colorado and have twins in college.

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