Ensuring VDI Server Performance Without SSDs

Best Practices, SAN, SSD, VDI, VirtualWisdom No Comments »

We get a lot of questions about VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure, or interface).  By now, the benefits of VDI are pretty well understood. Despite the benefits and potential OPEX and CAPEX savings, businesses are still averse to its adoption, due to the common problem called the “boot storm.”

Boot storms are large slowdowns that occur when a large amount of end users log into their systems at the same time. This is typical in the morning when everyone starts work. This causes intense concentrated storage I/O, leading desktop users to experience extreme slowness on their virtual desktop to the point where it can become almost unusable.  To solve this issue, many vendors suggest the option of investing in expensive SSDs. So much for saving money … one of the big reasons for VDI in the first place.

We’ve found that insight into the SAN fabric and the end-to-end I/O profiles of your VDI deployment can help you ensure adequate desktop performance, even during peak times, by balancing out the load and eliminating any possible physical layer issues.

VDI servers have special I/O profiles, but they share the need with all other application servers, in that, to monitor and analyze performance, you need a single view of the entire infrastructure.  In this example dashboard, the administrator can see performance metrics as well as physical layer metrics, which together offer a way to watch for indications of performance problems in the VDI environment.

The custom VirtualWisdom dashboard below shows an end-to-end view of a VDI deployment that incorporates a view of the SAN network. On the left-hand side, we have a view of the throughput and demand of the physical servers, enabling us to immediately identify and correct any imbalances that may exist. In the center, we have metrics that highlight any potential physical layer issues or problems that may be occurring from HBA to switch port to storage port. This allows us to proactively eliminate any potential I/O slowdowns. On the right-hand side, we have a view of the storage infrastructure and how the demand from VDI is affecting the storage ports. This allows us to balance out the I/O load across the correct storage ports, identifying and eliminating any congestion or slowdowns.

This customized VDI infrastructure dashboard also enables us to monitor the centralized desktops backups, ensuring that these are not only successful and timely but also do not affect the rest of the company’s production environment.

Furthermore, with outsourcers and many companies having international staff, boot storms can occur at many different times of the day. Using VirtualWisdom’s unique playback facility, it’s easy to historically trend such throughput and I/O profiles to enable a safe, stable and cost-effective VDI investment and deployment.


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