Back in January we launched a blogging series (with the above title) exploring the various server design parameters that impact VDI performance and scalability. Led by Shawn Kaiser, Doron Chosnek and Jason Marchesano, we’ve been exploring the impact of things like CPU core count, core speed, vCPU, SPECInt, memory density, IOPS and more. If you’re new to VDI and trying to avoid the pitfalls that exist between proof of concept and large scale production, this has hopefully been an insightful journey which has yielded some practical design guidance that will make your implementation that much more successful.
Here’s a snapshot of the ground
we covered along the way:
What? There’s a Whitepaper? (who doesn’t like free stuff?)
If you’re just catching up with us, and want a nice, complete, whitepaper-ized version of the series, this is your lucky day. You can get download the paper here.
VDI No-Holds-Barred Webinar!
Finally, last month, as part of the series we also offered a webinar on BrightTalk, where our panel of experts walked us through these design considerations exposed in the series, and fielded audience questions. It was one of those high quality interactions that hopefully provides great on-going usefulness to those who catch the replay.
If you missed the event, you can watch it here. The guys fielded a lot of great Q&A from our community, and in fact there were a few lingering questions we didn’t have time to address during the event. They’ve captured these for me (including their answers) provided below.
What’s Next? Got a Question?
I hope the journey was as impactful for you as it was for me – I should point out that the guys are considering what to attack as part of the next phase of their lab testing. I would highly encourage you to provide your input (or questions) be emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org Let us know what’s on your mind, where we should take the test effort to better align with the implementation scenarios you’re facing, etc. Thanks!
Q&A From Our Web Event:
1) I have used Liquidware labs VDI assessment tool to help me understand how to accurately size my customer’s virtual desktops. Should I not be using tools like these?
Answer: These tools do a great job of looking at utilization on existing environments. The potential issue is that most of these tools only aggregate MHz utilization, there is no concept of SPEC conversion to properly map to newer processors. The other thing that we have seen with using this raw data and trying to fit it all in a particular blade solution is that there is usually no “overhead” of the VM taken into consideration. So sometimes it looks like you can have a 20 Desktop to a single physical core on a server and that’s just too aggressive when you look at typical vCPU oversubscription, etc. The bottom line is that these types of tools are great initial sanity checkers to validate the possibility of VDI consolidation. If you are involved in these types of assessments and are working on a Cisco UCS solution, we have tools that can assist in importing this type of data and helping you make more pointed recommendation’s as well. Just email email@example.com and we can discuss!
2) Do you find a performance increase/higher density hosts by scheduling similar vCPU count VM’s on the same hosts?
Answer: We did not test the mixing of 1vCPU and 2vCPU workloads to technically qualify an answer to see that impacts this would have – but this is a great idea and we will definitely consider this in our phase 2 testing.
3) Did you find giving more RAM to a VM caused the performance figures to decrease? E.g. 100 VMs at 4GM/VM compared to 100VMs using 1.5GB.VM
Answer: Since our testing was a static memory allocation of 1.5GB, we do not have the data to answer this particular question – again, another great idea to possibly include in our phase 2 testing.
4) Hi. A bit unclear on the last slide. 150 simultaneous desktops produce 39000 IOPs. Is this assuming physical desktops and figures were based on IOPs on each physical desktop. If so, I don’t see how the IOPs figure is relevant as it only on local disk, not SAN. Think I misunderstood the last slide!!
Answer: The 39000 IOPs was measured by both vCenter and the storage array controller as the total number of IOPs to boot 150 virtual desktops. No testing was done with physical desktops.
5) Loved the Cisco blogs regarding vCPU, SPEC, memory speed, CPU performance. Is there a similar piece of research that has been done regarding server VM performance rather than VDI?
Answer: Not *yet…. Hint hint.
6) Are there unique considerations for plant floor VDI deployments? The loads on those systems are typically higher on a continuous basis.
Answer: Specific use cases for VDI with different workloads definitely do exist and you should definitely size based on those requirements. If you feel your individual application requirements are not close to one of the pre-configured LoginVSI tests, the LoginVSI tool does allow for custom workload configurations where you can have it simulate working against your own apps.
In this week’s episode of Engineers Unplugged, join Gabriel Chapman (@Bacon_Is_King) and Dave Henry (@davemhenry) as they chart the evolution of virtualization, from mainframes up to software defined data centers. This is a technical deep-dive you don’t want to miss:
One thing that hasn’t evolved as much, the unicorn, shown here, fully virtualized:
Introducing the fully virtualized unicorn, courtesy of Gabriel Chapman and Dave Henry.
Welcome to Engineers Unplugged, where technologists talk to each other the way they know best, with a whiteboard. The rules are simple:
Episodes will publish weekly (or as close to it as we can manage)
The data center landscape has changed dramatically in several dimensions. Server virtualization is almost a defacto standard with a big increase in VM density. And there is a move towards world of many clouds. Then there is the massive data growth. Some studies show that data is doubling in every 2 years while there is an increased adoption of solid-state drives (SSD). All of these megatrends demand new solutions in the SAN market. To meet these needs, Cisco’s introducing the next generation Storage Network innovations with the new MDS 9710 Multilayer Director and new MDS 9250i Multiservice Switch. These new multi-protocol, services-rich MDS innovations redefine storage networking with superior performance, reliability and flexibility!
We are, once again, demonstrating Cisco’s extraordinary capability to bring to market innovations that meet our customer needs today and tomorrow.
For example, with the new MDS solutions, we are announcing 16 Gigabit Fibre Channel (FC) and 10 Gigabit Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) support. But guess what? This is just couple of the many innovations we are introducing. In other words, we bring 16 Gigabit FC and beyond to our customers:
A NEW BENCHMARK FOR PERFORMANCE
We design our solutions with future requirements in mind. We want to create long term value for our customers and investment protection moving forward.
The switching fabric in the MDS 9710 is one example of this design philosophy. The MDS 9710 chassis can accommodate up to six fabric cards delivering:
1.536 Tbps per slot for Fibre Channel – 24 Tbps per chassis capacity
Only 3 fabric cards are required to support full 16G line rate capacity
Supports up to 384 Line Rate 16G FC or 10G FCoE ports
So there is room for growth for higher throughput in the future …without forklift upgrades
This is more thanthree times the bandwidth of any Director in the market today – providing our customers with a superior investment protection for any future needs!
I am writing this from CA World 2013 in Las Vegas where the atmosphere is charged up. The theme for this conference is “Go Big. IT with Impact”. The idea is that IT departments have to think big to make material business impacts and succeed. At the end of the day IT needs to solve business problems. Companies need the right strategy and technology solutions to harness the Cloud, Internet of Everything, mobile and Big Data. In a “partner with impact” session exclusively for partners, David Bradley, SVP Channel Sales, CA Technologies featured Rick Snyder, VP Global Partner Organization, Cisco. The complete video is below
In this video, Rick mentions Cisco Validated designs (CVD), which are reference architectures, and blue prints for success. These designs incorporate a wide range of technologies and products into a portfolio of solutions developed to address the business needs of our customers. These CVDs document solutions that are tested to facilitate and improve customer deployments.
CA Technologies stressed the importance of the SaaS delivery model and the benefits of providing application services. CA also thinks that the opportunity for enterprise class application services offered as managed services will grow rapidly. Service providers should be beneficiaries of this shift. A common customer of Cisco and CA Technologies – Logicalis, won the partner impact award for their managed private cloud solution for a UK bank.
There were several interesting announcements in the past 24 hours. The following caught my attention.
CA in association with SAP will provide Mobile device Management solutions for enterprises. IT Management and Security are very high on the agenda for most enterprises. As more enterprise applications run on mobile devices securing and managing these devices becomes critical.
CA also announced devops automation capability with the Nolio products. With application aware system monitoring and management enterprises can expedite application development and reduce costs.
CA Technologies announced the acquisition of Layer 7 technologies, a leader in the API management space. APIs have become a necessity for application developers. REST-based APIs have allowed application developers to build rich web and mobile apps by providing the ability to integrate multiple services into individual application.
These approaches complement the way in which we help our own customers. The ISR-AXs are application aware and improve user experience at remote branch offices. The Cisco UCS has an API and facilitates infrastructure programmability. This enables integration, orchestration and execution of automated workflows. We will have two breakout sessions tomorrow at the conference:
TD055SN- Cisco UCS and CA: Operational efficiency with Converged Infrastructure (Speaker : Mark Balch, Director of Product Management, Data Center Business Unit)
TB056SN- Delivering Optimal Application Experience with Cisco ISR-AX (Speaker: Liad Ofek, Manager, Technical Marketing at the Service Routing Group)
I am eagerly looking forward to the keynote this evening by Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group.
I’m excited to mention that next week I’m hosting a webinar on BrightTalk, with my guest Ashok Rajagopalan, from Cisco’s UCS Product Management Team. You guessed it, we’ll be talking VDI, but more specifically, we’ll be exploring a new portfolio of architectures that are expanding the breadth of use cases and IT environments into which we can deliver cost-effective, easy-to-manage, high-performance virtualized desktops and apps.
I’ll be asking Ashok about some of the trends we’ve been seeing over the last year including the proliferation of flash memory based storage solutions and more importantly how Cisco is eliminating performance bottlenecks and delivering tier-0 (on-server) storage solutions for VDI, ideal for floating / stateless desktop environments.
Many customers we’ve met with are resonating with the ability to leverage server-installed storage footprint that offers expansive IOPS capacity, coupled with the simpler manageability through UCS Manager and Service Profile Templates.
Additionally we’ll discuss how Cisco is delivering a full spectrum or portfolio approach to offering reference architectures that map more closely to the specific VDI use cases. This expanded flexibility and choice is breaking down the CAPEX and operations hurdles many IT organizations face when implementing VDI. We’ll also discuss the best-of-breed technologies we’ve integrated from our solution ecosystem, and how you can take advantage of new reference architectures that help eliminate the guesswork from VDI.
Join us on Thursday April 25th, to learn more, and ask us your questions about how these new reference architectures and help you deliver desktop virtualization with reduced cost, increased flexibility and greater simplicity. Click here to register!