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Desktop Virtualization On Your Terms – Flexibility and Choice with Architectures That Fit

Desktop Virtualization On Your Terms – Flexibility and Choice with Architectures That Fit

I recently had the opportunity to host several customers in a roundtable discussion, exploring their experiences in deploying desktop and application virtualization, the challenges encountered, and the benefits they’ve reaped.  It was an engaging dialog with organizations spanning mid-market, enterprise to large service prVirt_during Webinar w_Jim Mchughovider environments deploying either Citrix XenDesktop or VMware Horizon View desktop virtualization software.  In case you missed it, you can check out the event here.  I mention this because it provides a valuable backdrop to some important news Cisco is sharing today, centered on helping IT organizations (like those I met with) more quickly achieve success in VDI.

Over the last few years, Cisco UCS has rapidly established itself as a leader among competitors with a much longer history in the server marketplace.  Why is that?  If you talk with anyone who’s implemented UCS in their data center, they’ll instantly tell you about the operational streamlining and simplification that UCS Service Profile Templates offer, the value of a unified data center fabric for LAN and SAN, and the performance derived from a platform that was purpose built for highly scalable, virtualized environments.

It shouldVirt_info graphic_UDC to End User be no surprise then, that when organizations evaluate their options for server infrastructure to host virtual desktop workloads, the same UCS core value proposition extends nicely to desktop virtualization – the benefits of which are multiplied, in fact, given that virtual desktops can consume infrastructure resources and capacity in unique ways compared to other mission critical enterprise applications.  We’ve therefore seen great response from our customers (as demonstrated in our webinar/panel discussion) when it comes to the fitness of UCS in hosting virtual desktops.

What we’ve come to find through our customer’s experiences, is that the vendor marketplace has traditionally taken a one-size-fits-all mentality around VDI architectures that either forces organizations to overspend CAPEX on approaches that are tuned for much larger environments, or wrestle with an economized approach that results in poor desktop user experience.  Clearly, there’s a spectrum of IT implementation use cases that apply, when we’re talking VDI.  Persistent desktops vs. floating, SAN in place vs. greenfield, one-hundred seats vs. tens of thousands, etc. so one size will never adequately fit all!

For this very reason, we’re expanding our portfolio of desktop virtualization solution architectures, along with the ecosystem of technology partners who are helping us accelerate the path to VDI success for environments of all sizes.  While Cisco enjoys a strategic relationship with NetApp and EMC, we’re now  offering desktop virtualization solutions that also include technologies from partners such as Nimble Storage, Nexenta, Atlantis Computing, Fusion-io, Tegile and others in process.

With these partners’ technologies come new capabilities that exploit key trends in the VDI and data center marketplace, including the proliferation of flash-based storage solutions, and appliance based approaches that mitigate the need for embedded SAN infrastructure and expertise (especially in smaller environments).  Additionally, unlike our competitors who are narrowly focused on their own storage portfolio, Cisco can offer our customers the flexibility and choice they desire in selecting the storage technology and solution for VDI, that best fits their environment.

I encourage you to learn more about this exciting new portfolio of architectures by checking out the assets below.

Please also check out the webinar “Customer Insights: Desktop Virtualization On Your Terms

Our featured guests include:

  • Mark Balch, Director UCS Product Management, Cisco
  • David Johnson, Principal Analyst, Forrester Research
  • Charles Rosse, Baptist Memorial HealthCare
  • Udaya Kiran, WiPro Technologies
  • Robert Dixon, University of Colorado, Boulder
  • And myself (Jim McHugh) as your Host/Moderator

Check it out and let me know what you think in the Comments section!

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VDI “The Missing Questions” #2: Core Speed scaling (Burst)

Welcome back as we continue to dive deeper into advanced CPU (Central Processing Unit -- I had a “tech writer” change a document on me one time, he assumed at this day in age that people still needed to have the CPU acronym translated.. but I digress) and Memory concepts in the land of VDI. Last week Doron answered our first question and told us about Core Count vs. Core Speed for scalable VDI. This week we will focus specifically on Core Speed, bursting and introduce you to a potentially new subject called “SPEC Blend/Core” for high performance VDI. If you are just finding this blog post for the first time, I encourage you to check out the Introduction from Tony as it will help set the stage for our discussion. Here is the full table of contents:

  1. Introduction – VDI – The Questions you didn’t ask (but really should)
  2. VDI “The Missing Questions” #1: Core Count vs. Core Speed
  3. VDI “The Missing Questions” #2: Core Speed Scaling (Burst)  YOU ARE HERE!
  4. VDI “The Missing Questions” #3: Realistic Virtual Desktop Limits
  5. VDI “The Missing Questions” #4: How much SPECint is enough
  6. VDI “The Missing Questions” #5: How does 1vCPU scale compared to 2vCPU’s?
  7. VDI “The Missing Questions” #6: What do you really gain from a 2vCPU virtual desktop?
  8. VDI “The Missing Questions” #7:  How memory bus speed affects scale
  9. VDI “The Missing Questions” #8: How does memory density affect VDI scalability?
  10. VDI “The Missing Questions” #9: How many storage IOPs?

You are Invited!  If you’ve been enjoying our blog series, please join us for a free webinar discussing the VDI Missing Questions, with Tony, Doron, Shawn and Jason!  Access the webinar here!

VM’s are only as fast as their individual cores! Lets look at what this statement means. Example: Assume we have a 1GHz x 4 core processor (hey, it makes math easy for me). When we carve up a server VM or in this case a VM to be used for VDI, we can’t just give it 2 vCPU’s and say it’s got a 2GHz processor. The reality is that it has a dual 1GHz processor. This becomes an important concept in VDI when you are considering the quantity and QUALITY of vCPU’s you allocate to a Virtual Machine and ultimately the end user applications efficiency and the overall scalability of the server platform. This is not a Uni-processor vs. Multi-processor application discussion. We could easily have a very long discussion and debate on the in’s and out’s of application level efficiencies and the Operating Systems ability (and sometimes inability) to properly manage multiple CPU’s. We are going to expand upon the two CPU’s we tested and dig into per core performance.

CPU Burst vs. CPU Reservation. Let’s play around with our example 1GHz x 4 Core Processor a bit more. If we take this single processor and deploy 8 single vCPU desktops on it we will have a 500MHz CPU reservation per VM. The calculation for that is simple 1GHz x 4 Cores = 4,000MHz / 8 total VM’s = 500MHz/VM Reservation. So the Reservation is simply the average amount of CPU that is available to each VM (assuming everything is prioritized equally). But our Burst is different. Our Burst represents the maximum amount of CPU Core that any one VM could ever utilize. In this example, the Burst per VM is equivalent to 1GHz.

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Enhancing Collaboration with New Integrated Audio Accessories

Today, I am pleased to post a guest blog from Cisco partner, Jabra, authored by Chris Briglin, Vice President of Strategic Alliances at Jabra. 

One of my favorite quotes in the technology business is: ”The next big thing is whatever makes the last big thing usable.” To me this really speaks to the importance of a great user experience in driving the widespread adoption and deployment of technology solutions. While there are lots of business problems out there and many technology-based solutions created to address those needs, solutions that address business needs through a superior user experience are typically the ones that thrive.

As noted in Cisco’s announcement last week, Jabra partnered with Cisco to co-develop audio devices that enhance the collaboration experience on Cisco Jabber for virtual environments. By combining Jabra’s expertise in audio engineering, product design and software integration with Cisco’s leadership in unified communications, we created two audio devices Read More »

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Zero to 5000 Citrix VDI Users Logged-in and Working in Just 30 Minutes!

Making sure your users don’t go to sleep (or worse) waiting to log-on
Hi Everyone! I am the team lead Technical Marketing Engineer for Cisco Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) solutions on UCS and Nexus. While I have done some blogging in my time – this is my first blog for Cisco. I have been in this space for over 22 years, before “virtualization” was called that, working with published applications and published desktops (MetaFrame and early RDP.)
With the Citrix and EMC teams, I have been focused for the past few months on validating what I think is a really exciting solution -- even if I say so myself. So recently not much time for blogging I am afraid.
Over the last couple of years we have seen desktop virtualization, specifically Hosted Virtual Desktops (HVD,) become increasingly more mainstream -- but today we are really experiencing an upsurge of deployments -- and not just pilots -- but full blown multi-thousand seat deployments.
As you are probably aware the worst nightmare is that you deploy the solution and the users don’t adopt it because it doesn’t provide them the user experience they need or want.
One of the key requirements for success is an infrastructure that won’t just provide the right experience for the first few hundred users -- but that will scale linearly as you grow into the many thousands.
You can rely on Cisco Validated Designs to deliver for you! We use real world test scenarios to insure that you can implement our designs in your environment and be successful.
The keys to a successful deployment of a large scale HVD environment start with:

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What’s New with VXI for 2013?

Desktop Virtualization the Cisco Way

Now that 2013 is officially here –  it must be time for the next wave of innovations for the Cisco VXI Smart Solution. The first of these enhancements is Jabber for virtual environments, which we are announcing today.

In 2012 we saw the 1000th customer deploy VXI to meet their desktop virtualization and VDI needs. You can read Phil Sherburne’s blog for a look back on 2012. Granted, these VXI deployments are not all 30,000 seat environments -- they cover a complete spectrum of implementation scale, from small pilots to large production environments with tens of thousands of seats.

We recognized an interesting trend in 2012. Many IT departments were expanding on their initial deployments by simply adding UCS blades to scale the installed pilot VXI infrastructure – one of the great benefits of having a VDI architecture that scales seamlessly from zero to 5000 virtual desktops in just 30 minutes.

It’s rare for an IT department to roll out an enterprise-wide desktop virtualization deployment from day one. There are technology and operational lessons that are often best learned though a pilot production deployment numbering hundreds, rather than thousands of seats. With Cisco VXI we are assisting IT organizations with the initial pilots through attractive bundles that are targeted at pilot deployments, pre-production pilot service offers and the like.

However, once the pilot is successfully deployed, IT needs to consider how best to expand the deployment on three dimensions:

  1. Efficiently scaling the number of virtual desktops
  2. Supporting additional work profiles and use cases and
  3. Operationalizing the provisioning and administration of large deployments.

The VXI roadmap is well aligned with helping customers expand and scale their desktop virtualization deployments across all three dimensions.

diagram for 2.7 DC blog

Phase 1 of the roadmap has been focused on providing the most scalable, efficient and simplified infrastructure for desktop and application virtualization. Together with partners, including Citrix and VMware, we continue to expand on the capabilities of VXI in this area with greater virtual desktop densities, storage optimization, network and security enhancements -- and the like.

In phase 2 of the roadmap we have been focused on expanding the use case support by enabling greater levels of mobility, broader device support and just as importantly greater support of integrated collaboration and voice/video services in a virtual desktop and application environment.

In the 3rd phase we will focus on helping enterprises and service providers enhance the operational efficiencies of large deployments through private, public and hybrid cloud workspace models.

Today’s “Jabber for virtual environments” announcement is squarely focused on enabling support for a broader set of use cases, by evolving our virtual workspace architecture. This important enhancement is part of a strategy for better enabling collaboration services on any device running a virtual desktop. This capability is enabled by software, called the Virtualization Experience Media Engine (VXME) that will initially run on Cisco’s thin clients followed by Windows thin clients and Windows PCs.

To learn more watch the webcast or take part in the conversation here

Also if you are going to be at Cisco Live in London at the end of the month -  don’t miss out on seeing the VXI technologies in action at the World of Solutions Data Center and Unified Workspace booths.

And finally, be on the look out for additional VXI developments as we progress through the rest of 2013.

 

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