We’re halfway into Cisco Live! Each year I find more and more attendees are coming to talk to us about running various desktop delivery models on UCS. Some observations from folks I’ve chatted with:
More and more of you are asking about NVIDIA GRID solutions for graphics intensive use-cases. I had several in fact, from the oil and gas industry who were especially interested in our C240 M3 solution with GRID – which conveniently we’ve been demo-ing here, remoted out of our San Jose lab. If you’re not familiar with it, check out our solutions for both Citrix and VMware.
CAPEX-friendliness with great performance, for small seat count environments is key. Lot’s of folks asking about solutions that are optimized for 100-200 seats of Horizon or XenDesktop, that are completely self-contained, including compute, storage, broker and the infrastructure assets. I’ve shared this brand new whitepaper on our C240 200 seat config with everyone I talk to – just a single rack footprint that includes the LSI Nytro MegaRAID Controller with 200 GB of flash for write-caching, plus 12 x 600GB SAS drives. Here’s what’s been tested:
Cisco UCS C240-M3 Rack Server (2 X Intel Xeon processor E5-2697 v2 @ 2.70 GHz) with 384GB of memory (16 GB X 24 DIMMS @ 1866 MHz), hypervisor host
Cisco UCS VIC1225 Converged Network Adapter/Rack Server (Optional for 10GB Connectivity)
2 x Cisco Nexus 5548UP Access Switches
12 x 600GB SAS disks @ 10000 RPM
LSI Nytro MegaRAID Controller 8110-4i
The infrastructure/user file volumes are on the 1st 4 drives set up in a RAID 5 config, and the 2nd and 3rd groups of 4 drives (combined in RAID 10) are for XenDesktop MCS (Citrix) or Floating Assignment / Linked Clones (VMware). Extremely cost-effective for 200 seats with great performance that doesn’t max out the system and has plenty of room to breathe. Check out the Citrix and VMware configs of this “in-a-box” solution.
Flash – Flash and more Flash. It’s hard to move around SF without seeing a Cisco UCS / Flash-Forward advertisement promoting UCS Invicta Solid State Systems. Invicta is changing the economics of desktop virtualization with industry-leading wear life rating, expansive write-IOPS capacity, and superior manageability within the UCS fabric with UCS Director. We’ve got a nice demo of 600 XenDesktop seats booting off an Invicta appliance, in under 9 minutes.
There you have it – great performance that goes beyond the traditional barriers associated with cost-effectively delivering desktop virtualization. Definitely check out these three solutions if you have some time remaining at Cisco Live this week.
Did you catch the news from Cisco and Citrix yesterday? Here at Citrix Synergy, we announced the new Cisco Mobile Workspace Solution with Citrix. This new jointly integrated solution brings together best of breed technologies from both companies to deliver a pervasively accessible end user workspace – One that can be delivered on any device, anywhere, seamlessly and securely integrated with the applications and productivity suite necessary for workers to be productive.
Central to this solution are the following tenets of the new mobile workspace:
Supporting any device, any OS
Maintaining secure access to the corporate network
Facilitating rapid expansion and control of mobile applications
Check out this infographic which Cisco and Citrix have compiled highlighting some nice proof points of business impact enabled by Cisco Desktop Virtualization Solutions with Citrix XenDesktop – then, ask yourself – “Can Your Server Deliver Results Like These?”
While here at Synergy, I’ve had numerous conversations with VDI implementers who’ve resonated with the unique benefits and performance advantage associated with deploying hosted VDI as well as hosted shared desktops on UCS. Surprised in fact, at the number of attendees I run into who are already well familiarized with:
The performance advantage VMFEX brings to XenApp environments
The simplified manageability of UCS Service Profile Templates, enabling rapid turn-up of XenDesktop environments starting from bare metal servers
The linearly consistent performance with scale, proven through Cisco Validated Designs for Citrix XenDesktop
The roster of clientele that have tapped the benefits of XenDesktop deployed on UCS continues to grow, providing these organizations an accelerated path to delivering an enterprise-wide mobility strategy, built on this differentiated virtual workspace infrastructure.
Of course you’re aware that virtualization and mobility are taking over the traditional office workspace.
More and more, employees are using their own mobile devices and working from home or remote locations, meaning work is no longer a 9-5, at-the-office thing. So to enable efficient practices within this changing environment, your IT needs to change with it. Resources need to be accessible from anywhere, not just in the office. Moving desktops to a virtual environment addresses this concern—while increasing employee productivity and responsiveness, and decreasing costs.
Citrix Synergy 2014 is taking place this week in Los Angeles. And it’s no surprise that this year’s hot topic is enterprise mobility. Technologies such as Citrix XenApp, XenDesktop, and XenMobile, combined with Cisco Unified Computing System (Cisco UCS) and Cisco UCS Invicta™ Series Solid State Systems, or Citrix NetScaler 1000v with Cisco Nexus vPath, and Cisco mobile workplace solutions, are tools that enable you to move your work environment to the cloud, enabling you to provide full-time, fast, and secure access to your applications and crucial information.
“It was sometimes taking 10 minutes for our clinicians to log on, open an application, and get the information they need,” says Hughes. “That time should be spent with a patient instead of a workstation. We wanted to make it easier and faster for our clinicians to access applications and information, so we started looking into VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure).” says Jake Hughes, Chief Technical Architect for Infrastructure Systems at Seattle Children’s.
With 800 attorneys spread across offices in the United States, London, Shanghai, Melbourne, and Sydney, prominent law firm Seyfarth Shaw relies on its Citrix XenDesktop virtualization platform to deliver Windows environments and in-house applications as an on-demand user service.
“When you’re sitting in an airport and you need to get something done for a client, you can’t wait for your application to boot up; you want it to be available as quickly as possible and that’s what flash technology provides,” says Andy Jurczyk, CIO, Seyfarth Shaw , experiencing the benefit of the new Cisco UCS Invicta™ features .
On Unleashing IT , our on line magazine and resource center you will discover through these examples and many others, how you can utilize Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) in combination with other technologies to speed up processes and give your workers flexibility by providing secure access to the information they need, as soon as they need it.
Visiting our resource center on Unleashing IT you will access to numerous documents , including a Forrester Study “The Total Economic Impact of Cisco Desktop Virtualization Solutions”
Additional resources: Read more on Citrix Synergy 2014
I remember growing up in the UK years ago during the UK’s ‘North Sea Oil Boom’. It was a time of great excitement and opportunity for the nation. A whole industry was developed to deal with offshore exploration to ‘bring the energy home’.
It was Aberdeen’s local ‘moon landing’ event - just five months after Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, the North Sea oil fields were discovered off the east coast of Scotland. Certainly parts of Scotland, Aberdeen especially, saw an uptick in employment from the gloomy ’60s, and the economy changed from rural farming, fishing and textiles to include a more industrial oil and gas setting. Employment, property prices and investment in the City boomed.
Ferguson is a great Scottish name, but the founder is a great example of how folks were attracted from outside Scotland (founder Bill Ferguson Jr. is an American) to help further the oil industry in Scotland. Today, Ferguson Group are a key part of the Aberdeen economy, as a leading suppliers of containers, accommodations, and workspace modules for the offshore energy industry (now worldwide).
I thought I’d share how Ferguson conquered a business challenge -- namely protecting high-value equipment and, at the same time, use a standardized system and process worldwide whilst keeping up with industry security standards.
As Graham Cowperthwaite said in a recent article: “For years our headquarters in Scotland relied on an analog video security system”. Graham is director of operations at Ferguson Group, and went on to say “That system wasn’t meeting our needs in terms of image quality and remote accessibility.” He added: “For example, our board members are often traveling between bases, and want to have the ability to check back on facilities from any networked location, even from an iPad. We simply couldn’t do that with an analog system.”
So Ferguson switched from a an analog security system to an IP-based solution, from Cisco. And it wasn’t just cameras and door hardware. They also needed to consider the security and reliability of the network on which camera images and access history would be transmitted and stored.
“We looked at other physical security offerings on the market, but nothing came close to Cisco in terms of comprehensiveness,” says Graham Cowperthwaite. “Only Cisco could provide us with a total combination of Cisco IP video cameras, door readers,firewalls, and routers, all available globally with the highest levels of vendor support. We were already a Cisco house in terms of our network infrastructure, and the interoperability of these solutions fit in perfectly with our goals for standardization.”
So what exactly can you do in 16 minutes?Well, you can:
Download and install your preferred tax prep software, because (if you’re in the US or Canada) April is coming
Enjoy your 15 minutes of fame, then reminisce and/or lament about it for exactly 1 minute.
Save 15% on your car insurance (you can supposedly get this done in 15 vs. 16 min.)
Do some really unsavory things not suitable for mentioning on a nice blog post like this one.
Don’t care about any of those things?Neither do I.Let me come back to this in a moment…
If you’re familiar with our architecture portfolio for desktop virtualization, you may be aware that we’re continuing to invest in VSPEX-based reference architectures for Cisco Desktop Virtualization.This week, we just announced the latest addition to the Cisco Validated Design (CVD) portfolio – our solution for VMware Horizon View 5.3 with Cisco UCS and EMC VSPEX available here.
If you’re not already familiar with them, CVD’s provide prescriptive design guidance around how to build solutions with specific outcomes (performance) as documented through a testing/documentation discipline that Cisco’s been doing for years.You’ll find our repository of desktop virtualization CVD’s here.
So now let’s talk about the CVD itself.Our principal author is Ramesh Guduru – he’s a Virtualization Systems Engineer in Cisco’s Data Center Business Group and has extensive experience in Horizon View, virtualization infrastructure and management, Cisco UCS and storage. Ramesh assembled a test platform based on the setup shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Cisco CVD Validation Platform
As you can see the core pillars of the solution are:
Key things we wanted to expose/profile in this effort included:
More with less – more powerful processors and faster memory
System footprint for delivering 2,000 Horizon View desktops, while still retaining room to expand as demand increases
Leverage more economical processors – ex: a 57% lower list price for the Intel E5-2680 v2 10-core processors vs. top bin processors tested in the past = lower server cost = lower per desktop CAPEX
Hosting density leadership (# desktops per compute blade)
End user experience as exercised using LoginVSI with medium workload with Flash
Boot-up and login performance (simulating the Monday-morning boot storm dilemma all VDI implementations face and daily login storms)·
From a design perspective we also wanted to ensure our system provided:
Full n+1 fault tolerance across the stack
Fully virtualized platform, inclusive of the virtual desktops, as well as the infrastructure componentry like vCenter, AD, SQL servers etc.
I’ll leave it to you the explore the methodology Ramesh followed for the CVD, but let me point to a couple interesting things gained from this effort:
With our B200 M3 blade, we increased our desktop workload capacity (across the system) by 30% compared with full-width blades used in prior analyses
We collapsed the footprint from 30 RU down to just 12 RU.
The combined effect of the selected CPU (Intel Ivy Bridge), high-bandwidth, low-latency unified fabric, and our VIC 1240 converged networking adapter yielded exceptional user experience at under 1.75 sec at full load.
The EMC VNX5600 provided outstanding storage performance for both file and block, using EMC Fast Cache technology.
VMware Horizon View 5.3 with Sparse Virtual Disk gave us better disk performance and disk space efficiency.
And as for the 16 minute thing?
That’s how long it took for the full population of 2,000 virtual desktops to get booted and ready to login (under 16 minutes).And in an additional 14 we had all of them running user workload with no sign of exhausting the system.
Get the details by digging into the CVD posted here