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Taking the Guesswork out of Deploying Virtual Desktops: Cisco + VMware Validated Designs for View 4.5

December 9, 2010 - 2 Comments

So, like many IT organizations you may have already made the decision to deploy virtual desktops – you’re ready to move from a small pilot to full production.  But a lot of questions (and possibly some guesswork) stand in the way – what does the end state architecture need to look like?  How do you get there?  How are you going to make sure that you can move quickly and seamlessly from proof of concept to scalable production? Accounting for sufficient server capacity, network bandwidth and performance, storage IOPS, and especially quality of experience at the end-user level – there are a lot of factors to contend with.  And how do you predict user behavior in a production environment, including the load they’ll collectively place on your infrastructure when they log into their brand-new virtual desktops on Monday morning?

Many of Cisco’s customers and partners are intimately familiar with these challenges, and along with Cisco’s services engineers, solution architects and consulting systems engineers, they’ve lived through (and survived) the move to desktop virtualization.  There’s a wealth of knowledge out there, and Cisco has made it a priority to capture this knowledge within a readily consumable tool you can benefit from.  The extensive testing conducted by Cisco’s system engineering teams and its solution partners to validate that the end-to-end solution works as it should when subjected to real world conditions is documented.  My friend Brian Gracely recently blogged about Cisco Validated Designs (CVDs), and if you’re not already familiar with what goes into creating one of these, I’d encourage you to read his post.

Yesterday, Cisco released two new CVD’s focused on VMware View 4.5, available on the Cisco Design Zone (the online home for our CVD library).  One CVD has been developed in collaboration with VMware and EMC and the other in collaboration with VMware and NetApp.  These CVDs are a valuable resource for any organization in the process of implementing the VMware View 4.5 solution – you can find them here:

< Spoiler Alert! >

 I’ll excerpt just some of what’s captured in the CVDs here:

  • Scale test findings—110 Windows 7 desktops (1.5 GB) running knowledge worker load were supported with one server blade .
  • Linear scalability from 1 to 7 to 14 servers, with the following results:
    • One server supported 110 desktops
    • Seven servers supported 770 desktops
    • 14 servers supported 1540 desktops (with similar response times)
    • Pure Virtualization—The validated environment consists of all virtual machines hosted by VMware vSphere. All the virtual desktop and supporting infrastructure components, including Active Directory and vCenter Server, are hosted on VMware vSphere.
    • VMware View allows simplified management of large numbers of automatically standardized desktop resources.
    • Scalable architecture and rapid provisioning with Cisco UCS Manager makes it easy to scale from 300 virtual machines on one chassis to 700 on two, 20,000 on 50 and so on.
    • The 10G unified fabric delivers tremendous performance with respect to user response times during the load test.

Make no mistake about it – Cisco Validated Designs are not quick reading.  Sometimes numbering hundreds of pages, these design guides are the end result of a concerted effort by Cisco and its solution partners to deliver a reference architecture that’s been battle-proven and validated in extensive lab and real-world testing to perform as a complete end-to-end solution in production environments.  Have a look at the CVDs, – I’d be very interested to get your thoughts and feedback on them, what’s useful and what’s not, and what else would be helpful in taking more of the guesswork out of deploying of virtual desktops.

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  1. You need to include the RSA Solution for VMware View Mike

    • Thanks for your feedback MIke - I think you'll appreciate my recent post on Securing Virtual Desktops (Part 1) Thx, Tony