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VDI solutions. Microsoft, VMWare View, Citrix XenDesktop, etc?

Discussion in 'Virtual Computing' started by wagnerk, Feb 20, 2011.

  1. wagnerk
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    wagnerk aka kitkatninja Moderator

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    Hi All,

    As the title says: VDI solutions. Microsoft, VMWare View, Citrix XenDesktop, etc?

    About 6 years ago we had Citrix and to be honest, while it meet basic needs - anything above Office was shocking. Now a days, TS (and the newer VDI) has moved on quite a bit and (I believe) can meet our needs. Added to this I have to reduce our overall operating costs (this includes power, rolling replacements, vandalism, etc) as well as re-organise workloads (from fixing vandalised equipment and reimaging PC's to more proactive tasks).

    Price wise the order for us would be: Microsoft, VMWare then Citrix. However while price does play a big factor into things, that's not the only thing we have to consider.

    So my question for you guys/gals who have already gone thru this process are...

    1. What did you end up going for?
    2. How was it/how is it going?
    3. How easy/hard was it to set up?
    4. Any other info regarding this can you give?

    Thanks

    -Ken
     
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  2. zebulebu

    zebulebu Terabyte Poster

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    TBH Ken, I looked at this a couple of years back and never went any further than the planning stage. VMWare's offering was the only one worth looking at at the time - though I hear Citrix have made great strides now. Microsoft's offering is apparently a load of MS products bolted together - rather than one complete integrated solution like Citrix & VMWare (though I'm sure Shini will be along to tell me how wrong I am soon :dry)

    It seems ideally suited to education, healthcare and the like, so I'm guessing you'll be able to get a much better cost-benefit analysis result from any pilot scheme you put in place than I was - we're too specialised an environment to benefit that much from it. One area I might look at putting it in is our research centre (basically a call centre where 80 staff do the same job), but, unfortunately, this is in Glasgow, and there's no support above basic first-line - so it's probably a non-starter there as well.

    Good luck - I'd certainly be interested to see what route you go down (if you decide to do it)
     
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  3. wagnerk
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    wagnerk aka kitkatninja Moderator

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    Thanks mate.

    There is a cost benefit. The cost initially if we went down the MS route would be more economical (for MS products the license model has changed from per user or machine to number of full time staff members in education), VMWare sits in the middle as they offer various bundles, Citrix is the most expensive as we would have to license per user (the all or nothing solution).

    Then there's the power consumption side, a fraction of the cost to power the terminals vs "full-fat" PC. Cost saving on the rolling replacements (last time I looked into this most terminals had a 10 year life, while PC's had 3-6 years due to the hammering), so extending the usage of equipment. Then the savings on day to day administration, eg reimaging (software), repair on hardware, software deployment, etc...

    It's just whether or not we can get our heads round the implementation, setting up a test lab and a small deployment before summer, otherwise we have to wait until next year...

    -Ken
     
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  4. Theprof

    Theprof Petabyte Poster Forum Leader

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    a few years back we've tried both Citrix and Vmware for VDI and never went past the pilot stages. We wanted to replace the Citrix presentation server all together because at the time, a VDI solution was a lot more cost effective. The reason we didn't go through with it, is because the experience for the remote users was not pleasant. Of course the remote office is 92ms away so although the connection is fast, you're still taking 92ms to come and go through our central data center. We also had bad feedback from users complaining about browsing websites. It seemed like when using VDI to browse the websites, when the websites would load pages like MSN.com, it would be very choppy. Of course this scenario is with a remote office.

    The only way to know if it will work is by running a pilot or some test and seeing how your environment reacts. Also I am sure that there's been improvements since we tried last.
     
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  5. ThomasMc

    ThomasMc Gigabyte Poster

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    I'm biased towards VMware View 4.5 because I think it’s a awesome especially when you add in thinApp but IMO it’s all about the storage on VDI, if you get that wrong then it won't matter which VDI solution you choose. What did you have in mind for storage? How many desktops are we talking about overall?
     
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  6. wagnerk
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    wagnerk aka kitkatninja Moderator

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    Also VMWare now uses PCoIP, which interests me.

    Anyway, overall just shy of 700 machines (PC's and laptop's), however in the first instance possibly 50-100 machines (as we can't afford a full mirgration in year 1). As for storage, either the existing Promise Trak Array or purchase a new storage array or SAN.

    Again this is just in the consideration phase.

    -Ken
     
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  7. Phoenix
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    Phoenix 53656e696f7220 4d6f64

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    I architected an 18'000 node VDI deployment last year
    and I'm spending this three day weekend setting up a small POC for a big client of ours.. bah, some weekend :)

    there is a LOT to consider, hit me up on skype or PM or something sometime as its a bit much to type up right now :)
     
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  8. zebulebu

    zebulebu Terabyte Poster

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    I'd go with a dedicated SAN for it. The IOPS would be an absolute b***ard for the amount of machines you;re considering. Also, you'd need to seriously evaluate your structured cabling and switching (if its like any school I've ever seen it'll be crap as its the last thing that ever gets any money spent on it!)

    I saw PCoIP demonstrated a while back at a trade show - its impressive stuff. Streaming three different videos at once and it coped admirably. It even looked good streaming hi-def video fullscreen.
     
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  9. AJ

    AJ Administrator Administrator

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    Ken

    We went down the XenDesktop route last year. At the moment 900 desktops and increasing as we put more and more thin clients out in the field.

    If you want to pop over and have a look, drop me a line and you can have the grand tour.

    AJ
     
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  10. Phoenix
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    Phoenix 53656e696f7220 4d6f64

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    not entirely true with the clone technology in use today
    really the master image gets the IOP hit and thats usually in the 5GB - 15GB range
    thats it, outside of that and your looking at user level IOPS for all the rest
    on most sans you could fit the 5 - 15GB in CACHE or SSD or something reasonable like that
    but you don't need to go 'oh **** i need 50 million iops for 10k desktops :)

    I had over 300 virtual desktops runnong on a Datacore SanMelody SAN with 24GB cache and only 6 10k drives
     
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  11. zebulebu

    zebulebu Terabyte Poster

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    What do you reckon - 10IOPS per user? That's what I was looking at a couple of years ago when I started thinking seriously about it in our research centre - which would have pushed the spindle count way, way in excess of anything we could have afforded. Budgets were a lot, lot tighter then, so I never even went past the initial investigation stage to a POC or anything - but this year we've got a bit more dough to spend - I might start seriously looking at it if we move office up there.

    I actually looked a few months back at progress made in VDI and was interested in EMCs approach - which seemed to be to chuck the master on SSDs instead of FC disks, with the data tier on SATA for clones. However, being an Equallogic shop we'd probably need to stick with a high-end PS and use the new de-dupe features in their kit.
     
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  12. SimonD

    SimonD Terabyte Poster Moderator

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    As far as VDI is concerned I am like Thomas in that View looks to be the better solution, however it's also perfectly possible to have your Citrix environment implemented in a VMware infrastructure.

    I love the idea of View and ThinApp and am planning on getting a POC lab running at home over the next couple of weeks (just building up my SAN\NAS storage and benchmarking it, also want to get a cheap SSD for fast caching on Nexentastor to give that a try).

    One thing people haven't talked about is the back end servers or the front end thinclients, whilst it's nice having a big chunky back end server farm hosting out your VDI solution don't forget that if you implement something that allows you to 'check out' a VDI desktop your thin client also has to be able to run it well (it's no good serving up 2 - 4 gb equipped VDI's but if your TC only has 512mb of ram and you try running it locally you're going to suffer).

    VDI has come on in leaps and bounds since it was first envisioned and I do believe that 2011 will start to see a shift in direction away from thick clients to thin clients.

    I would suggest that you perhaps build up a POC lab with all of the different technologies and see which one suits you best, things to also consider as well would be the extras that VMware can offer with the likes of DPM (Distributed Power Management) and DRS where you can power off servers overnight if you needed to further reduce your operating costs, something that MS can't do.
     
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  13. wagnerk
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    wagnerk aka kitkatninja Moderator

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    Yesterday I build a test MS VDI server. One thing that I found so far is that each user needs his/her own Virtual Desktop, which you would expect, however unless I'm mistaken that would mean that I would need up to 1350 virtual machines (one for each user at our place) as I can't assign the same virtual machine to more than one user.

    Is this correct? Or is my simple VDI solution that I built to basic?

    Update 2: Ok, I found that I can create Virtual Pools, however it sounds like then I would have to create the same amount of Virtual machines as TC devices to ensure that users can log in.

    Is this correct?

    -ken
     
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  14. Phoenix
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    Phoenix 53656e696f7220 4d6f64

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    generally yes
    this is not a light on hardware solution
    what you don't put in desktops you replace on the back end

    so you would need virtual machines for every concurrent user you want to utilize the system
    thats not to say you always require the same amount as thin clients, and they can spin up/down on the fly if done right
     
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