FlashStack Converged Infrastructure: Validated all-flash performance, scalability, and resilience for Citrix XenDesktop VDI

Virtualizing desktops is no small undertaking as architects make decisions based on user requirements, use cases, platforms, devices and features to support, as well as what IT infrastructure is required to support their organization’s VDI needs.

Looking at an organization’s needs, task workers will perform work in ways that are different from office workers, sales people, remote developers or contractors. Vertical industries vary greatly in requirements for VDI. In education, students and teachers work differently from businesses and K-12 schools will differ in VDI needs from universities or technical schools. In healthcare, nurses and doctors require the ability to roam from patient to patient and access medical records quickly and securely.  Other verticals that typically deploy VDI include state and local government, financial organizations, and manufacturing where security, mobility, and performance requirements can vary greatly.

Once VDI specifications and strategy are nailed down, the IT infrastructure required to support VDI needs to be architected. The success of a VDI project hinges on the satisfaction of your end-users, and that often starts and ends with the performance of the infrastructure put in place. Successful VDI projects depend heavily on highly performant storage. There are many options out there to consider, from traditional disk systems, to hybrid, converged infrastructure, hyper-converged or all-flash solutions.

Whether you choose to build your own, or choose a pre-engineered and validated solution, check out the full results of our white-paper published on FlashStack Converged Infrastructure with Citrix XenDesktop.

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This FlashStack Converged Infrastructure is a validated reference architecture for VDI using Cisco UCS servers, Nexus switches, Pure Storage all-flash arrays and Citrix XenDesktop.

During the testing of this solution, we used an industry-recognized load testing tool. Login VSI simulates virtualized desktop systems and scales from a few virtual machines to thousands.  By simulating scaling of VMs and desktops the tool is able to accurately show the absolute maximum number of VMs that can be deployed on a given host or cluster of hosts, using pre-defined classes of workloads that closely mimic real-world users. Using Login VSI enables customers to make educated decisions when evaluating various VDI architectures.

Here are a few of our top takeaways enabled via use of Login VSI:

  • We deployed 2,000 Citrix XenDesktop MCS-based linked clone Windows 7 desktops and ran a realistic load generator with Login VSI that simulated 2,000 users performing common computing tasks, resulting in achievement of the highest Login VSI Baseline Score in every single test that was performed, even where VSImax was reached. This score means the majority of the applications used in the Office workload performed with outstanding performance and response times.
  • Throughout the testing, FlashArray delivered up to 100,000 IOPS and maintained latency under 1 ms, demonstrating the FlashArray’s consistent latency and ability to deliver the best all-flash VDI end-user experience at all times. FlashArray delivers a better desktop experience for end-users than dedicated laptops with SSDs, and doesn’t risk end-user experience by relying on caching as hybrid flash/disk arrays do.
  • In total throughout the testing we deployed more than 2,000 desktops (each of 32 GB disk size), together only consuming about 510 GB of physical storage on the FlashArray. This massive data reduction (57.7-to-1) is the result of the high-performance inline data reduction (deduplication and compression) delivered by the FlashArray, which enables using any combination of linked clones or persistent full-clone desktops – both of which reduce to about the same amount of space on the array.

Login VSI’s industry standard VDI test suite showed exceptional scaling of Citrix XenDesktop 7.6.1 from hundreds to thousands of users. While we did this testing, we also decided to showcase Pure Storage’s all-flash resilience.  Our our engineer disconnected a  fiber-channel cable during our 8 server, 1200 user simulation run and still experienced sub-ms latency throughout the simulation. As expected (and shown below), an error message showed up on our Pure Dashboard and an automated email alert was sent out, all while the system continued to perform flawlessly.

vdi blog - cable failure
This resilience test is going to be tested to the extreme in a sponsored upcoming analyst paper, where multiple workloads will be consolidated on a VMware vSphere solution including VMware Horizon View, SQL Server and Oracle, while multiple parts will be pulled, and systems rebooted.  Our goal there will be to show how the Pure Storage all-flash system enabled all workloads to continue to run and perform consistently through failure.

Here’s a sneak peek at what that will look like.  Is that cool or what?

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Pure Storage customers have seen time and time again, with new or revitalized VDI deployments, that our all-flash storage is simple, resilient and the most effective way to address VDI’s high-performance storage requirements. Here are just a few of the customers who have experienced amazing success with their VDI projects on Pure Storage.

  • Judson Independent School District, with 23,500 students and 3,000 faculty, reduced application log-in time by 95% and achieved data reduction of 10:1.
  • Fremont Bank replaced a failing traditional disk system for their VDI deployment with a Pure Storage system that was simple to manage, scaled and was highly resilient. Users noticed near instant VDI boot times compared to minutes previously required.
  • Medical Center Health System required faster performance for their XenDesktop and XenApp deployment to enable health care workers to improve patient care. Sub 1ms latency, simpler storage management, and 8 to 1 data reduction resulted in happier IT, happier medical staff and happier patients.

Here are a few more ways you can learn about how Pure Storage helps customers successfully deploy VDI with our all-flash storage solutions: