Let’s start with some questions:

  • Did your virtual desktop deployment pilot or proof-of-concept yield great results but suffered when you tried to scale out?
  • Are your virtual desktop users complaining about slow application response times?
  • Do you understand the benefits of moving desktops to the data center, but haven’t come to terms with storage cost for a large-scale deployment?
  • Is your CxO telling you to implement a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategy and support new mobile devices to access desktops, but you are not sure how?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then all-flash VDI may be in your future, read on….



It has been a busy month here at Pure Storage as we have been heads down working on showcasing the benefits of the Pure Storage FlashArray in virtual desktop deployments. This blog highlights the reference architecture we put together for using the FlashArray for VMware View desktop deployments. I encourage readers to download the Reference Architecture document for the detailed implementation:

Summary of Findings

  • Reference architecture with 1,000 desktops as a building block on VMware View 5.0 and vSphere 5.1
  • View Planner score of 0.52 achieved for both linked clone and persistent desktops
  • 1,000 linked clone desktops created in less than two hours
  • 1,000 desktops recomposed in less than 2 hours
  • 1,000 desktops booted in 10 minutes and sustained sub-1ms latency and 50,000 IOPS
  • Data reduction (deduplication and compression) in excess of 10-to-1 across all desktops

Reference Architecture Highlights

Hardware Configuration

  • One 11TB Pure Storage FlashArray (FA-320) in HA configuration, including two controllers and two shelves
  • Eight X dual socket Intel Xeon x5690 based commodity servers with 192 GB of memory running ESXi 5.1 were used to host the desktops
  • Two Cisco MDS 9148 SAN switch
  • One Cisco 3750 1gE 48 port network switch

Software Configuration

  • VMware vSphere 5.1 and View 5.0
  • Windows 7 Professional (64-bit)
  • VMware View Planner 2.1 (VMware Virtual Desktop Workload generator)
  • Windows 2008 R2 SP1 for hosting all infrastructure VMs

Validation and Results

  • We deployed 1,000 VMware View based linked clone Windows 7 desktops and ran a realistic load generator with VMware View Planner that simulated 1,000 users performing common computing tasks, resulting in a best-in-class score of 0.52 seconds. This score indicates that the majority of the user application interactions (95th% of group “A” interactive operations) had a response time of 0.52 second or less, well within the passing score of 1.5 seconds.
  • We then repeated the test using 1,000 persistent full-clone desktops, achieving the same View Planner score and showing that users can confidently use any combination of linked clone or full clone persistent desktops on the FlashArray – both perform the same.
  • Throughout the testing the FlashArray delivered up to 50,000 IOPS and maintained latency under 1.1ms, demonstrating the FlashArray’s consistent latency and ability to deliver the best all-flash VDI end-user experience at all times. The FlashArray delivers a better desktop experience for end-users than dedicated laptops with SSDs, and doesn’t risk the 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, including both 1,000 linked clones and 1,000 persistent desktops (each of 31 GB disk size), together only consuming about 1.1 TB of physical storage on the FlashArray. This massive data reduction (>20-to-1) is the result of the high-performance inline data reduction (deduplication and compression) delivered by the FlashArray.
  • The reference architecture can be treated as a 1,000 desktop building block. Customers can add more server and infrastructure components to scale the architecture out to 1,000s of desktops. Based on the results, we believe a single FA-320 can support up to 5,000 desktops with any mix of linked clones and/or persistent desktops.

Additional Benefits of Using FlashArray for your VDI Deployment

  • Throughout the testing we performed common VDI administrator operations and found a drastic reduction in time for recomposing desktops, cloning persistent desktops, (re)booting desktops, and other day-to-day virtual desktop operations. Taken together these operational savings deliver substantial efficiency gains for VDI administrators throughout the VDI day.
  • The power footprint for the tested FA-320 FlashArray was 9 Amps (110V) which is a fraction of any mechanical disk storage array available in the marketplace. This configuration consumed eight rack units (8 RU) in data center space.
  • As tested, the 11TB FlashArray FA-320 delivered best-in-class VDI performance at a cost of $100/desktop for 2,000 desktops. Since the FlashArray was significantly under-utilized throughout the testing on both a capacity and performance basis, the array could have supported 1,000s more desktops, or a smaller array could have been used, either of which would have reduced the $/desktop cost even further. More details in the Reference Architecture document.


In short, we have proven how all-flash VDI can tackle the common performance, scale, and capacity issues of VDI, and how the Pure Storage FlashArray can make all-flash VDI affordable at under $100/desktop.  Please reach out and drop us a line if you’d like a personal briefing on how Pure Storage can help you accomplish your VDI goals.