Better Together: VMware Horizon, App Volumes and XtremIO

This blog was written by Chhandomay Mandal, Solutions Marketing Director for EMC All-Flash Storage

VMware announced the general availability of Horizon 7 couple of weeks ago. Packed with many new innovations, it is a very important release of VMware’s industry-leading digital workspace solution for delivering and managing virtual desktops and applications.

Storage has always been an integral part of a successful end-user computing platform deployment. From the storage viewpoint, couple of new capabilities in VMware Horizon 7 stands out to me:

  • Just in Time Delivery: Formerly known as Project Fargo, the new Instant Clone Technology provides a new, dramatically accelerated means to provision virtual desktops. With Instant Clone Technology built into vSphere, a booted-up parent VM can be quiesced and “hot-cloned” to produce derivative VMs rapidly while leveraging the same disk and memory of the parent. The cloned VMs start in an already “booted-up” state!
  • Application Lifecycle Management: VMware App Volumes, now included in Horizon 7, is a transformative solution for delivering applications to virtual desktops. Applications installed on multi-user AppStacks or user-specific Writable Volumes attach instantly to a desktop at user login. The App Volumes user experience closely resembles that of applications natively installed on the desktop.

Why is this important?

When you combine Instant Clone Technology with App Volumes, you can rapidly spin up virtual desktops that retain user customization and persona from session to session, even though the desktop itself is destroyed when the user logs out. Virtual desktops benefit from the latest OS and application patches automatically applied between user logins, without any disruptive recompose like you would have with Linked Clones.

This combined capability truly delivers the VDI nirvana of fully customized and personalized desktops, built on the economics and security of stateless non-persistent desktops.

What happens to storage?

The VDI storage I/O profile – as we know it – changes with App Volumes.

For example, storage volumes for AppStacks will see high read I/Os as the application volumes are effectively read-only. However, there will be variations of the read I/O intensity; e.g. storage for Microsoft Office AppStack will likely see higher read I/Os than the storage for a specialty application AppStack, as there are many more users of Office than a department-specific specialty application. On the other hand, storage dedicated to Writable Volumes for user specific information will see high write I/O profile.

Unless the storage array balances the load uniformly and automatically across all controllers and all SSDs in a true N-way active-active scale-out architecture with radically simple array management, the SAN administrators will be hard pressed to optimize the storage platform to deliver best user experience with these next-gen desktops.

And that’s where XtremIO comes in!

You don’t have to take my word for it though. The end-user computing team at VMware undertook a performance and scalability reference architecture (RA) project for VMware App Volumes. This project was aimed at helping customers and partners understand the App Volumes product in a production configuration, where technical planning helps deliver consistent performance and predictable scalability.

As storage was exceptionally critical for VMware App Volumes RA, the team settled on XtremIO for storage. During the course of the project, the team was doing 2,000 desktop deployment runs. In a span of two weeks, they have run over 38,000 desktops through the test environment and accumulated over 500 MB of performance and analytics logs. The team chronicled their experiences in a series of blogs, and XtremIO was so impressive that Team VMware has created this amazing video:

Proof is in the pudding though. We ran several tests on Horizon 7 and XtremIO as well, and we’d be soon publishing the detailed technical white paper with all the findings. Now, this excellent video captures Horizon 7 with Instant Clone Technology performance for 2,500 desktops running on a single XtremIO X-Brick. And those 2,500 users are not only using Windows 10 but also Office 2016!

So try out VMware Horizon 7 with App Volumes leveraging XtremIO today. The trio is truly a game changer in end-user computing!

About the Author: Chhandomay Mandal

Dr. Chhandomay Mandal is the Director of Solutions Marketing at Dell Technologies. He leads solutions across artificial intelligence, analytics, business applications, VDI and HPC as well as industry-specific solutions for healthcare, media & entertainment, semiconductors and smart manufacturing. Prior to his current role, he led Dell’s all-flash storage solutions marketing efforts for desktop virtualization, server virtualization and private cloud. Dr. Mandal has been awarded 13 patents. He has a PhD from University of Florida, MBA from Indiana University, and BTech from Indian Institute of Technology.