VDI and the new EqualLogic PS6210XS hybrid array: Made for each other

To deliver a consistent, secure and reliable personal desktop experience to the ever increasing mobile and remote user base, many IT organizations are considering or have already deployed a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). Centralized management of virtual desktops helps simplify desktop deployment, software updates, and patch management. So, desktop virtualization can significantly reduce the operating costs of managing a very diverse client device environment.

Like everything else in life, VDI comes with its own set of challenges though. In particular, cost and management associated with storage for VDI deployments can be a significant hurdle. VDI storage requires the capacity to store not only desktop virtual machines, but also the associated end-user application data. Storage for VDI should also deliver the performance necessary for handling utilization spikes of short duration—I/O storms—such as those generated when large numbers of virtual desktops are booted simultaneously or hundreds of end users log in or log off at the same time.

Dell EqualLogic PS Series iSCSI hybrid SAN arrays are well suited for VDI environments. These hybrid arrays combine both solid-state drives (SSDs) and traditional hard disk drives (HDDs) in the same chassis and include features such as automated data tiering and centralized management tools to support efficient VDI deployments.

When we started with the first hybrid model nearly 3.5 years ago, we were one of the first vendors in the industry to do so. We have continued to build on that momentum by delivering a variety of innovations in the hybrid arrays, and this week’s launch of EqualLogic PS6210 family is no exception. You can get the details of “what’s new” here and how it will affect your environment, but the proof is simple when it comes to VDI.

The new EqualLogic PS6210XS hybrid array can host 2.4x the virtual desktops compared to the prior generation. As Figure 1 shows, a single PS6210XS can host 2,000 desktops whereas previously we could only host 830 desktops under the same VDI workload conditions. Here is the Reference Architecture paper for the new PS6210XS hybrid array that hosted 2,000 virtual desktops (and here is the corresponding one from the previous generation if you are curious.) 

The paper presents PS6210XS performance characteristics under various VDI workload scenarios – boot storm, login storm and steady state. Figure 2 below shows one of the highlights. The PS6210XS hybrid arrays delivered nearly 17,500 IOPS with less than 2.8 ms of average latency in the 2,000 desktop boot storm tests!  It may make you stop and think how that could help you in your current or planned VDI environment.

With the ability to support a large number of desktops in a single array, PS6210XS can help organizations like yours that may be limited by the cost-per-desktop hurdle start their VDI deployment plans much sooner. Moreover, the peer storage architecture of the EqualLogic arrays achieves linear scalability of both controller throughput and storage capacity as new arrays are added with the VDI environment growth. This linear scaling in both performance and capacity keeps the storage-per-virtual-desktop cost low even in very large VDI deployments.

In addition to improved performance and flexible scalability, the PS6210XS hybrid arrays help you reduce VDI deployment costs by handling workloads on highly cost-effective storage media, enhance VDI performance by placing read-intensive replica images on low-latency SSDs, and simplify VDI deployments through automated and intelligent data tiering. Combined with the ease of administration of EqualLogic arrays, these benefits can reduce the total cost for VDI in your organizations and make EqualLogic PS6210XS a great storage platform for your desktop virtualization.

Check out the EqualLogic PS6210XS VDI reference architecture paper for details and let me know your VDI challenges and successes @chhandomay.  Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest storage news.

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.