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May 02, 2012

Does View Storage Accelerator diminish the value of Atlantis ILIO?

Seth Knox - Atlantis

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The short answer is NOT really, quite on the contrary, Atlantis ILIO complements View storage accelerator with the same storage optimization technology used by the largest VDI deployments in the world today.  So, why does this question comes up now?

Today VMware announced the launch of View 5.1. One question I got asked by a customer is if View Storage Accelerator’s arrival meant that Atlantis ILIO is less relevant. So I started my investigation on why he felt that way and started to read the blog posted by VMware here on this topic .The blog or feature description does a good job of identifying that storage is a big issue in VDI which I agree, but misses to call out one big thing about the feature implementation which has been in vSphere since 5.0, wondering what? Keep reading….

View Storage Accelerator aka. Content based Read Cache (CBRC) is a per host caching solution that provides acceleration for desktop read IO traffic (e.g. Boot storm). As the name suggests it is a sequential read only caching solution and does not offload write I/O’s and random I/O’s (yes, it only does sequential reads). It is specifically a solution designed to alleviate some of the challenges caused by VM boot-storms and has limited applicability to broader storage optimization. The user experience and desktop performance depends on many other factors ( in-line de-deduplication, Content aware IO processing, Write IO offload, etc ).

But as most folks would know, VDI workload consists of 80% writes  and 20% reads storage access pattern.  This introduces significant performance challenges when VDI is deployed with SAN/NAS/DAS technologies. But View storage accelerator does not address the write IO offload needs.  In order to holistically solve these storage I/O challenges, a solution that addresses both the high number of write I/Os and the small but significant read I/O is needed.

Another big limitation is that View storage accelerator does not support full clones. The hash mechanism also has some limitations which can be found here

As an example, View storage accelerator will not help in the following use cases

1. Application response time and steady state IO
2. Anti-virus scan and database update
3. OS patch and update ( e.g. Patch Tuesday)
4. Steady state Windows OS –  IOPS can be 4-6 IOPS even when user is Idle

This means View accelerator only solves a subset of the IO problem (read IO is 20% of the overall IO and boot storms a much smaller subset of that read IO) and does not holistically address user experience and VDI capacity reduction. Users will still need to size for write IO peaks which means that total amount of storage needed is still not reduced. This also explains why they only talk about boot and load time as an example in all their marketing literature ( BTW: nothing wrong with that).

Now to the icing on the cake …Atlantis ILIO enhances View Storage Accelerator and  boosts its overall applicability.

Atlantis ILIO does the following :

1. Extends impact to the steady state user experience.

2. Big offload for both writes and reads ( Of course! both sequential and random)

3. Provides in-line de-duplication  with content aware IO processing further reducing the amount of storage needed

4. Provides continuous adaptive read and write IO optimization at all times and with any load!

5. Reduces overall storage ( capacity and throughput needed) up to 90% resulting in very low CAPEX and OPEX

Net net, Atlantis ILIO further enhances View capability to provide a comprehensive IO optimization solution. Atlantis ILIO complements other VMware View and vSphere features as well such as VMware FT, HA, DRS, ThinApp, Persona and View Linked Clones.

Atlantis ILIO  works in conjunction with View storage accelerator to provide deployments with both peak and steady state IO read and write offload. Using the two products together provides customers lowered storage CAPEX and much improved IO optimization for both random and sequential IO intensive workloads. Customers using both together can now ensure worry free performance for their users across AV scan, patch updates and other IO intensive operations.

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