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May 23, 2016

Windows 10 IOPS for VDI - White Paper

Jim Moyle - Atlantis

Download the white paper to get all of the details!

Windows 10 and IOPS is the most challenging, least understood and most frequently encountered resource bottleneck that stalls todays desktop virtualization projects. Many of these projects are Windows 10 migrations which are one of the key IT initiatives which are driving VDI adoption today. However, many IT organizations planning a Windows 10 migration with VDI are unaware that the combination of Windows 10 and antivirus more than doubles the amount of memory and IOPS required per desktop compared to Windows XP and Windows 7, which will significantly decrease virtual desktop density per server and will degrade virtual desktop performance. As a result, the storage architecture is often undersized for Windows 10. This leads to desktop performance, very poor user experience and budgeting issues when more storage is required to fix the IOPS bottleneck and latency challenges.

Why IOPS and Latency are Key

Delivering a good desktop experience, whether it is a physical PC or a virtual desktop, is a matter of ensuring that it has sufficient hardware resources (e.g. GPU, CPU, Memory, Storage) to run the operating system and applications of the desktop. With Physical PCs, the process is simple because each of those resources is both local to the PC and dedicated for that PC. In desktop virtualization, we are abstracting and pooling those hardware resources. With memory and CPU, the pool of resources is limited to the hypervisor and the hence the physical server, which remains local to the desktop and is easily predictable and handled well by a variety of memory and CPU optimization techniques. However, with desktop virtualization, the hard drive is moved to shared storage, this storage is then shared between hypervisors, allowing consequences to spread across the whole infrastructure. In order to deliver a consistently high performance virtual desktop experience that is equal or better than a physical PC, virtual desktops require constant access to low latency and high throughput storage.
There are three challenges with VDI: Cost, Performance and Complexity. Storage selection, whether you are choosing storage with high performance or high capacity will have a significant impact on cost, performance and complexity.

Competing for Shared Resources

Windows 10 was designed with a local and dedicated disk and requires constant access to the hard drive even when it is idle. In addition, Windows 10 will consume as much disk IO or throughput to the hard drive as is possible. This means that Windows isn’t a good community member, it is very selfish. As a result, when you virtualize thousands of Windows 10 desktops and have them share storage (SAN or NAS), they all compete to use as much disk IO as possible to maximize their own performance without any knowledge of the needs of the other desktops that are sharing that same hardware resource. If a Windows 10 desktop doesn’t have access to the IO that it requires, desktop performance will degrade and users will see it in the form of long boot/logon times, slow application launching and generally poor desktop performance. Also, organizations will be limited in how they can boot their virtual desktops, when and how they can patch the operating system and applications, enable indexing/search and when they can run Anti-Virus scans.


Read more by downloading the Windows 10 IOPS Whitepaper, where I go through the general IOPS demands of a standard Windows 10 desktop with analysis of the various stages in the desktop’s lifecycle:
  • Boot
  • Windows Logon
  • Application launches and LoginVSI knowledge worker workload
  • Steady state
  • Anti-Virus demands
  • Windows Updates
  • Logoff and Shutdown
For example, below is the chart for the VM booting, login and idle over an eight-minute period.
And the chart below showing the IOPS demands during a LoginVSI knowledge worker workload run.
I identify where you may encounter bottlenecks and therefore issues with your VDI deployment with recommendations on how to resolve these bottlenecks. The whitepaper also contains recommended tools and resources that you can use to help you run similar tests within your infrastructure.

Download the white paper now
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