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January 10, 2014

NetApp and Atlantis Computing Partner to Deliver More High Performance VDI

Seth Knox - Atlantis


Today, NetApp and Atlantis Computing are excited to announce the second of two reference architectures featuring the NetApp FAS2240-2 with Clustered Data ONTAP 8.2 and Atlantis ILIO Persistent VDI 4.1 software not just because of the superb test results we have achieved, but because it means that through the NetApp-Atlantis partnership we are able to provide our customers with cost-effective solution for high-performance desktops that is proven at scale in some of the largest desktop virtualization deployments in the world.NetApp FAS and Atlantis Computing Reference Architecture

Test Result Highlights

  • 1,000 Persistent Desktops with 2U of Storage & Host side IO optimization software
  • 55 IOPS & 30GB per virtual desktop
  • 3x better disk mark score than a MacBook Air with an Apple SSD
  • Approximately 1 ms write response time with a single controller
  • 79% – 87% IOPS Offload During LoginVSI 3.7 Heavy Workload
  • Scale tested with Login VSI & Atlantis Computing Workbench Load Generation Tool to 1,000 users

To read the entire Reference Architecture,

The NetApp and Atlantis Computing Partnership

On October 7th 2013, NetApp and Atlantis Computing™ announced a partnership to deliver a set of cost-efficient VDI architectures that are simple to deploy and manage, provide high IOPS with better-than-PC performance, and support high availability and disaster recovery – with CAPEX and OPEX costs that are lower than a physical PC. If you want to hear more about the partnership in general, I recommend listing to a podcast with myself and “Dr. Desktop” Chris Gebhart, Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer with NetApp on the NetApp Communities Podcast (webiTunes).

The first of the two joint architectures based on the NetApp EF All-Flash array and Atlantis ILIO Persistent VDI software was announced last year:

1. High-Performance Persistent Virtual Desktops Architecture Powered by NetApp EF All-Flash Array and Atlantis ILIO (solution briefreference architecture)

Today in Part 2 of the blog, we are announcing the second architecture based on the NetApp FAS2240-2 with Clustered Data ONTAP and Atlantis ILIO Persistent VDI software:

2. High-Performance Persistent Virtual Desktop Architecture Powered by NetApp FAS Array and Atlantis ILIO (solution briefreference architecture)

NetApp and Atlantis Computing Architecture Highlights

  • Simplicity
    • Simple storage architecture, easy to deploy and manage
    • Automated deployment and configuration
  • User Experience
    • Better-than-PC user experience
    • Efficiently meets all data mobility storage needs
  • Economics
    • CAPEX: Lower total cost than a physical PC
    • OPEX: Reduce power, cooling and datacenter footprint
  • Complete  VDI Architecture
    • Proven architecture that scales beyond 10,000 users
    • Enables high availability and disaster recovery

Performance and Validation Testing

We jointly designed a test plan to validate the performance, scalability and reliability of the joint architecture using a combination of industry standard benchmarking tools such as Login VSI, PassMark and Iometer combined with the internally developed Atlantis Computing Workbench load generation tool.

The environment was tested with the following configuration:

  • 1,000 concurrent persistent virtual desktops each generating 55 IOPS per desktop
  • 8 physical servers running VMware 5.1 hosting 125 virtual desktops per server
  • 1 Atlantis ILIO virtual machine per physical server
  • A dual controller 24 disk NetApp FAS 2240-2  array with 10GBe

Test Environment Diagram

Test Results Summary

Test Results


LoginVSI 3.7 Heavy

Login VSI Heavy

Shown above is the VSI Max graph from LoginVSI software. Response time of 3000 milliseconds to 4000 milliseconds is considered Good, 2000 to 3000 as very good, and 1000 to 2000 as excellent.

A key highlight for this joint architecture is that the response time is within 1400 to 2500 range, which is very good with no little increase in response time as additional user being running the workload.

PassMark Performance Test 8.0 (Disk Mark)

PassMark Score

In this test, the NetApp FAS 2240-2 with Atlantis ILIO optimization had a Disk Mark score of 3,841. In comparison, a physical PC with a 7200 RPM Western Digital hard drive scored 563 while a MacBook Air with an Apple SSD scored 1191. This test show that a persistent virtual desktop with NetApp and Atlantis ILIO storage provides more than 6 times faster disk performance than a traditional physical PC and more than 3 times better disk performance than a MacBook Air with an SSD.

IOPS Offload During the LoginVSI Test with 55 IOPS Load

IOPS Offload


During our LoginVSI and Atlantis workbench test, we measured the number of IOPs directly serviced by the Atlantis ILIO VMs (blue), the number of IOPs serviced by the NetApp FAS array (red), as well as, provide a 10 second moving average, depicting sustained IOP levels (yellow). On average, the IOPS Offload percentage was 79% with a peak of 87%.

NetApp FAS 2240-2 Array Scalability

In order to determine the number of users supported by the joint NetApp FAS 2240-2 and Atlantis ILIO architecture, it was important to measure controller utilization, disk utilization, latency and the storage capacity consumed during the 1,000 user LoginVSI with Atlantis Computing Workbench 55 IOPS test.

Controller Utilization

During the LoginVSI Heavy and Atlantis Computing workbench load test, the NetApp FAS 2240-2 controller CPU utilization was measured to ensure that the system was able to handle the load on the active controller of the dual controller storage array for an extended period of time. The chart below shows that the controller utilization remains within acceptable limits throughout the test. Keep in mind that all desktop were running from one of the two available controllers on the NetApp FAS 2240-2, providing a standby controller that would be able to pick up the entire load in the event of the active controller failure.  At the end of the test, the desktops completed the workload and started to idle, explaining the decrease in controller utilization in the final minutes of the chart.

Based on the IOPS, capacity requirements per desktop, and storage system utilization discussed in the Performance Test Results section of the reference architecture, Atlantis ILIO and NetApp FAS 2240-2 with Clustered Data ONTAP array storage scalability guidelines are listed below.

For deployments with more than 1,000 users, there are two options available to customers:

  • Scale-Out Pod-Based Architecture –  Deploy multiple NetApp FAS 2240-2 storage arrays in pods up to 1,100 users (at 55 IOPS per desktop)
  • Scale-Up using NetApp FAS 3000 or 6000 series – Deploy more powerful  NetApp FAS 3200 or 6200 series storage arrays with additional disk shelves.

Storage scalability guidelines for Pod-based architecture:




Scale-Up with FAS 3200 or 6200 series arrays

With the scale-up approach, customers use a dual controller NetApp FAS 3200 or 6200 storage array in combination with Atlantis ILIO storage optimization software to scale to a larger number of users. Please consult NetApp SE for exact storage sizing based on your specific requirement. Both the NetApp FAS 3200 and 6200 arrays can be deployed in pod-based architectures as well.  When using less than the maximum number of users per Pod, it is recommended that customers evenly distribute users between the Pods to provide the best possible performance.


To summarize, the NetApp FAS Array and Atlantis ILIO storage architecture highlighted in this reference architecture makes VDI simple, scalable, and cost effective for the most demanding extreme IOPS VDI use cases. We look forward to working with NetApp and our joint customers to continue our success in deploying large scale VDI implementations.

To read the entire reference architecture, visit

Performance and Validation Testing

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