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May 15, 2013

Atlantis ILIO Diskless VDI Reference Architectures Test Results with Citrix XenDesktop

Mark Nijmeijer - Atlantis

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Cisco and Atlantis Computing have partnered to develop a reference design as part of the Cisco® Desktop Virtualization Solution using Atlantis ILIO Diskless VDI and Citrix XenDesktop, which meets the business objective of reduced storage costs for a VDI deployment while providing high I/O performance that delivers an outstanding user experience by using server RAM.

The components that were tested are:

  • Atlantis ILIO Diskless VDI 3.2
  • Cisco Virtual Workspace (VXI) Smart Solution
  • Cisco UCS B200 M3 Blade Server with 384GB of memory
  • Citrix XenDesktop 5.6 FP1 Citrix Provisioning Services 6.1

The reference design features a highly scalable virtual desktop deployment model for stateless, pooled desktops using Citrix XenDesktop and Citrix Provisioning Services.  Rather than using central SAN/NAS storage for the virtual desktop images, the PVS Write Caches are stored on the Atlantis ILIO in-Memory datastores.   This not only provides excellent IO performance, which in turn results in very good user experience, but because of the high optimization rate that are typically measured for PVS Write Caches, you can overprovision the Write Caches without having to be afraid of running out of Write Cache storage when you install upgrade or install new applications in your images.  As each hypervisor accesses its own In-Memory datastore, central storage bottlenecks are eliminated making the design horizontally scalable; expansion of the virtual desktop capacity just needs additional servers with CPU and memory.

We tested a configuration with 120 virtual desktops on a Cisco UCS B-200 M3 with 384 GB of memory, with 2GB assigned to each virtual desktop.  The maximum measured RAM usage by ILIO was only 15GB, which comes out to about 125MB per desktop for optimized Write Cache storage and is about 96% less storage than the storage needed for a full desktop image.

Storage Utilization Savings for Citrix XenDesktop

We also tested how long it took to start up various applications installed in the image, consisting of some of the Microsoft Office applications, Cisco Jabber and Acrobat reader.  Each of these applications started in 1.3 second on average.

You can access the full reference architecture as well.

About Atlantis ILIO Diskless VDI

Atlantis ILIO Diskless VDI is the only solution that can eliminate virtual desktop storage from a stateless VDI deployment by using Cisco Unified Computing System™ (Cisco UCS®) server RAM and Atlantis ILIO In-Memory Storage ™ technology. RAM is the fastest of all storage media and has the lowest latency, and the solution delivers an exceptional user experience by using RAM as primary storage. With Atlantis ILIO, Citrix XenDesktop can now be deployed without the cost, complexity, and risks entailed in storage sizing, installation, and management.

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