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May 15, 2015

Atlantis VDI Reference Architecture

Patrick Brennan - Atlantis


A Little Background

In the realm of desktop virtualization, storage gets expensive. VERY expensive!  The amount of drives you need to support the storage size for persistent desktops can be out of control.  Oh, and don’t forget you need enough disks to support the I/O demand that VDI generates in your infrastructure.  Storage for VDI has always been difficult to solve, but fortunately the technology has caught up to solve this problem and is now available in a simple turnkey appliance with Atlantis HyperScale. 
blog01.png Atlantis HyperScale not only provides you the necessary hardware to host desktops, it also equips you with enough storage capacity and performance to make your virtual desktop drives perform better than PCs with local SSDs!  A centralized desktop that basically launches applications instantly?  Yes, please!
Non-persistent desktops are just as great of a candidate too!  The storage performance that Atlantis HyperScale provides will add value to your non-persistent VDI environment by accelerating desktop performance to give your users the first class treatment for their desktop experience.

When conducting the test for the reference architecture, Atlantis HyperScale achieved 171,715 write heavy (80% write), non-sequential IOPS with less than 0.1ms of latency.  Even with hardware resources to spare at 600 desktops, this puts the Atlantis HyperScale TCO including 3 years of 24/7 support and maintenance at $128 a desktop!

Unlike most reference architectures, we wanted to create a scenario that we would recommend in a production environment.  Instead of attempting to thrash hardware resources to complete saturation, we took a more pragmatic approach by making sure the user’s experience was never impacted (note that we never hit LoginVSI Max or pegged the CPU).  Even with this more conservative approach the cost of Atlantis HyperScale is extremely compelling, and a game changer in the industry.

GO HyperScale Webinar: Mind-blowing Performance for $128/Desktop 

GoHyperScale-VDI.pngTo learn more about the findings uncovered in the reference architecture and discuss the blazing performance of HyperScale for VDI with Atlantis, please make sure to register here for my webinar on June 3rd @ 9AM PST!

Also, make sure you take a look at the HyperScale VDI reference architecture that will show you under the hood how Atlantis HyperScale is changing the hyper-converged market for VDI deployments.  Not only will you be able to provide a more secure, centrally managed desktop, you’ll also make your users happier with an environment that performs faster running on Atlantis HyperScale. 

Here some of the important highlights from our latest Atlantis HyperScale VDI reference architecture running on XenDesktop.  Enjoy!

Test Results Summary

The tables below provide a summary of the results achieved based on the various testing methods that were used to demonstrate the performance of Atlantis HyperScale.  A more in depth analysis is provided in the reference architecture to explain how these results were achieved.


Phase 1 Test Results (Per Node Average)



CPU Utilization

Active Memory

Disk Latency

Login VSI - Login Test





Login VSI - HA Test





*VSIMax not reached with availability for additional capacity

Phase 2 Test Results





Passmark Disk Score


USX Deduplication Rate


Storage Consumed



VSIMax Login Test

For the scalability test, the goal was to determine the maximum amount of virtual desktops we could leverage on the Atlantis HyperScale CX-12 appliance without compromising user experience.  Using the VSIMax number, we were able to determine the users experience as an indicator of how the system was performing for the duration of the test.  

Figure 1: VSIMax Knowledge Worker Test Results

Figure 1: VSIMax Knowledge Worker Test Results

From this graph, you can see that there’s a steady increase over time as the logins continue.  While we did not reach the VSIMax number, the system’s CPUs were heavily utilized.  We considered that adding additional desktops beyond the 608 we achieved may begin to impact the user experience, and in VDI environments user experience is not something you can compromise on.

LoginVSI HA Test

The Login VSI HA test was conducted to provide visibility into the effects of experiencing a failure of a single host in this environment.  For customers who need to be able to sustain a node failure with 100% concurrent desktop usage, the deployment can be sized for 500 desktops on the same single Atlantis HyperScale appliance.  To test this scenario, 500 desktops were provisioned and distributed evenly across four hosts before beginning the Login VSI test. After all desktops were logged in with Login VSI, a host was failed to further determine the impact on each of the resources on the three remaining hosts.

Figure 2: VSI Max Knowledge Worker – HA Test Results

Figure 2: VSI Max Knowledge Worker – HA Test Results

Login VSI VMs were powered on automatically by vCenter from a powered off state after the failure.  Once powered on from their failed state, the VMs returned to the login screen prompt while the rest of the machines continued to login.  Again, the VSIMax was not reached with 500 VMs despite the additional VMs being added across the three hosts.

Figure 3: IO Latency – HA Test

Figure 3: IO Latency – HA Test

As you might expect, I/O request increased significantly as all failed VMs were simultaneously powered on all three remaining hosts.  What’s remarkable however is that  the average latency was 0.218ms for the duration of the test.   Remember, the VMs were working heavily on the knowledge worker workload and simultaneously powering on all the failed VMs, even despite all of this activity the low disk latency is incredible!

Final Thoughts

Atlantis has been at the forefront of VDI storage for more than 5 years now and the introduction of Atlantis HyperScale all-flash hyper-converged appliances will only accelerate the adoption of Atlantis as THE storage platform for desktop virtualization deployment. According to Project VRC, From 2014 to 2015, Atlantis has double in market share for VDI storage and is the leading hyper-converged and software-defined storage solution for VDI (read the press release). 


If you’re wondering could this solution be a completely self-contained VDI solution that even runs the desktop infrastructure components as well?  Absolutely!  If you wanted to host the XenDesktop components on this infrastructure, not only would they receive the same HA capabilities that the desktops do, they would also receive the same storage performance and data reduction benefits as well!
The key point is that Atlantis HyperScale is revolutionizing the hyper-converged market and how VDI is deployed today.  If you’re looking to leverage persistent or non-persistent VDI, the amazing performance that Atlantis HyperScale provides as low as $128/desktop is available today on your choice of HP, Cisco, Lenovo, or SuperMicro server hardware. 


To configure and receive a price quote for Atlantis HyperScale appliances, visit


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