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Virtual Desktop Infrastructures Need Very Fast Storage

Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), also known as desktop-as-a-service (DaaS), has been widely adopted. VDI simplifies IT management and backups, facilitates security, and reduces hardware and operating costs. VMware, Citrix, Amazon, Parallels, and others offer VDI solutions, each with its own implementation and features. Some run in the data center, some in the cloud, and some are hybrids. Some target small businesses, some large enterprises, and others for organizations in-between.  

All, however, depend on robust storage to work well.

To reduce costs with VDI deployments, organizations generally place as many virtual machines as possible onto the fewest number of physical servers. They then connect the servers to a shared storage system. This creates I/O issues, which undermines the predictable performance that users came to expect when their OSs, applications, and files resided on their workstations or laptops.

Over the course of the day, hundreds or thousands of users accessing applications and data, or storing and searching for files, means that shared storage must have substantial IOPS capabilities to keep pace. The biggest pressure comes from boot storms, a tsunami wave when the bulk of users simultaneously arrive in the morning and log in, expecting their desktops to be instantly available.

Not long ago, the only storage solution was spinning disks.  Yet, even with tricks like short-stroking spindles, traditional arrays were hard-pressed to keep up with VDI demands. Especially boot storms. Hard drives may be relatively inexpensive, but they’re not the smart investment for VDI storage platforms. All-flash arrays are. They deliver far superior I/O capabilities and they keep getting bigger and less expensive. They also consume less power and run far cooler than traditional platforms, slashing energy costs.

For a while, hyper-converged infrastructures (HCIs) were used with VDI, but the shortcoming of HCI soon became apparent for this use case. HCI doesn’t scale well for specific workloads like VDI. Although vendors are trying to remedy this, you must pay for an entire HCI block even if you only need more storage or CPU power.

An all-flash array enables you to efficiently balance storage with your VDI workload. You’ll gain easy, cost-effective scalability, power consumption so low you’ll be hard-pressed to quantify it in context of your data center, and the hyperspeed performance that dissipates boot storms and keeps users productive.

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