Today VMware announced the release of VMware View 5.1. View 5.1 has many new and improved advanced storage features that will help increase storage performance and scale. In this blog post I will discuss some of the new and noteworthy storage related features.
One of the new technologies in VMware View 5.1 is the View Storage Accelerator (formally known as Content Based Read Cache or CBRC). This technology helps reduce the amount of data needing to be read from a storage controller during simultaneous read activities such as a boot storm after maintenance or HA event. With View Storage Accelerator, up to 2GB of memory is allocated from the ESXi host to be used as a host based read cache. Ultimately this helps VMware View environments perform better and scale during boot storm events. Now you may ask, well what about NetApp and the use of Virtual Storage Tiering, doesn't that solve the boot storm problem. Well yea it absolutely does, but using View Storage Accelerator in conjunction with NetApp’s Virtual Storage Tiering allows customers to scale their View deployments even further, driving down the cost, boosting the performance and ultimately improving the End User Computing experience.
Here is how it is configured:
- First log into the VMware View Administrator console.
- Select View Configuration on the left hand side.
- Select Servers under View Configuration
- If you already have a vCenter Server configure click the vCenter Server and click Edit…
- Here the Edit vCenter Server dialogue box will appear. Click on the Host Caching tab.
- In the Host Cache Settings you can enable and disable host caching, change the default host caching size, and override individual host cache sizes.
- After you enable host caching, you can then create your desktop pool. When you create an automated pool the Advanced Storage Options portion of the Add Pool wizard will appear.
- Here you will be able to enable host caching on a per pool basis.
- You can also choose if you want to cache just OS disks or OS and persistent disks.
- And also choose what days not to regenerate the cache. For example, you may not want to regenerate the cache during normal business hours.
The second technology, which I have been waiting for a really long time and am incredibly excited about, is the View Composer API Integration. This VCAI primitive is currently in a Tech Preview status and it allows VMware View to automate the creation of NetApp Zero Cost clones (FlexClone) within the VMware View interface. In the past, customers had to choose between NetApp clones with VSC provisioning and cloning in manual pools or VMware View Clones in Automated Pools. There are benefits and drawbacks to both methods. On one hand the NetApp clones are created at the hardware level (not using copy on write snapshots) and are pre-deduplicated. This method creates desktops that have superb scalability but to create NetApp clones requires two tools: the NetApp Virtual Storage Console and VMware View Administrator. On the other hand, VMware View Clones in Automated Pools provide excellent management workflows and automation but rely on hypervisor snapshots as underlying the cloning mechanism, which if improperly designed can result in scaling issues. (Note: Proper design refers to the use of technologies that reduce the amount of write IO to the delta file. Technologies like profile/persona management (User Data Disks) and end user home directories are examples of such technologies that remove IO and allow VMware Linked cones to scale.)
VCAI leverages NetApp’s native cloning capability – without requiring VSC - to improve desktop scalability and provisioning times in View Composer.
Here is a brief demo of how this cloning works.
Today the View Composer API Integrations are available as a Technology Preview when using VMware View 5.1, vSphere 5.0, the ESXi VIB for VCAI and NFS on NetApp Data ONTAP 8.1 Cluster Mode.
Some other storage related features worth noting: Customizable View Composer disposable disk driver letter and support up to 32 (increased from 8) host in a cluster when using Network Attached Storage (NFS).
Also a shameless plug for one of my favorite works…
If you are interested in reading more on VMware View workloads, my colleague, Chad Morganstern, and I have done a considerable amount of work to try to better understand the lifecycle of a Virtual Desktop and how Virtual Storage Tiering can boost performance, allowing customers to size for steady state. https://communities.netapp.com/community/netapp-blogs/virtualization/blog/2011/09/06/netapp-and-vmware-view-5000-seat-performance-report