Making Scalable Midsized VDI Deployment a Simple, Affordable Reality

Feb 26, 2013


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This is a joint blog post with Cisco, Nimble Storage and VMware.  

The proliferation of new applications and devices in the workplace has added complexity to IT environments of all sizes. Companies are being forced to re-evaluate how they manage their end-users, secure data and enable workplace mobility. This has led many organizations to turn to Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) as a solution.

This year alone, more than half of midsized organizations will turn to virtual desktops to streamline desktop management, ensure greater security and compliance, and provide anytime / anywhere access to the their users (source: ESG 2012). The 2012 Morgan Stanley CIO Survey found the percentage of virtual desktop was poised to nearly double in a year’s time. If it is not already in production, desktop virtualization is bound to be one of the projects on IT’s list for 2013 – including resource-constrained midsized IT organizations.

Successfully tackling desktop virtualization requires understanding the roadblocks that might otherwise keep a VDI project from succeeding. An informal survey of IT personnel and value added resellers (VARs) identified three main areas:

  • Understanding the costs of deploying VDI – comprehending how capital expenditures (CapEx) shift from the end-users’ desktops to the data center is key. This includes the upfront implementation costs, as well as the opportunities for management efficiency and savings that come from selecting the right server, storage infrastructure and software for desktop virtualization.
  • Assuming end-user needs—researching and implementing to exact requirements for end-users is essential to success. These requirements not only include the different end-users performance and capacity needs, but also the location from where they are accessing their desktops and applications.
  • Planning and infrastructure—choosing the right scalable server, networking and storage infrastructure along with right desktop virtualization software is as important to VDI deployments as proper planning. Leveraging a pretested and validated reference architecture built using efficient, easy to manage and scalable components is an easy way to tackle the challenge of planning and infrastructure.

Since most VDI deployments start small and scale as usage grows, Cisco has put together a SmartPlay bundle for VDI that allows IT shops to get started. This “SmartPlay with VMware Horizon View” is built on the UCS B200 M3 blades, which offer excellent VM density, allowing for greater consolidation in a smaller footprint. The bundle provides the compute infrastructure for a 300-VDI user deployment. This can scale to thousands of users over multiple blade chassis using the scalable UCS (Unified Computing Systems) management framework.

Also included in the Cisco UCS SmartPlay bundle is VMware Horizon View. Horizon View has always been the standard VDI platform for midsized and large deployments thanks to its rich functionality, efficiency using linked clones, performance, and most importantly simplicity in deployment and day-to-day management. View also simplifies the infrastructure needs when dealing with events like boot storms using View Storage Accelerator.

VMware announced Horizon View 5.2 at VMware Partner Exchange this week. The new version of View offers a variety of enhancements in efficiency and performance. Running on vSphere 5.1, Horizon View 5.2 uses Space Efficient Sparse Virtual Disks benefiting from space reclamation and higher performance. You can read more about this here.

Storage is a key component of the overall VDI stack. Choosing the right storage solution can often mean the difference between successful deployments and very unhappy end-users. Storage needs to not only deliver the performance and capacity VDI needs, but also do so efficiently.

The Nimble Storage CS200 Series is the ideal complement to the Cisco UCS SmartPlay with VMware Horizon View for 300 users and up. Built upon the flash-optimized, hybrid CASL architecture, the Nimble Storage CS-Series packs adaptive performance VDI needs – such as with read intensive boot storms and write intensive patching – in an efficient 3U form factor. Scaling is simple with the CS200 Series – storage controllers and flash can be non-disruptively upgraded to scale performance, and storage capacity can be non-disruptively scaled by adding additional storage shelves to the CS-Series (no manual configuration of RAID levels is needed).

To simplify the path to VDI, Nimble Storage has published a pre-tested and validated reference architecture leveraging the UCS B-Series Blade Servers and View offering storage. The CS-series used in this reference architecture uses a mere 3U of rack space for 1,000 users. This reference architecture, called Nimble Storage SmartStack for VDI with Cisco and VMware, is the foundation for the design for an end-to-end stack for 300-VDI users—using the UCS B-Series Blade Servers, Nimble Storage CS200 Series and VMware Horizon View.

To make the journey to VDI smooth and easy, our joint value added resellers along with Nimble, VMware and Cisco are rolling out a series of VDI boot camps worldwide. These half-day workshops cover everything from building a business case and understanding the ROI, to assessing end-users needs and understanding the sizing process for servers and storage, to learning the best practices from successful VDI deployments. These value added resellers can deliver a cost effective end-to-end VDI solution using Nimble Storage CS200 Series and Cisco UCS SmartPlay with VMware Horizon View worldwide – making it easy to start small and scale as needed.

To summarize, tackling VDI requires carefully navigating the different roadblocks that may arise.

  • Cisco UCS SmartPlay with VMware Horizon View built using the UCS B200 M3 starts small and can scale as an organization’s VDI needs grow.
  • Nimble Storage CS200 Series is an ideal complement to the UCS SmartPlay, offering storage for hundreds of users.
  • To help tackle the challenges around planning, our joint VARs are conducting a series of VDI boot camps and are leveraging the Nimble Storage SmartStack reference architecture for VDI with Cisco and VMware .

Start smart with your VDI projects by checking out details about the UCS SmartPlay with VMware Horizon View here and read more about the Nimble Storage SmartStack for VDI with Cisco and VMware at

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