Horizon 6.0 – Introducing Virtual SAN Integration

Apr 15, 2014
Jessica Flohr


Jessica Chapin (Flohr) is a contract technical writer and editor in End-User Computing at VMware in Palo Alto, California. She graduated from the University of Colorado Denver with a bachelor of arts degree in English Writing and has a certificate in editing from Poynter News University. Currently, she is working on the Professional Sequence in Editing through the UC Berkeley Extension program. In addition to editing technical papers and formatting blog posts for the End-User Computing blog, Jessica writes for her local community newspaper.

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By Narasimha Krishnakumar, Director, Product Management, End-User Computing, VMware

On behalf of everyone on the End-User Computing (EUC) team at VMware, I’m proud to bring you another exciting product announcement from EUC.

View 5.3.1 was introduced early in the first quarter of 2014 to support Virtual SAN 5.5 GA. As you may have read recently, VMware announced the release of Horizon 6 (with View). With this release, we are continuing to expand the Virtual SAN integration capabilities delivered by Horizon. The Virtual SAN integration capabilities introduced in Horizon 6 deliver the following benefits to our customers:

  • Reduces CAPEX cost of storage by up to 50% when compared to the cost of using an external shared storage array based on magnetic disks
  • A package that contains both View and Virtual SAN
  • A simple three-step setup and management workflow
  • Performance capabilities similar to that of an all flash/all SSD external storage system

Using Horizon 6 with Virtual SAN 5.5

Using Horizon 6 with Virtual SAN 5.5 is a simple three-step process:

1. Using the vSphere web client interface set up a cluster of vSphere 5.5U1 nodes (minimum of three), with at least one SSD and one hard disk in each of the nodes. It is best to use the same number of drives on each ESXi node and keep the environment homogeneous.

2. Enable Virtual SAN using the vSphere Web Client interface, as shown in Figure 1. Select the check box labeled Turn ON Virtual SAN.


Figure 1: vSphere Web Client Interface Showing Cluster Settings

3. Create a View desktop pool using the standard workflow. Select the Use VMware Virtual SAN option, as shown in Figure 2. After this option is selected, the next steps of the workflow allow the users to select the Virtual SAN datastore and continue with the rest of the pool creation process.


Figure 2: Use a Virtual SAN Datastore

Horizon 6 Integration with Virtual SAN Policies

Horizon 6 integrates deeply with Virtual SAN 5.5 by automating the association of storage policies based on the desktop pool type chosen at pool creation time. Virtual SAN uses a policy-based framework for managing storage objects. The policy consists of four elements:

  • Stripes – Number of stripes of data
  • Resiliency – Number of ESXi host failures to tolerate
  • Storage Provisioning – Thick or thin provisioning
  • Cache Reservation – Read cache reservation

Horizon 6 automates the association of policies based on the desktop pool type. For Linked Clone desktop pools the following policy is applied:

For OS disk:

  • Failure to tolerate = 1 for dedicated pool, 0 for floating pool
  • Provisioning: thin

For replica disk:

  • Failure to tolerate = 1
  • Cache reservation = 10%
  • Provisioning: thin

It is important to note that the cache reservation is set to 10% only for the replica disk to insure that highest performance levels are achieved during any read-intensive IO operations on the ESXi host.

For full-clone desktop pools the following policy is applied:

  • Failure to tolerate = 1 for persistent, 0 for nonpersistent
  • Provisioning: 100% reserved (thick)

Figure 3 shows an example of the virtual machine storage policies that are automatically created by View. All the policies can be explored by double-clicking the individual policy in the vSphere Web Client Interface.


Figure 3: vSphere Web Client Showing Horizon Auto-Created Policies

After these three steps are performed, Horizon 6 starts using the Virtual SAN datastore to store the VMDKs of the virtual desktops by associating the storage policies based on the pool type. Horizon 6 with Virtual SAN integration then delivers an ultra-low desktop TCO and great end-user experience.

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