VMware Horizon

VMware Horizon 6 with View: Performance Testing

By Nancy Beckus, Editor and Technical Writer, End-User Computing Technical Marketing, VMware, and Banit Agrawal, Senior Performance Engineer, VMware

VMware Horizon 6 with View virtual desktops offer advantages for both end users and IT staff. End users are no longer locked to a particular machine and can access their system and files from anywhere, anytime. View transforms IT by simplifying and automating desktop and applications management. IT administrators can quickly create virtual desktops on demand based on locations and profiles.

Figure 1: Horizon with View Architecture

The updated white paper VMware Horizon 6 with View Performance and Best Practices describes the performance gains achieved with the latest Horizon 6 enhancements. The paper details the architecture systems used for testing the features and recommends best practices for configuring your system.

Following are the Horizon 6 features and performance enhancements addressed in the updated paper.

New Features and Performance Enhancements

Horizon 6, which includes View in each edition, introduces some new features, such as Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH) applications, and enhancements that heighten and improve performance, including adjusted PCoIP defaults, expanded 3D graphics support, and support for VMware Virtual SAN.

Remote Desktop Session Host Applications

Horizon 6 with View introduces RDSH-hosted apps and extended capabilities for RDSH-based desktops. Users can connect to the RDSH server to get a full desktop session or use published applications on the client side.

Improved PCoIP Performance

The PC over IP (PCoIP) display protocol’s adaptive technology provides optimized virtual desktop delivery on both LAN and WAN. Horizon 6 with View improves the end-user experience by introducing new bandwidth management algorithms that increase the frame rate and reduce its standard deviation.

Horizon 6 also has new PCoIP default settings that improve performance. You can change the settings if needed, but in most use cases, the new defaults are suitable and use less bandwidth.

The changed default settings are

  • Build to Lossless (BTL) is set to off
  • Maximum Initial Image Quality changed from 90 percent to 80 percent
  • Minimum Image Quality changed from 50 percent to 40 percent

Hardware-Accelerated 3D Graphics

VMware improved 3D graphics support in View 5.x, with additional improvements added in Horizon 6. The following 3D capabilities expand both the target user base and potential use cases that IT organizations can deliver with virtual desktops.

  • Soft 3D
  • vSGA
  • vDGA

VMware Virtual SAN

VMware Virtual SAN is a software-defined storage tier that simplifies and streamlines storage provisioning and management. Horizon 6 supports Virtual SAN 5.5, providing a low-cost storage solution for virtual desktops and RDSH desktop sessions and applications. Virtual SAN allows IT to manage resources and allocate storage on an as-needed basis through storage-policy-based management—the administrator creates storage policies and applies the appropriate policy at deployment or when requirements change.

Virtual SAN offers the following advantages:

  • Supports any type of desktop, stateless or persistent
  • Reduces the complexity of scaling for virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) deployments
  • Scales to the maximum vSphere cluster size (32 nodes)
  • Delivers performance that is almost equal to an all-flash storage system at a fraction of the cost

Figure 2: VMware Virtual SAN

What We Tested

To test the performance of the new and enhanced features, we used VMware View Planner 3.5, a workload generator. View Planner simulates typical end-user operations, such as typing in Microsoft Word, playing a PowerPoint slideshow, reading Outlook emails, viewing PDF files, browsing Web pages, and watching a video. View Planner also mimics user behavior by allowing for “think time” during activities.

To simulate a heavy user, all applications were selected, a fast moving video with many screen changes was played, and a think time of 2 seconds was used. For a medium user, all the applications were selected, but a slower video with fewer changes and a think time of 5 seconds were used.

View Planner was run for multiple iterations, with each iteration completing all user operations for the specific group. Each iteration has three phases: ramp-up, steady state, and ramp-down. During each iteration, View Planner reports the latencies for each operation performed within each virtual machine.

View Planner divides tests into groups. Group A represents interactive operations, and Group B includes CPU- and I/O-sensitive operations. Quality of service (QoS) is determined for Group A user operations as 1 second, and Group B user operations as 6 seconds.

We then performed the following actions:

  • Tested RDSH sizing
  • Compared display protocol performance
  • Looked at results of PCoIP default changes
  • Tested VDI characterization on Virtual SAN

Best Practices

Based on the results of the testing, we made recommendations for the following best practices:

  • RDSH virtual machine sizing
  • RDSH session sizing
  • RDSH server virtual machine optimization
  • Guest best practices for bandwidth and storage
  • PCoIP settings
  • 3D graphics settings
  • Virtual SAN configurations

The VMware Horizon 6 with View Performance and Best Practices paper provides detailed descriptions of the tests we performed and the results of those tests. It also includes best practices to help you get the best performance possible.