VMware Horizon 7 on Datrium DVX Reference Architecture

Mike McLaughlin

Author: Mike McLaughlin

Mike McLaughlin is director of technical marketing for Datrium, a VMware Technology Alliance Partner (TAP).

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One way to kill a successful virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) implementation is by providing a poor end-user experience. It’s important to remember that users will compare their VDI experience to what they get with flash- and GPU-powered laptops and smart devices. Datrium’s server-powered storage architecture and host-based flash performance is an excellent solution for VDI deployments, which ensures that your VDI adoption is a success!

To provide the best infrastructure, it’s critical to understand the available options. The details in the Datrium Reference Architecture white paper will show you why DVX is the right choice.

The bottom line for a great VDI experience for both users and administrators is simple:

  • Deploy host-based flash for storage I/O to eliminate performance issues.
  • Pick an infrastructure solution that promotes flexible host selection and configuration to meet user needs.
  • Predictably scale the system as needed to meet growing business needs.

These benefits are the foundation of the Datrium DVX.

A recent analysis, testing and documentation conducted at Datrium, in partnership with VMware and Login VSI, covers a combination of VMware Horizon on Datrium DVX. This paper provides insight into how to best understand these architectural advantages and how to design these into your virtual desktop efforts.

Highlights from this paper include:

  • Virtual desktops run better when the virtualization host (ESXi) contains local flash (SSD or NVMe) to support the desktop image, as well as the data I/O. In other words, placing flash on the hosts makes all of the I/O local to virtual desktops, takes all of the storage I/O considerations off the table and enables a great user experience.
  • If storage I/O performance is not the primary consideration (see above), then the number of user desktop instances running on a given host is typically driven by the compute and memory resources available on that host. There are some rough rules for sizing the maximum number of potential users based on the guest workload and image size, and the details are covered in the white paper. For this particular solution, per host, Datrium DVX easily scaled up to 125 Knowledge Worker (Login VSI profile) desktops (2 vCPU and 3GB RAM) with excellent SLA (VSI Max) on a 28 socket (2×14) Intel E5-2680-v4 server with 512GB of RAM (Datrium Compute Node) before exhausting compute and memory resources.
  • Linear scalability and growth is leveraged through exploitation of host-side resources. This is where virtual desktops need these most. This paper details starting small at 500 desktops and scaling the solution to support larger enterprise environments, up to 6,000 users. Scaling the configuration by adding hosts is much simpler and more predictable.
  • The ability to mix & match different ESXi host models and versions (e.g., vendors, sizes, special capabilities like GPU, etc.) in a single VMware Horizon solution to address end-user needs, and at the same time simplify storage administration, is provided natively due to the Datrium DVX architecture.

To provide a solid industry reference point, Datrium leveraged Login VSI to test and measure the configurations explored. While the solution in this reference architecture focused on dedicated linked clones (a fairly typical, existing deployment method), we also explored full desktops, floating desktops and plan to cover instant clones and VMware App Volumes in an upcoming review.

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