By John Dodge, Technical Marketing, VMware
Recently my EUC Reference Architecture team had the opportunity to see the Nexenta VSA for View (NV4V) for Horizon View in action (see our Reference Architecture posting here). I have to admit to being impressed by both the product and the enabling potential of a well-executed virtual storage accelerator (VSA) strategy. There are a couple of notable incumbents and newcomers in the VSA space. Atlantis Computing ILIO has enjoyed some great wins (check out their VMware Reference Implementation Study here), and Fusion-io’s ioVDI product looks very promising, although we’ve not had the chance to evaluate it yet. But rather than address them all in a one-size fits all article, here I’m going to focus on Nexenta VSA for View (NV4V).
Although you can read plenty online about NV4V and other VSA technology, I’ll give you a short explanation of why a well-crafted VSA product provides great benefits to your business.
VSAs create a locally accessible read and write cache by taking a reasonably small amount of ESXi host RAM and vCPUs. By reasonably small amount, I mean that in our single host testing we gave Nexenta VSA 2 vCPUs and 12GB of RAM; in the cluster test we assigned 3 vCPUs and 32GB of RAM. This provides a dramatic improvement in storage performance and overall user experience. Storage performance is improved in two ways: first, read IO is served from blocks cached in host RAM instead of traversing the storage network to and fro every time data is fetched; and second, because of intelligent write IO handling, such as immediate acknowledgement of empheral transitent writes and persistent data batch and destaging. These smart storage innovations result in far less data retrival from the shared storage itself, which leaves a lot of burst capacity readily available when its really needed.
The user experience benefit is a natural result of this storage retrieval offload. Rather than induce a latency penalty incurred by traversing several virtual and physical interfaces for each small block of data, the IO is served by a high speed bus physically near the CPU where the workload is running. This means the data is served up to the calling application or process one or multiple orders of magnitude faster. For the user the result is tangible and meaningful; an application launches in one second instead of ten.
For VMware Horizon View customers, these capabilities translate into tangible benefits. Instead of ripping out and replacing an expensive SAN with a more expensive, more capable SAN you can extend the life and value of your existing array. When chosing shared storage for your Horizon View deployment you can consider price and features in a way infeasible before. When evaluating the ROI on the latest generation of all-flash or hybrid arrays you can increase user density or create classes of service on a per desktop pool or host basis. In the last year I have seen customers turn deployments failing from underperforming, improperly designed SAN implementations into successful deployments with an unparalled user experience at an amazing price point.
With VSA for Horizon View, Nexenta has introduced an amazing product that unlocks outstanding user experience at a low TCO and makes it possible to recover stalled deployments without requiring a disruptive and painful rip and replace scenario. The performance benefits we observed were impressive: a 38X physical SAN data retrival reduction, a 2.5 SAN write IO reduction, and a 72% increase in VM density per host. These are dramatic improvements, especially considering a per-user pricing model that doesn’t break the bank (Nexenta’s list price for NV4V is $35/user). An interesting twist in NV4V is that you don’t have to trust that its doing its work. NV4V has a set of unique integrated VDI analytics, so you can access a rich set of VDI and vSphere storage statistics. In addition, NV4V provides this storage acceleration with total support for vMotion and DRS, enabled by an incredibly easy to use storage deployment wizard that eliminates the complexity of deploying multiple VSAs across your View vSphere cluster. In other words, this isn’t an expensive, difficult to deploy or use enabler of large scale Horizon View deployments!
Although you may think Nexenta is the latest entrant into the Software-Defined Storage (SDS) space, the company was founded in 2005 and has been providing cloud storage solutions with their flagship NexentaStor product and OEM relationship with Dell. Most recently Nexenta enjoyed a big splash in the silicone valley trade press with the announcement that Tarkan Maner has joined as Chairman, CEO and investor.
VMware Horizon View 5.2 is VMware’s latest virtual desktop infrastructure solution that simplifies desktop management, and Nexenta VSA for View takes the stress, difficulty, and cost out of storage for VMware Horizon View.
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