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VMware's flagship VDI product, VMware View, has a new release coming out. I don't normally blog about EUC (End User Computing) or VDI as it is not my area of expertise. However VMware View 5.1 has a number of really neat new storage related features which are making use of enhancements which were first introduced in vSphere 5.0.

 

View Storage Accelerator

This first feature was originally called CBRC (Content Based Read Cache). This was initially introduced in vSphere 5.0. Although it is a vSphere feature, it is designed specifically for VMware View. With the release of View 5.1, the View Storage Accelerator feature can now be used to dramatically  improve the read throughput for View desktops. This will be particularly useful during a boot storm or anti-virus storm, where many virtual machines could be reading the same data from the same base disk at the same time. The implementation of the accelerator is done by taking an area of host memory for cache, and then creating 'digest' files for each virtual machine disk. This feature will be most useful for shared disks that are read frequently, such as View Composer OS disks. It will be available 'out of the box' with View 5.1; no additional components will need to be installed. This feature will significantly improve performance. More here.

 

32 ESXi nodes sharing NFS datastores

This storage feature is also quite significant. While VMware has been able to create 32 node clusters for some time, VMware View would only allow a base disk on an NFS datastore to be shared between 8 ESXi hosts for the purposes of linked clone deployments. View 5.1 lifts this restriction, and now 32 ESXi hosts can host linked clones deployed from the same base disk on a shared NFS datastore. This feature will significantly improve scalability.

 

View Composer API for Array Integration (VCAI) aka Native NFS Snapshots

Although this feature is a Technology Preview in View 5.1, it is another cool storage feature of the release. View desktops deployed on VMware's linked clone technology consumes CPU on the ESXi hosts, and network bandwidth when they are deployed on NFS datastores. With this new  Native NFS Snapshot feature via VAAI (vSphere Storage APIs for Array Integration), customers can offload the cloning operation to the storage array, minimizing CPU usage and network bandwidth consumption. Once again this enhanced VAAI functionality was introduced in vSphere 5.0 specifically for VMware View. This feature requires a VAAI NAS plugin from the storage array vendor. Once installed and configured, customers will be able to use a storage array vendor's own native snapshot feature for deploying View desktops. Selecting this new desktop deployment method can be done via standard work-flows in View Composer. More here.

 

I'm sure you will agree that these are very exciting features. By providing a read caching mechanism, offloading snapshots/clones to the storage array and supporting up to 32 hosts sharing a single base disk, VMware View 5.1 now has greater performance and scalability than ever before. Of course, there are many other enhancements, including a vCenter Operations Manager (vCOps) extension specifically for View, so please check out the View 5.1 news release on VMware.com. For those of you using VMware View, this is definitely a release worth checking out.

 

Over the next couple of weeks, I hope to look at these features in even greater details.

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About the Author

Cormac Hogan

Cormac Hogan is a Senior Staff Engineer in the Office of the CTO in the Storage and Availability Business Unit (SABU) at VMware. He has been with VMware since April 2005 and has previously held roles in VMware’s Technical Marketing and Technical Support organizations. He has written a number of storage related white papers and have given numerous presentations on storage best practices and vSphere storage features. He is also the co-author of the “Essential Virtual SAN” book published by VMware Press.