Tuesday, September 3, 2013

VMware Horizon Suite Insights

I wanted to post some insight I gained from VMworld around Horizon Suite and end user computing (EUC). VMware's focus is to provide a cost effective and performance driven solution for virtual desktop infrastructure. Some of this will be provided by new capabilities that are coming with vSphere 5.5.

vSphere 5.1 was the first vSphere release to provide support for hardware-accelerated 3D graphics—virtual graphics processing unit (vGPU)—inside of a virtual machine. That support was limited to only NVIDIA-based GPUs. With vSphere 5.5, vGPU support has been expanded to include both Intel- and AMD-based GPUs. Virtual machines with graphic-intensive workloads or applications that typically have required hardware-based GPUs can now take advantage of additional vGPU vendors, makes and models.

There are three supported rendering modes for a virtual machine configured with a vGPU: automatic,
hardware and software. Virtual machines still can leverage VMware vSphere vMotion technology, even across a heterogeneous mix of vGPU vendors, without any downtime or interruptions to the virtual machine. If automatic mode is enabled and a GPU is not available at the destination vSphere host, software rendering automatically is enabled. If hardware mode is configured and a GPU does not exist at the destination vSphere host, a vSphere vMotion instance is not attempted.

The next major release of Vmware Horizon View should have both vDGA (virtual dedicated graphics acceleration) and vSGA (virtual shared graphics acceleration) depending on the workload requirements.

The other component that is expected to significantly lower initial infrastructure costs while improving overall performance is VMware Virtual SAN (vSAN). vSAN is a new software-defined storage tier that pools direct attached storage resources and clusters server disk and flash to create resilient shared storage.

In some context, this new storage strategy validates the direction vendors like Nutanix have started to introduce. vSAN will provide self-tuning storage with dynamic load balancing. Virtual SAN uses read/write SSD caching in each host and provides intelligent data placement within the cluster. You can also scale on demand by adding hosts on the fly or hot-adding disks to existing server nodes.

Think of the layers of complexity this removes from infrastructure design. No more HBA adapters, fiber cables, fiber-channel switches, and enterprise storage arrays. Furthermore, it dramatically lowers the operational support needed for maintaining the environment.

Additionally, Vmware is working on optimizing Horizon Mirage to work with VMware Horizon View. It will do this by throttling resources when it detects a virtual machine. This will give IT professionals the option of using Horizon Mirage to centrally manage the OS and application layers of persistent desktops in a similar fashion as the physical desktops.

Couple that with a flash array like those offered by Pure Storage which boast a 5-10X deduplication and compression ratios for VDI workloads, and businesses get near physical desktop performance while being able to manage their virtual desktops in the traditional physical desktop support model they've become accustomed to for the past 20 years. With a flash array like Pure Storage, you can get an all-flash storage array below the price you have been paying for enterprise disk arrays of 15K hard drives for persistent desktops.

Last was the announcement that VMware is planning on providing a DaaS solution. This shouldn't be a big surprise since they are building out the Vmware Virtual Cloud Hosting Services (vCHS); but I have a hard time thinking of a good use case for customers that would require a virtual desktop in a metered billing scenario.
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