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Ease VDI pain points with Intel Optane technology

Peter Krass's picture

by Peter Krass on 08/06/2020
Blog Category: cloud-and-data-centers

With so many people now working from home, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) technology is taking off — though not without a few problems. Fortunately, you can get help from Intel Optane technology in both its storage and persistent memory forms.

As you’ve no doubt noticed, WFH is the new normal. Nearly 70% of respondents to a recent American Management Association membership survey say they’re now working only from home. Another 19% say they’re working sometimes at home, sometimes in the office.

VDI use is growing quickly, too. Sales of VDI systems will enjoy a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10% over the next 5 years, predicts ResearchAndMarkets. By 2024, the market watcher expects, total worldwide sales of VDI systems will approach $4 billion.

The VDI market is being driven by several recent developments. One is the emergence of VDI in the cloud. Another is VDI based on Linux.

Yet another driver is the use of hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) setups to support VDI’s high-density, graphics- and I/O-intensive workloads. HCI — by combining servers, software and networking into modular software-based units — can relieve VDI bottlenecks.

A pair of VDI challenges

Still, VDI users can get tripped up in at least 2 challenging ways.

The first can occur when a large number of end users try to launch their virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) sessions at the same time — say, at 9 a.m. on a Monday morning. The resulting traffic jam is known as a “boot storm.”

The second can occur when an organization has more virtual desktop users than its VDI system can handle — without raising the total cost of ownership (TCO) too high.

The good news is, Intel Optane technology can help you with both. Here’s how.

Boot storms

A VDI setup runs desktop end-user environments as virtual machines (VMs) on host servers. The desktop software, rather than running on the users’ PCs, runs as a server workload. And it’s accessed remotely by the end users.

Boot storms can occur when a large group of end users try to launch their VDI sessions all at the same time. The users’ many VDI requests make a trip to the central server’s CPU, then disk, then to memory, and then back to disk.

The result can leave many of the users waiting to log in … then waiting … and then waiting some more — or getting an error for which they have to reboot.

Boot storms can hurt staff productivity. People can’t work if they can’t log in. Boot storms can also damage the IT department’s (or your) reputation.

Turns out, there can be not one, but two possible points of contention. One is slow networking from anywhere to the right VDI server. The other is inadequate bandwidth between the central server’s memory and CPU. Either way, you’re in the middle of a boot storm.

The Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X is ideal here. This storage drive can be used in the hyperconverged cache tier, running on top of the VDI environment, to handle either the boot storm or, for that matter, any other caching need. Essentially, it caches data both to and from the user request and the application. And because an Intel Optane SSD can read and write simultaneously, performance levels are kept high and the overall setup is kept resilient.

Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X series

By comparison, today’s NVMe NAND drives, though fast, can only read or write at any given moment. Unlike Intel Optane SSDs, NVMe NAND drives cannot do both at the same time.

Assuming network bandwidth is adequate, organizations can get a huge performance boost using Intel Optane SSDs technology. The fast input/output operations rate (IOPS) and simultaneous read/writes should result in fewer boot storms.

Number of users and TCO

VDI setups can get hung up when an organization has more virtual users than the system can affordably support. In effect, it’s two problems in one: an inability to support enough users, and a TCO that’s too high.

Here, Intel Optane persistent memory can help. With more capacity, it can support more VMs on a system at a lower price point, resulting in a lower TCO.

For example, consider an organization that needs to support 75 users on a hypervisor. The organization could do this with 1.5TB of DDR memory. Or it could use a combination of 192GB of DDR memory with 1TB of Intel Optane persistent memory. The latter setup would support the same number of users and the same workload, but at a better price.

Here’s another example using the same hypervisor. A setup with 384GB of DDR memory can support 30 users. But a combination of 192GB of DDR memory and 512GB of Intel Optane persistent memory could support 50 users. And it could do so at a lower per-user price point, delivering an 18% better TCO.

If you’re supporting customers with fast-growing VDI installations, consider enlisting Intel Optane technology. In both its SSD and persistent memory versions, Intel Optane technology can help you keep your virtual customers happy.

Learn more: Intel Optane technology for data centers


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