Rolling Review: VMware Shows Agility In View 3

Server virtualization stalwart shows it has desktop chops, too.

Randy George, Director, IT Operations, Boston Red Sox

December 11, 2008

3 Min Read

To find out how VMware's View performed at different levels of network latency, we used a Shunra Storm network simulation appliance, and ran each remote office through a series of real-world network latency tests. At each step, we ratcheted remote office bandwidth downward, while simultaneously increasing levels of packet loss and latency.

The VDM client-server communication mechanism is extremely efficient. Using a real-world scenario where a user logs in to a virtual desktop, then opens and closes Microsoft Word and Internet Explorer, it took less than 25 seconds, on average, for 618 KB of data to traverse the WAN. That breaks down to bandwidth usage of 24.7 Kbps per virtual desktop connection. Using that math along with the usage scenario of a simple Microsoft Office user, Bits & Bytes would theoretically be able to adequately service 25 virtual desktops over a 625 Kbps pipe. Of course, that assumes no other traffic is being split tunneled out the same Internet circuit that's used for VDI access.

Just for fun, we cranked up round-trip latency to 300 milliseconds and introduced some packet loss in an attempt to simulate an attorney trying to connect to his virtual desktop via a dial-up or cellular air card from a hotel or airport. Even at 300-millisecond latency, we completely logged in and loaded our virtual desktop in 21 seconds, and could open Microsoft Word within 3 seconds of clicking the icon.

The overall performance of the virtual desktop over dial-up isn't dramatically worse than accessing that same desktop over a generous WAN link. For the most part, administrators need to focus on resource use on the back-end ESX server, along with the amount of resources allocated to virtual desktops themselves, when planning a VDI rollout.

Overall, we were very impressed with VMware's VDI. Although outside the scope of our testing, we did experience some issues trying to serve out our virtual desktops directly through a firewall, but we had no problems with remote access via VPN.

On an enterprise scale, VMware often partners with leading connection broker vendors that offer advanced load balancing, management, and scalability capabilities. However, for small implementations, you'll find everything you need out of the box with VMware's VDI.

With three years of Platinum support, a 100 virtual desktop VDI bundle will cost you $24,562. Given that you can save big on hardware costs though the use of thin clients, you might find that virtualizing desktops provides a much faster ROI than virtualizing servers does.

VMware Rolling Review

The Invitation

We're testing virtual desktop infrastructure products at our Boston labs and in a scenario that centers on a fictional legal startup, Bits & Bytes Legal Services LLC, which is building a VDI-based environment from scratch. We'll assess ease of installation, functionality, and security.

The Vendors

Citrix, Virtual Iron, Parallel, Provision Networks, Stoneware, and Sun Microsystems.

Featured Product:

VMware View 3.0 Enterprise

Next Up

Citrix XenDesktop


Rolling Reviews present a comprehensive look at a hot technology category. Our extended testing span allows InformationWeek to accommodate today's accelerated revisions cycle and focus on individual products, while maintaining a consistent test bed.


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About the Author(s)

Randy George

Director, IT Operations, Boston Red Sox

Randy George has covered a wide range of network infrastructure and information security topics in his 4 years as a regular InformationWeek and Network Computing contributor. He has 13 years of experience in enterprise IT, and has spent the last 8 years working as a senior-level systems analyst and network engineer in the professional sports industry. Randy holds various professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco and Check Point, a BS in computer engineering from Wentworth Institute of Technology and an MBA from the University of Massachusetts Isenberg School of Management.

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