VDI -- Virtual Desktop Infrastructures -- based on products like VMware View lets companies provide desktop computing for employees while reducing the IT overhead, particularly the need to make at-desk service visits, as well as reducing data security concerns. However, the way that VDI environments work, and the traditional approach to "sizing" the back-room server capacity, can lead to performance slow-downs and data protection issues.
"Our target is the SME market, with 1,000 or more VDI deployments, but it will support fewer VDI users," says Fadi Albatal, VP of Marketing, FalconStor.
"Companies are deploying VDI to improve the user experience and IT administration, management and support of desktop environments," says Albatal. But as companies deploy VDI, they are experiencing a number of challenges and concerns, reports Albatal -- some of which FalconStor is addressing with this new product.
One of the challenges that companies are seeing, according to Albatal, is storage performance slowdowns due to storage bottlenecks.
Events that are part of the normal VDI daily lifecycle -- virtual desktop creation (booting up), logging off, and management applying patches and virus updates, create performance demands on the hard drives around ten times that of normal user activity, according to Albatal. If enough users are doing this at the same time, that leads to 'Input/Output Storms' -- translation, performance and responsiveness slow-downs in the VDI environment, not just to the users doing these actions, but to all users.
The traditional solution, says Albatal, is to add more hard disks to the storage system. But to do this for a VDI environment would mean that most of that added capacity would go unused except during the brief times of high demand.
FalconStor's approach: Use flash storage like solid-state drives (SSDs). "We provide or extend our SAN-based dynamic block caching to the VDI environment, providing on-demand performance without adding more spindles, cost, or space. An SSD can provide about thirty times the Input/Output Operations Per Second (IOPS) of a high-performance disk. We find that we only need to add about 3% of relative capacity as SSDs to mitigate any I/O contention."
According to Albatal, this lets FalconStor deliver a very cost-effective storage infrastructure that's much less expensive than using Serial-Attached SCSI (SAS) or Fibre Channel hard drives.
Additionally, according to FalconStor, virtual desktop deployment also presents data protection and storage efficiency challenges, as it creates a very large repository of stored desktop images, user data and settings that need to be backed up and recoverable in the event of a system failure, user error or data center disaster.
FalconStor's NSS SAN Accelerator for VMware View provides several tiers of data protection: snapshots, thin clones, replication and file-level protection. Instead of the standard desktop approach of running a backup client for each virtual machine, the NSS SAN Accelerator for VMware View performs backup and recovery for the entire VMware VDI environment and for each virtual desktop. "You can't run a thousand a Backup Exec agents on a limited VDI infrastructure without breaking the environment," says Albatal.
Also, users who have lost or deleted files from their virtual desktops can do self-service file-level recovery -- retrieve files them on their own, without needing to ask IT or a Help Desk.
The FalconStor NSS SAN Accelerator for VMware View is available now. According to FalconStor, the average cost for an implementation of up to 5,000 users is $35 per virtual desktop.