Gartner analyst Richard Jones led a really insightful presentation today at VMworld 2012 talking about storage in virtual environments. He focused a lot on what he called “Server Hosted Virtual Desktops,” or SHVD (a.k.a.: virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), hosted virtual desktop (HVD), etc.), which, he rightly pointed out, have some significant impacts on storage architecture. In fact, the write loads on virtual desktop deployments can be significantly greater than those of even the most intensive transactional databases. So, obviously, storage management including subsets like san management is a major concern in these environments.

A few major points worth noting:

 

  • Gartner predicts that, through 2016, storage costs will be a bottleneck in virtualization and VDI  in one-third of organizations.
  • This issue one reason for the emergence of a group of niche virtualization resource players like Nutanix, Pivot3, Simplivity, and many more that build integrated server and storage appliances, some of which are tuned for specific applications like VDI.
  • Storage planning for SHVD cannot be taken lightly, and storage budget should be about 40%-60% of the budget for an SHVD project. In other words, don’t just guess – do some analysis!
  • Tying in with the first bullet above, CapEx is a huge barrier to virtual desktop deployments. Most organizations do not realize a straightforward positive ROI if they are simply comparing virtual desktops to their physical deployments. Most VDI deployments are at cost parity to 40% more expensive than their physical counterparts. However, VDI brings advantages in security, compliance, and other areas that often make them worth additional cost.
  • VDI deployments are the embodiment of the “Storage I/O Blender.” It’s important to understand the implications of all of the different points of complexity.
  • Most VDI deployments on existing storage solutions fail. Gartner recommends new storage solutions to support VDI deployments in the long term…unless you already have a “big honking storage array.”

 

We’ll go into each of these topics and many more over the next few weeks, but suffice it to say that a GREAT place, and possibly the MOST important place, to start in assessing your organization’s readiness for VDI is to consider your storage. So, looking at your environment through the lens of a good SAN management tool or storage monitoring solution is key for holistic storage monitoring. Starting this early in the consideration process will give you some good insight into the load on your storage arrays and how you’ll need to architect VDI storage for your organization and become a storage performance monitoring superhero!