A common theme that I see coming up up time and time again with customers is VDI using Citrix XenDesktop and vSphere 4.1. It’s popularity generally stems from the previous success companies have had with the more traditional Citrix products such as Presentation Server / XenApp. I know when I was looking at VDI solutions I was very much in favour of Citrix due to one thing, the ICA protocol. It works and it works well over long distances, in a lot of companies it has proven itself over a long period of time, it is a protocol they trust to deliver.
Following a customer meeting recently I was desperately searching for an EMC reference architecture (RA) for a XenDesktop / vSphere deployment. At the time it turned out we didn’t have a completed one, we did however have one in draft format that was going through the final stages of review. That RA has now been completed and released for public consumption, an overview of the documents purpose is below.
The purpose of this reference architecture is to build and demonstrate the functionality, performance and scalability of virtual desktops enabled by the EMC VNX series, VMware vSphere 4.1 and Citrix XenDesktop 5. This solution is built on Machine Creation Services (MCS) in XenDesktop 5and a VNX5300 platform with multiprotocol support, which enabled FC block-based storage for the VMware vStorage Virtual Machine File System (VMFS) and CIFS-based storage for user data.
The RA covers the technologies listed below and details why the VNX array with FAST cache enabled is a perfect match for your Citrix VDI deployment. One other interesting area that is discussed is the use of Citrix Machine Creation Services (MCS) which is a new feature XenDesktop 5 and provides an alternative to Citrix Provisioning Server (PVS). For those new to MCS I suggest you have a read through the following Citrix blog post as their are some additional design considerations around IOPS that need to be considered.
Citrix XenDesktop 5
Microsoft Windows 7 enterprise (32-bit)
Citrix Machine Creation Services (MCS)
VMware vSphere 4.1
EMC VNX 5300 – (Fast Cache & VAAI enabled)
EMC virtual storage integrator (VSI) – Free on EMC PowerLink
If you are considering XenDesktop 5 and vSphere 4.1 then I suggest you download and have a read through the RA linked below.