Configuring storage for virtual desktops

The goals of most desktop virtualization projects are reduced costs and efficient support operations, but building a storage infrastructure for virtual desktops has its challenges.

Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) enables IT departments to centralize the applications and services offered on their users? desktops into the data center. Users have some sort of ?thin client? device locally but typically have no local data or applications installed. The desktop operating system runs within a virtual machine (VM) in the virtual infrastructure. Although analogous to server virtualization in that virtual hosts are placed on physical server resources, VDI presents some different and unique challenges for data storage management.

A typical Windows 7 virtual desktop deployment may require between 10 GB and 20 GB (or more) of shared storage capacity, depending on the applications installed. In addition, each of those desktops on average will consume 5 IOPS to 10 IOPS, rising to about 10 times that at 50 IOPS to 100 IOPS during boot time. Configuring storage for virtual desktops is usually as much about achieving appropriate levels of performance as it is about allocating ample disk capacity.

This was first published in June 2012

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