VDI deployments struggle with costs and performance. According to Gartner, “storage is the No. 1 challenge most IT organizations face when considering virtual desktop (server-hosted virtual desktop or virtual desktop infrastructure) projects.
To deliver sufficient performance many solutions are available on the market. Lots of startups emerge with solutions which accelerate storage. Lots of them are based on the usage of Flash and SSD drives in purpose built hardware appliances. Up front costs of those appliances are high. Those appliances are targeted at enterprise environments.
In a previous post titled Overview of purpose-built VDI solutions to accelerate storage performance I wrote about the available approaches to accelerate storage performance for VDI. One of the approaches is to use host RAM as storage. Host RAM is the fastest storage available.
Atlantis Computing today released a product with enables the use of persistent virtual desktops named Atlantis ILIO Persistent VDI 4.0. Press Release can be read here.
Until the release only shared desktop images (non-persistent desktops) were supported by Atlantis. But users want to personalize their desktop with background pictures, shortcusts etc. A desktop which is dedicated to a single user and saves the state is named a persistent desktop.
This posting will explain a bit more about:
- What is it ?
- What are the features?
- What does it cost ?
What is it?
Atlantis ILIO Persistent VDI 4.0 is the first In-Memory VDI storage solution that enables organizations to deliver persistent virtual desktops that run completely using server RAM as storage. Atlantis ILIO is using RAM of the hypervisor host as primary storage. Both VMware vSphere and Citrix Xenserver are supported as hypervisor. Citrix XenDesktop and VMware View are supported VDI solutions.
Brian Madden describes ILIO here as:
The basic idea is that you run an Atlantis storage appliance VM on each of your VDI hosts and it uses RAM to store all the deduped, compressed disk blocks of all the desktop VMs on that host. So essentially you’re using a RAM disk for the C: drive of each VDI instance, meaning they run fast. Really fast. Screaming crazy fast. And since Atlantis is only storing each disk block once (regardless of how many VMs on that host use that block), they can run dozens or hundreds of VMs off of a very small amount of memory.
Cormac Hogan, a VMware employee with lots of knowledge on storage, explains the workings of ILIO in his blogpost here.
Atlantis ILIO Persistent VDI 4.0 Features:
- In-Memory VDI – Unlike traditional storage, ILIO In-Memory storage decouples desktop performance from the traditional limitations of disk-based storage by running all sessions directly on server RAM – as primary storage – to provide unparalleled desktop performance including 12 second boot time, near-instant application launches and desktop search results that appear immediately. In addition, because all desktops run on RAM, the amount of storage traffic sent on the network is drastically reduced, addressing one of VDI’s key deployment risks.
- Atlantis ILIO Fast Replication technology maintains a real-time optimized backup on shared SAN/NAS storage to preserve the state of all persistent virtual desktops to deliver data protection and recovery.
- Automated Deployment – Atlantis ILIO Center, the management system for Atlantis ILIO software, provides push-button automated installation, configuration, sizing and datastore creation for thousands of virtual desktops across multiple racks of servers. Atlantis ILIO virtual machines are automatically created and registered as NFS data stores that are ready to use by Citrix XenDesktop or VMware View provisioning tools, or by Atlantis ILIO Fast Clone, to complete the desktop provisioning process.
- Atlantis ILIO Fast Clone – Atlantis ILIO Fast Clone can create new full clones of persistent virtual desktops in as little as 5 seconds per desktop. Unlike other storage cloning, Atlantis ILIO Fast Clone creates new virtual desktops without generating storage traffic.
To give an indication of the consumption of RAM: Brian Madden did a test and writes:
On a per desktop basis, this means that each VM is using 28GB on average (40GB allocated) of virtual storage, but that is consuming only 1.5GB of physical RAM per desktop.
Atlantis did a PassMark test. They got a 5049 score making it the third fastest drive in the world!
This video shows the user experience of Atlantis ILIO.
The video shows that starting 9 applications on a VDI workstation limited to 50 IOPS takes 4.5 minutes. When Atlantis ILIO is used those 9 applications are started instantly! Amazing to see.
Brian Madden is very excited about Atlantis ILIO. Read his blog titled Atlantis Computing adds persistent support to their ILIO Diskless VDI. This is the ultimate VDI storage solution! for much more information on the product.
One of the interesting aspects of Atlantis ILIO is that there are no up-front costs. Customers can buy a single license, 20 licenses or whatever the amount they need. Cost for the license is estimated at around $ 150 per desktop. Add costs for the RAM, and some of the CPU & RAM resources used by the appliance on each host and you will end at around $ 2oo,- per desktop.