Thursday, November 8, 2012

Citrix VDI with PvDisk and NetApp Best Practices - Part I

Hi All,

Welcome to a three part series regarding Citrix Streamed Desktops with Personal vDisk and NetApp best practices.  Part I will consist of storage design considerations and best practices when creating steamed desktops with PvDisk.  Part II will jump to best practices on backing up your new environment and Part III will discuss recovering individual files to a site failure.

From my previous blog post, you can tell I really like technologies like PvDisk, I feel they are what were missing in VDI implementations for folks that needed more persistency, but great VDI products are just one side of the coin.  To make your new environment even better you need a good architecture and great storage.  We all know that user's are a tricky bunch, if they feel their new environment is ANY slower or more problematic than what they currently have, they will complain and make your life very difficult.  I can't promise your new VDI environment will be perfect, but I'll provide you with some of our latest storage best practices to help make it that much better!

Let's talk vDisk.  In PVS, this is the long term memory of your VDI implementation.  Everything your gold image is will be contained on your vDisk.  Until recently NetApp recommended putting your vDisk on block storage, but with our support of SMB 2.1 we recommend putting it on a CIFS share.  I've written about this in a previous blog so I won't spend much time on it.  Go CIFS!

Write Cache is the short term memory of your VM.  Anything the OS needs to do while it's running is stored on the write cache.  We recommend putting the write cache on NFS and thin provision it.  If you think about it, probably one of the largest consumers of storage will be your write cache.  If you assign 10 gigs to each virtual machine, and multiply that times the number of virtual machines in your environment, you can see how quickly this can become a huge number!  Thus the beauty of NFS and thin provisioning.  Assign all of your desktops to the same write cache datastore or storage repository and they will only use what they need out of the shared bucket.  Since it's all transient data, don't waste CPU cycles on deduplication or compression.

Hmmm, if vDisk is long term memory and Write Cache is short term, I guess your user profile will be your gray matter. :-)  This gives your desktop it's personality.  There are TONS of great products out there that do profile management, AppSense, Citrix, Liquidware Labs, RES, VMware, etc.  My recommendation is to read the UEM Smackdown by Ruben Spruijt.  It's an amazing paper and it will educate you tremendously on the current profile management softwares.  Re-direct your users profiles to a CIFS share, set a backup and storage policy, sit back and relax!  If you haven't used NetApp q-trees before, they're great for keeping users from eating too much storage.  And we know users NEVER consume too much storage!  To help keep storage consumption down, turn on deduplication and compression!

Which leaves us with PvDisk.  I'm not sure what part of the brain this is, but I know it's cool!  Like the write cache, put it on a shared NFS datastore or storage repository, set thin provisioning, deduplication, get a drink and put your feet up!  Since your users will be installing applications here, don't use compression, it will put extra load on your storage.  Keep an eye this since user's will be installing applications and probably putting their files there too.  It can fill up very fast!
Your Brain on Citrix Streamed Desktops with Personal vDisk

See you in Part II


  1. Hi Neil,

    Are you going to publish a similar article on VMware view 5.1 on NetApp as well?

    Thanks & Happy new Year


  2. Hi Henry,

    Happy New Year and thanks for the comment! Unfortunately View is covered by a different person. I'll let him know there's interest and maybe I can get him as a guest blogger.

    Thanks again!