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Data Center

VDI Solution that can scale to 1000's of Desktops and easy to deploy . . .

by Nanjunda Somyaji on ‎02-14-2012 08:40 AM (2,823 Views)

If you are planning to attend VMware PEX 2012, don’t miss to visit Brocade booth (#208)  and see  VDI solution architecture built and tested by Brocade and VMware. Before jumping into solution details, here is some background.


Where is Desktop now?

For more than two decades, folks are using Windows PC as a replacement for paper, file folders, memos and physical in & out boxes that used to rule their office desk. This revolutionized the way in which people worked at offices. But, now the pace in which technology is permeating end user’s personal life and thereby influencing their work habits in their offices has created “silos of disconnected end-users” and created “PC desktop dilemma”. The pace of consumer technology is accelerating with help from enabling technologies such as mobile and Internet. This is making end-users lot more sophisticated  than those who were PC centric. The workforce is more mobile and geographically dispersed  while the rise of new application types further diversifies the existing applications mix and ultimately using new and different devices to work. These changes are here to stay and folks have valid reason to call these times as “Post-PC Era”.  The post-PC era is filled with whole sleuth of devices, OS neutral applications and backed by Cloud Computing architecture. End users are getting used to access services whenever and wherever it is needed.  For example, I access my company services on my SmartPhone, iPad, Mac, and Windows VM running on my Mac (using VMware Fusion), and finally Windows laptop at office. I end up using these devices since I have access to my company’s network and services anywhere and anytime. But, I end up using “my own” way to get this thing working on my various devices and clients.


Where is Business and IT in this paradigm shifting?

This change in the way end-user is accessing IT services is making business of running IT very complicated. The inability to manage this range of applications, devices and users has invalidated the basic IT (and Business) principle - “the predictable and standardized PC-centric model of IT “. This “predictable and standardized PC-centric model of IT “ overrun with diversity of access, devices and applications, challenging IT to deliver a better end user environment than what they have today. Add to this the ongoing pressures of budget, compliance, supporting the business and user satisfaction leaves IT stuck in a vicious cycle of perceived inefficiency, high risk, low value contribution and poor service. To evolve IT must break the cycle and efficiently innovate and maintain while addressing the needs of the business and workforce. Here comes the End User Computing (aka Virtual Desktop Infrastructure/VDI).


Industry has come out with a innovative solution based on Virtualization to address the issues with current Desktop infrastructure - End User Computing (or more  familiarly known as VDI). This is based on converting Desktops to Virtual Machines, with a central management mechanism and delivering these Desktops as “Desktop Service”  to End User on devices that they like, wherever they are and whenever they want in a secure and compliant way. In fact, those Enterprises with surviving skills for this century are testing  BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) as a way to deliver Desktop to their employees.

By using VDI, businesses have found some cost savings in terms of manageability and infrastructure cost that they can recoup over long term. But, more than this cost savings, particular segments such as Healthcare and Financial have found VDI as way to enforce regulation and compliance policies that reduce their liability.

VDI Deployment Challenges

Deploying VDI has its own challenges as well. Although, I won’t be able to address them all in this blog, at a very high level, they are

  • High Acquisition Cost
  • Design Complexity
  • End user apprehension

The challenges such as high cost that you initially spend in deploying VDI will pay off in terms of long term savings and liability reduction that I have mentioned earlier. Although, majority of end users may welcome VDI deployment, there may be initial apprehension that any new technology face during its early phase. Businesses should invest in educating users to ease the transition.

The design complexity involves issues such as

  • Provisioning and properly sizing servers and storage resources
  • Network architecture that complements server and storage resources
  • VDI architecture that scales as number of users increase
    • usually, VDI deployment happens in phases
  • Security
  • Management complexity

which leads us to Brocade-VMware VDI Solution.

Brocade-VMware VDI solution:

To address above challenges in designing and deploying VDI infrastructure, Brocade and VMware with other partners worked together to architect and test VDI solution. In this blog, I would like to focus on network aspect of this solution to show the value of Brocade networking products. I will discuss other issues such as server and storage, security and management will be addressed in later blog.

This solution is built using VMware View platform using Brocade VIrtual Cluster Switching (VCS) technology to provide highly reliable and scabalbel network infrastructure. The solution is built on a highly scalable pod architecture enabled by Brocade VCS technology. A single pod is pre-tested to host up to 1,000 virtual desktops. Multiple pods can be connected together using up to 80 Gigabits per second (Gbps) Inter-Switch Links (ISLs) between switches to quickly scale out the solution as necessary.


Although, we did use iSCSI based Hybrid Storage Arrays  (SSD and 15K SAS drives) in this solution for price-performance reasons, the storage back-end can be easily replaces by appropriate storage technology such as FC or NAS storage arrays.

For networking needs, we used Brocade VDX 6720 built on Brocade breakthrough Ethernet fabric VCS technology.

The high- performance Ethernet fabric is critical to delivering the required response times when virtual desktops are started in the ESX servers and when the applications process and save data onto the storage arrays. Brocade VDX switches use VCS technology to provide a flat, high-performance network that can scale horizontally and seamlessly on demand. Deployment of VMware View on this network brings best-in- class performance. The Brocade VDX switches include distributed intelligence to simplify network configuration and reduce management time as the virtualized environment grows.

One of the feature, “VM-Aware Network Automation” that is available in Brocade VDX switch family is ease with which one could configure the network. For example, if you have VLANS separating your departmental VDI desktops for security and compliance purposes, VDX swich can learn VLANs configured on vSwitch and automatically program itself to allow only those VLANs in the switch. This capability is available through tight integration of VCS technology feature called Automatic Migration of Port Profiles (AMPP) with VMware vCenter server.

We used Trend Micro Deep Security Manager to address Security needs of the solution. Trend Micro Deep Security Manager coordinates the anti-malware protection provided to each guest virtual machine. This is done through the Deep Security Virtual Appliance, which uses the VMware Endpoint API to apply the protection to the virtual machines. The Deep Security Filter Driver controls network traffic in and out of the guest virtual machines.

Visit to get more details about Brocade-VMware VDI Solution and don’t forget to visit Brocade booth at VMware PEX 2012.