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Evaluating VDI storage options

Before choosing storage for VDI, enterprise IT needs to evaluate what's best for their organization.

Storage has a great effect on virtual desktop performance, so deciding what kind of storage system you want for VDI is a critical task.

From direct-attached to solid-state drives to shared storage, there are many ways to implement storage in a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). Plus, there are newer methods involving flash and hybrid appliances.

In this guide, find resources for evaluating the best storage option for your environment, improving performance, obstacles IT might face and the latest advancements in storage for VDI.

Decisions, decisions

1. Choosing storage for VDI

Choosing VDI storage isn't a quick job, and your ultimate decision can affect the cost of your implementation. Do you want direct-attached storage or shared storage? What about implementing solid-state drives (SSDs)? Or maybe you want to keep the array you had before virtualizing? IT should also take into account the storage network before deploying any kind of storage in a VDI environment.

  • Direct-attached vs. shared storage

    Two main options when choosing VDI storage are direct-attached storage (DAS) and shared storage. DAS tends to be cheaper and simpler to deploy, while shared storage connects hosts to a centralized pool where failover can occur.


  • What kind of storage array do you need?

    SSDs are becoming more popular for VDI, or you could avoid using a storage array altogether. In nonpersistent VDI environments, you could use a product such as Fusion-io that offers native access to storage.


  • Comparing SAN and shared storage

    When deciding between shared storage and a storage area network (SAN), consider whether you need a high level of fault tolerance and how much capacity your environment will require.


  • Controlling VDI storage costs

    Intense research and planning a strategy are the keys to controlling VDI costs. Industry experts offer advice for making sure a SAN performs well enough to support a VDI without costs spiraling out of control.



2. Improving VDI storage performance

No one wants to wait for applications to launch, so strong virtual desktop performance is a must. SSDs and inline deduplication can help solve performance drag. Read how IT can get performance up to par, and how one organization kept up with high write IOPS requirements.

  • Using solid-state storage to boost performance

    Waiting for an app to launch or shut down makes people cranky, especially if their virtual desktop is new. Read how to pump up the volume with an SSD, and how your network may be slowing you down.


  • Inline deduplication vs. traditional dedupe

    Inline deduplication is a new look for VDI storage. Traditional, process-level dedupe requires a lot of storage capacity, while inline deduplication provides block-level, single-instance storage that optimizes block transfers.


  • What in-memory storage is doing for VDI

    The two main obstacles to VDI adoption have been graphics and storage. Now, tools such as Atlantis' ILIO Persistent VDI improve performance by relying on RAM.


  • Getting the best VDI performance: A case study

    A university's plans for using virtual desktops throughout the campus hit a snafu when its storage couldn't keep up with the IOPS requirements. Read how an all-flash array beat out NetApp for the job.


What's new in storage

3. Latest advancements in storage for VDI

VDI is a technology that has room to expand, and storage vendors are getting on board. VMware introduced its Virtual SAN offering for VDI, while multiple hybrid storage options have popped up to aid VDI environments. Go beyond the SAN and learn how server-based storage is evolving.

  • New VDI storage system options

    VDI adoption is changing the way storage systems are built and maintained. Here's a look at flash appliances and bundles that go beyond SANs. Options include Tintri, Pivot3, Nutanix and more.


  • Virtual SAN and other fresh storage for VDI

    At VMworld 2013, VMware dropped in on the growing market with its Virtual SAN offering. Plus, Fusion-io offers storage that runs alongside your existing system, and GreenBytes has gotten in on the inline deduplication game.


  • What's hybrid storage for VDI?

    Hybrid storage options from vendors such as Tegile can help VDI environments that are struggling with increased storage needs. These kinds of systems combine flash, SSD and other technologies into one offering.


  • Forget extra SAN -- use server RAM

    Hybrid appliances aren't the only new face in the storage market. To save money on storage for VDI, IT should look into using server RAM-based storage, which creates a local RAM disk on VDI hosts and directs I/O traffic there.


  • VMware vSphere Storage Appliance for small VDI

    VMware's vSphere Storage Appliance has been around longer than the Virtual SAN, and it could help lower costs, especially in smaller VDI implementations where there are fewer nodes and VSA could be used in a pilot.