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How can I optimize VDI performance?

When virtual desktops don't work well, it makes for unhappy employees and IT pros. Luckily, there's a lot you can do to optimize VDI performance, such as allocating enough hardware and using some flash in your storage system.

There are entire books about ways to improve VDI performance, but there are also some relatively simple things that you can do to optimize VDI performance.

The first thing that you must keep in mind is that the operating system and application requirements remain constant regardless of whether you're using a physical or a virtual environment. An application's hardware requirements do not change simply because it runs on a virtual desktop. As such, the first rule of VDI performance optimization is to avoid skimping on hardware allocations.

My experience has been that storage I/O is the one thing that affects virtual desktop performance more than anything else. After all, your storage subsystem can only deliver a certain amount of bandwidth. Virtual desktops compete with one another for storage I/O, so if the available bandwidth is inadequate then performance will suffer.

One way to optimize storage bandwidth usage is to disable any unnecessary, storage-intensive services. For instance, you might consider disabling defragmentation that you may have scheduled, and setting up antivirus scanning so it occurs during off-peak hours.

Another thing you can do to optimize VDI performance is use storage deduplication, which is  generally thought of as a way to lower storage costs because it reduces storage consumption. In the case of virtual desktops however, there tends to be a lot of redundancy from one virtual desktop to the next. If you deduplicate your virtual desktops, you may find that the storage footprint becomes small enough that you can move virtual desktops to solid-state storage.

Even if you can't place your virtual desktops entirely on solid-state storage, you should consider using a flash-based cache. This moves the most frequently read storage blocks to flash memory, which typically results in performance gains that are almost as good as what you would see with an all-flash system.


Next Steps

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VDI performance monitoring: An IT guide

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Dig Deeper on Virtual desktop management

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Which methods do you think are most effective for boosting VDI performance?