A Rant About Storage Vendors

I have recently been invited to present in a VMware User Group (VMUG), which I quickly answered with a big and resounding Yes! I really love to present and touch base with customers as that helps me to keep it real, instead of being a lab rat type of engineer/architect.filepicker_Gw4aY4VjRsGRCvFqStvm_keep_it_real

Mostly I look forward to present and talk about new VMware endeavors in the EUC space, things such as MDM, MAM, the new HTML5 capabilities in Horizon View or what’s coming with the next release of Horizon Mobile. All fresh and cool stuff!

When I proposed one of my fresh new sessions I was asked to present “Getting VDI Storage Right”. My immediate reaction was to say that this was an old topic that every VDI administrator and architect had already mastered and that there was no need to present on such subject. I am sure I am in right mind when I say that because at the end of the day I have been writing about storage performance and architectures for VDI for over 3 years now.

Well, I decided to respect the VMUG board request and put together a session deck on the subject. When the VMUG day comes, with a packed room, I open my session with a rant about presenting on such topic but I kept on going. Why am I writing about it then? Well, at some point during my session I had a slide with the following bullet:


  • Who in the room knows what the average & peak IOPS are for your VDI environment?


That’s when I went perplex! There was only a single hand up. I then decided to ask how many were actually currently doing VDI in some form. More than half of the room had their hands up.

It seems to me that all those hundreds of storage architecture and performance blog posts written by me and the blogger community have not been yet assimilated by organizations doing or planning to do VDI, or they are not hitting the target audience. That honestly makes me sad because I also think that to some extent this is laziness from storage administrators and VDI architects, but on the other end I also think that most storage vendors are not prepared to provide customers with proper assessment and guidance, whilst are more interested in completing the sale as quick as possible.

I work extensively with storage vendors and I can attest that many of them will say their solution is best for VDI but they have absolutely no clue about architecting such solution even thou they may have a joint architecture with VMware, Citrix or another VDI vendor.

I worked for EMC and they used to have a EUC/VDI specialist team to help customers. It appears to me this group has been thinned a little bit.  Atlantis Computing has a very good grasp on VDI as this is their bread and butter. Nutanix will say their solution scale linearly, like Atlantis, and they have recently on boarded some subject matter experts.

Other storage vendors have reached out to me in search for VDI expertise, and some of them are even using a personalized version of my VDI calculator on the field to help customers.

I honestly believed this whole storage conundrum discussion was over, but it is clearly not. With Microsoft announcing project Mohoro set to deliver Windows 8 “Desktop-as-a-Service” the whole discussion has been  reignited. How do we scale storage to accommodate for hundreds of thousands of desktops?

On the other side of the spectrum I plead you to make sure you are working with storage vendors that are indeed interested in helping you with your VDI solution and have the expertise to put you in the right track avoiding storage bottlenecks in the future.

A IDC, Goldman Sachs research from Dec, 2012 demonstrated that in the enterprise space from 95% market domination in 2005 Microsoft market share has fallen to just 20% by 2012. However, Windows is not going away anytime soon and Microsoft project Mohoro is a clear indication that the “Desktop-as-a-Service” is only warming up. I would love to know how Microsoft is architecting their own storage/compute solution for Mohoro.


This article was first published by Andre Leibovici (@andreleibovici) at myvirtualcloud.net.


    • Itzik on 05/20/2013 at 12:24 am

    HI Andre,
    great write-up, as you know, the answer to this is “..You are a Geek, in general, nobody knows this”.
    as someone who design VDI workloads day in and day out, I couldn’t agree more, ive seen crazy low or crazy high numbers, it appears that people just goggle something and they make their mind fix on a specific number..

    • Jim Sanzone on 05/21/2013 at 7:08 am

    I think there’s a 2nd issue, too. You called it out that most didn’t know the performance of thier own systems…but even if you sized it perfectly on day 1, there has to be a constant effort of assess and remediate as the performance profile of your end users and the applications and data they use changes. The most important metric is user experience and the perceptions that the users have…are they happy? Iops, response time, capacity, utilization…those are the “temperature” gauges rather than the final metrics.

    Maybe storage performance is more like a car, now. I really don’t know how much horsepower my car has, but it has enough to get me where I need to go. Somebody at the factory sized the engine based on the weight of the car and the expected range of the payload. I know that when I fully load it up, it does perform differently than when it’s just me in the car…but I understand the limits. Could some orgs have systems in place similar to this? One that got sized right in the beginning and they are ok with the performance they are getting?

    The guy who sold me the car recommended it to me based on my needs when I came to the dealership, and I understood the specs and capabilities of the car. Wouldn’t it be great if storage and desktop admins could buy thier VDI or cloud infrastrucure that way too? Without having to be storage performance workload experts? If they could just buy a system that was sized by someone “at the factory” and it just worked?

    I’ll stop now before this becomes a commercial, but what you found isn’t unique…we get the storage conversation as its our world…but the general population lives in a different world. How can we in the “factory” help them without them having to become engineers themselves?

Leave a Reply