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XenDesktop optimal hardware setup advice

Posted on 2010-09-17
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Hi Experts

I need to get some comments on the best possible hardware setup to serve 30 win 7 desktops using XenDesktop and XenServer initially within a LAN but ultimately from a datacenter over a WAN. I have been quoted for the following hardware and have a good idea that it will work but would very much appreciate some feedback from someone who knows! My main worry is that there isn't enough redundancy in the following setup...

I would also need to run MS Exchange and a fileserver etc - nothing too stressful...

Attached is the Hardware/Software I have been quoted for in csv...

Thanks!!



      
Omnium-September-2.csv
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Question by:johnnyalucard
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Cláudio Rodrigues earned 500 total points
ID: 33706540
My take on this is the HW will not do it. I assume you want to provide physical desktop like performance and not a half a** solution. :-)
Problem here is simple. First of all many tests (follow @RonOglesby on Twitter) show that Windows 7 on VDI, to perform, needs 2GB RAM. So for your servers you must start with 60GB in total (what you so far have, 72GB). Exchange I run myself at home on ESXi and it uses at least 4GB to perform. So at the end with all VMs up (Win7) you will have only 12GB left. With at least 4GB for Exchange (I assume Exchange 2007 or 2010) you are really at the limit here.
Now on the CPU, 4 to 6 VMs per core is really the real world number and not the Unicorn World numbers that VMWare publishes out there. You have 8 cores per server (dual CPUs, Quad Cores each - correct me If I am wrong), for a total of 16 cores. This should do it in terms of CPU.
The other thing is IOPS on the disk subsystem. Assume at least 50 IOPS per VM so you need a disk subsystem that can sustain at least 2000 IOPS (assuming 40 VMs).
Check what your disks can do here (how many you have in total, etc) and again, make sure IOPS is plenty as this is what usually kills VDI. Also check Atlantis Computing iLIO (it dramatically improves IOPS).
I would bump up on the memory (64GB per host) or add another server so you have a three server cluster what should provide much better performance AND still work in case one dies. Your current plan, if one dies, you will NOT be able to sustain that load in one server.
And when you hit the WAN then you may be in big trouble (assuming WAN means access over the Internet) as packet loss will definitely play a HUGE role here. ICA is great but once loss kicks in with retransmissions it suffers and suffers badly. For that, take a look at IPeak's IPQ (it eliminates packet loss).

Cláudio Rodrigues
Microsoft MVP - Remote Desktop Services
Citrix CTP
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by:johnnyalucard
ID: 33719832
Thanks for your detailed response Cláudio!

Is it not the case, though, that XenDesktop uses the RAM in a more versatile (for want of a better word) way? That it doesn't require the sum total of the runing virtual machines x running virtual ram to equal the physical RAM of the hardware?

XenServer needs you to lock out 2GB RAM for an assigned 2GB per V machine running but XenDesktop (although it runs on XenServer) doesn't? It uses MS Terminal Server and I thought that got round that problem. I'm completely prepared to be wrong here of course! ;)

Thanks!
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by:Cláudio Rodrigues
ID: 33719894
XenDesktop is a VM solution like VMWare View or any other VDI alternative out there. RAM wise whatever you set, it WILL use on the host unless the host has overcommit (like ESXi) or memory sharing (Hyper-V/XenServer). The problem is depending on the case you will NOT want to overcommit/memory share due to paging. Really gets down to your environment/needs.
If you want the best experience/performance at ALL times, do not overcommit. Simple as that.
XenDesktop is NOT based on TS. That one is XenApp.

Cláudio Rodrigues
Microsoft MVP - Remote Desktop Services
Citrix CTP
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Author Comment

by:johnnyalucard
ID: 33720084
So ultimately would you suggest the provided HW spec but with more RAM per server PLUS one more server to ensure good performance (I know you suggest either/or but I want to be well covered!).

I will look into IPeak's IPQ with great interest - thanks for suggesting it!

Thank you so much for your help.

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Expert Comment

by:Cláudio Rodrigues
ID: 33720288
Yes, add another box, add more RAM per box and take a look at Atlantis iLIO and IPeak's IPQ. That will give you the best performance for sure.

Cláudio Rodrigues
Microsoft MVP - Remote Desktop Services
Citrix CTP
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Author Closing Comment

by:johnnyalucard
ID: 33720305
A really thorough examination of the problem with suggestions beyond the scope of the original question.
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Author Comment

by:johnnyalucard
ID: 33720313
Thank you so much Cláudio!!
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by:Cláudio Rodrigues
ID: 33720383
No problem. Anything else just shout. :-)

Cláudio Rodrigues
Microsoft MVP - Remote Desktop Services
Citrix CTP
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