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Citrix XenDesktop 5.6 - Virtual desktops fair balanced over several hosts

Dear community

I tried to find an answer to my question with Google search and/or Citrix forums but I had no luck.

The setup: we use virtual desktops with Citrix XenDesktop 5.6 and Citrix Provisioning Server 6.1. Our HP ProLiand DL380p Gen8 hosts are running with VMware vSphere 4.1.
We have 10 vSphere 4.1 hosts added to XenDesktop 5.6 and each host has 20 virtual desktops configured.

Now I wonder how XenDesktop share the load between the vSphere hosts. I think it does not! On 8 vSphere hosts all virtual desktops are up and running and that is causing high CPU and memory usage on the host. 2 vSphere Host has no CPU or memory usage because only 2 to 4 virtual desktop are up and running.

8 vSphere hosts having high CPU and memory load and that is why users complaining about slow performance within virtual desktop.

Now my solution would be to decrease the virtual machine count on each host. My goal was/is to have on each host some spare machines in case one host has a failure.

Is it possible to configure available virtual desktops (XenDesktop) fair balanced over all hosts?

Many thanks and best regards

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1 Solution
BusbarSolutions ArchitectCommented:
xendesktop does no LB, this is why you need to enable DRS on your VMware cluster.
vmwarun - ArunCommented:
The load balancing depends on what hosting infrastructure (VMware, Citrix or SCVMM) in addition to enabling DRS (Fully Automated) setting on the DRS cluster if its VMware.

Please update what storage is being used to run the VMs (SAN or NAS)
DangerExpertsAuthor Commented:
Dear busbar,
dear arunraju

Thanks for your quick response.

Sorry, I forgot to mention our vSphere configuration. Our 10 vSphere are not configured within a cluster.

Every host has its own Citrix Provisioning Server. The PVS delivers the OS within the host (no traffic for streaming goes outside the vSphere host*). PVS cache is in the memory of the virtual machine. Page file for the OS is stored on the local disk of the host within a vmdk file.

* This setup (PVS cache in memory, PVS streaming within the host) should deliver the best performance according external consultant.

For our backend (Windows Servers) we use a vSphere cluster on a NetApp Storage. NFS shares attached to our vSphere hosts.

I hope you get a picture of our setup.

Many thanks
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vmwarun - ArunCommented:
Well, if you don't have a DRS cluster setup, then I am afraid the load would not be balanced equally. Citrix XenDesktop nor PVS do not have a mechanism to load balance virtual machines, although PVS has an option to load balance connections from the target devices between the PVS servers. If you are looking to load balance VMs which have been setup as target devices, then the best way is to configure DRS.
BusbarSolutions ArchitectCommented:
I dont know why u configured it like that a single pvs can support up to 5000 vm.

Also to install vcentr u need to buy the proper vmware license
Op, historically i've heard people claim that one PVS server per physical host would provide the best possible performance. I even heard Citrix consulting services say this directly when I used to work for Citrix.

Truth is today, if your environment is architected properly, then this is not needed at all, and its actually kind of a nightmare. With that many PVS servers it becomes a massive headache to replicate the vDisks between all the PVS servers.

I would re-architect using 2 to 3 virtual PVS servers, or 2 physical PVS servers. Cluster your VMware hosts ( depending on your ESX version, you many have to break into 2 clusters with 8 hosts each). If you dont have vCenter today, install and set it up and enable DRS to spread these desktops better.

The original recommendation for a PVS server per physical VMware host due to the LAN links between the PVS server and the virtual machine targets getting saturated. If you running 10Gig networking, then you are completely fine.

If your running 1GB links that arent bundled, then this could be the reason why. Your typical windows 7 image needs to transfer 600 to upwards of 1GB of data before it starts from the PVS server across the LAN to the virtual host. Back in the day, we saw throughput issues.

Today, I see customers with bundled 10Gb links, and there is NO reason anymore to worry about LAN throughput from vDisk streaming.
DangerExpertsAuthor Commented:
Thanks. I already thought we need re-architect the environment.

Thanks to all for the fast and quick support.
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