EMC World 2011–View on vBlock notes

Joel Ramirez is currently in sunny Las Vegas at EMC World 2011.  Despite the ever increasing temptation of Blackjack tables and Showgirls, he managed to send me some of his thoughts on the sessions he attended.  I know he loves to share with the community but I am pretty sure it’s just a ploy to hang out in the Blogger’s Lounge! 

In the VMware View for vBlock session this morning, Hari Kannan, a VCE technologist for EMC, talked about the challenges in designing Virtual Desktop solutions. I believe the approach that EMC favors is a practical one. The components of the vBlock architecture will make sense to a datacenter administrator:

  • backend storage, VMax or VNX
  • the computing platform, Cisco UCS
  • the VDI solution, VMware View on VMware vSphere

The idea behind rolling out desktops to thousands of users is kept simple by the EMC VCE team. Categorize users into three distinct profiles based on their I/O and usage tendencies (i.e. do they use a lot of network storage or code locally or use a lot of Adobe Flash?).       

These end up being one of three types of users: task users, knowledge users, and power users. They categorize servers into three distinct profiles based upon the core and memory resources that are required: gold, silver, and bronze. Profiling the users help size out the UCS solution requirements while profiling the servers helps with quick deployment of future servers.

As any datacenter administrator will attest to, procuring resources and deploying a new server can be exceptionally time-consuming. Approaching these tasks from a familiar perspective is the job of the Cisco UIM and VMware View interfaces. The UIM manages the server profiles and executes the deployment of a new server to the available UCS resources in a transparent manner to the admin.

The View Manager has the vAAI capability to offload the copying of the gold image to the storage array, where the greater resources of the intelligent storage platform can easily manage the copy of thousands of desktop images, releasing the virtual environment’s CPU and memory resources to focus on processing production I/O from the end user community.

My take on Joel’s notes are EMC’s and VMware’s increased synergy between hypervisor and storage.  I keep seeing the two companies build more and more of a competitive advantage with each other for these types of solutions.  Can you run mixtures of XenDesktop, Hyper-V and other parts in your solution? Of course!  The abstraction of the various layers within the stack allow for competitive swaps and is great for finding the RIGHT technology for your particular company. 

Just know it might not be considered a vBlock though.  Winking smile