Citrix Synergy 2014

I am excited to go to Citrix Synergy every year. It is a time to get to hear what Citrix is going to say about  virtual desktop, cloud and data mobility. Also it is always so good to meet my Citrix friends.

I will present  M320 Accelerating Virtual Desktop with NetApp on Thursday May 8th at 9:30 Room with Mr. Cooper. The session will cover 3 topics: Clustered Data OnTAP with vSphere 5.1 and XenDesktop 7.1 CVD, $35 dollar per desktop Citrix ready VDI capacity program and NetApp flash technology – All Flash FAS8000.

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We also have some great breakout sessions planned that will go deeper into the technology:

  • “How to Build a Standardized Cloud Architecture with XenDesktop and NetApp Storage”
  • “How to Best Utilize Citrix ShareFile on NetApp”

Finally, here’s a sneak peak at our booth mini-theatre sessions:

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Come by booth 201 to see our demos, meet executives, talk to customers, and mingle with technical experts.

I am looking forward to seeing you in Anaheim.




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$37 per Desktop for storage: Citrix Ready VDI Capacity Program

Citrix Ready VDI Capacity Program 

Citrix Ready has created an opportunity for storage partners representing several different VDI storage options to plug their storage solutions into a turnkey “VDI Capacity” test environment located in our Santa Clara, CA solutions lab. This program was created with two goals in mind:

  •   Meet a defined VDI storage workload without reaching storage latency thresholds
  •   Do so with a cost- effective design

As part of this Citrix program, NetApp joined Citrix at their Solutions Lab in early 2014 to stress test a NetApp FAS2240-2 hybrid storage array. The stress testing took place against a 750 seat desktop virtualization environment based on Citrix XenDesktop 7.1. The end goal was to prove NetApp can deliver a storage solution at a very economical end user storage cost of $37 per desktop.

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What’s included?

–NetApp Storage HW (FAS2240-2)

–24 internal HDDs(600GB SAS, 10k RPM)

–NetApp SW licenses (iSCSI and CIFS)

–36 months, NetApp 24×7 premium support, w/ 4 hour parts replacement

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The NetApp FAS2240-2 was completely configured and setup in under two hours. Below is an outline of the entire NetApp storage solution configuration.

  • NetApp Clustered Data ONTAP® 8.2 operating system
  • Dual controllers with active/standby configuration. This configuration ensured high IOPS for boot, login, and steady state operations as well as consistent high performance for end users in case one storage controller fails
  • Each controller has 2 10GbE ports and x FC ports that can be used for data and cluster interconnect. For this test setup, each controller was configured with:
    • 1 x 10GbE Cluster inter-connect for HA
    • 1 x 10GbE iSCSI Data Logical Interface (LIF) per controller with LIF migration established for HA
    • Jumbo Frames were not used for the iSCSI Data LIFs in this test scenario
  • The 24 HDDs were configured as such:
    • Active Controller:
        • 16+2 RAID DP® configured for the main data Aggregate (16 data drives and 2 for parity) hosting the virtual machines
        • 1+1 RAID 4 for the root Data ONTAP® Aggregate
        • 1 Spare Drive
    • Standby Controller:
        • 1+2 RAID DP® for the root Data ONTAP® Aggregate
  • The storage was configured with a single iSCSI clustered Data ONTAP® storage virtual machine (SVM) for hosting the virtual desktops as well as a single SVM for CIFS shares to host user data.
      • iSCSI Virtual Server contained 1 x 11TB Volume
        • 11 x 1TB LUNs created for PVS Write Cache
        • Each LUN was attached to a unique Hyper-V host which contained 85 virtual desktops booting from Citrix PVS.
      • CIFS Virtual server contained 1 x 22TB Volume
        • 1 x 22TB share created for user data

Test results:

  • Boot and Login Storms
      • 935 users boot and login < than 20 minutes
  • Steady state
      • 750 users, VSI Max NOT  reached during test

The environment could have supported around 800 virtual desktops.

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For customers looking for an efficient, scalable, and resilient XenDesktop deployment under 1000 seats, the NetAppFAS2240-2 based storage solution excels at providing substantial performance, density and scalability at a very affordable $37/desktop. Through this Citrix Ready validation program, NetApp has demonstrated the ability to deliver a cost effective virtual desktop that provides a better user experience without impacting overall performance, scalability, or manageability. With the capability to run 750 desktops from a 2 rack unit hybrid storage array and the ability to scale without disruption to operations, this solution can be used by both small businesses and large enterprises. NetApp provides an outstanding solution for your desktop virtualization needs.


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CVD: FlexPod Reference Architecture for a 2000 Seat Virtual Desktop Infrastructure with Citrix XenDesktop 7.1 on VMware vSphere 5.1: Storage

Two nodes FAS3240 with 4 shelves DS2246 were utilized in the deployment to support 1450 users of hosted shared desktops (HSD) and 550 users of hosted VDI (HVD). Clustered Data ONTAP version is 8.2P4.

To support the differing security, backup, performance, and data sharing needs of users, we group the physical data storage resources on your storage system into one or more aggregates. You can design and configure your aggregates to provide the appropriate level of performance and redundancy for your storage requirements. For information about best practices for working with aggregates, see Technical Report 3437: Storage Subsystem Resiliency Guide.  This design I used one aggregate per node since this is one deployment and with 2 shelves per node.

You create an aggregate to provide storage to one or more volumes. Aggregates are a physical storage object; they are associated with a specific node in the cluster.

The following table contains all aggregate configuration information. NetApp uses 3 disks for root aggregate as default.

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Volumes are data containers that enable you to partition and manage your data. Volumes are the highest-level logical storage objects. Unlike aggregates, which are composed of physical storage resources, volumes are completely logical objects. Understanding the types of volumes and their associated capabilities enables you to design your storage architecture for maximum storage efficiency and ease of administration.

A FlexVol volume is a data container associated with a virtual storage machine with FlexVol volumes. It gets its storage from a single associated aggregate, which it might share with other FlexVol volumes or Infinite Volumes. It can be used to contain files in a NAS environment, or LUNs in a SAN environment.

The following table lists the FlexVol configuration.

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The following diagram explains the storage layout.

725 RDS user write cache is on node 1. 725 RDS user and 550 HVD user write cache is on node 2. Two CIFS virtual storage servers are created for HSD and HVD users are created on each storage node. VMware ESXi 5.1 SAN boot volume is on node 1 and infrastructure virtual storage server is on node 2.

storage layoutI recommend to use NetApp SPM tool to figure out the storage data layout.  NetApp partners or sales engineers should all have access to this tool.

For hosted shared desktops and hosted VDI, storage best practice is similar.

PVS vDisk  CIFS/SMB 3 is used to host the PVS vDisk. CIFS/SMB 3 allows the same vDisk to be shared among multiple PVS servers and still has resilience during the storage node failover. This results in significant operational savings and architecture simplicity.

PVS write cache file. The PVS write cache file is hosted on NFS datastores for simplicity and scalability.  Deduplication should not be enabled on this volume.

Profile Management. To make sure that the user profiles and settings are preserved. We leverage the profile management software Citrix UPM to redirect the user profiles to the CIFS home directories.

User Data Management NetApp recommends hosting the user data on CIFS home directories to preserve data upon VM reboot or redeploy.

Monitoring and management NetApp recommends using OnCommand Balance and Citrix Desktop Director to provide end-to-end monitoring and management of the solution.


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Join me for FlexPod Datacenter with Citrix XenDesktop Validated Design webex

FlexPod Datacenter with Citrix XenDesktop Validated Design

Converged solutions, which combine desktop operating systems, applications, compute, network and storage improve agility, simplify the deployment and reduce the cost of desktop virtualization.

In this webinar, you will discover how the validated design of FlexPod Datacenter with Citrix XenDesktop works to remove the bottlenecks to desktop virtualization and reduce infrastructure, operations and deployment costs.

Join us and you will learn how to:

  • Optimize large, enterprise-grade desktop virtualization deployments
  • Implement Cisco Validated Designs (CVDs) to design a reliable and predictable storage infrastructure
  • Validate performance for a cost-effective, flexible and scalable reference architecture

This event will also take place at 10 am PT/ 1 pm ET. To register for the 2nd session, please click here.


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CVD: FlexPod Reference Architecture for a 2000 Seat Virtual Desktop Infrastructure with Citrix XenDesktop 7.1 on VMware vSphere 5.1: Architecture

This CVD provides a 2000-Seat Virtual Desktop Infrastructure using Citrix XenDesktop 7.1 built on Cisco UCS B200-M3 blades with NetApp FAS 3200-series and the VMware vSphere ESXi 5.1 hypervisor platform.

The architecture deployed is highly modular. While each customer’s environment might vary in its exact configuration, once the reference architecture contained in this document is built, it can easily be scaled as requirements and demands change. This includes scaling both up (adding additional resources within a UCS Domain) and out (adding additional UCS Domains and NetApp FAS Storage arrays).

The 2000-user XenDesktop 7 solution includes Cisco networking, Cisco UCS and NetApp FAS storage, which fits into a single data center rack, including the access layer network switches.

cvd rack

The workload contains the following hardware:

  • Two Cisco Nexus 5548UP Layer 2 Access Switches
  • Two Cisco UCS 6248UP Series Fabric Interconnects
  • Two Cisco UCS 5108 Blade Server Chassis with two 2204XP IO Modules per chassis
  • Four Cisco UCS B200 M3 Blade servers with Intel E5-2680v2 processors, 384GB RAM, and VIC1240 mezzanine cards for the 550 hosted Windows 7 virtual desktop workloads with N+1 server fault tolerance.
  • Eight Cisco UCS B200 M3 Blade servers with Intel E5-2680v2 processors, 256 GB RAM, and VIC1240 mezzanine cards for the 1450 hosted shared Windows Server 2012 server desktop workloads with N+1 server fault tolerance.
  • Two Cisco UCS B200 M3 Blade servers with Intel E5-2650 processors, 128 GB RAM, and VIC1240 mezzanine cards for the infrastructure virtualized workloads
  • Two node NetApp FAS 3240 dual controller storage system running Data ONTAP cluster mode, 4 disk shelves, converged and 10GE ports for FCoE and NFS/CIFS connectivity respectively.
  • (Not Shown) One Cisco UCS 5108 Blade Server Chassis with 3 UCS B200 M3 Blade servers with Intel E5-2650 processors, 128 GB RAM, and VIC1240 mezzanine cards for the Login VSI launcher infrastructure

Our design goal is a high availability, high performance and high efficiency end to end solution. Now I will explain how we achieve this goal on server, network and storage.


The logical architecture of the validated is designed to support 2000 users within two chassis and fourteen blades, which provides physical redundancy for the chassis and blade servers for each workload.

In vCenter, we created 3 resource pool and followed N+1 high availability to achieve our end to end server, network and storage resilient goal.

  • 2 UCS servers for infrastructure VMs
  • 6 for 550 hosted VDI VMs
  • 8 for 64 hosted shared VMs for 1450 users


We configured a fully redundant and highly-available network. Configuration guidelines are provided that refer to which redundant component is being configured with each step, whether that be A or B. For example Nexus A and Nexus B identify the pair of Cisco Nexus switches that are configured. The Cisco UCS Fabric Interconnects are configured similarly.

For best performance, We use 10 GbE and jumbo frame network between UCS and storage.

cvd network

5 VLANs are configured to ensure QOS on UCS and switches.

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This is the first Clustered Data ONTAP CVD.

With the release of NetApp clustered Data ONTAP (clustered ONTAP), NetApp was the first to market with enterprise-ready, unified scale-out storage. Developed from a solid foundation of proven Data ONTAP technology and innovation, clustered ONTAP is the basis for virtualized shared storage infrastructures that are architected for nondisruptive operations over the lifetime of the system. For details on how to configure clustered Data ONTAP with VMware® vSphere™, refer to TR-4068: VMware vSphere 5 on NetApp Data ONTAP 8.x Operating in Cluster-Mode.

All clustering technologies follow a common set of guiding principles. These principles include the following:

  • Nondisruptive operation. The key to efficiency and the basis of clustering is the ability to make sure that the cluster does not fail—ever.
  • Virtualized access is the managed entity. Direct interaction with the nodes that make up the cluster is in and of itself a violation of the term cluster. During the initial configuration of the cluster, direct node access is a necessity; however, steady-state operations are abstracted from the nodes as the user interacts with the cluster as a single entity.
  • Data mobility and container transparency. The end result of clustering—that is, the nondisruptive collection of independent nodes working together and presented as one holistic solution—is the ability of data to move freely within the boundaries of the cluster.
  • Delegated management and ubiquitous access. In large complex clusters, the ability to delegate or segment features and functions into containers that can be acted upon independently of the cluster means the workload can be isolated; it is important to note that the cluster architecture itself must not place these isolations. This should not be confused with security concerns around the content being accessed.

I will discuss the detail of storage architecture , solution best practice and test results on this solution in my future blogs.

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XenDesktop 7.1 with vSphere 5.1 on NetApp CVD is published

Finally after many late nights, we finished our CVD XenDesktop 7.1 with vSphere 5.1 on NetApp. I had great time working with the best engineers in Citrix and Cisco. I will start my series blog posts on this CVD shortly. Happy reading!

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