Key questions about storage for VDI

With storage at the heart of VDI user experience and so many factors to take into account, choosing the right storage platform for a VDI environment, with sufficient performance and capacity, can be a tricky task. The storage platform has to be able to meet I/O demand and at a reasonable cost. Putting the entire VDI environment on SSD will address performance needs, but at such an expense that it's impractical. Other techniques, such as storage tiering, can be used to help mitigate the performance problems without relying completely on SSD. In this guide, storage expert Chris Evans details the key considerations for choosing storage for VDI, including capacity planning, how SAN and NAS compare, persistent and non-persistent VDI, approaches to solving performance problems, and more.

Table of contents:

Impact of storage on the VDI user experience

Storage is central to user experience in a VDI environment. In physical desktop environments, the storage resides in the PC itself and can support a lot of IOPS; a demanding task on one computer will not impact performance on another computer. With VDI, because storage is centralized, performance problems can impact all users. Learn from storage expert Chris Evans how to appropriately size storage for a VDI environment, and what metrics should be used when planning.

How to determine VDI storage sizing requirements

Some people assume sizing storage for VDI is as simple as calculating the total capacity of all the desktops in an environment. However, because VDI uses shared images that are cloned and grow as each user changes his data, storage sizing is more complicated. Storage expert Chris Evans explains how to determine how much storage is needed in a given VDI environment.

VDI infrastructure and storage platform choices

Both SAN and NAS can act as acceptable storage platforms for a VDI environment. A SAN is high-performance and can scale well, while a NAS system delivers implicit thin provisioning and file-level cloning. One factor in a decision between the two will be whether the storage platform will be used for both OS data and user data. Storage expert Chris Evans explains the differences between SAN and NAS for VDI, and then discusses how Fibre Channel SANs and iSCSI SANs compare.

Persistent VDI vs. non-persistent VDI: How they affect storage resources

Persistent desktops are generally more convenient than non-persistent desktops for knowledge workers because they preserve custom settings every time a user logs on. Non-persistent desktops, meanwhile, may be well suited to task workers who do the bulk of their work in a single application. Because persistent desktops require more storage and backup resources, IT organizations with both types of users in a VDI environment might use a combination of persistent and non-persistent desktops. Find out from VDI expert Chris Evans the advantages and disadvantages of both from a storage perspective.

How to use flash cards, SSD, software options to solve VDI performance problems

In a VDI environment, user performance is most likely to suffer during instances of high I/O demand, such as login storms and boot storms. There are a number of ways to address the issue, such as through the use of flash cache or SSD and storage tiering.

Check out these links to learn more about storage for VDI

Why considering SSD for VDI is a good idea

How VDI capacity can be increased with single-instance storage

Pros and cons of direct-attached and shared storage for VDI

Considerations for several VDI storage systems options