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More affordable, high-performing desktop virtualization: ProLiant DL380p Gen8 & Windows Server 2012

Author:  Kirk Manzer -  HP Technologist and Architect, Client Virtualization Engineering

 

In the not so distant past client virtualization was considered a solution best suited for large enterprises. However with improvements in virtualization software, the growing popularity of BYOD (bring your own device) plans, and lower overall costs per user, client virtualization has entered the mainstream small and medium-sized business (SMB) market. Many SMBs are looking at client virtualization as a way to meet the pressing demands for flexibility while retaining control of the computing IT infrastructure. They are excited about the increased security and efficiency, as well as the potential cost savings client virtualization can deliver.

 

The HP Client Virtualization (CV) SMB Reference Architecture (RA) for Windows Server 2012 makes it simple to deploy a high-performance virtual desktop solution without a high price tag. The HP CV SMB RA for Windows Server 2012 offers several key advantages:

 

  • Provides leading performance – Benchmark testing--detailed later in this blog--confirms that the HP CV SMB RA for Windows Server 2012 can support at least 175 virtual desktops per host server with excellent response time. In addition, customers can benefit from performance advancements with HP ProLiant Gen8 servers, ensuring that the solution can comfortably meet the needs of their organizations.
  • Makes deployment easy – It is easy to set up the HP CV SMB RA for Windows Server 2012 solution on the HP ProLiant DL380p Gen8 server and configure the desktop images, so virtual desktops can be quickly delivered to users. Because all of the software comes from Microsoft, there is no need to work with a third-party vendor, and licensing costs are kept to a minimum. Customers can start with the sample bill of materials included in the reference architecture, and then tailor the solution to meet their unique needs.
  • Includes everything needed – With the HP CV SMB RA for Windows Server 2012, there is no additional infrastructure to deploy─ no need for additional management servers, databases, or storage area networks (SANs), and no need for additional virtualization or management software. Everything needed is included in the solution.

Fully tested, ready to run

 

The HP CV SMB RA for Windows Server 2012 design is based on extensive scalability testing conducted by a team from Microsoft in Redmond, Washington. The final design was then re-tested to ensure that the reference architecture meets all Microsoft and HP performance requirements.

The initial scale tests and final reference architecture tests were performed using the Login VSI version 3.6 (V3.6) performance and scalability testing tool to generate desktop workloads and gather data. The tests used the standard “medium” user workload profile (equivalent to a knowledge worker), which consists of typical desktop activities such as using email; running office applications such as word processing, editing spreadsheets, and creating slideshows; and viewing high-definition (HD) video that is running on the host server. The test framework measured and reported the active (or logged-in) session response time for activities such as opening applications and user interface clicks, as well as CPU utilization, disk I/O latency, and queue length in pending I/O operations.

 

For more information, see Login VSI.

 

The purpose of the initial scalability tests was to examine the limits of the HP and Microsoft VDI solution, and then to identify the “sweet spot,” or maximum number of user logins meeting HP and Microsoft performance requirements as defined by a CPU utilization of less than 80 percent and login response time of less than 3 seconds. This number of user logins was then used to design final reference architecture.

 

Initial scalability test results

 

The team from Microsoft tested up to 250 simulated users on a single host. They then identified the number of user logins at the established limit of 80 percent CPU utilization and 3 second response time, and compared the results to find the “sweet spot” to use for the final reference architecture.

The scalability test results were very impressive. The Login VSI limit for the tests running Windows 7 target virtual machines was reached at 239 users and at 235 users for the tests running Windows 8. The following sections detail the results of the tests.

 

Results for tests with Windows 7 desktop virtual machine

 

The following graphs show the results of the tests that used target virtual machines running Windows 7.

Figure 1 shows the CPU utilization (or percent total run time) along with the number of user logins, over time. At the 80 percent CPU utilization limit, there were approximately 180 simulated users logged in to the system.

 

CPU Utilization.JPG

Figure 1. CPU utilization for tests with Windows 7 target virtual machines

 

Tests were also run that used target virtual machines running Windows 8. Similar to the Windows 7 tests, at the 80 percent CPU utilization limit, there were ~175 simulated users logged in to the system.

 

Together with Microsoft software and HP ProLiant DL380p Gen8 servers, the HP Client Virtualization SMB Reference Architecture for Windows Server 2012 delivers an impressive VDI user density per server along with the many benefits of a traditional enterprise VDI without its complexity and startup cost ─ a very practical VDI solution for small and medium-sized businesses.

 

For more information visit the HP Client Virtualization website and stay tuned for the technical whitepaper that will provide a sample bill of materials and more performance detail.

Comments
Herby Schenker(anon) | ‎02-07-2013 08:44 AM

Hi

I do not understand, why you are using SSD's for the Hyper-V VDI server.

Does this really have an impact of the performance and the density of the VDI's ?

 

Normally we use a ADDLE with 8 Disc in a RAID 5 and build a partition c: for the Hyper-V itself and the second partition for the VDI's.

 

In the report you say nothing about the GPU, What are your using here and what do you recommend (depending on the Workload type) ?

 

Thanks

Herby

phil.mclean | ‎03-06-2013 02:15 PM

Hi Herby - this paper is speaking about an older version of PVS which took advantage of the SSD’s and no longer does. The technology has also changed since we posted the original blog and that it’s not required for Citrix anymore – here’s a link to the latest RA’s - www.hp.com/go/cv - I hope this helps.

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