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Doggin’ It with VDI
My IT guys were at their wits end trying to manage the 1000 or so desktops, spread out over four different locations

Hey there; the IT Dog back with some color commentary on our VDI experience. When I first heard the name, I thought VDI was the latest model Volkswagen diesel, but as the guy with the suit explained in the last blog, VDI is Virtual Desktop Infrastructure.  Now that you know what VDI means, I am sure you know all there is to know about it, right?  Well, I wish it was that easy for me.

Where Do I Begin?
I guess I’ll start from the beginning.  At my company, my IT guys were at their wits end trying to manage the 1000 or so desktops, spread out over four different locations, with various flavors of Windows and who knows how many different versions of applications and other personal stuff.  I kept getting the ‘we need more staff to manage this mess’ line from them.  A lot of these problems had to do with acquisition and expanding business – which is all good.

Queue the VDI sales guy with the big Mercedes: “I’ve got just the thing to solve your problems: VDI”.  Let’s see…take control of the company computing assets all from the back room, what a great idea!  No more tech support phone calls, no more sending staff out to offices to get chewed out because some website they were on loaded some garbage on to their machine and now it runs slower than a weenie dog in a foot of snow.  All this ‘problem solving’ was going to cost a bundle however and I was the guy who had to sell management on it.  With my tail on the line, we bit the bone and put the system in.

I Wish My Problems Were “Virtual”
We were at the bleeding edge of the VDI wave so we expected some start up and implementation issues.  Our vendor helped us specify and design a system to meet the performance requirements and within the budget we had sold management on.  We installed racks of new servers, more spinning disks than at the Frisbee Dog World Championships, power, cooling, wires, wires and more wires.   We had it all going on.  I spent a month going around selling all the end users on this saying their lives were going to be better – no more sitting on hold, waiting for support, the latest and greatest applications, easy access anytime, anywhere with the potential to support any device in the future, yadda, yadda, yadda.  We went live a few months later and that is and began to observe performance.

“Houston, We Have A Problem”
It did not take long to find out about some of the potential issues facing VDI installations today.  The first problem we had to deal with had to do with simply getting all the users up and running every morning. I learned about the dreaded “boot storm.”  Of course I had no idea what a boot storm was until we started this project.  I thought it referred to something from Nazi Germany.  But there it is, we have a boot storm problem – when lots of users try to start up their machines at the same time, it puts a tremendous load on the VDI hardware and network and all users suffer from poor service and slow startups.  I have to admit – it happened to me also and as you know, being a dog, my life is too short to be waiting around for things like that.

It turns out we designed a system for a typical day in the office for our 1000+ users.  What we did not do was design the system for  that would be responsive for a “100 year” type of event like loading 400 user images at the same time.  Basically our system was 90% perfect but the last 10% was really causing problems for the company.  The feedback I was getting was pretty tough to take.  I felt like I just pooped on the carpet.

Getting to 100%
As you remember from your Econ 101 class, there is a bell curve distribution for just about everything and IT system usage fits that model pretty well.  I went back to our vendor to discuss what it would take to get that last 10% of performance to manage the “100 year boot storm event” (really it was every day) and it turns out this is a very common problem with VDI. You see, the main challenge is that if you build your VDI for the average 'steady state' IOPS usage (the 90% system), you can do it cost-effectively but then performance is inadequate during the usage storms. It turns out the problem is the 90% system is limited in the number of IO operations per second (IOPS) it can handle.  One solution to the IOPS problem is to scale up by adding more disks to size IOPS for the peak usage.  The problem with that is then your system becomes 2x the total price of all the 1,000 PC and, all that extra IOPS you just bought sits idle most of the time and the capacity is unused.  Since I put my tail on the line for this system, my bosses promptly cut it off and I was on the hook to fix this problem with limited resources.

Stop the Spinning
We needed to get creative to solve the IOPS problem.  The solution we came up with was to buy a limited quantity of SSDs and use SSD caching software to reduce the IOPS workload on the spinning disks.  This made sense since things like the PC image which needed to be accessed by all users when they start their system can easily be stored in SSD cache and accessing that from SSD will increase IOPS without adding more spinning disks.  Once the boot storm passed every morning, the SSD caching software would recognize that and start caching other heavily accessed data automatically so system performance would be improved all day.  We solved our immediate problem and were able to focus on other VDI related management issues.


Tell me about your experience rolling out VDI.

Read the original blog entry...

About Peter Velikin
Peter Velikin has 12 years of experience creating new markets and commercializing products in multiple high tech industries. Prior to VeloBit, he was VP Marketing at Zmags, a SaaS-based digital content platform for e-commerce and mobile devices, where he managed all aspects of marketing, product management, and business development. Prior to that, Peter was Director of Product and Market Strategy at PTC, responsible for PTC’s publishing, content management, and services solutions. Prior to PTC, Peter was at EMC Corporation, where he held roles in product management, business development, and engineering program management.

Peter has an MS in Electrical Engineering from Boston University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

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Cloud Expo - Cloud Looms Large on SYS-CON.TV


Cloud Expo 2013 East Opening Keynote by IBM
In this Cloud Expo Keynote, Danny Sabbah, CTO & General Manager, Next Generation Platform, will detail the critical architectural considerations and success factors organizations must internalize to successfully implement, optimize and innovate using next generation architectures.
Lisa Larson, Vice President of Enterprise Cloud Solutions of Rackspace Hosting Live From New York City
In the old world of IT, if you didn't have hardware capacity or the budget to buy more, your project was dead in the water. Budget constraints can leave some of the best, most creative and most ingenious innovations on the cutting room floor. It's a true dilemma for developers and innovators – why spend the time creating, when a project could be abandoned in a blink? That was the old world. In the new world of IT, developers rule. They have access to resources they can spin up instantly. A hybrid cloud ignites innovation and empowers developers to focus on what they need. A hybrid cloud blends the best of all worlds, public cloud, private cloud and dedicated servers to fit the needs of developers and offer the ideal environment for each app and workload without the constraints of a one-size-fits-all cloud.

Keynote: Driving Cloud Innovation: SSDs Change Cloud Storage Paradigm
Cloud is a transformational shift in computing that can have a powerful effect on enterprise IT when designed correctly and used to its full potential. Join Citrix in a discussion that centers on building, connecting and empowering users with cloud services and hear examples of how enterprises are solving real-world business challenges with an architecture and solution purpose-built for the cloud.

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Many organizations want to expand upon the IaaS foundation to deliver cloud services in all forms—software, mobility, infrastructure and IT. Understanding the strategy, planning process and tools for this transformation will help catalyze changes in the way the business operates and deliver real value. Join us to learn about the new ITaaS model and how to begin the transformation.


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New York City Expo Floor Plan Revealed
Cloud Expo New York
[June 11-14, 2012]

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Introducing Big Data Expo
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There is little doubt that Big Data solutions will have an increasing role in the Enterprise IT mainstream over time. Get a jump on that rapidly evolving trend at Big Data Expo, which we are introducing in June at
Cloud Expo New York.

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Testimonials
Cloud Expo was a fantastic event for CSS Corp - we easily exceeded our objectives for engaging with clients and prospects."
AHMAR ABBAS
SVP, Global Infrastructure Management, CSS Corp.
 
With our launch at Cloud Expo, we successfully transformed the company from a relatively unknown European player into the dominant player in the market. Our competitors were taken by surprise and just blown away. We got a huge number of really high quality leads..."
PETE MALCOLM
CEO, Abiquo
 
We were extremely pleased with Cloud Expo this year - I’d say it exceeded expectations all around. This is the same info we got from partners who attended as well. Nice job!"
MARY BASS
Director of Marketing, UnivaUD
 
Cloud Expo helps focus the debate on the critical issues at hand in effect connecting main street with the next frontier."

GREG O’CONNOR
President & CEO, Appzero


Who Should Attend?
Senior Technologists including CIOs, CTOs, VPs of technology, IT directors and managers, network and storage managers, network engineers, enterprise architects, communications and networking specialists, directors of infrastructure Business Executives including CEOs, CMOs, CIOs, presidents, VPs, directors, business development; product and purchasing managers.


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To get involved, email Marilyn Moux at marilyn@sys-con.com.

@CloudExpo Blogs
The causality question behind Conway’s Law is less about how changing software organizations can lead to better software, but rather how companies can best leverage changing technology in order to transform their organizations. Hints at how to answer this question surprisingly come from the world of devops – surprising because the focus of devops is ostensibly on building and deploying better software more quickly. Be that as it may, there’s no question that technology change is a primary facilitator and driving force for the devops cultural and organizational shifts.
This week we're attending SYS-CON Event's DevOps Summit in New York City. It's a great conference and energy behind DevOps is enormous. Thousands of attendees from every company you can imagine are focused on automation, the challenges of DevOps, and how to bring greater agility to software delivery. But, even with the energy behind DevOps there's something missing from the movement. For all the talk of deployment automation, continuous integration, and cloud infrastructure I'm still not seeing an adequate roadmap for how DevOps aligns with the larger organization. DevOps is about deliver...
As virtualized and cloud systems are so prevalent and integral to data storage, the need to migrate data from a legacy storage system to a virtual or cloud-based one is inevitable. But, here’s the rub: migrating data is a lot harder than you might think, despite all the marketing noise about smooth transitions, ease-of-use, and turnkey solutions. While the term ‘cloud’ means many things to many people, I believe it refers to a large-scale virtualized data center that has numerous clusters of VMware or other hypervisor host servers connected to a SAN storage farm with petabytes of data.
Caesars Entertainment Corp. is transforming supplier discovery and improving supplier diversity through collaboration across cloud-based services and open business networks. The next BriefingsDirect business trends interview focuses on Caesars Entertainment Corp. and how they're transforming supplier discovery and improving their supplier diversity through collaboration across cloud-based services and open business networks. Learn from Caesars' best practices on how they expand diversity across their supply chain and how that’s been accomplished using Ariba Discovery. We’ll hear first-hand ...
Video Blog: DevOps and Hybrid Cloud - A Solution Overview. Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Microservices focuses on the business and technology of the software architecture design pattern, in which complex applications are composed of small, independent processes communicating with each other using language-agnostic APIs. Containers are not being considered for the first time by the cloud community, but a current era of re-consideration has pushed them to the top of the cloud agenda.
A panel of experts examines how The Open Group Trusted Technology Forum standards and accreditation activities enhance the security of global supply chains and improve the integrity of openly available IT products and components.
For some, SDN was about operational efficiency; about driving more stability and consistency out of the processes that push applications through the app deployment pipeline into production. For others, it was really about financial efficiency - the drive to lower capital expenditures. And for yet others it was about efficient use of time - speed - in getting apps to market faster. All had at their root this common theme - efficiency. IT and indeed businesses today are experiencing rapid and sometimes unexpected growth driven by demand for mobile applications and the introduction of things int...
Containers have changed the mind of IT in DevOps. They enable developers to work with dev, test, stage and production environments identically. Containers provide the right abstraction for microservices and many cloud platforms have integrated them into deployment pipelines. DevOps and Containers together help companies to achieve their business goals faster and more effectively. In his session at DevOps Summit, Ruslan Synytsky, CEO and Co-founder of Jelastic, reviewed the current landscape of DevOps with containers. In addition, he will discuss known issues and solutions for enterprise appl...
The last decade was about virtual machines, but the next one is about containers. Containers enable a service to run on any host at any time. Traditional tools are starting to show cracks because they were not designed for this level of application portability. Now is the time to look at new ways to deploy and manage applications at scale. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Jake Moshenko, Product Manager at CoreOS, examined how CoreOS + Quay.io fit into the development lifecycle from pushing git changes all the way through to running in production. Attendees will understand how different comp...
The combined impact of the consumerization of technology, cloud, mobile and the Internet of Things (IoT) is ushering in a new era of information management that will change the face of ECM (Enterprise Content Management) as we know it. Cloud, mobile and IoT together have accelerated a mighty upheaval in the technology landscape as more content enters the enterprise than ever before – leaving enterprises struggling to manage it effectively. The modern ECM platform is required to scan, store data, manage work flow, business process and compliance. Mobile, Analytics, Cloud and Collaborative (MA...
I just read a new booklet from O’Reilly called The Software Paradox by Stephen O’Grady. You can access it here. Here is a direct quote: “This is the Software Paradox: the most powerful disruptor we have ever seen and the creator of multibillion-dollar net new markets is being commercially devalued, daily. Just as the technology industry was firmly convinced in 1981 that the money was in hardware, not software, the industry today is largely built on the assumption that the real revenue is in software. The evidence, however, suggests that software is less valuable—in the commercial sense—than ...
There's a lot of things we do to improve the performance of web and mobile applications. We use caching. We use compression. We offload security (SSL and TLS) to a proxy with greater compute capacity. We apply image optimization and minification to content. We do all that because performance is king. Failure to perform can be, for many businesses, equivalent to an outage with increased abandonment rates and angry customers taking to the Internet to express their extreme displeasure.
Everyone wants to optimize their team’s performance, but coming up with a good plan for doing so isn’t always easy. That’s why operationally mature DevOps teams use metrics to gain valuable insight into their work, enhance the their capacity, and drive cultural change. Good data allows managers to make quick decisions with confidence and minimal risk, and it lets them see the actual (not perceived) outcome of those decisions, which can help them shape their direction going forward and make for a happier, healthier, and more productive team dynamic. But a shift to data-driven ideas requires ...
"A lot of IoT projects in a lot of enterprises have been treated like skunkworks for a while, and we have finally started to cross that threshold where they are considered to be a critical part of an enterprise's strategy," noted Brendan O'Brien, Chief Evangelist and Co-founder at Aria Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
In this final blog on the DevOps CALMS model, we end on S for Sharing. Now I have to be honest, the first time I saw the CALMS model I initially questioned whether ‘Sharing' was really needed. I mean, surely with the right ‘Culture', then this would ensure sharing anyway? Even in my blog on culture I mentioned the need to shift from organizational silos to a collaborative model - which must include sharing, right? Well yes it does, but sharing (or collaboration) is really the core value of DevOps adoption. Without sharing, you can forget about having the right culture, your employees acceptin...
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Past SYS-CON Events
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Cloud Expo 2011 Allstar Conference Faculty

S.F.S.
Dell

Singer
NRO

Pereyra
Oracle

Ryan
OpSource

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PwC

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Oracle

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AWS

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AWS

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Oracle

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RightScale

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NYT

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Oracle

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