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back to article Nimble, Cisco gang up to hammer out VDI ref template

Hybrid flash/disk array startup Nimble Storage has effectively joined Cisco's server partner channel with a VDI reference architecture promising low-cost VDI serving off its arrays. The architecture supports 1,000 VDI users, takes up a trivial 3U of rack space, and costs $43,000 – $43 per desktop. That contrasts with a Tintri …

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3U my arse...

The B series blades take up 8U on their own. Then there are the two external switches and the storage.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 3U my arse...

Geoff

I think it is 3u for the storage.

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Stop

Re: 3U my arse...

The article says that the *architecture* requires 3U. Of course, it also says that the architecture costs just $43,000 for a blade chassis, six blades, and the Nimble storage device, which seems unbelievably cheap. I'm forced to believe that the $43,000 is just for the storage device, and that the cost of the entire reference architecture would be somewhat more than that, making it far from an apples-to-apples comparison with Tintri.

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Attractive acquisition target?

Nimble has a very cool scale up/scale out product. They might not be on the same level as the 3PARs and DS8000s of the world, but with some serious R&D cash behind them who knows how high they can get their design to scale out.

Cisco has a gaping hole in their storage portfolio that they've been filling with "validated designs" from EMC and NetApp, both of which are probably out of reach in terms of cost. Could be interesting to see how this relationship develops.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Attractive acquisition target?

Nimble is a pretty weak RAID 5/6 iSCSI array overcome, like every weak hardware provider does, with a bunch of Flash. I agree, however, that Cisco could buy these guys.

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need more disclosure

these VDI cost numbers are nonsense. VMware needs to come out and set a standard as to reporting them. No way I believe you can buy vmware licenses, windows licenses, storage, servers networking etc for that amount of $.

Not only that but this disclosure should show utilization(both server + storage), have a real workload, everything should be measured using the same method. One vendor says they can provision X number of desktops in X time, another says they can run X desktops, the costs are totally out of whack, what's the point?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: need more disclosure

their pr says its 43$ per user for the storage. maybe chris mellor can clarify.

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What does it really cost for the ref architecture?

The article is extremely vague - lots of flashy kit listed but only part of it costed,

Also suspicious of that lot running 1000 users in a way that will prevent endless 'my machine is slow' calls to the helpdesk. Classic assumption that users only running a basic CRM package, and never ever watch youtube while having 25 spreadsheets open.

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Clarifying Confusion on Nimble VDI Solution

It seems our (Nimble Storage) announcement about 1,000 desktops in 3u has caused some confusion. As one of the Nimble storage team involved in this project, let me try to help clear this up a bit.

The 3u footprint is for the storage component only. Nimble Storage appliances are all 3u in size based on a combination of traditional spinning HDD and flash SSD. You can find more information here:

http://info.nimblestorage.com/wp_engineered-for-efficiency.html

The observation that the $43 per desktop is for the Nimble Storage component only is correct.

For this solution, we combined the Nimble Storage CS220G-X2 with a single Cisco UCS blade chassis (another 8u) with 8 nicely configured B-series blades supporting the virtualization infrastructure and the desktop environments. Add to this a pair of Fabric Interconnect switches (another 3u if you add in some cable management space). The total rack footprint was 14u.

The testing and success criteria were based on the VMware View Planner tool (similar to RAWC in many ways). This test bench performs a number of actual desktop operations (opening, closing, updates, etc.) on all desktops over a test period. This includes MS Office (Word, Excel, Power Point), Outlook, IE, Firefox, Adobe Reader, and 7-Zip applications. There is some Windows Media Player testing too but the majority of the testing focuses on the activity that might get directed to the local disk as part of the infrastructure workload. Internet browsing (e.g., YouTube) and media streaming (video and audio) are not included in this type of VDI workload testing. The responsiveness and latency numbers observed were well within acceptable limits specified by VMware and Cisco.

More information on VMware View Planner can be found in the View Planner Community here:

http://communities.vmware.com/community/vmtn/servicessoftware/view_planner

Detailed test results will be published shortly – including performance measurements from both the storage side and the server/hypervisor side (esxtop).

I hope this helps clear up some of the confusion about the solution …

Mike @ Nimble

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Just read the above story “Nimble, Cisco gang up to hammer out VDI ref template”. If everyone is invited, I think it’s only fair to mention that the Nimble party is not a cheap or particularly easy one to attend. The first rule for any business that picks the VDI route is to always start small, and then grow their virtual desktops. But the only way to cost justify a Nimble solution is to start at a minimum of 1,000 desktops this is way too high for a typical desktop deployment.

Secondly, it’s important to realise that not all VDI deployments are the same. What about floating desktops, dedicated desktops, Win XP, Win 7 32 bit, Win 8, normal users, power users etc. Launching one single solution that tries to fit all use cases is not going to work, it’s too rigid. VDI deployments can be complicated. But introducing a storage appliance is not the answer, it’s just adding another layer of complexity. It’s far easier to install a VDI software solution on to Cisco hardware to manage both the compute and the storage, that way customers do not have to learn how to use another hardware appliance.

If you make sure that this software solution also supports VMware View, has built in automation between the virtual storage appliance, and VMware vCenter and View composer - it greatly simplifies deployment, management and maintenance of VDI and Storage. Finally, users entering the VDI space want to leverage their existing investments. Nexenta VSA for View can complement an existing external storage appliance by off loading the IOPS from the VDI workload with a local virtual storage appliance on the compute node.

You’re right the number of storage vendors at the VDI party is definitely increasing, but is it the right party to be at? Users should consider a software-defined storage solution as another option.

To see Nexenta’s work with Cisco, See: http://blog.nexenta.com/blog/bid/231585/Nexenta-Cisco-and-VMware-View-Achieve-Rapid-Desktop-Certification

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