Citrix Ready Setup for XenDesktop on Datrium DVX
This document covers the setup and use of Citrix XenDesktop 7.8 on Datrium DVX 2.0. It will cover the steps necessary to set up a basic environment and conduct the appropriate testing that was performed for the Citrix Ready validation (see https://citrixready.citrix.com/category-results.html?search=datrium). The setup is covered in the sections below. It is assumed that the reader is familiar with basic Citrix XenDesktop administration, has a familiarity with the Datrium DVX solution and is also familiar with the Login VSI testing tool.
Setup DVX Hosts
Install and configure each host that will support the virtual desktop VMs and related infrastructure for the Citrix XenDesktop deployment. For example; master images, Desktop Controller, Store Front, etc. NOTE: you can also include your other non-desktop VMs on the Datrium DVX solution as well. Adding hosts is easily done through the DVX vCenter plugin and the result is a single shared Datastore presented to the configured vSphere hosts. While this may appear as a network storage resource (NFS), in reality, the hosts are interacting with the DVX Datastore target through local flash drives configure on each host to the DVX host software.
The primary task is to add hosts with SSD to vCenter. In the vCenter environment where the ESXi hosts have been selected for deploying the Datrium DVX solution, add each of the desired hosts to the DVX configuration. Details on host specifications can be found here.
This is done in a few simple steps. You can add one host at a time or several at once.
You configure hosts through DVX UI by navigating to the DVX vCenter plugin as shown below:
From the DVX UI you navigate to the Administration view (gear icon) to Configure Hosts:
The next few windows guide you through selecting available hosts and SSD configuration on those hosts. The result is the installation of the Datrium DVX VIB (vSphere Installation Bundle) and conversion of local SSD flash into cache for the DVX datastore which gets mounted to the host.
The process will look something like this (NOTE: host name and SSD identity will be unique to each host):
Once the DVX software has been deployed and the host configured, it will have a DVX Datastore presented which is the primary storage location for all virtual machine and infrastructure data.
In the figure above, is a DVX Hosts view available through the plugin under the Monitor tab showing the final configuration of SSD for use by DVX. The inset figure shows the hosts connected to the DVX Datastore – including the current one (e.g., colo-ucs-esx01).
We can also see that the host is configured into “Insane” mode in this view. This means that the DVX software will use more host CPU if available to service IO requests for higher performance and lower latencies. NOTE: the default “Fast” mode will use up to 20% of available CPU resources while “Insane” mode may use up to 40% of available CPU resources. Either setting should work fine for virtual desktop IO SLAs.
Install VAAI VIB
Install the additional Datrium provided VAAI (vStorage API for Array Integration) VIB on each ESX host involved in the desktop VM provisioning process. This software facilitates storage cloning offload to the DVX for space and performance efficiency. While this is not required, it is highly recommended for MCS based provisioning methods.
The VAAI VIB can be installed directly from the attached DVX Data Node with basic ESX commands as follows (substituting your sites DVX FQDN or IP address for <DVX-Data-Node-name>):
NOTE: The host will need to be rebooted for the VAAI software integration to take effect.
XenDesktop Storage Resource
Setting up the Citrix XenDesktop storage resources for a Datrium DVX environment is very simple. You simple choose the shared DVX Datastore that is presented from the configuration installation. You can use the same target storage resource for both virtual machines and Personal vDisks. The performance and capacity advantages of the DVX Datastore will apply to all types of data within the virtualized infrastructure and desktop VMs.
When adding the XenDesktop Host resources, you will see choices in Citrix Studio similar to these below. If you need to make changes later you can adjust the configuration but the simplicity of using a single storage resource is another administration simplification you find with Datrium DVX.
During Host configuration:
As a result, both Standard Storage and PvD Storage are deployed to the DVX Datastore:
MCS on DVX Datastore
For this particular setup, we chose to use the MCS (Machine Creation Services) method of desktop virtual machine deployment. As you can see in the figure below, several different Machine Catalogs have been created for different testing and scenarios within our Citrix XenDesktop environment. For the Citrix Ready setup, we built a Machine Catalog of 200 desktops (e.g., win10-vsi). In this view, you can see the basic VM configuration as well.
The Machine Group is tied to the appropriate Delivery Group (e.g., win10-vsi) for deployment and management.
For this testing, we are using the industry standard Login VSI tool set to exercise the 200 desktops running the Benchmark Mode test for Knowledge Worker. From the Management Console screenshot below, you can see some of the test particulars as well as the successful launch, login (active) and logoff of the users.
The Login VSI tool produces a set of log files that can be analyzed with Login VSI Analyzer for overall test performance and behavior. A screenshot of the Summary screen is shown below with and baseline performance of “Very Good” and the VSImax level was not reached.
The Login VSI Analyzer also produces a plot of performance over the period of the test as each user session entered the workflow. The results below show a very stable performance response throughout the testing period.
In addition to the Login VSI reports, we gathered a couple of other related views from the environment. Below is a DVX performance graph over the test period showing the rise in storage operations as users are added. This view is from the Historical data collected on the DVX system. We can see that average latency (both read and write) are low and consistent over the course of the test. Hit rate stayed at 100% indicating that the desktop reads were being serviced from local host flash as desired.
We also charted the CPU performance of one of the hosts during the test to ensure we are not hitting other resource boundaries in the environment. The graph below shows that aggregate CPU stayed below 80% throughout almost the entire period. This includes the processing for the desktop VMs are well as the DVX host based hyperdriver software which supports the storage IO on each host.
The conclusion from running the Citrix Ready testing shows the Datrium DVX solution provides a simple to setup, easy to manage and high performance solution for Citrix XenDesktop solutions with MCS.
The 200 desktop level used for this test is a small set compared to the maximum level of 1500 desktop VMs that can be supported on a single DVX Data Node. The small set of 3-4 desktop hosts is also only a fraction of the up to 32 hosts that can be connected to a single DVX Data Node to support larger environments.
Although it as not directly a part of this test, we also explored other aspects such as boot and login storms and found that they scaled linearly as we added more hosts with more desktops. Look for more information on other aspects of VDI solutions on Datrium DVX in the near future.
The results observed with this exercise are primarily a result of leveraging the local flash resources as defined by the DVX architecture:
About the Author
Mike McLaughlin is the Technical Marketing Director on the Solutions and Alliances Team at Datrium, Inc. In this role, Mike focuses on design, build and test of solutions on the Datrium DVX Rackscale platform. Mike has been involved with direct hands-on activity with this type of new technology integration support for over 10 years at a variety of companies including Data Domain, EMC, and Nimble Storage and over 25 years in tech industry. Working closely with partners like VMware and Citrix and focusing on design and validation of several solutions for server and desktop virtualization.