Paper: Citrix-Cisco-NetApp Validated Design Guides

In September Citrix announced a partnership with Cisco in order to deliver XenDesktop on Unified Computing System (UCS), powered by NetApp storage.

The key promise of the partnership was that Citrix, Cisco and NetApp would jointly validate the infrastructure, by providing a reference architecture and a Starter Kit and Expansion Kit to deliver solutions from entry-level 300 virtual desktop environments scaling to several thousands of desktops. The solution also would provide an choice of back-end hypervisor, initially scoped to Citrix XenServer and VMware ESX.

This week Citrix, Cisco en NetApp delivered their promise by releasing Validated Design Guides on the Cisco website.

The Validated Design Guides contain the following documents:


"…The Cisco UCS B250 M2 Extended Memory Blade Servers offer an optimal memory configuration that allows virtual desktop hosting servers to use the full CPU capabilities of the servers. The 192 GB of memory allowed a high density of desktop sessions per Cisco UCS B250 M2 Extended Memory Blade Servers while offering 1.5 GB of memory to be allocated per desktop-based virtual machine. We were able to scale to 110 windows 7 desktops while running knowledge worker load…"


"…Scale testing findings: 110 Windows 7 1.5 GB desktops running knowledge worker load.

● With the large memory blade we are seeing the best performance for the price.

● Linear scalability when we went from 1 server to 8 servers to 16 servers, the results were that with 1 server we had 110 desktops running with 16 we got 1760 desktop with the same response time.

● Pure Virtualization: The validated environment consisted of only virtual machines hosted by VMware vSphere. All the virtual desktop and supporting infrastructure components including Active Directory, Citrix Provisioning Server, and the XenDesktop Desktop Delivery Controllers were hosted on VMware vSphere.

● Rapid provisioning with Cisco UCS Manager makes it easy for scaling from 1 chassis to 2 and so on.

● The 10G unified fabric story gets a stronger validation as we see tremendous performance with respect to user response times during the load test.

● The low latency Cisco Virtual Interface (VIC) cards make the configuration more robust in terms of extra vNICs and contribute positively towards the response time equation.

● With proper backend storage scaling we can scale out UCS domain from 4 chassis and beyond without making any changes to the proposed Reference Architecture.

● FlexCast Validated: The Citrix FlexCast models Hosted VDI and Hosted Shared running on UCS blades and NetApp storage were successfully validated.

● Memory Extends Density: With 192GB of RAM, the B250 M2 blades offer an optimal memory configuration for desktop virtualization that allow the hosting infrastructure the ability to fully utilize the CPU capabilities of the servers without restricting the of amount memory allocated to the desktops.

● Storage Simplicity for Desktop Virtualization: NetApp’s ability to aggregate multiple storage volumes greatly simplifies the storage needs for desktop virtualization…"