Today was record-setting day for EMC’s desktop virtualization team.
EMC was able to boot up 1,000 virtual desktops in a record eight minutes with its EMC FAST Suite, which includes EMC FAST VP technology and EMC FAST Cache, according to Dorian Naveh, EMC’s Senior Director of Technology Alliances.
“We used flash drives, that’s what was unique,” Naveh told Wikibon’s Dave Vellante live inside theCube at Citrix Synergy 2011. “Two flash drives and we took the SAS drives down from 100 SAS drives to just 20.”
The feat is important because one factor holding back desktop virtualization is the difficulty in overcoming boot storms, or large numbers of users turning on their virtual desktops at the same time causing delays. “Typically that takes 10 to 30 to who knows how many minutes,” Naveh said.
Its all part of EMC’ effort to extend its virtualization prowess, heretofore focused on servers, to the desktop, Naveh said. EMC partners closely with Citrix Systems and its XenDesktop offering.
“I don’t know that EMC has necessarily been known for its desktop virtualization business,” Naveh said. “We’re really taking a hard look at that business and we’re seeing there is a tremendous amount of opportunity. And in order for us to play [in that space] we had to get much more serious.”
Naveh said cost-effectiveness is one of the keys to succeeding in the desktop virtualization market, which is why EMC thinks its ability to virtualize 1,000 desktops with as little as 20 SAS drives is an important step for the company. Flash also plays a critical role.
“It’s about tiering,” Naveh said. “Flash helps accelerate, helps do the things that dozens of other drives would actually do in a smaller form-factor.”
But 1,000 seat-deployments aren’t the norm. Naveh said EMC architects virtual desktop infrastructures for a number of small customers, with 30 to 50 end-users, as well as a growing number of deployments in the 500-seat range.
Naveh, whose organization reports directly to Prasad Rampalli, EMC’s Senior Vice President of Solutions Engineering, is deeply focused on EMC’s partnership with Citrix. There is a potential large opportunity with Citrix, as the company looks to shift millions of customers from XenApp licenses to XenDesktop licenses, Naveh said.
As for jumpstarting adoption of desktop virtualization, which Naveh agreed is far from mainstream, the key is helping customers understand it is just as much a driver of business value as it is a cost-cutting technology.