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Dangers of VDI Defaults: Top Ten Mistakes

Top ten mistakes to avoid with virtual desktops

Default configurations are great in that they make the setup and configuration easy. Unfortunately, they don't work for all environments. In fact, if you simply use the defaults for an entire virtual desktop deployment, you will miss out on tons of optimizations to allow your environment to scale. Simply following the defaults is the second most common mistake people make when implementing XenDesktop.

The other 8 discussed so far are:

10.  Not calculating user bandwidth requirements

9.    Not considering the user profile

8.   Lack of Application Virtualization Strategy

7.  Improper Resource Allocation

6.  Protection from Anti-Virus

5. Managing the incoming storm

4. Not Optimizing the Desktop Image

3. Not using your Cache Wisely

Let's look at the XenDesktop 4 controllers. At a high level, the XenDesktop controller is responsible for:

  • Authenticating users against Active Directory
  • Enumerating available resources
  • Creating registrations for newly started virtual desktops
  • Maintaining an active heartbeat with online virtual desktops

When XenDesktop 4 is installed, many architects fail to optimize the controller and simply install with default configurations (farm master, XML broker, Web Interface). This configuration is perfectly reasonable. XenDesktop can function with a single controller. However, during boot and logon storms, where hundreds or thousands of users connect to the environment in a short amount of time, the controller can become a bottleneck.

The controller bottleneck can result in long logon times or even denied service. By separating controller functionality across multiple servers, the overall XenDesktop farm can support more virtual desktops and respond faster.

First, all XenDesktop implementations should have redundant controllers to provide fault tolerance. For environments that are expected to scale into the thousands of hosted VM-based VDI desktops, it is often recommended to separate the controller functionality across a minimum of five servers all of which can be virtualized. The role designation across the five servers would be as follows (Note: this is a XenDesktop 4 recommendation):

Parameter Description
Master Controller The master controller is in charge of the overall XenDesktop farm operations. It also maintains the correct number of idle desktops within the workstation groups by communicating with the virtualization layer (XenServer, Hyper-V or ESX).

 

If the Master fails, a secondary, dedicate server can be used. If one is not defined, one of the XML brokers will be used.

XML Controller (x2) The XML controllers are responsible for registering virtual desktops, authentication and enumerating users.
Web Interface (x2) The Web Interface servers provide the end user interface for authentication and desktop access.

By separating out the controller roles into three roles across five virtual servers, a XenDesktop farm is able to host 5,000+ hosted VM-based VDI desktops. Of course the maximum number for any implementation is based on numerous factors like logon rates, acceptable logon time, and hardware. What if you are creating a farm that is less than 5,000 desktops but more than 2,000 and you are looking at reducing the numbers of servers? The best option would be to combine the XML Controllers and Web Interface servers.

But in the end, the point to remember is that you need to optimize your environment and done just rely on the defaults.

More Stories By Daniel Feller

Daniel Feller, Lead Architect of Worldwide Consulting Solutions for Citrix, is responsible for providing enterprise-level architectures and recommendations for those interested in desktop virtualization and VDI. He is charged with helping organizations architect the next-generation desktop, including all flavors of desktop virtualization (hosted shared desktops, hosted VM-based desktops, hosted Blade PC desktops, local streamed desktops, and local VM-based desktops). Many of the desktop virtualization architecture decisions also focuses on client hypervisors, and application virtualization.

In his role, Daniel has provided insights and recommendations to many of the world’s largest organizations across the world.

In addition to private, customer-related work, Daniel’s public initiatives includes the creation of best practices, design recommendations, reference architectures and training initiatives focused on the core desktop virtualization concepts. Being the person behind the scenes, you can reach/follow Daniel via Twitter and on the Virtualize My Desktop site.

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