This content is part of the Essential Guide: Decisions, decisions: VDI storage considerations and choices

Are data reduction techniques essential in VDI environments?

Data reduction techniques can help shrink your storage footprint and costs. Here are some guidelines for incorporating these approaches into your VDI environment.

It's hard to justify the expense of the enterprise data storage a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) requires when the cost of the local storage used by traditional desktops is so much less. A business might make the case that enterprise storage provides a level of security, reliability and manageability that local storage can't match, but to some decision makers these factors aren't enough.

VDI storage costs can be dramatically reduced -- and become cost-competitive with local storage -- via data reduction techniques such as deduplication and compression. The workload and data consumed by a user's desktop environment make VDI an ideal candidate for deduplication and compression. There are two common deduplication techniques used with VDI:

  • Traditional array-based deduplication can dramatically reduce storage requirements.
  • Golden (master) image deduplication creates a single parent image of the operating system and applications that users may need. The image is then used by multiple virtual desktops, with only the changes made to the golden image tracked. A golden image can reduce storage space from 50% to 90%, depending on the environment.

Data compression is another technique that can minimize VDI storage costs. Much of the data (documents and videos, for example) acquired by users after the instantiation of their desktops can be quickly and easily compressed and decompressed to a fraction of its original size by today's powerful arrays.

Which VDI data reduction technique you should choose depends on whether your array supports deduplication and compression. In the case of master image deduplication, it depends on whether the VDI offering supports this technology and how involved it is to implement. The main risk involved in not using a data reduction technique is an increase in storage costs, perhaps to the point of scuttling a VDI implementation.

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