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

How can I simplify storage allocation for virtual desktops?

Find out the easiest methods of allocating storage for a virtual desktop infrastructure.

Storage allocation for virtual desktop infrastructures can fall into two categories: The desktop, which consists of the operating system and applications, and user data. Since both of these areas have unique properties, you should address their storage allocation needs separately.

One of the easiest ways to allocate storage for the desktop is to use a master or golden image to create linked clones. Most modern virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) brokers can do this. For example, VMware Horizon View has View Composer, while Citrix XenDesktop has Machine Creation Services (MCS) to create linked clones. Linked clones allow much of the storage allocation to be offloaded to the VDI broker. Each desktop does not need to have a virtual disk created for it; the master image is already provisioned and loaded with common applications, and any changes to it are saved for each user on a separate delta disk (which is created by the broker automatically). Not only does this make allocating storage easier, it can reduce storage space by 50% to 90%.

One of the easiest ways to allocate storage for the desktop is to use a master or golden image to create linked clones.

Another storage allocation tip has to do with where data is stored. Although the C drive can store user data, it can be simpler to store this data by creating a separate virtual D drive. This methodology allows for more flexibility when updating systems, and backing up and restoring user data. Again, most VDI brokers have mechanisms in place within their linked clone technology to ease the provisioning of a user's data disk.

Some VDI administrators also find it easier to use Windows roaming profiles to store user data. A major advantage of roaming profiles is that they allow non-persistent desktops to be used. A non-persistent desktop has either been recreated or it discards any writes when the user logs off. This allows a single instance of a desktop to be shared among multiple users, though not simultaneously. Roaming profiles are useful, but have some limitations. However, the major VDI vendors have enhanced versions of roaming profile technology that make them more useful.

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