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Astute takes early lead in VDI benchmark scores

Astute Networks this month became the second vendor to publish VDI-IOmark benchmarking numbers, and the vendor promptly proclaimed itself the lowest-cost-per-virtual-desktop-storage option in the industry.

VDI-IOmark was developed by the Evaluator Group analyst firm to test storage systems performance running virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) workloads. The benchmark replicates a storage workload running multiple VMware View VDI instances, and measures the number of VDI users the system supports.

Astute’s ViSX  VM storage appliance supported 400 standard users with a configuration priced at $30,600, which comes to $76.50 per user. The benchmark results showed that a 2U ViSX can provision 140,000 sustained random IOPS that can be shared by all VMs on all hosts over an Ethernet network. Astute ran the benchmark on a ViSX appliance with 2.1 TB of usable capacity, all solid-state drives (SSDs).

Evaluator Group senior partner Russ Fellows said other vendors – fewer than 10 – have run the benchmark but have not made their results public. Hitachi Data Systems published the first set of numbers in January for its BlueArc Mercury 110 NAS array, which came out to $146.19 per user (1,536 users for a $224,546 system). None of the unpublished benchmark results matched Astute’s price per desktop, which is the main reason they remain unpublished.

“Some of the big vendors are afraid,” Fellows said. “They don’t want to publish unless they’re the best.”

Fellows said some benchmarked systems are all flash, while others are hybrids using SSDs and hard drives. He said Astute balanced the performance of flash with a lower price than many other all-flash systems.

“Being all-flash helps a lot,” he said. “Some flash in high-end systems is incredible pricey. Not only does Astute have flash, but it has a competitive price.”

Len Rosenthal, Astute’s senior VP of marketing, said the TCP protocol accelerator chip Astute uses for its iSCSI appliance also plays a big part in performance. “The big difference we have is our Data Pump engine,” he said. “That’s our accelerator for protocol processing, and it allows us to drive up performance in a way that no other storage can. We have dedicated offload technology.”

Rosenthal said he’s confident that no other vendor can beat Astute’s performance at its price. “We wanted to put a stake in the ground,” he said. “If others want to shoot at us, that’s fine. Dollars per VDI is the best thing about our system. Others can throw a $300,000 system at us and beat our system, but [ViSX] is a $30,000 system.”

Astute has set the bar, but the benchmark numbers will become more valuable when we have many more systems to compare. Some vendors and users run the long-standing Iometer benchmark for VDI, but Fellows said that benchmark is useless for VDI workloads.

“It’s a completely fabricated benchmark for VDI,” he said. “Iometer does not produce a workload anything like a VDI user would. It’s not realistic, and it’s misleading to users. There are only a few tools that can generate VDI workloads.”

Other VDI benchmarks include VMware View Planner, Citrix Desktop Transformation Accelerator and Login VSI.

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