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Storage technology for virtualized desktops doesn't matter, says VDI expert

When it comes to virtual desktop infrastructure projects, storage technology is a hot topic. It's no secret that shops often struggle with virtual machine performance in their projects, and finding storage to handle the spikes in IOPS associated with virtualized desktops is the first step toward minimizing latency.

For storage admins working with virtualized desktops, that often means seeking out high performing storage such as flash, or storage technologies that provide features like deduplication. But, from virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) expert Brian Madden's perspective, IT professionals often spend too much time worrying about the type of storage technology being used, rather than what it will do for their environment.

"When it comes down to it, vendors are going to have to differentiate themselves. They're going to talk about all-flash systems, [multi-level cell] MLC versus [single-level cell] SLC flash," Madden said. "But, if my vendor tells me they can give me x IOPS for v dollars, they could have a million gerbils in there writing data for all I care."

The most important thing, Madden noted, is that the technology meets the needs of a specific project, which typically encompasses persistent VDI and a predetermined number of IOPS.

Deduplication is another feature storage pros look for when undertaking VDI projects. The data in a VDI environment is very similar -- on average up to 80% can be deduplicated. As a result, most storage admins believe that deduplication -- particularly inline deduplication, which can dedupe data faster -- is a must-have. According to Madden, it's not.

"So block-level, inline deduplication to consolidate all those boxes is required? That's the wrong question," he explained. "What I care about is that I have persistent users in my VDI environment, at a certain price [and] at a certain level of performance. I don't want to dig too much into the technology. I want to dig into the requirements and what it can actually do."

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