Cisco Live is just around the corner, July 10-14 in Las Vegas. I was actually invited to attend, but unfortunately had to decline because we will be just starting our several week long consulting engagement to build my XenDesktop environment. I hope to attend next year, but in the meantime, thought I’d summarize some of the things I’m considering as we move forward with our FlexPod and virtual desktop deployment.
The main topic I’d like to learn more about involves management of the integrated stack. I know for some things we’ll be using vCenter and various plugins to manage storage and networking, but am thinking about management that spans virtual and physical servers, storage, networking, etc. I saw a tweet recently about a company called Cloupia and want to learn everything I can about their offerings (and anything similar) because I think there’s a gap between what we geeks/admins think we can do with the FlexPod with just vCenter & UCS Manager and the vision of the appliance (or toaster, as it is known around the office) model advanced by our C-level execs. What are the alternatives, how do they compare, do they do management, monitoring, self-service/end-user portal, etc.? What are other IT teams using, and what are the pros and cons of various solutions? And, in addition to what’s available today and are the options likely to change in 6 or 12 months?
Other topics on my mind include:
- Cisco UCS, especially with its support for enormous amounts of RAM, seems uniquely well-suited for large scale virtual desktop deployments. What’s the typical size of VDI deployment supported by UCS? How many virtual desktops are typically deployed per UCS blade?
- I’ve been reading about Cisco’s VXI initiative. Is it real? How would VXI impact desktop virtualization deployments like ours?
- We manage a large number of checkout laptops in our main campus library and see a potential win there for XenClient, so I’d love to get feedback from folks using XenClient in large numbers. In what types of environments is it being adopted?
- I’d like to learn more about how other XenDesktop environments handle multi-layered security concerns / levels of access, particularly from folks having to manage resources governed by FERPA & HIPAA.
- The OS X desktop demo shown at Synergy this year was great. I want to know more – specifically if that desktop was physical or virtual, and when/if we might see that as part of the XenDesktop product?
- On the storage side, our initial tests of data I’d consider to be not ideal for deduplication (CIFS shares of hundreds of gigabytes of application installers) have surprised us in a good way. I’m wondering what sort of dedupe rates we can look forward to, on average, on the storage dedicated to virtual machine images, as well as our more general user home directories, since that is our next target for transitioning from our old non-deduped storage to our new NetApp NAS boxes.