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Optimizing VMware View Performance on Nutanix

By Steven Poitras
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The most noticeable IT lapses are those that impact end users on a consistent basis.

Coming from a large IT consulting firm I’ve gone through a great deal of datacenter build outs, green field IT deployments and cutovers. Now from all of those deployments, what was always the biggest issue and caused the most headaches? Printers.

The reason for the brief reminisce above was to highlight the importance that anything the end-user interfaces with will need to be a key priority for IT, otherwise it will become the bane of their existence. This is the same reason why end-user experience is THE key driver for a successful VDI project.

I’ve summarized below a few key items for optimizing VMware View on Nutanix to simplify your life when designing and implementing a successful VDI deployment:

General

  • Perform a current state analysis to identify workloads and sizing for desktops to be migrated to virtual desktops.
  • Spend time up front to architect a solution that meets both current and future needs.
  • Design for end-user experience to deliver consistent performance, reliability, and scale.
  • Start with a PoC, test, optimize, iterate, scale.

Core Components

  • Desktops
    • Size desktops appropriately for your particular use case.
    • Use a mix of applications installed in gold images and application virtualization, depending on the scenario.
    • Disable unnecessary OS services and applications.
    • Redirect home directories or use a profile management tool for user profiles and documents.
  • VMware View
    • Design for reliability and scale.
    • Utilize Host Caching (View 5.1+ only).
    • Disable Host Caching digest re-computation during work hours.
    • Redirect home directory or use a profile management tool (i.e. View Persona Management) for user profiles and documents.
    • Redirect disposable disks.
    • Use PCoIP and optimize PCoIP settings.
  • VMware vSphere
    • Follow VMware best practices.
    • Keep number of VMs per ESXi host to the following (these will vary based upon workload):
      • VMs to ESXi host physical core ratio ~ 8:1
      • vCPU to ESXi host physical core ratio ~ 16:1
      • vRam to ESXi host physical ram ratio ~ 1.1:1
    • Enable ‘High Performance’ host power policy.
    • Enable ‘Host Cache’.
    • Enable CBRC and digests on base VMs and templates (non-View 5.1). NOTE: This is not supported so tread carefully if you do this.
    • Lock desktop VM memory when possible.
    • Use resource pools.
  • Nutanix
    • Use a single container and datastore.
    • Optimize gflags based upon applications and use case.
    • Increase Nutanix Controller VM memory to increase the in-memory cache.

Supporting Components

  • Active Directory
    • Have local GCs and DNS servers at each site.
    • Redirect home profiles for users.
    • Create PCoIP policy for desktop optimizations.
    • Configure DNS scavenging.
  • DHCP
    • Reduce default DHCP lease times for VDI scope from 8 days to 1 hour.
  • File Services
    • Utilize DFS for user data and replication from site to DC.
    • Map home directory redirection to DFS namespace.
    • Implement domain-based file services with Windows Server 2008 Mode.
  • Virus Scan
    • Schedule scans to run outside business hours.
    • Stagger system scans in phases.
  • Network
    • Utilize and optimize QoS for View PCoIP traffic.
    • Use 1 Gb or greater access ports for end-user LAN connectivity.
    • Ensure adequate bandwidth for WAN and VPN clients.
  • OS and Application Updates
    • Schedule updates to be applied outside business hours to avoid performance impacts.
    • Stagger updates in phases.

From all of the above, a simple rule I live by for VDI, or any project for that matter, is this:

  1. Analyze – do your homework!
  2. Start small – run a PoC
  3. Optimize – follow the items above
  4. Iterate – nothing is perfect the first time
  5. Scale – once you’ve done the due diligence to do so