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The Power of "Just Right": Nutanix and VMware Solutions for End-User Computing 

By Sachin Chheda

This blog was cross posted on VMware End-User Computing Blog on June 9, 2015.

The Swedish language has a word “lagom” that means “not too much, not too little”, or loosely interpreted as “just right.” There is probably not a better word out there to describe IT architects’ and administrators’ goals for their end-user computing environment, delivering virtual desktops and applications for a mobile, global workforce.

Having collaborated over the last 5+ years, Nutanix and VMware have served many joint customers such as Serco and Langs Building Supplies that can confidently use that term to describe their deployments — just right and operating at peak efficiency. The foundation of these customer deployments is the series of joint reference architectures created and validated by the industry’s leading desktop and application experts at VMware and Nutanix. These architectures eliminate the risk of failure associated with deployments by helping architects walk through the design choices, offering best practices and showing testing results.

The most recent joint reference architecture that we have published is VMware Horizon DaaS running on Nutanix hyperconverged infrastructure. This reference design shows how IT organizations and service providers with the desire to deliver desktops as a service (DaaS) can take advantage of VMware Horizon’s scalable architecture and ability to support multiple tenants, coupled with easy-to-manage and pay-as-you-grow Nutanix Virtual Computing platforms. The details of the reference architecture can be found in the technical Nutanix Reference Architecture: VMware Horizon DaaS 6.1document. You can also read more about testing in our VMware End-User Computing blogs.

Like the joint solution on Horizon 6 on Nutanix Virtual Computing Platform, here are some of the high level benefits of the new reference architecture:

  1. A small starting point for both service providers and tenant infrastructure, with pay-as-you-grow scalability.
  2. Quick onboarding of the new tenant through Horizon DaaS and the fast time to deploy process of Nutanix at the tenant’s site.
  3. Centralized management of desktops and infrastructure using Horizon DaaS and Nutanix Prism Central respectively.
  4. The ability to consolidate various workloads on the service provider and tenant side, without having to worry about one workload disrupting the performance of latency-sensitive user desktops.

The reference architecture also validated the VMware App Volumes functionality. App Volumes enables administrators to deliver applications to virtual machines in real time. This feature is particularly interesting to virtual desktop administrators and architects as a way to deliver applications to end users and reduce storage costs.

The Nutanix Distributed File System offers a complementary feature called Shadow Clones functionality, which provides distributed caching of virtual disks being read across all of the hosts that are reading from it. Nutanix Shadow Clones can help improve performance associated with tasks such as opening applications delivered by App Volumes.

The benefits of App Volumes aren’t limited to Horizon DaaS deployments. VMware Horizon can also take advantage of its flexibility and efficiency coupled with Nutanix Shadow Clones. The following figure shows how Shadow Clone works:

The Nutanix and VMware DaaS and Horizon 6 reference architectures serve as an excellent yardstick to show how VMware’s recently announced Project Enzo will benefit from a hyperconverged approach. Project Enzo leverages the cloud for the control plane, and scalable and efficient on-premises infrastructure for virtual desktops. This hybrid scenario built on Nutanix combines the best of both Horizon 6 and DaaS, delivering high performing virtual desktops and applications with maximum efficiency and availability.

While industry pundits might have hundreds of opinions on designs and placement, what ultimately matters is delivering an excellent end-user experience with a minimal amount of resource overhead. Customers including Serco, Hastings and Prince Edwards County, Toyota, and many others have leveraged this joint solution based on Horizon 6 and Horizon DaaS running on Nutanix hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) to obtain — as the Swedes would put it — “lagom.”