Windows Virtual Desktop
I’m excited to share with you that as of this week Login VSI has officially been recognized as an integration partner for Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) by Microsoft.
While this news just became public this week, we’ve already been working hard behind the scenes on enhancing Windows 10 multi-session performance since September 2018.
If you are interested in how our products work together and general news about WVD check out the recording of this webinar.
It’s interesting to see history repeating itself…does anyone remember Azure Remote Applications? It got shut down in august of 2016 due to a lack of manageability and scalability. Windows 10 multi-session should take care of the latter but today deploying and managing WVD is quite cumbersome, something I’m confident the team is working on.
In the meantime, partners Citrix and Vmware are actively working on extending WVD. Citrix has already released its Citrix Managed Desktop and VMware has announced that Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure will be available later this year. If we look at the VDI Like a Pro market survey, 27.82% of the participants are either already using or plan on changing to public cloud Desktop as a Service / Remote Application as a Service solution. The trend for new environments is definitely cloud and mobile-first. I also believe that looking at the market data the timing for releasing these products is right, however we do still need to cross the chasm (from innovators to early adopters).
So how does one scale a WVD environment?
With Windows 10 – Multi-Session it’s all about selecting the right instance size. This sounds like a simple task but if you realize there are more than 100 flavors to choose from ranging in both specifications and costs, making the right choice becomes harder. Additionally, your applications will have a major impact on the predicted scalability. Also, as with every Windows 10 deployment you should not forget to do performance tuning (although the images Citrix releases have been optimized out of the box).
The team at Citrix TIPS has recently done a webinar showing performance numbers for different instance sizes calculating it back to the price per user. I highly recommend watching this webinar recording. Please note that these tests have been optimized for performance and do not show the impact of your applications, workspace manager and anti-virus on the infrastructure.
Scaling predictions for Windows 10 multi-session
The team at Login VSI is currently running extensive tests at Windows 10 multi-session on which we will share more details soon. What we can already do is share these basic scaling estimations.
- It will scale less than SBC with Windows Server 2012, 2016, 2019
- It will scale better than Single user VDI with Windows 10
- It will scale less than Windows 7, but that’s irrelevant after January
- Your applications are what gets you in trouble especially:
- If they are CPU heavy or prefer a fast single core
- Legacy applications without Multi-User compatibility (e.g. writing to HKLM)
- Workspace managers
- Latency sensitive applications with data still on-prem e.g. SAP
Planned and unplanned changes
As with every VDI environment at some point changes and updates are inevitable. I’m sure that in the near future, we’ll see best practices emerge on how to update your applications in a WVD environment. As I work for a testing company unsurprisingly I will advise you to make sure you test how a change affects the performance and scalability of your systems as we know 76% of IT performance issues are caused by change.
Even more challenging are the unplanned changes, as your desktops are now in the cloud and someone else is taking care of updating the storage, hypervisor, server firmware, and network. We’ve seen that updates will be applied for these leaks before you are notified. This makes sense as they don’t want to break the news before the hole is plugged. However, with updates for Meltdown & Spectre, ForeShadow, L1TF, etc. we’ve seen significant hits on user experience that without pro-active and continuous validation of your environment you wouldn’t pick up on.
A frequently asked question about desktops in the cloud is whether performance testing still makes sense and I understand why people are asking the question. If you are doing VDI in Azure, Amazon workspaces or any other cloud with a single user per VM, wouldn’t picking the instance size be enough? Turns out it isn’t. Many components outside of your desktops have a major impact on the performance e.g. the broker, gateway, storage, network or even a noisy neighbor. If we look at the VDI tuning stack below we see that only the bottom four are now being taken care of by someone else. You are still responsible for the rest.
To conclude, I’m curious to see how the market will continue to react to WVD and the extensions on top of it by both VMware and Citrix when the initial hype is over. In the interim if you’d like to test the performance of an instance or check the user experience on a continuous basis, send me a message and I’ll be glad to help you out.
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