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Breaking Through The Cloud

109 Posts

by Rob Briggs, VDI Reference Architect and Expert, NetApp

 

Citrix Synergy 2014

It’s approaching that time of year again. Hoards of people will be boarding planes and heading to Los Angeles, California. Lots of them on an early family trip to Disneyland. Those without kids and Mickey Mouse hats are likely heading to a different destination.  You got it, Synergy is fast approaching and Citrix is rolling out the red carpet and ready to blow our minds with “what’s next” in the world of desktop and application virtualization. Not to steal any of Citrix’s thunder, but NetApp has some pretty special news to share as well.

 

Over the years desktop virtualization has matured into a viable solution for businesses of all sizes. Initially the promise of having users access all of their data, desktop and application needs from a corporate data center was a vision with very little real world success. For desktop virtualization to be a reality you need good compute (CPU), enough memory (RAM) and great storage. Over the years, as technology has improved, we’ve seen the “bottleneck” for desktop virtualization change from CPU to RAM to storage. With today’s servers, compute and memory are no longer a bottleneck. The onus lands squarely on the storage provider’s shoulders. Businesses ask if their storage can handle the IOPS requirements for all of the users in their organizations and at what cost. NetApp, over the years, has consistently given customers the storage and tools needed to meet their IOPS requirements at a cost that is extremely competitive.

 

Citrix Ready VDI Capacity Program

NetApp and Citrix are announcing a partnering initiative to demonstrate a real world desktop virtualization scenario. This initiative is called the Citrix Ready VDI Capacity Program for Storage Partners. At its core, the program demonstrates two key aspects of a desktop virtualization storage solution. One being the capability to support the IOPS requirements for daily operations of 750 Citrix Provisioned (PVS) virtual desktops. The other being a storage Untitled.pngsolution that provides an excellent value for the business customer. Combining the two at a highly competitive price point was the ultimate end goal.

 

As part of this Citrix program, NetApp joined Citrix at their Solutions Lab in early 2014 to stress test a NetApp FAS2240-2 hybrid storage array. The stress testing took place against a 750 seat desktop virtualization environment based on Citrix XenDesktop 7.1. The end goal was to prove NetApp can deliver a storage solution at a very economical end user storage cost of $37 per desktop.

 

Key Highlights from the Performance Validation

 

1. NetApp’s FAS2240-2 (2U storage array with 24 internal SAS drives & IO optimization with NetApp Clustered ONTAP software defined storage) can easily support at least 750 virtual desktops (specified as the success criteria for the Citrix Ready VDI Capacity program) at a compelling $37 per desktop.

2. 935 virtual desktops were booted and logged in under 20 minutes, which is an acceptable SLA for real world production deployments.

3. Ultimately, 800 virtual desktops were successfully stress tested for steady state operations using LoginVSI, the industry standard VDI benchmarking tool. This exceeded the programs expectations of 750 virtual desktops.

4. Very low storage latency for boot, login, and steady state operations, ensuring a consistent end user experience.

5. Only 1.4TB of actual storage was consumed (total 7TB usable storage available) for the entire duration of the test.

6. NetApp’s FAS2240-2 storage array was very simple to setup and it was up and running in less than 2 hours.

7. Total LoginVSI testing was completed in less than 2 hours.

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NetApp and Citrix have co-produced a whitepaper outlining, in detail, the great value and performance capabilities of NetApp’s FAS2240-2. It can be found here (provide link to whitepaper).

 

A storage solution for $37 per desktop is a very competitive answer to the reality of desktop virtualization. If you happen to be at Synergy this year, take a moment and stop by the NetApp booth. We’ll treat you well and show you how our solution can help your business. More details on all of our sessions, mini theatre events, and associated times can be found here.

For those of you attending the Interop event in Las Vegas this week, make sure and attend the  "The Enterprise Cloud Ecosystem" session on April 2nd that NetApp executive Phil Brotherton will participate in with fellow executives from Verizon, Oracle and Cloudera.

 

Event Details:

 

Panel Title: The Enterprise Cloud Ecosystem - Presented by Verizon

Panel Participants: John Considine, Chief Technology Officer (moderator) Verizon Terremark; Phil Brotherton, Vice President, Cloud Solutions Group, NetApp; Amr Awadallah, Chief Technology Officer, Cloudera; Joseph Rayman, Vice President, Engineered Systems, Oracle

Date/Location:  Interop, Las Vegas, Wednesday, April 2: 4 – 4:45 pm

Panel Format: Moderated Q&A

                Intro – 8 minutes

                Moderated panel discussion – 25 minutes

                Audience questions – 10 minutes

                Final wrap up – 2 minutes

Location: Mandalay Bay I Roomm

 

Background on the panel: Enterprises are continuing to embrace the cloud – finding both operational and cost benefits. However, there is a lack of enterprise-grade, cloud-based technologies that will support the workloads enterprises have efficiently and securely. And this is holding back cloud adoption for many organizations. This panel session will discuss how the enterprise cloud is being built and the infrastructure and services that are required for the promise of the cloud to become a reality at enterprise scale.

 

Also, read Phil's blog on this related topic called  Think Strategic When Picking Hybrid Cloud Partners.

kerman

It’s a Mobile World After All

Posted by kerman Mar 31, 2014

by Ray Mar, Citrix Sales Enablement Manager, NetApp

 

Can’t believe a year has almost gone by since I was at my first Citrix Synergy. The great energy and excitement was certainly felt all through the event from the keynote to the expo hall to meeting great folks along the way. I can’t wait to attend this year’s Synergy 2014.

 

Also join NetApp, a Platinum sponsor of Synergy, from May 6-8 at the Anaheim Convention Center. We’ve planned an exciting experience with opportunities for you to meet and mingle with our executives, technical experts, and customers along with our strategic partners, Citrix and Cisco.

 

There’s no denying it, but mobile workstyle is here to stay. We all want to be able to access our data anywhere, at anytime on any device. Come learn how you can accelerate business success with proven and efficient NetApp® flash storage and Citrix mobile workspace solutions to meet your organization’s mobility needs. Here are some of the exciting things you'll get to experience:

 

See the Latest Technologies

 

Come by Booth 201 to learn about the latest NetApp offerings with Citrix through demos and mini-theater presentations on Citrix XenDesktop, ShareFile, and CloudPlatform with NetApp as the on-premises storage platform.

 

Full schedule of all the mini-theater presentations will be available soon…so check back.

 

Hear from Our Customers and Experts

 

This year we have some great NetApp sessions that await you. Here are the details of all our sessions:

 

Accelerating Business Value with Citrix & NetApp Customer Panel

Customers looking to deploy mobility solutions want to see a rapid return on their investment. In this panel discussion, hear real life customers who have successfully deployed and now enjoy the benefits of their Citrix environments from XenDesktop to ShareFile running on NetApp storage.

 

Tuesday, May 6th

2:00PM - 2:45PM

 

Building a Standardized Cloud Architecture and Self-service Portal with Ease

This session will describe how to simplify provisioning, monitoring and management of virtual desktops and applications in the cloud with a secure, multi-tenant datacenter. Learn how organizations have deployed a cloud-based desktop virtualization solution to thousands of users with a combined solution from Citrix, NetApp and Cisco. The benefits include simplified operations, orchestration of management tasks, scalability to thousands of devices and guaranteed quality of service.

 

Wednesday, May 7th 

4:30PM – 5:15PM

 

Architecting XenDesktop Solutions with NetApp

This session will give you the tools to successfully deploy scalable Citrix XenDesktop solutions with NetApp Clustered Data ONTAP and E Series Flash Arrays. Topics will include storage and software configuration best practices, performance testing results and utilization of the NetApp Data ONTAP PowerShell Toolkit to speed provisioning and management.

 

Thursday, May 8th 

9:30AM – 10:15AM

 

Empower Enterprises to Choose How Data is Accessed, Shared, Stored and Protected

IT must embrace mobility to meet the demands of a distributed workforce. Easy collaboration and the ability to securely access and share data are essential. Learn how Citrix ShareFile with NetApp storage solutions helps organizations meet these requirements by delivering an enterprise-ready, follow-me-data solution. This session will also explore how a customer can utilize ShareFile on NetApp storage across multiple geographies to enable mobile workspace and business continuity.

 

Thursday, May 8th 

4:30PM – 5:15PM

 

Meet Our Executives & Technical Experts

 

Want to learn about how to accelerate your business success? Then request a personal meeting with us at Citrix Synergy. This is a great opportunity for you to meet and discuss with NetApp executives and technical experts about your requirements to enable mobile workspace within your organization.

 

To request a meeting, go here.

 

 

Social Media at Citrix Synergy 2014

What better way to keep up with conversation throughout the week than by following those at the event? We’ll provide a list of NetApp staff and partners that will be tweeting and/or blogging live from Synergy. And of course, don't forget to join the conversation and follow along on Twitter using the #NetAppSynergy hashtag.

 

Follow @NetApp on Twitter, like us on Facebook and watch us on YouTube to keep up with everything NetApp.

 

Let us know what you are most looking forward to at Citrix Synergy 2014?

 

We look forward to experiencing this exciting world of mobility with you soon!

 

Who isn't talking about clouds these days when it comes to high tech business?

 

I caught up with my buddies during a recent Sunday morning run on the Los Gatos Creek Trail in San Jose.   I mentioned my work on "cloud" at NetApp as smiles and head nodding ensued as my friends pointed out that EVERYBODY was in the "cloud" business these days.  Why is cloud such a hot topic and what value does cloud offer to businesses?  What are the differences between public cloud and private cloud offerings?  If a business wants cloud capability deployed within their premises, how do they do know they are doing it right and doing the best to serve their organization?

 

Microsoft, NetApp and Cisco will be joining Windows IT Pro's Michael Otey in a webcast to discuss all of these questions in a webcast April 3rd, 2014 @ 12:00pm ET.

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In this presentation a panel of experts will provide listeners an understanding private cloud.  First, you’ll get an overview of the features that the cloud brings to your organization and then you’ll see how private cloud is different from the public cloud. Next you’ll see how a private cloud builds on virtualization to bring flexibility, availability and automation to your datacenter. Finally, you’ll learn about how System Center 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2012 R2 and a FlexPod converged infrastructure from NetApp and Cisco, work together to build a private cloud.

 

Learn more about this presentation and register now at this link.

As IT organizations are faced with BYOD initiatives, growing global workforces, and the need to provide employees 24x7 access to data and applications, they are increasingly looking to desktop virtualization to meet the demands for flexibility and responsiveness.

 

Infrastructure solutions supporting desktop virtualization environments must be flexible and keep per-desktop costs low -- without compromising performance, availability and scale, according to IDC, which stresses that the storage solution is "the most consequential part of the physical infrastructure" for desktop virtualization. Cisco, Citrix, and NetApp have been working together to help customers understand how they can manage this transition.

 

Untitled.pngFlexPod validated designs which include NetApp storage, Cisco Unified Computing SystemTM (Cisco UCS®) servers, and Cisco Nexus® fabric components are a perfect infrastructure for desktop virtualization projects. Implementing Citrix desktop virtualization on a FlexPod platform can translate to significantly faster deployment times, as much as 50% faster than traditional methods, according to customers. FlexPod can be scaled up for on-demand growth, or scaled out and replicated when multiple consistent infrastructure configurations are needed. For Citrix deployments, FlexPod offers predictable performance in a scalable and repeatable building block, backed by cooperative support.

 

We’ve shared the first two of three webinars discussing both how to take the cost (and guesswork) out of desktop deployments and a more detailed discussion on the FlexPod architecture. These panel discussions with experts from Cisco, Citrix and NetApp (Mike Brennan, Kevin Strohmeyer, and Adam Fore, respectively) are outstanding resources and are available on demand.

 

On March 27, we’ll be sharing our latest installment of the series, focusing on the latest FlexPod validated design, which Frank Anderson blogged about here. This webcast dives deep on FlexPod and the typical environments our customers are implementing, including a mixed delivery model approach leveraging both traditional VDI (Hosted Virtual Desktops / HVD) along with Hosted Shared Desktops based on XenApp. Cisco’s Tony Paikeday does a great job breaking down this upcoming webinar, and provides links to some other great content on this topic.

 

If you’d like to join this webcast to discover how the validated design of FlexPod® Datacenter with Citrix XenDesktop works to remove the bottlenecks to desktop virtualization and reduce infrastructure, operations, and deployment costs, go here.

 

EC2 Plus the Power of the World’s #1 Storage OS

Join NetApp and our partners for cloud demos and discussions at AWS Summit 2014 at Moscone Center in San Francisco. You'll learn to achieve public cloud savings while maintaining complete security and control of your data using solutions built on NetApp Private Storage for Amazon Web Services.

  • Visit booth #112 and enter to win1 one of three Amazon Kindles or a set of Bose in-ear headphones courtesy of our partners
  • Request a 1:1 VIP meeting with NetApp and partner executives & experts, attend our VIP cocktail reception, and enter to win a Kindle or a SONOS Wireless Speaker courtesy of our partners
  • Tweet with #NetAppAWS & Win1 a $25 Amazon gift certificate. Follow #NetAppAWS for contest information.


 


In booth #112:

Live Drawing1


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11am - 1:30pm

1 pm

Zadara’s elastic NetApp® Private Storage (NPS) for AWS

Zadara’s elastic NetApp® Private Storage (NPS) for AWS is the only instantly-deployed FAS as-a-service offering for the Public Cloud.  Delivering high QoS, security and flexibility, this service enables IT managers to provision AWS EC2 instances with NetApp hardware, using the exact capacity and performance they need, in a new affordable model that’s billed by the hour with no minimum commitment.

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Mallard for NetApp and AWS

Blue River Information Technology specializes in managed services and technologies for cloud and on-premises data center infrastructures. Mallard for NetApp® and AWS is a data management solution that utilizes NetApp Private Storage for AWS for disaster recovery, archive, backup and restore, data migration, PaaS, and our NetApp-as-a Service managed service.

equinix.pngAll Day5pm

NetApp Private Storage for AWS in Equinix Data Centers

Equinix is the largest AWS Direct Connect provider: 7 Direct Connect sites located in Silicon Valley, Washington, D.C., Seattle, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo and London offering private, high-speed, secure connectivity into AWS.  Equinix is also the largest global data center provider with over 100 locations in 32 strategic markets providing services to 950+ network providers and 450+ cloud and SaaS providers making it the perfect place for hybrid cloud to thrive.

Day1-logo-4C-Horiz.png4-7pm

6:30 pm

Day1 NetApp aaS – Day 1 brings AWS to You

Specializing in AWS Direct Connect, Day1 NetApp aaS allows enterprise customers to combine the performance and control of enterprise-class private storage with the efficiency and elasticity of the AWS cloud. From cloud consulting, to implementation, and ongoing managed services, Day1 offers a full scope of services and best-of-breed solutions. Test-drive our Day1 NetApp aaS for Private Storage & Complute, Disaster Recovery, Test & Development, and High Performance Workloads.

 

Meet our executives and experts:

Contact your account rep or partner manager to schedule a one-hour in-person VIP meeting with NetApp and partner executives and technical experts who understand your business needs, and can share best practices, give implementation advice, and discuss solutions that combine the world’s #1 public cloud and #1 storage OS.

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Summit Highlights

 

Customers & Partners

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Sales and partner managers

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VIP events at:

W San Francisco Hotel

181 3rd Street

San Francisco, CA 94103

(415) 777-5300

Directions

 

Register for free SF Summit:

Technical boot camps March 25

Solutions Expo & Keynote with Andy Jassy, Sr. VP of AWS - March 26

 

Learn More:

NetApp Private Storage for AWS

 

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By Pete Flecha, NetApp Technical Marketing Engineer

As a member of the VMware Technical Marketing team at NetApp, I get access to the latest greatest offerings of both NetApp and VMware. One of the technologies that has piqued my interest lately is VMware’s Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offering, vCloud Hybrid Service (vCHS).

 

This is first of a series of blog posts dedicated to all things vCHS from a NetApp perspective. As I started to write a post on a technical preview called NetApp Private Storage for vCHS I realized this elephant is easier consumed when served in small portions.

With VMware Partner Exchange 2014 (PEX) just around the corner I think a great place to start is by sharing a sneak peek at one of NetApp’s PEX sessions 3586-SPO, Successfully Deploying NetApp Storage in a VMware Hybrid Cloud Environment presented by Public Cloud Architect, Mark Beaupre (@mark_beaupre) and Sr. Product Manager, Rajib Ghosh.

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In this session Mark and Rajib will discuss how NetApp Private Storage and vCloud Hybrid Service enable companies to fully realize the advantages of Hybrid Cloud while allowing them to maintain their intellectual property. They will identify the benefits and popular use cases we have seen in other NPS for public cloud offerings (i.e. Disaster Recovery, application continuity, dev\test, and cloudbursts to name a few). They are also demonstrating VM provisioning that completely automates the storage provisioning or connection to NetApp Private Storage in a vCHS collocated datacenter.

What is NPS for vCHS?

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NetApp Private Storage for vCHS allows enterprises to build an agile hybrid cloud infrastructure that balances public and private cloud resources to best meet their business needs. The solution couples dedicated NetApp enterprise storage using vCHS for on-demand performance computing. Organizations can now bi-directionally replicate data from on-premise NetApp private clouds to NetApp storage in a vCHS connected data center to leverage on-demand public cloud computing services while retaining full control and mobility of their enterprise data using standard Data ONTAP storage replication technology. The solution provides the on-demand capacity benefits of a hybrid cloud, with proven enterprise storage providing enhanced data protection at lower cost than traditional approaches and the agility to adjust private and public cloud resources to optimize business outcomes.

The NetApp Cloud Solutions Group and VMware Technical Marketing teams have been actively testing various combinations of NetApp storage and vCHS offerings. Our goal is to provide solutions for leveraging NetApp Private Storage (NPS) for virtual servers hosted by vCHS. This means using NetApp clustered Data ONTAP systems, owned and managed by you, installed at a vCHS direct connection facility to provide storage for your company’s data.

Use Cases

• Disaster Recovery
NPS for vCHS enables disaster recovery leveraging the on-demand, pay-as-you-go, features of the cloud. Your data is replicated from the local NetApp to NetApp Private Storage located at a colocation facility using standard SnapMirror and SnapVault tools across secure VPN tunnels. In the event of a disaster, vCHS servers are created and connected to the NetApp Private Storage providing quick recovery and minimal effort.

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• Multi-Cloud Continuity
By replicating your data between your Private Cloud and one or more vCHS regions, you can provide continuity in the event of large scale events.
• Test and Development
Replicate your production data to NPS for vCHS, then leverage vCHS on-demand compute capacity for testing and development. Alternatively, if vCHS is your production environment, replicate to a smaller private cloud to provide local access for developers.
• Burst Capacity
Data replicated to NPS for vCHS is immediately available, using high speed, low latency connections, for when your website or other enterprise application needs additional capacity due to burst workloads. Create on-demand vCHS servers, connected to NetApp Private Storage, to ensure your SLAs continue to be met.

Connecting NPS to vCHS

During our testing, we have been using NPS for vCHS with two connection methods: IPSec VPN and direct connect. All vCHSofferings provide VMware Edge gateway services to configure IPSec VPN to connections to either the on-premisis or collocated vSphere environment. We also have a 10Gb connection between the collocated data center and vCHS. I don’t think it come as a surprise to anyone, but the direct connect method seems to be the more appealing configuration for connecting to NetApp Private Storage for tier one applications in the vCHS cloud.

How to Connect NetApp Private Storage when Provisioning Virtual Servers

The vCHS web portal is a fairly simple interface that has 3 main tabs: Dashboard, Virtual Machines (you guessed it, to provision and manage VMs) and Gateways for configuring networking.
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vCHS talks to vCloud Director on the back-end to perform administration tasks. The way that vCHS talks to vCD is through the vCloud API and so the API is also available to you as a consumer of the cloud to allow you to provision and manage workloads as you see fit. The API will connect directly to the Organization Virtual Datacenters (Org vDCs) to manage your workloads.  You can provision a VM using either the vCHS web portal or from vCD.

Virtual Server Deployment Templates

VMware offers a catalog of supported virtual server deployment templates that can be selected by the customer. Because we wanted to simplify the process of connecting NetApp Private Storage to our vCHS VMs we decided to create and deploy our own templates. The templates we created, and have tested with, use Server 2012 with NetApp SnapDrive and the Host Utilities Kit installed.
• Using the NPS4vCHS Manual template we demonstrate what it looks like to connect to or provision new storage from the NetApp Storage Virtual Machine (SVM) located in the NetApp Private Storage colocation facility.
• In the NPS4vCHS Auto template we have added some storage specific configuration parameters to the vApp to prompt users for storage configuration when provisioning new VMs. (more about that later)

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Connecting to NetApp Private Storage

1. Once your server has been provisioned launch SnapDrive and configure connection to establish a session with Storage Virtual Machine (SVM).
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2. From the Disks menu select Create Disk to create a new disk or Connect Disk to connect to existing storage.
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3. Choose the desired parameters for your disk.
4. Verify your disk is accessible.
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As you can see, connecting to NetApp Private Storage from vCHS virtual servers is exactly the same as connecting to NetApp storage hosted locally from virtual servers in your private cloud.

Automated NetApp Private Storage Provisioning

Because provisioning NetApp storage is exactly the same using your private cloud or vCHS, all the same tools for automating the provisioning of storage are available. Using VMware vApp properties and Windows PowerShell together, we created a custom vApp which prompts the deployer for the desired storage configuration and source. After cloning and customizing the virtual server, NetApp’s SnapDrive CLI and PowerShell cmdlets are used in the background to automatically create, connect, and format LUNs from NPS connected to your vCHS datacenter.
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This same technique could be used to provision virtual servers, cloned from a template with the required applications, and have them connect to Flex Cloned instances of the data, providing test and development, burst, or disaster recovery capacity on-demand.

Check out this demo: Provisioning NetApp Private Storage inside a vCHS guest


VMware Partner Exchange

If you are at VMware’s PEX , be sure to check out the NetApp Private Storage for VMware vCloud Hybrid Service session 3586-SPO to see a demonstration of these deployment methods in action

robertim

Citrix Ready: Yes, We Are!

Posted by robertim Jan 28, 2014

Back in October, I shared examples of the close collaboration between Citrix and NetApp, from engineering integration to joint solutions, and the resulting pleased customers like Best Best and Krieger.

 

And, as mentioned last October, I shared that there is more coming, which is what I’d like to talk about today. NetApp is excited to announce our participation in the Citrix Ready Low Cost Converged Infrastructure Verified Program. Citrix is collaborating with industry leading system and storage vendors, including NetApp, via a variety of pre-architected, differentiated converged building blocks with CPU, storage, and network. We will be testing our storage and plan to share the results so customers can be confident that our solutions deliver results as expected. More information on the Citrix announcement can be found here.


 

We’ve also been talking about trying to take the cost and complexity out of Desktop Virtualization. Storage solutions supporting desktop virtualization environments must be flexible and keep per-desktop costs low -- without compromising performance, availability, or scaleability. When implementations follow best practices, desktop virtualization solutions can cost-effectively scale from hundreds to tens of thousands of concurrent users. However, when projects are improperly scoped for key requirements -- such as IOPS per desktop, user capacity and user profiles -- there can be a significant negative impact on the user experience, manageability, and scalability. One new tool I'd like to recommend you can use to get started on your desktop virtualizaiton projects is the FREE Citrix Desktop Transformation Accelerator. It is an expert based XenDesktop assessment, design, and implementation tool that you can use to simplify your desktop virtualization planning and installation projects with decision checklists, best practices, peer benchmarks, and how-to videos - all organized to make it easy for you to use.

 

Storage plays a key role in desktop virtualization, and is often the critical factor in the success of a project, and NetApp is working with Citrix to drive cost down without sacrificing performance and scalability.

 

NetApp is thrilled to be part of the Citrix Ready program which will  enable us to continue to deliver the most value to our customers.

When desktop virtualization projects follow best practices, solutions can cost-effectively scale from hundreds to tens of thousands of concurrent users. However, when projects are improperly scoped for key requirements, such as total IOPS and storage capacity required per desktop,  there can be a significant negative impact on the user experience, manageability and scalability.

 

Storage solutions supporting desktop virtualization environments must be flexible and keep per-desktop costs low -- without compromising performance, availability and scale, according to IDC, which stresses that the storage solution is "the most consequential part of the physical infrastructure" for enterprise desktop virtualization

 

 

Learn how NetApp storage systems complement Citrix XenDesktop solutions in this new article on SearchStorage.

FlexPod expands its leadership with six more validated designs including an update to the award-winning Microsoft Private Cloud now with Clustered Data ONTAP 8.2, and an industry first ACI-ready solution with the Cisco Nexus 9000 Series switch. Plus we’re adding the world’s largest software company, Microsoft, to the Cooperative Support Model, and rolled out an innovative FlexPod Unified Financing program that reduces the cost of financing a FlexPod.


FlexPod-Winter-Logo.pngFlexPod Leadership in Perspective

It’s been said leaders have the willingness to confront the major anxiety in their time.  And that’s what we did with FlexPod. We reduced the cost and complexity of IT infrastructure by doing the upfront partnering, designing, testing and documentation of popular business-class solutions. FlexPod has allowed customers to reduce cost, resellers to reduce time to solution, and both have gotten a product with better performance and availability.

 

FlexPod being a leader in the market is also important because IT professionals need to know they are making the best investment decision for their organization’s money.  Being #1 means a solution has been vetted by more people, it’s more established in the market, and is ultimately a safer bet for companies whose business relies on its IT infrastructure.

 

Here are some FlexPod leadership proofpoints:

  • FlexPod has over 3,300 customers around the world, with 100% annual customer growth
  • FlexPod has over 100 public references, most captured within Success Stories in the NetApp Customer Showcase
  • FlexPod won the "Best of TechEd" award for FlexPod with Microsoft Private Cloud
  • FlexPod won the Windows IT Pro Silver award for Best Hardware appliance
  • FlexPod has the broadest selection of validated hypervisor-based and bare-metal designs, including VMware vSphere, Microsoft Windows Server Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer, RedHat KVM, and Oracle VM
  • FlexPod has a leading ecosystem with validated designs with 4 of the 5 world's largest software vendors – VMware, Microsoft, SAP, Oracle – along with Citrix, Red Hat, Cloudera and Hortonworks
  • FlexPod has a growing list of over 1,000 resellers in 84 countries
  • FlexPod has leading resellers including 9 of the top 10 Federal integrators, and 13 of the 15 world's largest System Integrators
  • FlexPod delivers leading business benefits with 120% ROI and breakeven in 9 months
  • FlexPod has leading Savings with documented reductions in time, cost, equipment, space and energy, and comes with a 50% storage savings guarantee

 

Investing in Leading Innovation

One of FlexPod’s key differentiators is our growing library of Validated Designs, which we make freely available to customers and resellers.  Whereas the competition has “designs” that are really just 2-20 page spec sheets, we take the time to design, build out, test, document, and then enable Cooperative Support, for each of our reference architectures. An example is the 650 page guide for FlexPod Datacenter with Microsoft Private Cloud.  So far we’re up to 54 publications with the newest ones available online for free

 

This quarter we’ve announced another half-dozen validations, including designs to enable Cloud and broadened support of the Cisco Nexus Switch line.  Here they are at a glance, with links to the initial publications:

  1. FlexPod Datacenter with Microsoft Private Cloud – This award winning design now has faster performance and non-disruptive operations with NetApp Data ONTAP 8.2x, ODX and SMB 3.0 support. It also achieved Microsoft Fast Track validation status.  The Deployment Guide and Design Guide published November 18th.
  2. FlexPod Datacenter with Citrix CloudPlatform powered by Apache CloudStack – A validated design incorporating Citrix’s cloud orchestration for enterprise workloads that delivers Amazon-style scale, elasticity and operational efficiency. The design guide published December 13.
  3. FlexPod Datacenter with VMware vSphere 5.1U1 – This is an update to the FlexPod core architecture adding vSphere 5.1 Update 1 along with CDOT 8.2x P4, UCS Manager 2.1 and support for new Intel Ivy Bridge microarchitecture-based UCS servers. The design guide published December 24.
  4. FlexPod Datacenter with Cisco Nexus 6000 Series Switches – Adds a validation for the new Nexus 6000 switch, sporting more ports and ultra-low latency. We expect this to be a popular design for customers moving to 40GbE, or a shared infrastructure that can support HPC workloads. The design guide published January 9.
  5. FlexPod Express with VMware vSphere 5.1U1 – This newest FlexPod Express design updates the state of the art Converged Infrastructure for mid-sized businesses, with validation of vSphere 5.1U1 and NetApp Clustered Data ONTAP 8.2P4.  The Implementation Guide with details on deploying a VMware vSphere environment is targeted for February 28.  A Hyper-V version is planned for next quarter.
  6. FlexPod Datacenter with Cisco Nexus 9000 Series Switches – This is an industry-first converged infrastructure design that sets the stage for the Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure vision. The solution uses the Cisco Nexus 9300 Top of Rack switch, which is ACI-ready for customers refreshing their infrastructure in preparation for an ACI fabric.  The Design publication is targeted for February 28.

 

Expanding FlexPod Leadership with New Programs

FlexPod is expanding its well-regarded Cooperative Support Model to include a truly leading partner, Microsoft, the world’s largest software company.  Cooperative Support provides simplified and streamlined support for resellers and customer, across a solution stack that includes best of breed products from multiple, independent vendors.  Adding additional partners deepens this streamlining across more of the stack and/or across workloads.  The inclusion of Microsoft does both. The Cooperative Support service now extends its coverage to a number of Microsoft offerings:  Windows Server Hyper-V hypervisor, Windows Server operating system, System Center management, and Remote Desktop Services VDI; other Microsoft apps are covered as in the past through the TSANET.org multivendor support community agreement.  For FlexPod, Microsoft is engaged with reference architecture support readiness, joint escalation procedures as needed, and is a member of the FlexPod Cooperative Support Lab in RTP, North Carolina

 

FlexPod Unified Financing is a single Financing program created by NetApp and Cisco, in partnership with De Lage Landen, a worldwide leader in asset-based leasing.   It’s a combined program that allows the financing of NetApp and Cisco gear, along with third-party software and technology, vendor services, support and education, all on a single agreement. Whereas in the past a reseller or customer had to choose between either a NetApp or Cisco lease agreement, this is an alternative that removes overlap between the programs, and makes for simpler, more consistent proposals.   There is no size limit on deals, from small ticket to over US$250,000, and users can even expect a better rate from this integrated offering.  Because of increased scale efficiencies and improved residual valuation, we expect this program to deliver the lowest rates for FlexPod financing available anywhere in the world.

 

 

Winter Leadership Summary

FlexPod announces another winning season with six new validated designs including an industry-first ACI-ready design.  We added the world’s largest software company to Cooperative Support while introducing a FlexPod Unified Financing program to deliver the lowest financing rates on the planet.  Look for new executive and partner blog posts from NetApp, Cisco and Microsoft, Webpage updates, new Collateral, Sales Tools, Social media and other communications.  You can see and learn about FlexPod at upcoming events including CiscoLive! Milan and VMware PEX. FlexPod info is available on the web at NetApp.com/FlexPod with exclusive partner content available at FlexPodPartners.com, and a Community site for all users, partners and interested parties at FlexPodCommunity.com.  Follow us on Twitter at @mhardi01

Best wishes to everyone for a happy and prosperous 2014! We’ve got some great things planned in the coming months. Right now, our team is gearing up for Citrix Summit 2014, happening in Orlando, Florida from January 12-14. NetApp, a Gold Sponsor for 2014, is looking forward to showcasing some of our latest developments and joint solutions with Citrix.

 

One area that has been getting more and more attention is desktop virtualization. While I’m not a big believer in new year predictions, I do feel strongly that 2014 will be a big year for desktop virtualization and more importantly, mobile workstyles.  As organizations strategize on how to best accommodate today’s increasingly mobile workforce, desktop virtualization offers compelling advantages. Subsequently, we will be sharing how NetApp and Citrix combine to deliver desktop virtualization more cost effectively across a wide range of use cases; from the knowledge worker, to the high performance user. In fact, the high performance user may be the most challenging workload for desktop virtualization, which is why NetApp is delivering a joint solution with Atlantis Computing for high end users.summit_blog_atlantis.png

 

UPDATE (01-12-2014): Today, NetApp and Atlantis Computing are excited to announce the second of two reference architectures featuring the NetApp FAS2240-2 with Clustered Data ONTAP 8.2 and Atlantis ILIO software. The test results were nothing short of amazing. 1000 persistent desktops, 55 IOPS & 30 GB per desktop, all in 2U of storage.

 

Another exciting integration that we will be demonstrating at Summit will be our latest iteration of the Virtual Storage Console (VSC) for CloudStack, which is currently under development. VSC for CloudStack will provide (via plugin) storage management capabilities directly from the CloudStack management interface. Integrated operations include provisioning of primary and secondary storage, virtual machine backup and recovery, storage analytics, and more. Offloading backup and recovery to the storage tier results in simplified operations and scalability. Check out this demonstration video of our existing VSC for XenServer to learn more about our VSC product family.

 

We’ll also be showcasing our joint integration with Cisco, our validated designs, and what that means when combined with XenDesktop. Best, Best, and Krieger decided to deploy XenDesktop using FlexPod Validated architectures to reduce up front engineering and sizing efforts as well as streamline deployment and minimize risk. Their story will be posted soon, and I’ll update this blog as soon as possible.

 

We are all very excited about what we’re doing at Citrix Summit, and we’re looking forward to being there. If you’re attending, come find us (booth 306) at the event!

by David La Motta, Technical Marketing Engineer, Citrix Solutions

The answer is simple: Amsterdam and the Apache CloudStack Collaboration Conference, which took place in that fine city from November 20 to 22, 2013.

 

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As noted in previous blogs (here and here), a few of us packed our bags and headed over to the Old Continent to represent NetApp, share with the community what we have been working on for the last several months, and meet both old and new friends alike.

 

The venue at the Beurs van Berlage was truly a delight, blending historic architecture with vibrant brainpower and camaraderie focused around Apache CloudStack (ACS).  As gold sponsors to the event, NetApp had a table setup in the sponsor area; interest was great, with visitors posing a wide range of questions from the most basic to the most technically deep.  In general, our table-goers’ eyes lit up the most when we showed them a demo of the plugin we have been working on, called the Virtual Storage Console (VSC) for Apache CloudStack.

 

Our presentation about the Virtual Storage Console for Apache CloudStack on Friday started with a great quote from Mark Hinkle: “We grow when we share.”  The words were so apt for the conference, but more so they described precisely our intent in being part of the event.  We didn’t stand on stage to pitch NetApp; we stood in front of our captive audience to share an end-to-end view of files modified, flows followed and strategies implemented to get the VSC to do what it does.  Our overall goal was just that, sharing with other community members the broad steps needed to get an Apache CloudStack plugin implemented.  Of course, for our customers who attended our session, we talked about the value add the VSC brings to the table in terms of backup/recovery (backing up the ACS MySQL DB was a favorite), and the overall simplicity of managing your ACS-related NetApp storage via this plugin, be it from the user interface, from an API or from the command-line.

 

 

In general, the depth of knowledge shared by the community during this conference was amazing.  One of my favorite sessions was about the Google Compute Engine (GCE), which showcased a translation layer—so to speak—from the GCE into CloudStack.  If you have been following the news lately, it is the same Compute Engine that allows you to scale to 1 million requests per second, all for a whopping $10.  Not to digress, but talk about the power of a hybrid cloud! Fantastic, if you ask me. There were many other great sessions as well, and for those of you who were there you can attest that there was some running around to go from one session to another: it was all good content that nobody wanted to miss.

 

Chris Suich represented us well in the storage panel, taking a nonchalant stance at all questions presented to him.  The panel was a great way to gather thoughts and points of view from other storage vendors, and also answer questions from the audience.  There was talk about object storage, current storage usage models, roadmaps and more.  For the storage aficionado, this was like having an hour-long session of bliss.

 

We closed the conference giving away Surface tablets to two happy winners.  As presenters, we also got some gifts: a couple of ever-awesome Raspberry Pi computers, pre-loaded with Apache CloudStack itself.  Very cool indeed!

 

For those of you who haven’t been able to shake the XXX from your mind, they come from the Amsterdam coat of arms.  I leave it to you to find out exactly what each X represents.

 

Until next time!


     

By Michael Harding and Calvin Nieh

 

 

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If someone called FlexPod a star, we’d assume it was because of the recent #1 Worldwide Integrated Infrastructure ranking by IDC, or for the Best of TechEd win for the Microsoft Private Cloud solution, or just because of all the attention it’s getting after 3 successful years in the Converged Infrastructure business.  But it turns out the latest ‘star’ distinction is thanks to the readers of Windows IT Pro.

Today, the FlexPod Datacenter solution was given the Silver Award for Best Hardware Appliance and NetApp FAS Storage was given the Gold Award for Best Hardware Storage!

 

These Windows IT Pro Community Choice awards are especially well-received by the NetApp and FlexPod teams, as it’s the result of a reader-driven product-nomination process.  The Windows IT Pro     community first nominates, then votes for the best products of the year, and thus these wins reflect a widespread, organic interest in converged infrastructure offerings, FlexPod specifically, and NetApp FAS storage.

 

NetApp and FlexPod in the Microsoft Community

FlexPod has been part of  a strong contribution by NetApp and Cisco to the Microsoft market, with heavy investment in our integration with Microsoft technology, reflected in a number of related solutions and products such as the Microsoft Private Cloud, NetApp OnCommand Plug-in for Microsoft, SnapManager for Hyper-V and the Data ONTAP Powershell Toolkit.  This work has been rewarded by this community and Microsoft, including the very flattering recognition of NetApp as Microsoft’s 2013 Server Platform Partner of the Year as well as Microsoft’s 2012 Private Cloud Partner of the Year.

Along with these accolades, is a growing list of customers who are seeing the benefits of Microsoft private cloud and virtualization with Windows Server Hyper-V on FlexPod.  They include a range of companies, large and small, spanning the globe, such as: ActioNet, ING Direct, King County, and Toyota Tsucho.

 

Build your Microsoft Cloud on FlexPod

With new validated designs including one just published – FlexPod Datacenter for Microsoft Private Cloud – FlexPod makes ideal infrastructure for Microsoft environments.  FlexPod as the leading converged infrastructure lets you quickly and confidently deploy your shared IT platform.  And because it’s FlexPod, you’ll get the flexibility and efficiency that makes it easier to work with, and lower cost, than the alternatives.

 

Learn more about FlexPod and what makes it a star by visiting the FlexPod web page, NetApp.com/FlexPod.

by Sumit Lahiri, Sr. Product Manager, Service Provider solutions

 

 

Love it or leave it we are the “cloud”

 

 

The usage of the word “cloud” has become commonplace to the extent that it appears in almost every discussion related to providing or consuming IT. That said, I would like to take a moment to express my views with the hope to absolve the facts from the hype.

 

 

Been there done that…

 

 

In my conversations with customers, colleagues, friends and virtually any one in the business of consuming or providing IT, one would often hear various analogies being drawn to describe the cloud. For some, the cloud is about automation & manageability, others construe it as another name for virtualization and for yet others it is the “network”. Without being specific, the central message almost always has been packaging old wine in a new bottle – “been there done that..”.

I would agree with the statements in general, datacenter automation, manageability, virtualization and such others have been in vogue long before the concept of “Cloud” became prevalent. So this begs the question – what is different about “cloud” that hitherto has remained obscured.

 

 

 

To Cloud or not to Cloud…

 

If I may be given the carte blanche to provide yet another point of view, my response would be on the following lines… “Cloud is the consumer centric ideology on how IT should be consumed as a service”. Cloud is flipping the perspective from the provider to the consumer. That being said, as we begin looking from the consumer side an entirely new paradigm or ideology of consuming IT as a Service begins to emerge – the parallels are drawn with usage and consumption of any utility based service. The forces of supply and demand engage and dynamics of utility marketplace begin to apply.

 

Without being overtly pedantic, I have attempted to map the “consumer expectation” to “provider competence”, please refer to the table below. And truth be told, this model doesn’t look different from any other utility we consume, except there is no standard unit of consumption. This makes consuming and providing IT as a Service both complex and interesting.

 

 

 

Consumer ExpectationProvider Competence
On Demand ServiceRapid Provisioning, Elasticity, Automation
Consume from multiple providers without changes to mechanism
of consumption
Standard Interfaces, Data mobility, Security
AssuranceHigh Availability
Subscription PlansService Tiering, Chargeback, Smart Bundles

 

 

 

From the provider standpoint all of the existing concepts of automation, manageability and virtualization are still very much applicable. However, to provide the agility, scalability, elasticity and availability, the underlying data center architectures need to evolve.  Such is the evolution of software defined “X”. “Software Defined” is fundamentally a different design philosophy from “Software Implemented “X”. Not to digress, this seems to be good topic for a future post.

 

 

NetApp into the Cloud  and Back….

 

 

For the providers of IT (here I refer to both enterprise customers and service providers) the last few years has presented unprecedented disruption across all layers of the stack. While the choices for the providers has grown, their decision making process has become far too complex. Most Data Center decisions have long standing effects, and as such, need to be evaluated with a keen eye to discriminate between hype and sustainability.

 

This is where Netapp, together with our partners, is committed to supporting customers and helping them reshape the future of “Cloud” based IT consumption. While virtualization of compute and network functions helps to orchestrate functionally equivalent topology between on-premise and provider cloud, this needs to be accompanied by the movement of data – remember “Data has gravity”. Moving the data to and fro between clouds needs careful planning and is no easy feat to accomplish!  NetApp enables this with near zero downtime and minimal service disruption. In other words, we help our customers effectively “commoditize compute while personalizing data”. NetApp’s groundbreaking work with Amazon is the testament to this fact.

 

Tiered storage services, accelerated provisioning, simplified manageability & secure multi-tenancy are just some of the capabilities that NetApp provides out of the box. NetApp and Cisco have taken the best that NetApp has to offer and bundled it with best of breed architecture from UCS and Nexus to develop FlexPod, the “converged infrastructure” building block for cloud. Recently IDC published their quarterly results and are we are #1!

 

NetApp & Citrix – Winning together

 

On the open source front, NetApp has a strong commitment to simplify storage integration with OpenStack and CloudStack infrastructure orchestration frameworks. Speaking specifically on CloudStack, NetApp is developing it’s first Virtual Storage Console (VSC) plugin for Apache CloudStack. The plugin is expected to go into closed beta early January of next year.

 

The VSC plugin for CloudStack is designed to work with both Apache CloudStack 4.3, as well as, Citrix’s supported version of CloudStack (i.e. “CloudPlatform” version 4.3).For more details on the API specifications refer here .

 

Once the storage controller initial set up is complete, the cloud or the storage administrator may then leverage CloudStack either programmatically or via user interface to create storage pools. The administrator has the option to create different classes of storage (think gold, silver, bronze) based  on a set of technology attributes such as media type (SAS, SATA,FLASH or combination of such), backup & recovery, storage efficiency, auto growth and such others.

 

After the storage pool is provisioned, the cloud administrator can then create disk offerings from the pre-provisioned storage pools. Imagine if you may, the “disk offering” as an encapsulation of storage profiles and policies.

 

The “disk offerings” can then be selectively included while defining compute offerings and they serve as storage definitions for the compute. The design decouples the provisioning of storage from the allocation. This facilitates a vendor neutral implementation for providers to expose differentiated services to their customers.

 

In addition to simplifying the provisioning and allocation of storage, VSC plugin for CloudStack integrates with two hypervisors (XenServer 6.x and ESXi 5.x) to enable volume level backup and restore. The option of hypervisor assisted quiescing is also available.

 

CloudStack & OpenStack - a tale of two cities

 

Both OpenStack and CloudStack frameworks are built on common design philosophies: vendor neutral integration, web services based and modular architecture. Customer who have built services on CloudStack continue to reaffirm their commitment. NetApp is closely working with Citrix to further support that commitment. NetApp will continue to enhance our plugins and integrate with our diverse portfolio of storage offerings. Happy Stacking!

 

PS: David & Chris, our lead architect and lead developer on "VSC plugin" will be at Amsterdam this week attending the Apache CloudStack Collaboration Conference. If you happen to be there, please swing by and introduce yourselves to David & Chris.

Cloud continues to gain momentum big time…and CloudStack is one of the leading open source platforms for building and managing clouds.  The CloudStack Collaboration conference, aimed at users, developers and everybody else interested in CloudStack, will be happening in Amsterdam from November 20-22, and NetApp is proud to be a gold sponsor.

 

One of NetApp’s main considerations is to provide enterprise class storage solutions to all of our customers, and for those that are interested in or already are using Apache CloudStack  (or CloudPlatform, Citrix’s supported version of CloudStack) will have the opportunity to see the latest developments and innovation around what we're doing as part of this movement and our support for the developers in this space.

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Some of the things we'll be talking about at the event include our latest iteration of the Virtual Storage Console (VSC) for CloudStack, which is currently under development. For those not familiar with what VSC brings to the table, here is a demo of a currently shipping similar product for XenServer. VSC for CloudStack will provide (via plugin) storage management capabilities directly from the CloudStack management interface. Integrated operations include provisioning of primary and secondary storage, virtual machine backup and recovery, storage analytics, and more. Offloading backup and recovery to the storage tier results in simplified operations and and scalability. To read more about our VSC for CloudStack, as well as our considerations to help those looking to use the cloud as consumers, go to Sumit Lahiri's latest blog post, "Into the Cloud and Back….with NetApp." We've also got a beta program for Virtual Storage Console for Apache CloudStack for those interested in trying it out now.

 

Recently, I spoke with NetApp’s David La Motta, one of our experts that will be at the CloudStack Conference, and he was excited to share more about what we’ll be showcasing. “Virtual Storage Console for CloudStack will be the latest product to join NetApp’s VSC lineup, bringing the same orchestration and turn-key features (that made the hypervisor versions so popular) to the cloud and IaaS space.  All of the VSCs have similar features at their core, and they also share a common set of goals.  Those goals, which are very popular with IT administrators, include reducing complexity, saving time, and eliminating errors, while applying NetApp best practices in simple and clearly defined operations.” David was also glad to tell me that “we believe that sharing an end-to-end view of what it takes to create a product such as the VSC for CloudStack is not only beneficial, but can also be an enriching opportunity for others to see our technology up close and personal, and we can’t wait to share a live demo during our session.

 

If you’re attending Citrix CloudStack Conference, be sure to come by and meet our experts, David La Motta and Chris Suich.

 

Our customers and Citrix are very excited about what we’re doing at the CloudStack Conference, and we’re looking forward to being there. Come find us at the event!

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