Virtual Desktops from CWPS – Transforming IT in the Office

Virtual Desktop InfrastructureA virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) provides users with desktops and applications on their computers, notebooks, and mobile clients. They get direct access to data and features – stored and managed in the data center as if they were loaded on their local devices. IT Managers get peace of mind with a comprehensive solution set that offers the following advantages:

Stronger security – Virtual desktops are hosted in the corporate data center, which better protects employees and information from malicious viruses and Trojan attacks.

Business continuity – With desktops and data hosted in the corporate data center, it is easier to back-up and archive according to your organizational policies. Restores are easier too, providing consistent end-user availability of desktops and protection from outages due to PC failures.

Risk mitigation – Since desktops, apps and critical information are hosted in the corporate data center, nothing ever leaves the corporate campus. Access devices are password protected and transmissions between the data center are encrypted. IT staff can even monitor and prevent data downloads to external devices.

Higher employee satisfaction – Employees can use any device (thin clients, laptops, desktops, tablets, smartphones), running any operating system (Windows, Mac OS, Linux, etc.) to access their desktops, which are hosted and managed in the corporate data center. Their experience will be on par with, if not better than, the experience they have with their current desktop/laptop, with the environment being far more secure for everyone.

Streamlined compliance – Your organization has the tools required to stay in complete industry and regulatory compliance. You can run reports and ascertain compliance for your specific industry - healthcare, finance, government, education.

Virtual Desktop solutions are implemented by CWPS in partnership with industry leaders, who have proven expertise and experience deploying the entire solution stack. CWPS provides a single point of contact for everything.

A successful Virtual Desktop implementation starts with planning. Let's get the conversation started. Contact us today: (877) 297-7472 or connect@cwps.com.

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Virtualization Challenges: Storage Management

data-storageStorage is the most critical and valuable resource in a virtual environment as it serves as the persistent foundation for the virtual machines running on a host. Because storage can make or break a virtual environment, having a properly architected and well-performing storage system is paramount. Storage is typically also the most costly part of your virtual environment as well.

Because of all these factors, you need to ensure that your storage operates at peak efficiency without bottlenecks and that you do not needlessly waste space. Managing your storage resources is a constant challenge - not only do you need to ensure that they perform well, you also need to ensure you have sufficient capacity for your virtual machines.

The Biggest Virtualization Challenge: Manageing VM Snapshots

One of the biggest challenges with virtual disks lies in managing VM snapshots and thin disks. Thin disks allow for over-provisioning of storage resources as virtual disks start with a minimum of space and grow as needed as disk blocks are written to them by the guest OS. Virtual machine snapshots can be a nuisance because they are often forgotten and slowly consume space on your datastores.

Thus, snapshots and thin disks present a double threat to your storage resources as they consume growing amounts of disk space and put your datastores at risk for running out of space. Having your datastores run out of space is a situation you want to avoid at all costs as it can result in all your VMs being suspended and data corruption within the VMs.

Of all the resources that your host supplies to the virtual machines running on it, storage is the slowest resource because it relies on mechanical hard drives. Storage resources are typically not directly attached to hosts in virtual environments and instead, shared storage is commonly used to take advantage of the advanced features that virtualization provides. The path from your VM to the underlying storage device is complicated with many individual components and queues that I/O must go through. There are also many factors that can impact storage performance and cause I/O bottlenecks such as:

  • Disk alignment

  • Multi-pathing

  • Improper configuration and settings

  • Excessive I/O

  • Improper architecture/design

  • Too many snapshots

When an I/O bottleneck occurs, it can choke the life out of your VMs and slow them to a crawl. The biggest challenge with I/O bottlenecks is detecting them and figuring out their cause so you can resolve them. The key to this is having a good tool that can monitor your storage resources and alert you when performance is degraded and show where that degradation is occurring in your storage subsystem.

Trying to rely on vCenter Server for this can be difficult because it has only basic reporting capabilities. Veeam ONE makes storage management much easier by providing full storage monitoring capabilities including disk space, I/O latency, disk issues and datastore monitoring. Veeam ONE also helps you keep an eye on over-provisioned datastores, provides utilization trend analysis and assists in optimizing VM placement on datastores.

 

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VMWare Management Challenges: Monitoring and Reporting

12661404_sVirtual environments are like small children, they require constant supervision and monitoring. If you ignore them and don’t keep an eye on them you could end up with a real big mess on your hands.

Monitoring performance in a virtual environment is much more complicated than with traditional physical servers because physical resources are shared by many virtual machines. In a virtualized environment there is more to monitor and inter­preting the statistics and results can be difficult.

In traditional environments, performance is monitored inside the guest operat­ing system. This isn’t effective in a virtual environment as the guest OS no longer sees the underlying physical hardware of its host. Instead, the VM sees virtual hardware which is emulated by the hypervisor. This means the guest OS doesn’t know the big picture and is only aware of its own virtual hardware. Because of this, monitoring needs to be performed at the virtualization layer instead of the guest OS layer because direct access to the physical hardware results in accurate moni­toring by the virtualization layer.

There are also many performance statistics that are unique to virtual environments that have to do with things like how resource access is scheduled by the hypervisor. So not only do you have to monitor at the virtualization layer, you also have to know what to look for and how to interpret the statistics.

vCenter Server does provide performance statistics for your virtual environment but it has some limitations and does not help you understand what the statistics mean. Also, while monitoring performance at the virtualization layer is important, you still need to monitor performance at the guest OS layer as well because there are many relevant performance counters that matter regardless of the virtualized environment.

vCenter Server only reports on the virtualization layer and does not extend too far into the guest OS layer, so vCenter Server by itself does not provide a complete monitoring solution. Veeam ONE not only monitors at the virtualiza­tion layer but it also provides visibility into the guest OS and provides capabilities for managing processes there.

There is an overwhelming number of performance statistics related to a virtual en­vironment and trying to analyze and understand them all can be very complicated and time-consuming. Many of the performance statistics are not all that useful except in certain situations, and you should focus on the handful of statistics that are key indicators to the performance of all of your host resources.

Here are some of the key statistics in each resource area:

  • CPU Ready
  • Mem Swapped
  • Disk GAVG
  • Disk Commands
  • Net Usage

You can’t afford to be reactive when it comes to performance in a virtual environ­ment. — you must be proactive to recognize and prevent big problems from oc­curring. Monitoring shouldn’t be a periodic task. If you don’t do it continuously, how will you know if you have a new problem today or if it’s been there all along. Your virtual environment might be trying to tell you something, and if you’re not listening, you’re not going to hear it. Veeam ONE VMware provides maximum visibility of your virtual environment so you are aware of everything that is happening there.

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