How to Integrate CI and HCI for VDI Private Cloud

A recent Enterprise Technology Research survey found that the percentage of permanent work-from-home employees is expected to more than double in 2021, from 16.4 percent to 34.4 percent, according to the World Economic Forum. In addition, 48.6 percent reported productivity improvements.

A virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) enables remote workers to access a desktop that mirrors their in-office desktop experience from any location or device, thereby increasing productivity. IT teams also benefit from: 

  • Cost savings by replacing purchases of newer, more expensive hardware with “dumb” clients, aging devices, or even users’ own devices. 
  • Greater security by having data reside on a server rather than on devices themselves.
  • Centralized management that increases productivity with centralized patching, updating, and configuration.

VDI also has other use cases:

  • Healthcare – With customized permissions, a VDI enables healthcare workers to use any device from any location to access patient records, while protecting patient privacy.
  • Education – Students receive their own login credentials, allowing them to access their desktop from any location with any device, while IT teams centrally control access to content and add/delete desktops as students enter or exit the environment.
  • Manufacturing – VDI enables access for geographically dispersed employees and third-party partners and suppliers, while protecting intellectual property and enabling continuous operations.

The question is, how do you get there while still ensuring cloud-like benefits?

Build a VDI private cloud on converged and hyperconverged infrastructure

Undoubtedly, you have business-critical applications like database, financial applications, and file services. A converged infrastructure (CI)—pre-validated and tested server, storage and networking components that work together as an integrated infrastructure stack—can help protect your VDI private cloud and business-critical applications.

At the same time, hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) solutions must:

  • Simplify private cloud
  • Be easy to control
  • Deliver consolidated management
  • Provide a single vendor for support
  • Provide pay-as-you-go expansion and economics
  • Rapidly scale in response to business demands.

While traditional HCI vendors deliver a shared core architecture that virtualizes the storage operating system or integrates it into the hypervisor, an enterprise approach separates compute and storage. This more modern architecture, what IDC calls “disaggregated hyperconverged infrastructure (dHCI),” enables you to independently scale your infrastructure to accommodate the requirements of your data center and applications.

Finally, all data must be consistently formatted, efficiently managed, and easily transportable to facilitate easy movement between private and public clouds.

How NetApp helps:  FlexPod + NetApp HCI

FlexPod converged infrastructure and NetApp HCI work together to provide your end-user compute environment with seamless multiprotocol access to business-critical applications. 

FlexPod is a reference architecture for server, storage, and networking components that are pretested and validated to work together. This integrated infrastructure stack includes:

  • Cisco Systems Unified Computing System (UCS)
  • Cisco Nexus switches
  • Either VMware or Microsoft hypervisor technology
  • NetApp AFF/FAS storage 

NetApp AFF/FAS storage provides true multiprotocol access, storage efficiencies, and unparalleled data protection through NetApp’s data fabric, making it an ideal platform to consolidate your business-critical applications.

NetApp HCI flexibly scales your infrastructure according to what your data center and applications require. This predictable performance is based on an HCI industry first: quality of service (QoS) that guarantees minimum performance by application. NetApp HCI also integrates with hybrid cloud on Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, and the NetApp data fabric.  The NetApp HCI architecture:

  • Is specifically designed for private clouds like VDI.
  • Independently scales to 40 storage nodes and 64 compute nodes, so you can scale your VDI environment to the actual demands of the business.
  • Helps deliver a seamless end-user computing experiencefor all users by running virtual desktops with guaranteed QoS.
  • Provides a single vendor for your VDI storage and computing needs.

Figure 1. FlexPod provides the infrastructure for your business-critical applications and integrates with NetApp HCI through vCenter for a single point of management. 

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The magic sauce: NetApp data fabric

The NetApp Data Fabric helps you manage data—both on premises and in the cloud via a common structure and architecture—to enable VDI and accelerate digital transformation. It offers efficient data transport, software-defined management, and a consistent data format, enabling data to move more easily among private and public clouds. This approach is what allows hybrid clouds to operate in enterprise application environments.

Data protection for FlexPod converged infrastructure and NetApp HCI across the data fabric is handled via NetApp SnapMirror® replication technology.

For disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity (BC), SnapMirror can extend the data fabric either on premises or to the public cloud by mirroring data in secondary storage in case of disruption at the primary site. It also offers increased data protection options for NetApp HCI through the robust data management capabilities of ONTAP.

SnapMirror can also aid in data transfer between Element and ONTAP, allowing you to migrate data to the most appropriate system as requirements change. You can also take advantage of these new data mobility options to enable centralized backup and analytics and maximize the value and flexibility of your critical data.

Figure 2. NetApp’s Data Fabric

Logicalis: Your VDI private cloud expert

A NetApp Star Partner and one of five Cisco Global Gold Partners, Logicalis’s certified product engineers, services teams, and customer success managers work closely with you to ensure that you have the VDI solution that ensures you achieve your business outcomes. In fact, Logicalis is a proud recipient of NetApp’s Americas FlexPod Innovation Award for 2020.

Start by scheduling a complimentary, vendor-agnostic Cloudscape Workshop for you and your stakeholders. With a current-state view of your environment, we’ll identify areas for optimization and provide:

  • An architecture design with service level definitions for your storage, compute, and data protection.
  • A total cost of ownership and financial model.
  • An implementation plan using your actual data.

To learn more, download the Cloudscape Workshop datasheet or call your Logicalis account executive to schedule a workshop. Or contact us for more information.

A respected industry veteran with more than 25 years of experience, Dennis Boutorwick is a NetApp Hybrid Cloud Sales Specialist at Logicalis, responsible for helping enterprise customers navigate the ever-changing landscape of hybrid IT and solve complex business problems through technology enablement.