Last week I briefly mentioned HP's Moonshot product in an article I did about VDI storage. After reading that article, Jack asked some questions and pointed out that we hadn't actually written a proper article on Moonshot, so that's what I'm doing today.
What is Moonshot?
If you haven't heard of HP's Moonshot hardware, it's essentially a modern day blade system. Like traditional blades, there are multiple cartridges that each have their own processors, RAM, and storage. The current Moonshot systems have 45 cartridges in 4.3Us:
HP sells different configurations based on the specific use case (video rendering, scientific computing, desktop & application delivery, etc.). For their hosted desktop solution, HP sells a Moonshot system where each cartridge has four AMD 1.5GHz System-on-a-Chip processors (with GPUs), 32 GB memory (via four 8 DIMM modules), and 128 or 256 GB of iSSD storage (divided into 32 or 64GB partitions).
In other words, you get 4 users per cartridge (for 180 users in each 4.3U enclosure), and each user gets his or her own 1.5GHz SoC, GPU, 8GB RAM, and 32 or 64GB SSD.
So what's the point?
Way back in 2009, I wrote an article called, "You know why I like blade workstations? Because they're predictable." I guess I could just copy-and-paste that entire article here, and you'd understand my love for the HP Moonshot. :)
The key advantage for me is that they're predictable. Each user has dedicated resources, so you don't have to worry about performance or IOPS or shared memory or CPU or anything. Planning is simple:
- How many users do you have?
- Buy one cartridge for every four of them.
So how is this different than blades?
Ok, fine, so Moonshot is like VDI that's super predictable? Fine. But what makes Moonshot different than the blade workstations that have been available for the past ten years?
First, it's the density. Moonshoot is 180 users in 4.3Us, versus, what, 20 users in 3Us for blade workstations?
Second is that Moonshot remote desktops are not super powerful—and that's a good thing. Full on blades in 2014 are overkill for single user desktops (unless they need workstation class hardware), so Moonshot trades the performance for density and cost.
The bottom line for me is that Moonshot is a serious contender for general purpose VDI users. It's a bit more expensive than pure VM-based solutions, but in return it removes a lot of the complexity and "unknowns" of VDI performance and sizing.