HP's Moonshot: a modern day blade that removes the sizing risk of VDI?

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.

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:

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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:

  1. How many users do you have?
  2. Buy one cartridge for every four of them.
  3. Done.

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.

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*I'm an HP employee disclaimer thingy*


Moonshot is very nice for the reasons you've stated.  it also gives a bit more graphics capacity than you can get from software based 3D acceleration and it can costs less than some of the shared GPU solutions out there.


Technically, I think one thing to consider is that the desktops delivered on the 128GB M700 carts are Non-Persistent only (32GB of storage per SoC).  They are delivered through Citrix XenDesktop and PVS without a hypervisor.  Users lose all changes upon a reboot.  So you still need storage for user files and settings.  The 256GB carts support persistent desktops with 64GB per user.


For me personally, the only real downside here is that this HDI (hardware desktop infrastructure) solution is Citrix based only.  I say this only because I specialize in VMware solutions and I want to play with bad boy.  There isn't any reason VMware can't support those 256GB carts with Mirage.  


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So yeah, I can say, you will need the 256GB carts with all of today's local apps.


this system is rocking my socks


-Josh


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Haha. Nice one, Rick! There's a good reason for VMW to bring back Mirage from the dead.


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I have a true distaste for Citrix.  I strictly use VMWare for all vitalization.  I would love to see VMWare write their own hypervisor to utilize this hardware and make use of the VSan features to give more storage flexibility/redundancy. Combine that with the GPU's and performance increases vs cost would be great. That would be a true game changer.


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What would really make this great is if each cartridge came with 4 OEM Windows licenses for each cartridge, eliminating the need for VDA on the accessing device.


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We would love you to share your thoughts on Moonshot Servers with the IT Central Station community. You can see what other users think about the solution here; https://www.itcentralstation.com/products/hp-moonshot
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