The Super Bowl is over (congrats, Saints…hopefully the Browns can do that someday), and we're getting into full swing planning our VDI shootout, otherwise known as Geek Week. We've got conversations going with all of the companies involved (VMware, Citrix, Microsoft, Quest, and Red Hat) about who they're sending out and when, but we've yet to formalize a test plan. I know we've asked before, but we now have a bit clearer idea of what we want to do, so I want to spell that out and see what your suggestions are.
First off, we're not trying to do a scalability test or to pit any single hypervisor against another. In fact, we're not even out to thoroughly pit one solution against another, because we can't test scalability and performance for the many different use cases for five different vendors in one week's time.
For this week, our goal is to expose everyone to the top solutions on the market, so that people with experience with only a few solutions (or none at all) can get a taste of what else is out there. Then, people can dig in deeper with anything that seems interesting and apply it to their specific use case, rather than some catch-all that we would try to put together.
The plan is to go through an installation of the products, which will hopefully take half a day or less. After that, we'll take a look at the configuration and management of the product before moving on to the user experience. Finally, if we haven't already hit on them, we'll take a look at any other features that people say they want to see. If we hear "I want to see Quest EOP," we'll do our best to get that in there (that's a poor example, of course we're going to look at EOP, but you get the point).
We'll rely on screen captures and video pretty heavily, especially in the case of user experience, where an over-the-shoulder video in real time will give us the best vantage point for what's actually going on.
As for timing, we're going to start working with the products on March 8th, at which time we'll tweet about it and maybe write a few things or post interesting things to the website. Then, we'll take a couple weeks to assemble all of the raw video and notes into something more concise. On March 29th, we'll begin posting articles, videos, and whatever else we come up with, one vendor per day.
What we've got to work with
Our hardware is modest, but not bleeding edge. We've got a handful of different thin clients to use, which will allow us to show off the capabilities of each solution without getting piles of thin clients to sift through. Maybe someday we'll do a Geek Month full of thin clients, but don't count on it.
The servers we've got are Dell t605's, one with dual six-core AMD processors and 16 GB of memory, and the other with dual quad-core AMD processors and 12 GB of memory. Each server has four 160 GB SATA drives. Certainly nothing fancy, but it should get the job done.
What we need from you
Now that you know what we want to accomplish and what we've got to work with, we need to know a few things from the community. Things like:
Storage - even though we're not doing scalability, will we need something more robust (maybe I shouldn't say "more," since four SATA drives could hardly be considered "robust")?
WAN Emulation - I've talked with a few vendors about simulating WAN conditions, and I think it's an important thing to show for each product. Everyone seems to have their favorite simulator, and I'm curious what everyone else uses. So far, the suggestions have been Network Nightmare, WANem, and Apposite Technology's Linktropy Mini2. If you have any endorsement for one of those products or would like to throw another one out there, we'd love to hear it.
Applications - We want to keep this pretty simple, so the apps we do are probably just going to be simple things like Office, IE, and such. If there's anything specific that you'd like to see that won't require a huge amount of extra work that would take time away from the actual VDI products, let us know what they are.
Actual test methodology - Since we're not doing scalability testing, we don't need to go nuts with something like SysMark or anything like that. We just need to make sure we do as much the same between vendors as possible. If you have any additions, subtractions or suggestions to make about the plan outlined above, let us know.
That's all I can think of at the moment, but (this is the last time I'll ask) please let us know what you'd like to see. If you don't want to comment, shoot me an email. We want all the thoughts and suggestions that we can get so that we can make the best use of our limited time with each vendor. If this is successful, we can then decide how to proceed with future Geek Weeks, maybe diving deeper into one product or doing the same high-level taste of some other technology (client hypervisors, layering, etc…).