After VMworld last week, I think it's safe to say that this truly is the year of VDI storage. We updated our book earlier this year, even changing the title to The New VDI Reality, to reflect how storage and graphics have changed in the last twelve months to make VDI a much more practical option. Plus, last week we saw evidence of a mindset change within VMware as they talked about uses cases for RDSH, persistent desktops, and local storage. Maybe we really are setting ourselves up for "The Year of VDI!" Not this year, but, you know, maybe next year.
We spent a significant amount of time either in recent months or at VMworld itself talking to the new breed of storage vendors with solutions dedicated to VDI desktops. Some of them, like Atlantis are software-only solutions that offer turnkey resolution to your VDI storage issues, while others like Greenbytes have software and/or hardware solutions. Even Liquidware Labs has a memory cache solution that, while not the same as what others are offering (it sounds a lot like vWorkspace's HyperCache), could be perceived as a sort of commoditization of VDI storage optimization since it's included in their ProfileUnity package. I've talked to Nutanix, Velobit, Pures Storage, and probably a handful of other companies in that time frame as well, and the ones I haven't talked to, Brian surely has (Greenbytes, Tegile, Nimble Storage, etc...).
Occasionally, a company finds itself in the desktop virtualization space without realizing it. Simplivity, with their Omnicube product that appears to borrow the best bits from all of the companies mentioned above, is one of those companies. I had a chance to catch up with them at VMworld, and I recorded a video with VP of Product Strategy, Jesse St. Laurent. Omnicube has been designed for datacenter-based workloads and consolidation, using storage pooling across hosts and inline deduplication. Since they've been focused on datacenter use cases, their current packages are very heavy on disk space, but they are putting together a VDI-based solution that will lower the amount of disk space while loading up their appliances on CPU and memory.
What I found most interesting comes at the end of the video, when I asked about the possibility of expansion cards in the Omnicubes. Specifically, I was thinking about NVIDIA Grid cards since that would mean there could be a single box, a single SKU even, that had all the components in it to fix VDI. While it's not possible to add the Grid cards into the Omnicube itself, it is possible to add them to other hosts and let those other hosts leverage the storage resources, including the optimizations, done by Omnicube.
Check out the video for more information. I'm not going to argue that Simplivity's way is the best way, because at the end of the day if you're getting the VDI storage performance and features you need for the price you want to pay, who really cares how the magic is being done. I will say, though, that Simplivity should be on the list of products to evaluate.