F*** the SAN? Atlantis Computing says "F*** the disk!" with their "Diskless VDI" solution

It's been over two years since my now-famous "F the SAN" post. (The gist of the my argument was that you didn't need complex and expensive shared storage just for your desktop VMs.) Since then we've seen a plethora of non-SAN (or non-traditional-SAN) storage solutions for VDI. One of them is Atlantis Computing's "Diskless VDI" solution which Gabe and I awarded the "Best of Show" for the desktop virtualization category. (TechTarget is the sponsor of the VMworld Best of Show awards, and Gabe and I are the judges for the desktop category.)

Many of you know Atlantis Computing as we've written a lot about them over the past 3 or 4 years. Their ILIO software product uses existing hardware to create virtual, block-level deduplicated storage that's available to all your desktop virtual machines. Their Diskless VDI solution basically takes that and runs it in a RAM disk on each VDI host. So for the cost of an extra 50 or 100GB of RAM per host, you can get your primary storage for your VDI locally with hundreds of IOPS per VM. Atlantis claims 350 IOPS per desktop for $200 per user.

I talked with Atlantis's Josh Petty about this at the show. Watch this short video for more details:

The only thing that stinks about Atlantis's Diskless VDI today is that it only works for shared, non-persistent desktops, and my VDI preference is for persistent desktops. I'd love to see this technology work for persistent desktops too (though you'd have to have those images permanently stored on central storage until the user session was launched).

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I've done a few of these in my work as Cisco.  This solution typically blows away any IOPS success criteria a reasonable user could set.  The Atlantis folks are great to work with as well.


Integrates with existing SAN and network, that's one of the key advantages with pod like architecture for scaling with reduced risk. No extra hardware, patching, hosting.

In most cases and leading with persistent desktops its a no brainer.




We're hosting about 300 (shared) VMs in a XenDesktop Environment. These are provisioned with PVS, which caches read operations in server RAM. VMs write operations are done on a RAM-cache which is a reserved part of the VMs RAM.

Have I missed something? Isn't this doing exactly the same thing?


Hi Fuglemilt,

Atlantis ILIO complements XenDesktop PVS deployments by optimizing any IO traffic to the write cache of the VMs. Diskless ILIO will dedupe and compress the write cache down to below 600MB per Desktop, rather than reserving the typical 3-5GB per VM.  

You can also use the regular ILIO product, as it will optimize the write cache datastore both in terms of capacity and performance.  Our customers typically see 70-90% reduction in required capacity and IOPS.


-- Mark