NetApp has published NetApp All Flash FAS Solution for VMware Horizon 6 and vSphere Virtual Volumes | TR-4428; a major update that combines both TR-4307 and TR-4335 you may have seen released last year.  The testing in this reference architecture demonstrates how NetApp All Flash FAS delivers best in class storage performance for VDI, enhanced efficiency capabilities with the clustered Data ONTAP storage operating system, all while keeping storage costs low.

So what’s new with this reference architecture? Well there is something for everyone, no matter the job title:

For the CXO

We have now been able to validate our new $39 desktop number for 4,000 users with the new pricing discounts, breaking our previous record of $55 per desktop.  Similar lower $/desktop numbers for lower desktop counts (e.g. 1000, 1500, 2000 desktops) can be achieved with lower-end All Flash FAS systems. This includes the following:

    • AFF8060 HA pair
    • 2 shelves of 400GB SSDs (48 total SSDs)
    • NetApp Clustered Data ONTAP storage operating system with all software included
    • 3-year premium support with 4-hour parts replacement 

For the End-Users

Looking at the end-user experience is essential when determining if a VDI implementation was successful.  It’s expected that the end-user experience for VDI must be as good or better than any previous experience on a physical PC.  Data ONTAP 8.3.1 now delivers even better performance for VDI than ever before, which is especially important in environments where a quality end-user experience is paramount. See the table below (Table 1) for a summary of the results.

For the IT Staff

This testing was completed using VMware Virtual Volumes (VVOLs), which NetApp is the first and only storage vendor to be fully certified for.  See this VMware VVOL Support KB for more information.  If you’re unfamiliar with the benefits of VVOLs, see this blog post on how NetApp Unlocks the Power of VMware VVOLs.

Up to 30:1 data reduction for VDI can be achieved by the Data ONTAP 8.3.1 storage operating system using Inline Dedupe, Always-On Dedupe, and Inline Compression enhanced efficiency features without compromising on performance.


To summarize, this reference architecture is based on a VMware Horizon 6 architecture used to host, provision, and run 2,000 Microsoft Windows 7 virtual desktops on a NetApp AFF8060 storage system configured with Data ONTAP 8.3.1. The testing covered common administrative tasks such as provisioning and booting, persistent tasks such as patching, and nonpersistent tasks such as performing refresh and recompose maintenance activities. With all of these tasks, it was possible to understand time to complete, storage response, and storage utilization regardless of desktop type.  In all tests, end-user login time, guest response time, and maintenance activities performance were excellent – reaching a combined peak input/output operations per second (IOPS) of 156,686 while averaging 50% CPU utilization during most operations.   See the below table for a summary of the results.

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All test categories demonstrated that, based on the 2,000-user workload and maintenance operations, the AFF8060 system should be capable of doubling the workload to 4,000 users and still be able to fail over if necessary.  At a density of 4,000 VMs on an AFF8060 system with the same I/O profile, storage for VDI might be as low as US$39 per desktop.

Scott Gentry is a Product Manager for Virtual Desktop Solutions at NetApp. Follow him on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn