In this post, I’m going to talk about the evolution of end user computing (EUC), and why for the modern EUC buyer, HCI is a must-explore path. If you’re not familiar with NetApp’s HCI announcement, I encourage you to explore what’s coming up.

 

And if you’re attending VMworld US 2017 this week, stop by booth 421 and ask all the questions. Without further ado …

Traditional designs – Inflexibility due to pods/silos

Having lived through “the decade of VDI” I am glad we are where we are today. Back in the day, there was never a way to granularly control one group of users and keep them from affecting another.

 

Users are the most unpredictable asset of the organization. When the dev team decides to run SETI at home on virtual desktops or have a departmental LAN party during lunch to get their Doom fix, you know the helpdesk is going to get busy. To get around this chaos we built “pod”-based infrastructures to provide users isolation. Isolation was super coarse, however, and you could only protect large groups from affecting other large groups.

 

So we tried to understand chaos with assessment tools. While they didn’t catch every crazy behavior, they provided us with imperial data to assist in sizing these “pods” for CPU, RAM, IOPS, capacity, concurrency, app usage, graphics, and network. Once you had the formula inputs from Lakeside or Liquidware of the number of concurrent users, apps they used, and resources consumed, you had a formula for calculating how much data center CPU, RAM, network, IOPS, and GPU was required to build a 2000+ user POD.

 

Considering these PODs are probably a full rack of gear, the unit of scale and isolation of resources is significant.

 

New design – EUC as a mixed workload

As VDI evolves, end user apps and end user data (files) become more accessible through a virtual workspace, enhancing EUC (end user computing). An emerging trend is collapsing previous VDI silos to run as just another workload in a truly software-defined data center. NetApp calls this out as a key use case for next generation data centers and outlines the value of resource efficiency and much more.

 

IT is seeking the business value promise of the modern desktop virtualization infrastructure through desktop, end user apps, and end user data (files) accessible via a virtual workspace. VMware leads the charge here with Horizon Suite.

 

Now we approach a truly software-defined set of resources to rapidly provision and consume data at the pace of business.

 

For the modern EUC buyer, HCI leads the way

Today’s EUC buyer is looking for infrastructure beyond just convergence of hardware. They want fully programmable and massively simplified infrastructure to build apps, VMs, and offer consumption of IT to all modes of operations. Hyper converged infrastructure (HCI) has been growing in adoption especially for EUC because of its ability to deliver resources as simply as possible.

 

Traditional SAN and converged infrastructure pale in comparison to HCI because of their complexity. The result is greater adoption and utilization of HCI for delivering EUC.

 

What falls short with first-gen HCI

As HCI came to the market, the first wave was “no SAN” because the disks were direct-attached storage (DAS) and managed via the HCI console. It was a truly unified provisioning experience. Rapidly, as that approach succeeded, the market grew to an abundance of offerings.

The second-wave debate was:

  • HCI “in kernel” – storage managed in the kernel of the hypervisor
  • HCI “guest VM” – storage being managed in a guest VM outside the hypervisor kernel

So much has been debated about strengths of both and both are great for first-gen HCI. The reality is that first-gen HCI keeps hitting scaling issues. Inflexibilities also make it impossible to scale the original VDI resource requirements: compute, ram, IOPS, capacity, etc.

 

The design criteria wants true software-defined capabilities to pool, abstract, and extend. But this results in first-gen HCI limitations around:

  • Global efficiencies of inline dedupe
  • True multi-tenancy
  • Performance controls to keep bully VMs from creating the noisy neighbor effect (which is why you build silos)
  • Scale – both size of scale and flexibility in how you scale
  • API programmability

Why NetApp HCI for EUC

NetApp Analyst Day announced the next generation of HCI. What NetApp HCI delivers is fully extended capabilities against a design criteria that demands simplicity, performance, scale, flexibility, pre-programmed capabilities, and fully programmable APIs.

 

The platform is fully integrated to deliver a VMware Private Cloud experience fully provisioned within minutes out of the box. Built upon the foundation of NetApp Element OS, you’ll experience all that has thrilled EUC buyers previously: QoS, flexibility and scale, and overall simplicity.

 

Gone are the silos. Gone are scale limitations. EUC will leverage SQL and other workloads with full confidence. You will find globally efficient resources available with simplicity.

Keith Norbie

At NetApp Keith drives Strategic Alliances in partnership with the business units and currently leads VMware, Data Protection (Veeam, Commvault, Rubrik) and SAN/Brocade. This applies strategy development, advising/collaborating with product managers, incubates new offerings, cross functional solution development, and executive interlocks. All of this is to drive GTM net new revenue to NetApp via partners in key areas like Private and Hybrid Multi-Cloud, EUC (VDI), Modernized Data Protection and Next Gen SAN for Enterprise Apps.

Keith joined NetApp in February 2016 with the acquisition of SolidFire and previously had 20 years in the channel as an executive including a successful acquisition built from a startup. He delivers a passion for delivering results through clarity, focus (less is more), relationships, intense curiosity, and seeking signal from noise.