Beyond VDI and XenApp Benchmarking
I’d like to take a moment to look beyond the original use case—benchmarking—that Login VSI creators (shout out to @MarkPlettenberg) envisioned. The purpose is to help our existing Login VSI customers get even more out of the product. For enterprises and governments not yet using Login VSI, I want to lay out the full value proposition so that you have more resources for a purchase decision.
First, an obvious statement: virtualized desktop environments are complex. With users sharing centralized servers, storage, software and even GPUs, the IT department faces added difficulty offering the users the same performance they grew accustomed to on their physical devices. Over time performance can dwindle with no traceable cause. What’s more, application updates affect performance in unpredictable ways unique to your specific environment.
Login VSI: You’ve come so far. The original Login VSI creators Henk Hofs and Mark Plettenberg in 2008
Testing in transformation projects
Using Login VSI for greenfield or transformation projects is already a given when end user experience is a priority. Most IT departments with XenApp or moving into VDI realize performance benchmarking is a necessary step for pilots and POCs. With so many technology and service options to consider when undertaking a new or expanding an existing VDI or XenApp project, capacity planning and load testing are essential to moving confidently into production. Testing should always be performed at scale with synthetic users, before real users are live and in production.
At this point you will want to validate performance: How many users can my infrastructure support before performance suffers?
Testing in production
Once in production, use Login VSI for change impact analysis. Successful centralized desktop environments are managed and maintained with a disciplined approach to release and change management that includes (automated) performance tests.
Every update, upgrade or other change to your environment can have a negative impact on end user productivity. For example, what may appear to be a minor Microsoft update may have a serious impact on performance in a virtualized desktop environment. Many IT departments take it for granted that new software versions are controlled by vendors for a negative impact. In fact, each update will have a unique impact depending on the specifics of the environment.
In this phase of your desktop virtualization deployment, you will use Login VSI to predict: What is the performance impact of necessary updates and upgrades?
Managing your VDI environment
Earlier we talked about using Login VSI for benchmarking, load testing, and capacity planning. Then we talked about using Login VSI for change impact analysis. In production, Login VSI is now a resource to manage your VDI or XenApp environment: How do I stay ahead of support tickets from end users and understand performance from the end users’ perspective? On the road to proactive performance management, you will want to use Login PI. Only by deploying a synthetic user can you truly understand what your production end users are experiencing. Monitoring products will tell you what is happening on your servers and if CPU is maxed out, but they won’t alert you to what is going on with end users.
Finally, test at scale
Whether in transformation or production phase, @MarkPlettenberg says: “Testing does not scale linearly! Test with the total number the intended users!” and so I repeat that mantra. The main pitfall VDI or XenApp performance testing is to assume that performance scales linearly with the number of servers. Data from limited tests cannot be accurately extrapolated to the full user base. There are many examples of hosted desktop infrastructure tests sample of real users that performed well initially, but later on experienced fundamental performance and capacity issues when production was scaled out. A complete environment responds fundamentally differently than when testing a subset of users.
I hope you found this helpful. The white paper Avoid VDI Performance Problems gives more detail.