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Citrix WorkspacePod reference architecture uses Sanbolic, Moonshot

WorkspacePod reference architecture pairs HP hardware with Sanbolic software-defined storage that Citrix acquired this week.

Citrix wasted no time in parlaying its acquisition of software startup Sanbolic into a reference architecture for...

server-side storage systems that use HP hardware.

Citrix acquired Sanbolic on Monday, and Tuesday ventured into converged systems with the launch of WorkspacePod Powered by HP. The product provides a baseline recommendation for integrating compute, networking and storage resources in a unified hardware platform. Citrix WorkspacePod consists of Sanbolic software-defined storage management, an HP Moonshot computer server, and a three-node storage cluster of HP ProLiant SL4540 servers with 180 TB of hard disk capacity.

The Moonshot 4.3U rack is a system-on-a-chip design that includes a graphical user interface installed directly on the silicon die. Each node integrates 40 Gigabit Ethernet network fabric uplinks directly in the chassis and includes 32 GB of solid-state storage per user. A single Moonshot server for WorkspacePod contains 45 HP m710 cartridges for managing virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) sessions.

Citrix WorkspacePod is geared for performance, scale

Citrix claims each Moonshot cartridge will support more than 2,000 VDI sessions simultaneously. Moonshot connects to a three-node storage cluster of HP ProLiant SL4540 servers with 45 hot-swappable 4 TB SATA drives. Sanbolic’s Melio volume manager software orchestrates storage and services across the Citrix application stack.

Mark Bowker, a senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, said WorkspacePod provides a converged platform centered on storage density and economics.

“The HP moonshot platform offers a dense footprint that is well-suited for virtual desktop and application delivery. The acquisition of Sanbolic by Citrix adds further value by simplifying the deployment architecture, without compromising the performance,” Bowker said.

The Citrix-HP configuration is intended for enterprises that need scalability and highly available storage, said Momchil Michailov, Citrix vice president of storage technologies. Michailov founded Sanbolic and joined Citrix when the startup was acquired this week.

He said WorkspacePod Powered by HP has been rated in independent tests to deliver 2.5 million IOPS and 9.5 GB of throughput.

“What’s very attractive about this is the energy consumption of the Moonshot. Users can run their entire desktop on the Moonshot and energy consumption is about 1 watt per session,” Michailov said.

Second reference design available for smaller VDI installations

Citrix faces intense competition from established storage vendors that are promoting converged platforms, including EMC Vblock and Vspex, NetApp FlexPod, Nimble Storage SmartStack and Pure Storage FlashStack.

In addition to the high-end HP configuration, Citrix revealed a reference architecture for smaller WorkspacePod installations that deploy 2U chassis from DataOn Storage. The DataOn converged platform provides storage with 24 SAS drives and supports 150 to 450 VDI users.

Michailov said Citrix plans to add hardware partners in future iterations of WorkspacePod.

Reference designs for WorkspacePod will be available through March for proof-of-concept testing through HP’s white glove program and generally available through Citrix resellers in April. Pricing was not immediately available.

Next Steps

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Dig Deeper on Converged Infrastructure Management

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Does hyper-converged architecture make it easier to deploy VDI storage?
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For our industry we found that using the hyper-converged architecture when deploying VDI storage did make the procedure a bit easier. Where we found it made the biggest difference was with the hyper-converged architecture's ability to work through one-tier security protocols and how it installs at the kernel level, thus eliminating guest-VM complexity. Because of this the entire VDI storage deployment and integration is made much easier. This time saver is worth the investment.
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Hi Carol482: Thanks for responding. Which hyper-converged system did you use for VDI storage? There are quite a few players in the market now. We've heard varying accounts of how easy/difficult the H-C systems are to use for VDI.
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We decided to go with Nutanix based on its abilities to employ it at first in as small a capacity as needed and then grow the VDI system to however large our company demands. Also, the Nutanix VDI system accelerates and simplifies many of our projects. 
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