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XenDesktop on XenServer and IBM Hardware – Sizing Baseline and Reference Configuration

Citrix and IBM have created this great whitepaper on howto size baseline and reference configuration on XenDesktop on XenServer on IBM Hardware


The overall goal of this White paper is to provide sizing baselines for the deployment of Citrix XenDesktop on IBM BladeCenter Servers running Citrix XenServer.

A laboratory environment was created to test and validate the different components of the IBM hardware and the XenDesktop solution. The main focus of all tests conducted in the laboratory was to define the optimum number of virtual desktops that can be hosted on a single IBM BladeCenter HX5 server.

Reference configuration of the environment, methodology for conducting tests, and the findings from tests performed are presented in this document.

This document assumes that the reader has an architectural understanding of blade server hardware, storage area networks, and the Citrix XenDesktop Platinum components.

Executive Summary

The laboratory environment used for conducting all tests was based on the IBM BladeCenter HX5 Blade Server and the IBM System Storage N5200.

A total of two BladeCenter HX5 servers were used. Each featured dual 1.86GHz Nehalem-EX processors with Intel Hyper-Threading enabled. Both servers were equipped with 50GB solid state drives (SSD), dual port Gigabit NICs, and Qlogic Fiber Channel adapters. Memory configurations included 64GB of DDR3 RAM for the blade hosting virtual infrastructure servers and 128GB for the blade hosting the virtual desktops.

The IBM System Storage N5200 featured a cluster of two controllers and the IBM EXN4000 disk expansion unit with 14 FC 15K HDDs. The N5200 was attached to the HX5 Blade servers via 2Gbit Fiber Channel.

The latest release of the Citrix XenDesktop 5 components available at the time of testing were used to build the laboratory virtual desktop infrastructure. The XenDesktop 5 Site consisted of:

  • Two (2) Desktop Delivery Controllers for brokering and managing the virtual desktops
  • Two (2) Provisioning Servers for OS provisioning.

Citrix Licensing and Web Interface servers were also deployed as part of the environment. All of the XenDesktop 5 infrastructure servers were virtualized on XenServer 5.6 FP1.

Tests conducted within the laboratory environment validated the Citrix XenDesktop 5 hosted VDI solution running on the XenServer platform with IBM BladeCenter HX5 servers. Single server scalability tests show a single IBM BladeCenter HX5 server being capable of supporting an optimum number of 80 virtual desktops with a “medium user” workload using Microsoft Office 2010 on Microsoft Windows 7 Professional.

Memory utilization was determined to be the main bottleneck limiting the server from effectively hosting additional desktops with the XenServer virtual desktop host reporting 98% of RAM utilization with 80 active desktops.

A combination of tools was used to simulate user load, monitor resource utilization, and gather data in order to validate the reference configuration. The latest version of the Login Virtual Session Indexer (VSI) 3 from Login Consultants was used for load testing and capturing system response time data. Other tools used for benchmarking and monitoring the environment included Citrix XenCenter, Citrix VM Performance Utility, Windows Performance Monitor, and NetApp’s ONTAP .

Click here to download whitepaper – XenDesktop on XenServer and IBM Hardware – Sizing Baseline and Reference Configuration

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