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  • © 2012 CisCo systems, inC. and Xangati. all rights reserved.

    Xangati VDI Dashboard and Cisco Virtual Experience Infrastructure (VXI)

    Smart Solution 2.6

    WHITE PAPER

    OCTOBER 2012

  • © 2012 CisCo systems, inC. and Xangati. all rights reserved. white paper

    What You Will Learn Xangati and Cisco have partnered together to validate Xangati’s vdi dashboard software in Cisco’s vXi smart solution 2.6 for both Citrix Xendesktop and vmware view. this white paper focuses on how Xangati’s performance assurance solution is deployed and integrated within the Cisco vXi framework. additionally, it will highlight the operational benefits for an it organization to have a turnkey virtual appli- ance (with no desktop agents) that explicitly tracks the end-to-end performance of a vdi environment to ensure optimal Cisco vXi user experience.

    Introduction Cisco’s virtualization experience infrastructure (vXi) smart solution accelerates the successful adoption of the virtual workspace by of- fering an open and validated virtual desktop, voice and video solution. Cisco vXi increases business efficiency, productivity and agility by delivering an exceptionally flexible and secure workspace solution with uncompromised user experience, anywhere and on any device.

    Cisco vXi builds on Cisco’s data center, network and collaboration technologies, combined with services and support to deliver a compre- hensive solution that simplifies deployment and minimizes implementation risk. with Cisco vXi, you can take advantage of an architectural approach that delivers new virtual workspace services, while lowering operational costs.

    Xangati is the recognized leader in performance management solutions for virtualization and cloud environments. Xangati has worked with Cisco to integrate its solution into Cisco vXi. organizations that deploy Xangati improve the performance assurance of their virtual environ- ments through a software suite that proactively tracks cross-silo performance health live and to the second. Xangati’s patented in-memory performance management engine is at the heart of the solution’s ability to quickly identify performance storms (e.g., storage storms, network storms, etc.) that can spontaneously affect the user experience. Xangati’s vdi dashboard provides administrators immediate ac- tionable insights about the cause of a storm and can help it remediate the problem before users notice the performance impact. Xangati’s solution is framed by a live streaming user interface (Ui) with the ability to record and replay all activity in the infrastructure. Xangati’s novel UI delivers 3600 insights for all the key stakeholders that are responsible for delivering an end-to-end Cisco vXi solution.

    Challenges with Managing VDI to quote gartner, in the presentation Managing the End-User Application and Desktop Experience the challenge in managing hosted virtual desktops (hvds) is that “you are trading a configuration management problem for a performance problem.” to that end, it is of paramount impor- tance that the organization responsible for the Cisco vXi service has continuous insights into performance health of their entire infrastructure.

    moreover, gartner highlights that “hvds add new management layers that the end-user computing team hasn’t dealt with before in the research report hvd organizational models. organizations delivering hvds must be acutely focused on availability and performance, and end-user computing administrators typically do not have the server, storage and networking expertise required to identify performance problems and fix them.” therefore, gartner expressly recommends, “organizations should assign individuals in each functional domain to be hvd leads. ideally, multiple people within each technical domain will have hvd-specific knowledge to ensure availability of resources.” to align with gartner’s cogent recommendations it is absolutely imperative that there be a single solution that can track the interactions among these diverse domains in a way that this collective team can work together to deliver optimal performance to Cisco vXi end users. Xangati’s vdi dashboard meets these require- ments by being the only solution built to gather live and continuous insights about network, server, storage, hypervisor, end-user and vdi session protocol activity and to present them in one common Ui.

    How Xangati’s VDI Dashboard Integrates with Cisco VXI Smart Solution Xangati’s software solution deploys as an open virtualization format (ovF) virtual appliance that installs through vmware’s vCenter as a vsphere vm. the Xangati virtual appliance has an integrated os, database and Xangati’s in-memory performance engine that allows an it organization to have a turnkey implementation that will be up in running in their Cisco vXi environment in under an hour. a single Xangati virtual appliance can manage thousands of desktops and multiple vCenters, which is critical in large-scale Cisco vXi environments.

    [For installation details on installation please refer to this Xangati installation video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=igtxfw2cit4]

    page 2

  • © 2012 CisCo systems, inC. and Xangati. all rights reserved. white paper

    the Xangati approach is unique in the vdi performance management market in that it only gathers its insights from pre-existing data feeds/ apis within the Cisco vXi environment that allow it to track both infrastructure performance and end-user activity (even in non-persistent desktop environments). this lightweight model is the ideal alternative to agent-based instrumentation approaches, which are known to introduce additional complexity to desktop images and create a tax on the hardware infrastructure by reducing the desktop vm density on a UCs.

    Figure 1 illustrates the various data feeds/apis that the Xangati virtual appliance leverages to continuously analyze the performance of critical elements within the vXi environment. these disparate cross-domain data feeds/apis are processed continuously by Xangati’s in-memory performance management engine, which has a four-microsecond object handling time. the microsecond level capabilities of the Xangati system have two critical functional benefits. First, the system has granular time resolution in regards to the information that the system processes about the environment allowing it to immediately identify transient and spontaneous performance storms. second, the system maintains this granular time resolution at great scale with the ability to track up to 250,000 objects within the Cisco vXi environment with a single virtual appliance.

    Figure 1: Highlights where the Xangati VDI Dashboard interacts with the VXI environment to gather its insights.

    in terms of gathering data feeds from the Cisco elements within the vXi environment the Xangati solution makes good use of the unique interactional insights that come from Cisco’s netFlow protocol. the netFlow protocol is effectively pushed on a continuous basis to the Xangati virtual appliance by elements within the Cisco nexus switch family. the Cisco nexus 1000v and 1010 virtual switching solutions provide continuous insight about networked activity traversing the vmware vsphere environment. in addition, the nexus 5000 and 7000 series core switches provide insight on networked interactions between the desktop virtualization environment and key back-end applica- tion and ip storage activity. overall, Xangati’s ability to track second-by-second activity across the network allows the vXi administrator to understand the aggregate workload of the vdi protocols such as hdX or pCoip. this is critical information for optimizing desktop protocols across lan and wan connections.

    moreover, Xangati leverages Cisco’s ip sla protocol to measure critical site-to-site performance metrics. Xangati displays detailed insights on when network latency or packet loss are directly affecting Cisco vXi users in a remote office. this is critical insight for environments where users are perhaps on another continent from their desktops in a centralized data center.

    page 3

  • © 2012 CisCo systems, inC. and Xangati. all rights reserved. white paper

    Xangati also gathers key performance insights from other components of the Cisco vXi smart solution. vmware vsphere’s apis provide rich information about both compute and datastore performance. although, there are a number of solutions that also leverage information from vsphere’s vCenter, there are a couple of capabilities that distinguish Xangati’s model. the first is that Xangati’s in-memory collection and collation architecture allows Xangati to grab vsphere’s real-time statistics out of the ram of the vCenter server for every object/metric that it tracks. this allows Xangati to have a time resolution of 20 seconds for vsphere statistics whereas other solutions will grab informa- tion from the vCenter on 5-minute, coarse-grain averages. second, the Xangati solution gathers interactional insights for every consumptive performance metric it gathers. For instance, when Xangati gathers a datastore latency number for a specific lUn, at the same time grab information about every vm interacting with that lUn at that moment in time and at what input/output operations per second (iops). this allows us to correlate how transient interactions affect system performance.

    Xangati sees below the infrastructure level to gather rich desktop os and vdi session level information as well. through microsoft windows management interface (wmi), Xangati is able to interact with both microsoft windows and Citrix or vmware’s vdi agent on both an ad-hoc a

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