vCenter and VDI: Protecting the Heart of It All

19 07 2010

It’s a cold world out there, and while we work our fingers to the bone providing services to the business, no one is watching our back in IT.  In fact, if your organization is anything like some of the ones that I have worked for in the past, there are a million set of eyes watching, constantly waiting for something to fail so they can scream their collective heads off.

OK, so hopefully it’s not that bad, but still it serves to prove an important point…we need to build as much redundancy as possible in all solutions that are halfway critical to users, and this becomes even more crucial in scope of virtual desktops.

Think about it…when desktops were dispersed and a major system outage occurred, at least users could still work locally.  However,  it’s a whole other story when desktops are being hosted from the data center.  This isn’t a cheap shot at VDI as I think that the benefits far out-way the unique requirements and risks, but more so a call to arms around stressing the importance of architecting truly redundant environments.

For example, one of the easiest things that can be done to increase resiliency in any VDI environment hosted on a VMware infrastructure is to protect vCenter.  Whether it’s XenDesktop, VMware View, or even Quest vWorkspace (when leveraging the Linked Clone API) vCenter serves as the brains of the operation.  Fault Tolerance, introduced in vSphere, i.e. ESX 4.X, is a technology that allows for true high availability of a VM, meaning zero downtime even if a physical host failure occurs, and something that can be leveraged to ensure your vCenter server has the utmost level of uptime.

While the point of this post is not to fully outline the requirements for Fault Tolerance, you can reference the links below to validate that your hardware is compatible, mainly the CPU type/family, as well as the network configuration of your ESX hosts.

http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=1008027 – Processor and Guest Operating Systems that Support Fault Tolerance

http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/fault_tolerance_recommendations_considerations_on_vmw_vsphere4.pdf – Fault Tolerance Recommendations and Considerations

Another quick point of consideration is to host your vCenter VM on a cluster other than the one hosting your virtual workstations.  While this isn’t a deal breaker, it does make a lot of sense from a load and basic redundancy perspective.

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25 03 2011
Best Practices: Virtualizing Exchange 2010 on VMware « Le blog de Piermick

[…] vCenter and VDI: Protecting the Heart of It All EMC FAST Tiering and FAST Cache: What’s the Difference and How to Choose? […]

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