Maintaining traditional physical desktops typically requires time-consuming desk-side visits, reduces user productivity, delays support response, exposes data to increased risk and reduces mobility. While some organizations have the resources to address these concerns, doing so is often at the expense of more strategic initiatives.

Many businesses are interested in implementing some form of desktop virtualization to realize the benefit of centralized deployment and management of their desktop environment. Centralized deployments at enterprise scale are not without their challenges, often requiring significant investment of both time and money to plan and size the infrastructure appropriately. User Experiences often play into the decision, where an appropriately sized infrastructure can mean the difference between a successful deployment and a failed deployment.

Dell, Citrix, and Microsoft provide an end-to-end optimized solution for remote, server-hosted desktop virtualization called Dell Virtual Remote Desktop (VRD). This solution combines Dell’s client, server, storage, networking hardware, and services with Citrix XenDesktop desktop virtualization technology and Microsoft’s server virtualization and management infrastructure. Dell VRD provides a desktop replacement that is better than a standard desktop in many ways by centralizing management, making IT resources more efficient, improving data security and control, reducing support times, improving staff mobility, and improving the end-user experience.

This Dell VRD Reference Architecture describes three validated configurations of a virtual infrastructure hosting desktop workloads. The Reference Architecture enables customers to consider, evaluate, and select the most suitable Dell virtualization solution configuration according to their requirements by providing selection criteria and discussing relevant performance issues.

This end-to-end optimized reference architecture leverages our strong partnership with Citrix and Microsoft to deliver the following benefits:

  • Easier deployment, update, and maintenance – by abstracting the OS, applications, customizations, and data from the physical hardware, IT maintains fewer base images and can customize them dynamically, reducing desktop management complexity
  • Faster, cheaper support – centralized maintenance of virtual desktops and the ability to instantly swap out a failed image means the end of the desk-side visit, faster resolution for problems, and lower support costs
  • Better security and compliance – without a local installation, no corporate data ever needs to leave the data center, ensuring centralized audit and control to maintain data security and regulatory compliance
  • Improved efficiency & productivity – users can access more powerful environments or new applications at the click of a mouse, to take advantage of faster processing and new business solutions at the drop of a hat
  • Better availability, disaster recovery, and business continuity – virtual desktops can be migrated in seconds to bypass failing endpoint devices (or even entire locations), maintaining business continuity in the case of minor mechanical problems or even major disasters.
  • Improved workforce flexibility and mobility – workers can access their personal desktop from any department or location, even on the road (without carrying a laptop) or from PDAs and wireless devices, and if they change roles can access a new standard virtual desktop in minutes.

Dell’s Flexible Computing Solutions integrate with your existing IT infrastructure to centralize end user resources in protected data centers and boost workforce productivity and security. The Virtual Remote Desktop (VRD) model enables the hosting of your desktop on a remote server where all the compute takes place. You get access to your virtual desktop from a local device, such as a Latitude 13 laptop or an Optiplex FX160.

This whitepaper is targeted towards IT organizations and System Integrators to provide a general sizing guide and configuration recommendations for the Dell Virtual Remote Desktop solution powered by Citrix XenDesktop and Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2.

The goal of this white paper is to:

  • Introduce you to the architecture of Citrix XenDesktop with Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 on Dell hardware configurations.
  • Help you understand the issues related to desktop virtualization across various usage scenarios.
  • Clarify, aid, and simplify the selection of configurations for you.

The exact configuration of your hardware, software, and services ingredients can vary depending on your unique business requirements, the intensity of your workload and/or your feature preferences. This white paper outlines three validated VRD configurations that reflect the optimum tradeoffs between system performance, complexity and cost for each virtual desktop.

  • The smallest configuration is the 250 user configuration. It requires a fairly minimal hardware footprint and is designed with simplicity in mind and focuses on demonstrating basic functionality. No Shared storage is included in this configuration to minimize complexity.
  • The 500 user configuration provides a high degree to design flexibility and is designed to meet the production level deployment requirements of small and medium businesses.
  • The 1000 user configuration is a full-feature virtualization solution for larger deployments. It is intended as a scalable configuration that can be deployed in increments of 1000 users. The scale out to configuration beyond 1000 users does require minor changes e.g. configuration of the Citrix Provisioning servers for superior image management, but these changes are outside the scope of this document.

This paper describes the features, benefits, and performance implications of each configuration.
The scope of this document is limited to Dell|Citrix|Microsoft VRD solutions only. It defines the configurations using Dell servers, storage, and networking components. Custom virtual infrastructure configurations using workstations/desktops and/or other products are possible, but not described here. Custom configurations for specific customer engagements may have third party hardware and hence are out of scope, as are software components from other vendors.

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