Every week I speak with IT professionals considering or in the process of evaluating Citrix® XenDesktop®. One of the things I find particularly interesting is the vast majority who plan on conducting their PoCs on Hyper-V™ also intend to start over from scratch using vSphere™ when they implement XenDesktop in production.

Start over from scratch using another hypervisor,” I initially thought to myself. “Why would anyone want to rebuild a virtual desktop infrastructure from scratch when they could save themselves a heck of a lot of time and effort using the same infrastructure in production that they used for their successful PoC?

Turns out… it didn’t take me very long to answer my own question.

While both platforms offer advanced features such as live VM migration, guest OS patching and management, thin provisioning and dynamic memory allocation, it seems many IT professionals perceive vSphere to be a more mature product, offering features above and beyond those currently available with Hyper-V, such as live storage migration, vShield and vDS (vNetwork Distributed Switch) for advanced security and networking, respectively. And if your production environment is already virtualized with vSphere, why introduce another hypervisor to host your virtual desktop infrastructure? Doing so would entail managing completely different virtual environments, conflicting with one of the key benefits of virtualization.

But what if there were some compelling reasons for organizations to continue using Hyper-V to host their virtual desktop infrastructures in production after they’ve successfully completed their XenDesktop PoCs?

Here’s another thought – while vSphere may offer more features than Hyper-V, do XenDesktop customers really need them? Perhaps some of vSphere’s additional features could prove useful for deploying and maintaining a VDI solution.

Before we address the latter question, here are some of the main reasons it makes sense to stick with Hyper-V for XenDesktop production deployments:

1. If  a customer owns copies of Windows Server 2008™, which they most likely would since many XenDesktop components (i.e., Desktop Delivery Controller/Desktop Studio, Provisioning Services™, etc.) run on Windows® Server platforms, they already have access to Hyper-V for free as Hyper-V is bundled into Windows Server 2008.

2. Most organizations are extremely familiar and comfortable with Windows Server platforms and already possess the necessary skills to implement, manage and support Windows systems.

3. Since Hyper-V utilizes Windows Server 2008 components, support for a wide range of hardware is already included.

These three reasons alone lend themselves to making Hyper-V well-suited for many virtualization projects, including VDI.

But now let’s go back to the idea that perhaps some of the “extra” features offered by vSphere are not only relevant, but beneficial to deploying, managing and maintaining a virtual desktop infrastructure. After all, wouldn’t it be great if you could start a XenDesktop PoC quickly and easily and without investing a lot of money upfront for storage, a pivotal element of VDI? What if you don’t have a SAN in place or don’t own a storage array? Should that prohibit you from evaluating XenDesktop? Should you be forced to spend a lot of time and money researching, procuring, installing, configuring, operating and maintaining a hardware-based storage array just so you can see if VDI is right for your organization? I would certainly hope not.

And what about once you’ve completed your XenDesktop PoC and you’re ready to move your VDI solution into production to begin reaping its rewards (simplified desktop image management and maintenance, reduced risk associated with OS and application migrations and upgrades, saving on the cost of cyclical desktop refreshes, etc.)? Do you really want to tear down your entire infrastructure only to start over using new servers and new storage? Not only will that be a big hassle, it’s likely going to play a significant role in prolonging the return on your XenDesktop investment.

What if there was a way to kick-start your XenDesktop PoC so you could begin evaluating its potential in less time, with less effort, and without incurring the upfront cost associated with storage?

What if there was a way to streamline and simplify the migration from PoC to production so you could begin realizing all the benefits VDI has to offer as quickly as possible?

What if there was a way to scale-out the infrastructure seamlessly to achieve the benefits of VDI on a grander scale while simultaneously achieving a much faster ROI?

Finally, what if there was a way to accomplish all of the above using Hyper-V to host your XenDesktop virtual desktop infrastructure?

Using Sanbolic® Melio™, organizations can conduct XenDesktop PoCs with Hyper-V quickly and easily while saving on the initial cost of storage. Upon completing their successful PoCs, these organizations can move their virtual desktop infrastructures into production using the same servers and storage to streamline and speed up their deployments. After realizing the benefits of VDI in production, they can build out their infrastructures by adding more Hyper-V hosts, more XenDesktops, more Provisioning Services servers and more storage resources (if necessary) without any downtime in order to realize the greatest return on their investments in XenDesktop and in a much shorter period of time!

Providing flexible, scalable, highly available, easy-to-manage shared storage that simplifies virtual machine (VM) management, Melio extends the capabilities of Hyper-V by enabling advanced functionality such as storage live migration, dynamic infrastructure scale-out, reliable data protection (cluster-wide snapshots), QoS and centralized VM management, along with support for live VM migration to maximize system uptime. Melio runs natively on Windows Server platforms and supports Windows tools and applications such as SCVMM, SCOM, DPM, Deployment Services, etc., for true, seamless integration with Hyper-V server virtualization platforms.

For XenDesktop, Melio allows customers to store all desktop image files (vDisks) on a single storage volume, greatly simplifying desktop image management and maintenance while enabling Provisioning Services HA for desktop image high availability and load-balancing (for improved desktop performance). At the same time, Melio avoids the limitations/issues associated with other storage options frequently used in VDI deployments (i.e., file shares, NAS, replication, read-only LUNs) to enhance system fault-tolerance, enable dynamic scale-out and improve system performance. Centralized management of shared storage resources is also included, offering administrators a single pane of glass to rapidly provision, manage and expand storage volumes without disrupting user productivity and without ever repeating a storage management task!

With its rich, unique feature set and advanced data/storage management capabilities, Sanbolic Melio is the ideal storage solution for XenDesktop and Hyper-V, allowing customers to move from PoC to production at enterprise scale faster and easier than ever before!

To learn more about how your organization can achieve all the benefits of VDI using XenDesktop, Hyper-V and Melio, visit Sanbolic’s website at www.sanbolic.com and click the “Solutions” tab at the top of the home page.

If you’d like to speak with a Sanbolic sales representative, please contact sales@sanbolic.com.

To download an evaluation copy of Melio, register here. Once you’ve registered, you can log in with your Sanbolic account and select “Software and support” to download a copy of the latest version of Melio – Melio 3.5.

Here’s to the speedy transition from PoC to production!

Andy