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Citrix vs Vmware about virtual desktop density

February 7, 2010

Few days ago Vmware announced that they are working in order to double the actual consolidation ratio up to 16 VM/core in the next release of View thanks to performance of Nehalem processors.  Citrix’s answer was not long in coming and was that, with the same processor, Citrix XenDesktop 4 already reaches this consolidation ratio that Vmware expects to gain in the next future. Let’s see how.
First of all, I remember that the consolidation ratio is the number of virtual machines that could run for every processor core and it is a parameter greatly influenced by several factors, as the kind of application workload that will run inside guest operating systems, so that we can usually speak about an “average ratio”.
But the importance of VDI market has pushed Vmware to said that they are testing Nehalem processor and they expect to efficiently run 16 virtual machines per CPU in a single server.
Citrix, after a couple of days, has released an official statement on its corporate website saying that: “Citrix XenDesktop™ 4 with FlexCast™ delivery technology has now been verified to deliver up to 125 VDI-based desktops, 500 hosted shared desktops and 5,000 local streamed desktops from a single physical server tuned to take advantage of the unique innovations of the latest Intel® Xeon® processor™ 5500 technology” (Nehalem again), so they already can achieve a consolidation ratio of 16 vm/core.
Many people were skeptical also because there are little details about it, so the next day these specification arrived from the Citrix Community Blog: “The results of our tests were better than expected—130 Windows XP desktops on a 72GB, dual socket, quad core (Xeon x5570) Intel Nehalem host“, running XenServer 5.5 and XenDesktop 4.  I notice that every XP VM has 512 MB of RAM, enough for task workers.
Citrix said that a “third party test program from Login Consultants (Login VSI 2.0) as the basis for these tests was the right one. We agree. Login VSI is the benchmarking tool behind Project Virtual Reality Check (http://www.virtualrealitycheck.net/) and is poised to become the standard for virtual desktop performance benchmarking (if it hasn’t already done so).
Using Login VSI, we were able to establish not just the number of XenDesktop VMs we could run on a XenServer host, but more importantly, how many of these VMs could run under a considerable workload while meeting the standard for acceptable performance at the same time. We knew that by choosing to use Login VSI vs. an internal test program, these results would be better able to stand up to scrutiny in the market, the truest measure of performance.

Considering that now also esacore processors are avalable on the market, the resultant number of virtual desktop that can run in a single box can also be greater than the one (16.25) obtained with the test above, so it is another confirmation about how much VDI technology is ready for a wide enterprise adoption.

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