Eric-Jan van Leeuwen, CEOInnovations in virtualization have brought greater flexibility and increased cost-saving to the doorsteps of not only enterprise IT departments, but also the employees they serve. Desktop virtualization has enabled enterprises to host a complete desktop environment in either the private datacenter or public cloud, or both, which reduces the real-estate of IT infrastructure, bringing agility to the business processes and reducing cost. However, virtualization is easier said than done— employees expect top notch performance and an optimal overall experience or they will lose the confidence in the infrastructure. Many enterprises with Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) in place end up, by default, testing the performance of their infrastructure with their real users. But inherently this approach has serious limitations since it is completely reactive. “All IT administrators need is to stop guessing at performance by reacting when real users experience costly downtime instead get real insights into the end user experience that helps them get ahead of the curve,” says Eric-Jan van Leeuwen, CEO, Login VSI.
“As experts in Server Based Computing, when we first started looking at the VDI industry, we were skeptical of vendors’ claims of scalability and the number of users that can be supported,” states van Leeuwen. Later, the company took the perspective of simulating user loads to determine scalability, but only ended up by measuring login times of users and the time taken for an application to respond. “Then we took a different approach and built software that simulated the user experience on performance with virtual users,” he adds. Called Login VSI, after the company’s name, the software deployed numerous virtual users to a point of infrastructure saturation and came up with a new measuring stick called VSImax. VSImax helps measure the maximum number of users the VDI environment can support and still offer optimal performance. “Login VSI tests performance using virtual users, so the real users benefit from consistently great performance,” extols van Leeuwen.
With plug and play installation and minimal infrastructure requirements, Login VSI works in any Windows-based virtualized desktop environment including VMware Horizon View, Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp, Microsoft Remote Desktop Services or hybrid environments. As the change is constant in every hosted virtual desktop environment such as software, hardware and security updates, and application migrations, Login VSI helps the IT department stay ahead of user performance issues that come with those changes. “Using Login VSI gives confidence that they will find application and desktop performance issues before end users do. Further, they can maximize the performance of their current infrastructure,” says van Leeuwen. Also, the software enables users to test, compare and validate the performance of different software and hardware components of their virtual desktop environment.
For instance, the company helped an automobile manufacturer test the performance of high end graphics applications such as Adobe Photoshop and AutoCAD deployed in the virtual desktop environment. Login VSI created a graphics testing framework, called the Login VSI Graphics Framework, for its software to address this specific purpose. As these applications were shared by these “power user” employees, Login VSI evaluated performance of the infrastructure and the number of these users it can support. “Our predictive analysis helped the manufacturer optimize their VDI to suit the workloads,” says van Leeuwen. Similarly, the company has also developed a storage workload, called Login VSI Storage Workload, an add-on to Login VSI that is designed specifically to test storage capacity. “Very quickly, vendors like VMware, HP, SanDisk, Cisco, Nutanix, Overland Storage and Tegile Systems have embraced the new workload and now include the higher level IOPs into their daily testing operations,” he adds.
We took a different approach and built software that simulated the user experience with virtual users
Ever since Login VSI’s first test results were announced back in 2009, the software has attracted interest from big names in the technology industry. When the first Login VSI lab-based comparison tests were published, Simon Crosby, the Citrix CTO of Virtualization and Management Division, wrote in his blog that Citrix has won over its competitors in providing the best scalable VDI infrastructure solutions. “Within five minutes our website exploded with people wanting to download the white paper detailing our testing results,” says van Leeuwen. Now Login VSI is the de facto standard. Microsoft, IBM, Dell, Citrix and others are now running Login VSI software for tests to validate their own architectures. “With each new update, vendors test their software using Login VSI to lend proof to their performance claims. If Login VSI test results are unfavorable, the vendors revisit their architectures and build a better product,” he adds.
The company has recently introduced a second software product; applying the same approach of deploying virtual users, Login PI, will have a similarly big impact on the VDI market. Login PI gives real-world performance insights on virtual desktops in production environments. “Login PI works like a canary in a coal mine for the users’ centralized virtualized desktop environment – notifying administrators of outages or slow performance so they can correct them before users are impacted,” he adds.
Login PI gives performance insights by simulating real users and real user tasks. The virtual user logs in and launches common applications, recording the time it takes for the tasks to complete. “The users can make sure that the system works before they can actually start working on it. We offer proactiveness, where it is sorely lacking in VDI environments,” says van Leeuwen. Login PI watches for any large discrepancies in the results and can generate alerts based on those discrepancies. For example, if the general login time for the application is in seconds and in one instance if it exceeds minutes than the software will notify an administrator immediately that something is not working as expected in the environment. Additionally, Login PI provides IT with charts to easily view the current login and application performance of their environment. These reports list the most recent test results of the virtual user and allow the administrator to compare them with historical results. It helps see if the end-user experience matches with expected results.
Enterprise IT departments use Login VSI products in all phases of their virtual desktop deployment—from planning to deployment to change management—for more predictable performance, higher availability and a more consistent end user experience. “We are driven to optimize user experience and we are an essential component of the IT toolbox. Because of the complexity of enterprise IT today, we want to be the solution the IT department depends on daily to proactively predict and manage the end user experience,” says van Leeuwen. The company believes that happy and productive end users are the heartbeat of a successful virtualized desktop environment. “We see even more possibilities in using virtual users change the IT administrator’s job from reactive guesswork to proactive knowing and predictability, thereby reducing complexity. This is our end goal,” he concludes.