Atlantis Computing Cuts Storage Out Of 'Stateless' VDI Deployments

Atlantis Computing, a developer of virtual desktop infrastructure storage optimization technology, this week introduced new software that can, in specific instances, take storage completely out of the equation to cut the cost of deploying virtual desktops.

The new Atlantis ILIO Diskless VDI can eliminate the need for storage when deploying non-persistent or stateless virtual desktops, cutting the cost of deploying virtual desktops to under $200 per device, said Seth Knox, director of marketing for the Mountain View, Calif.-based vendor.

Non-persistent or stateless virtual desktops are those which disappear completely when a user logs off. This is opposed to the much more common use case for virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), which is the persistent or stateful virtual desktop which allows a user to move from one device to another and pick up operations and applications from where he or she left off when exiting the previous device.

Storage, including the purchase, maintenance, and required floor space, is the biggest cost when deploying virtual desktops, Knox said. However, Atlantis ILIO Diskless VDI runs the non-persistent virtual desktop entirely in server memory, which can eliminate between 40 percent and 60 percent of the cost, he said.

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"So you get the CAPEX (capital expenditure) of the virtual desktop to under $200 per desktop," he said. "And that includes the cost of the server and the ILIO software."

In addition to cutting the cost of non-persistent VDI, Atlantis ILIO offers performance of over 300 IOPs per desktop, and provides a 12-second boot time, Knox said. "That's faster than standard PC performance," he said.

The server Knox referred to is Cisco's B230 M2 UCS blade server with its Extended Memory Technology, which allows up to 160 virtual desktops to be configured on a single blade, or up to 6,400 in a 30U rack, using Atlantis' ILIO technology.

When asked about Atlantis' relationship with Cisco, Knox said that Cisco is an investor in his company. "But Dell and IBM resell Atlantis," he said. "And so do many VARs."

One of those VARs said that Atlantis has indeed found a way to eliminate the storage for stateless VDI, but that partners and customers must be careful when choosing Atlantis ILIO as a solution because of the stateless VDI requirement.

Like anything else, which architecture is chosen for VDI depends on the customer's business requirements, said Scott Miller, director of cloud and virtualization at World Wide Technology, a Maryland Heights, Mo.-based solution provider and partner of Cisco and Atlantis.

"To use the solution, one would need to find a use case for diskless VDI," Miller said. "In that use case, this is the highest-performance, most cost-effective solution today."

WWT, which in 2009 acquired Miller's previous company Server Centric in part as a way to move into the Cisco and VDI market, has found customers building new IT infrastructures open to exploring new technologies such as virtual desktops.

"In general, we find large customers more willing to consider the risk of a new architecture like VDI," Miller said. "VDI is a great insertion point. It gives customers a chance to revisit old architectures."

For diskless VDI, there are alternatives to Atlantis ILIO, but they are not as cost-effective and do not offer the performance, Miller said.

Miller warned that stateless VDI, which is the only case in which ILIO is suitable, is only a minority of all VDI installations. "But where it becomes a really interesting fit is when customers look at desktop-as-a-service," he said. "If I were a cloud provider, I couldn't get a stateful VDI model out. Stateless is much easier. It can be offered as a service."