First Impressions, Atlantis ILIO in the Home Lab

Over the long holiday weekend I had some time in the home lab to play with Atlantis Computing’s ILIO Diskless VDI (In Line Image Optimization) product.The Atlantis ILIO product falls into one of the industries favorite buzzwords right now, Software Defined Storage. How does Atlantis accomplish this, by leveraging your ESXi hosts memory as storage. By installing a virtual machine per ESXi host the software allows for the presentation of the  virtual machines memory as either an NFS or iSCSI mount point to present to your hosts. The goal being not to utilize either local or SAN based storage for your VDI desktops. The audience being those who run non-persistent desktops and leverage network storage to store/house user data as needed. The diagram below gives a high level overview of how the product is deployed:

Atlantis_ILIO

Note – Have persistent desktops? Atlantis has you covered with their “Persistent VDI” solution. Additional information HERE

I feel the need…The need for speed

With all of that said, lets get to the results of some lab performance testing. I deployed the Atlantis ILIO OVF template into my home lab environment, though with a twist. By default the ILIO VM is set to default memory size of 22GB, with limited resources in my lab environment I had to scale the memory back to 16GB’s. With the VM template deployed and powered on walking through the configuration of the appliance is pretty straight forward, but in the interest of full disclosure I chose to present the “storage” via NFS (other option is iSCSI). With the Atlantis ILIO appliance configured, via the vSphere client I mapped the NFS point on my test ESXi server.

With the storage configured I migrated over a test Windows 7 VM with IOmeter installed. Other than the latest security patches and VMware tools installed there is no other configurations changes made to the core operating system. With IOmeter loaded I created a configuration more inline with a VDI workload, 4K Block Size, 80% Write, 20% Read, and 100% Random.  The screen shots below give you an idea of how my test performed both on an ILIO backed storage as well as on my Synology unit with two SSD’s drives in a RAID1 configuration presented via NFS:

UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE June 10th 2013

Thanks to the powers of the internet and the Twitterverse the folks over at Atlantis Computing caught wind of this post and reached out to let me know that the numbers were low based on their testing. After speaking with them and making a few changes to the IOmeter test (changing the amount of worker threads and outstanding IO’s) to be more inline with a VDI workload I reran the tests. As you can see below the improvements in performance are dramatic. Up from 2160 IOP’s to just shy 12,000 IOPS!

With_ILIO_2

With Atlantis ILIO

With_ILIO

Without Atlantis ILIO

WithOut_ILIO

A dramatic difference. But not only does the performance tests show the increase in performance, but the user experience is phenomenal! The boot speed of the VM was amazing coming in at 12 seconds from power on to logon prompt, applications launch quickly and are extremely snappy (my technical term for kicking ass). I am still working with the software in the lab and hoping to run additional tests with multiple VM’s running to see what effect that has on the performance numbers. But when it comes to impressions the first one is always important and Atlantis Computing doesn’t disappoint.

-Jason