Why I’m Excited About Managed Service Providers

Peter Bookman, Global Strategist, Sphere 3DPeter Bookman, Global Strategist, Sphere 3D

When it comes to Virtual Desktop Infrastructures (VDIs), we are hitting exciting times. Our V3 VDI product family is becoming increasingly renowned with successful deployments, the launch of our next-generation workload optimized V3 appliances as announced on February 22, and most recently with a tier 1 managed service provider (MSP) agreeing to the commercial validation of our offering as announced on June 3, see our press release.

The tier 1 MSP in the announcement, like many established MSPs, is familiar with VDI as they adopted an alternative virtual desktops offering. With this, they understand the idiosyncrasies. They have heard the marketing speak and know what works, what doesn’t work so well, or not at all. In other words they are a sophisticated buyer. They run a typical VDI architecture which is not converged, or even hyperconverged. Simply put, they combine blade servers, a network, a Storage Area Network (SAN) and VMWare to deliver virtual desktops. 

This is pretty much how all VDI deployments appeared when I started V3 Systems, back in 2010. Incidentally, this was about the time when we started to realize the need for simpler systems where components such as CPU, RAM and storage are as close together as possible, and packaged as a prescribed solution. Those older solutions are known to be slower than you would typically get today  and have Flash enabled Network Attached Storage (NAS) or are hyperconverged with flash arrays. Of course, V3 is faster.

For the first stage of our Proof of Concept (PoC) with this MSP, we first had to show an apples-to-apples comparison of being faster than their current offering and others in the marketplace. We had to demonstrate that V3 is industry unique, in that it removes latency related to running OS temp data through a SAN. How do we do it? We removed the SAN altogether and can run that data through local storage otherwise known as Direct Attached Storage (DAS). For details, see our whitepaper V3 Storage Architecture Overview and Implications for VDI

Speed is a funny thing, you don’t know you need it until you experience it. Once you have it, you cannot live without it. Clearly this is still true, because after the MSP’s users saw the speed at which V3 virtual desktops ran while using DAS and not a SAN, the users didn’t want to go back to their existing offering. Our V3 virtual desktop works like a souped-up physical desktop while other VDI vendors need the added expense of integrating with robust storage networks.

Another problem the MSP faced was server-resource utilization. Server virtualization became a big business because you could put virtual servers on a physical server, taking utilization from 20% of the physical server to 80+%. Why then has desktop virtualization led to extremely inefficient server capacity utilization? Desktop virtualization is fundamentally different from server virtualization.

Most MSPs deliver services from many sites and data centers. For the most part, and especially with virtual desktops, those services are constrained within each one of those sites and cannot leverage the resources of other sites except perhaps for disaster recovery. 

I have spoken to other potential customers about this problem. As MSPs operate in multiple regions across the world and have multiple data centers in each region their data centers tend to be under resourced or over resourced 50% of the time.

In neither situation does the MSP win. The MSP is the proverbial six-foot man who drowns crossing a river with an “average” depth of five feet. 

With our Desktop Cloud Orchestrator® (DCO) software, offered as part of V3, we liberate the over-resourced and under-resourced virtual desktop hardware between sites allowing for new performance offerings as well as offering more value from existing resources.

So why am I bold about our performance? Well amongst other metrics, one of our customers used VMware testing software to demonstrate that both the speed of our appliances and the user density of our appliances exceeded their existing solution, and also against the marketing claims of existing solutions.

With our “Sphere 3D and tier 1 managed service provider agree to commercial validation of the newest line of V3 high density virtual workspace solutionsannouncement we are proceeding with another proof point  regarding the density with our V3 Knowledge Worker Max XL appliance (KWMax eXtra Large–focused on knowledge workers who primarily use productivity apps and a browser.) Our appliance has a user density of 500 virtual desktops in a 2 unit form factor, which at this time is more than double any other solution of which I am aware. V3 reduces server sprawl by 2x and in turn reduces attendant data center rent, A/C and other operating costs. In 500 user-per-site deployments, based on initial feedback, we are 4x more efficient because other solutions require at least three servers to start (four is often mandated).

V3 Appliances provide three advantages for MSPs:

Blazing fast speed – no SAN; therefore, no SAN network latency

Increased VDI server utilization rates – allow users to be moved from one location to another

Decreased server sprawl – high-user densities and only one server required per site

I have seen a number of V3 opportunities from our fantastic channel and have trained partners on how to deliver our solutions. As Jaymes Davis, our senior director of innovation recently said, “centralized management with decentralized deployments will solve understood problems and change both the economics and the performance of VDI solutions.” We are excited to offer our V3 VDI solutions along with the resources to make them readily available to companies and service providers of any size.