Dell vs.Dell: Which VDI option makes more sense?

At Westminster College, we’ve been testing VDI for quite some time in an effort to as closely as possible replicate the desktop-based user experience. As such, we’ve opted to use VMware’s View 4.5 product and for some users, Teradici-based PCOIP terminals.

I’ve more recently started to consider the storage side of the equation and. While I believe that we can get a start with our existing EMC AX4, I want to be prepared should we need additional capacity or storage performance

At the same time, from an economic perspective, a VDI solution needs to have some kind of ROI, and storage can get pretty expensive. I started thinking about whether or not it would make sense to try to use something a bit less expensive for this purpose. I haven’t yet come to a conclusion, but wanted to share with you my preliminary research, which is still early.

In an effort to bring a per-node VDI implementation price closer to a typical desktop/computer price, I started with something lower-end, but that seems like it could be viable: a Dell PowerVault MD3220i array equipped with 24 15K RPM SAS drives. Ignoring what might be other performance factors for now, this unit would provide more than 4,000 IOPS of read performance and more than 2,000 IOPS of RAID 10 write performance.

Not too shabby.

In speaking with Dell, they provided an extremely competitive price on his unit and also urged me to investigate the use of an EqualLogic array. They reminded me that the EQ array offers much more in the way of festers and that management is much simplified when compared to the MD3220i. They provided a quote for a unit that offered similar storage capacity, but that included only 8 15K RPM SAS drives. This unit would top out at 1/3 of the overall theoretical IOPS of the MD3220i. The cost was about $4,000 more.

There are other factors: the EQ product line, as you add more arrays, also adds additional processing power and bandwidth whereas expansion units for the MD3220i add only additional capacity and spindles. When it comes to management, I agree that the EQ unit is excellent; I had an EQ device before the company was bought by Dell.

Both units provide full redundancy in the form of redundant controllers, power supplies, etc. Obviously, the EQ has additional redundancy options as well.

So, I’m asking the community here. Given this information, what do you think?

As I continue with our project, I will keep reporting back.

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