Windows Server 2016 Impact on VDI: Benchmark Results. By Mark Plettenberg, Ryan Bijkerk and Omar Bouhaj

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1 Windows Server 2016 Impact on VDI: Benchmark Results By Mark Plettenberg, Ryan Bijkerk and Omar Bouhaj

2 Disclosure and Warranty The information, concepts, and ideas contained in this document are the property of Login VSI. Without limiting the rights under copyright, no part of this document may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), or for any purpose, without the express written permission of Login VSI. Any product descriptions or representations in this document are for identification purposes only and are not to be construed as a warranty of specific properties or guarantee or warranty of any other type. Login VSI shall assume no liability, either explicit or implied, for the documentation. Information in this document, including URL and other Internet Web site references, is subject to change without notice. All sample code described in this document is provided by Login VSI for illustrative purposes only. These examples have not been thoroughly tested under all conditions. Login VSI, therefore, cannot guarantee or imply reliability, serviceability, or functionality of these programs or code examples. All brand names and product names used in this document are trademarks of their respective holders and are recognized as such Login VSI. All rights reserved. 1

3 Contents 1 Executive Summary What s new for VDI in Windows Server Key testing results and recommendations Plan the testing environment for RDS Test performance using simulated users Tune VDI performance using VMware OSOT Analyze root cause: processes and CPU utilization CPU core utilization of Windows Server Storage impact with Windows Server Conclusion Learn more to #VDILikeAPro About the tests About the authors

4 1 Executive Summary As enterprises become more mobile and adopt cloud strategies, the burden falls to IT departments to deliver desktops, applications and online services to end users through a digital workspace in any environment. Workspace virtualization promises flexibility, centralized management and better security. A successful deployment of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) comes down to one thing: end user experience. As your end users expect a great experience from using their devices at any time, the IT team must rise to the challenge of delivering outstanding services, while reducing the complexity and costs associated with infrastructure. The speed, capacity and configuration of centralized servers become key factors in delivering a great experience for virtualized workspaces. With Microsoft s release of Windows Server 2016 in October 2016, the first major update since Server 2012 R2, enterprises will look to upgrade their Remote Desktop Services (RDS) environments. When updating an existing RDS or planning a new environment, you ll need to fully understand the performance impact to avoid scalability problems. This report offers insights on how migrating and upgrading to the latest Windows operating system could impact your users experience. Our initial analysis and hands-on testing using Login VSI s suite of testing, monitoring and management tools reveal the potential impact that Windows Server 2016 can have on virtual desktops. The goal is to help you identify and quickly resolve performance issues upfront before receiving complaints from end users. The performance impact can be mitigated with careful management of desktops using lessons learned from VDI operations management (VDIops), which comprises continuous delivery of VDI and includes every stage of the Microsoft RDS environment from development to production. VDIops: Managing VDI operations for continuous delivery 3

5 2 What s new for VDI in Windows Server 2016 Windows Server 2016 is designed for hybrid cloud applications, offering new RDS features for graphics improvements, scale enhancements and optimizations for the cloud including: Assigning dedicated resources from graphics processors (GPU) to be used within a Hyper-V virtual machine for intensive applications RemoteFX vgpu adapter support for OpenGL 4.4 and Open CL 1.1, used by the leading design and engineering applications, and sharing of up to 1 GB of virtual RAM from the physical host Remote Desktop (RD) Connection Broker to support 10,000 concurrent connections in in largescale deployments Optimizations for cloud deployments With its newest server platform, we believe Microsoft has made big leaps in enabling a mobile and cloudcentric world. This raises the question: how many virtual desktop users can a Windows Server 2016 environment support? We put this question to our Login VSI test. 3 Key testing results and recommendations Before you deploy Windows Server 2016 and upgrade RDS, we recommend following the VDIops process to predict and validate performance and user experience before deployment: 1. Plan the testing environment for RDS 2. Test performance using simulated users 3. Tune performance using VMware OS Optimization Tool (OSOT) 4. Analyze root cause and account for issues during deployment 5. Monitor ongoing performance and make changes as needed 6. Push to production 3.1 Plan the testing environment for RDS We didn t wait for general availability of Server 2016 and, instead, planned our evaluation using the pre- GA version of Windows Server 2016, RTM build rs1. The clean installation contained all required Login VSI applications including Microsoft Office 2016 and the required Windows roles and features. Prior to any testing, we ran Windows Update to ensure all the right drivers were installed and to avoid any functionality issues. In our labs we installed a pristine virtual machine for Windows Server 2012R2 and Server 2016 and let Windows Update fully patch the systems. The patch resolved a minor video playback issue on HTML5-based websites, but otherwise we did not run into any significant issues setting up the test. We used local solid-state drives (SSD) directly attached to the server to deliver the fastest performance for VDI (for details on the testing environment, see About the tests ). 4

6 3.2 Test performance using simulated users We used the Login VSI test to evaluate virtual workspace performance. Instead of a tedious trial and error process that could put production applications and data at risk, the Login VSI product suite deploys simulated, customizable workloads to predict the performance impact of the Windows upgrade and validate the maximum virtual workspace capacity of the Server 2016 infrastructure. Each test includes a report on the supported number of virtual desktop users expressed as a VSImax calculation. The VSImax score provides a common, objective benchmark to interpret and compare performance results after every software or hardware configuration change and is used by dozens of partner vendors across cloud, virtualization and infrastructure sectors. Our initial Login VSI test showed that the VSImax for Windows Server 2016 is 15 percent lower than Windows Server 2012 R2. Server 2016 Impact on VDI User Experience 3.3 Tune VDI performance using VMware OSOT The VSImax score is a useful simulation that helps you understand and predict real-world virtual desktop performance prior to deployment. After running the initial Login VSI test, we applied performance optimizations for the Windows Server 2016 environment using VMware s OS Optimization Tool (OSOT). The VMware OSOT provides built-in Windows desktop and server OS templates to fine tune the VDI image for Microsoft RDS, Citrix XenDesktop and VMware Horizon View. Based on our testing experience, we know that performance optimizations can have an impact on VDI in Windows Server 2016 but not as much on Windows Server 2012 R2. The Login VSI template for OSOT did increase overall performance by 7 percent. So for Server 2016 environments, we highly recommend tuning performance for your VDI image, especially since anti-virus is now included in Server 2016 by default. 5

7 3.4 Analyze root cause: processes and CPU utilization We believe the performance difference between Server 2012 R2 and Server 2016 is caused by the number of processes running in the background on Windows Server Using Login VSI testing software, we found that 9 additional processes are running in a default Server 2016 deployment compared to Server 2012, which increases CPU utilization. Therefore, upgrading to Windows Server 2016 will require more CPU resources. The difference in total amount of processes is visible in the CPU utilization. When the operating system is in an idle state there is a 7 percent difference in utilization between Server 2012 and Server 2016, after a default deployment of both operating systems. 6

8 4 CPU core utilization of Windows Server 2016 From a hypervisor perspective, Server 2016 clearly has a higher CPU core utilization. The higher utilization is the main reason for the lower VSImax score on supported VDI users. As we reported earlier, the cause for the higher core utilization is the increased number of processes in Windows Server Using VMware OSOT to optimize performance, we made a small improvement in the CPU core utilization. We also saw the number of supported VDI users go up by 9 percent. 7

9 5 Storage impact with Windows Server 2016 The footprint of Windows Server 2016 from a storage perspective is a little higher compared to Windows Server 2012 R2. The Windows Server 2016 results for reads-per-second and writes-per-second show higher data throughput to the storage platform. Our Login VSI test environment is running on local solidstate storage and, therefore, won t influence the VSImax score. There is one important note: with the introduction of Windows Server 2016, Microsoft enabled by default the Windows Defender anti-virus program within the operating system. As we know from previous testing, anti-virus solutions could influence the overall performance. 8

10 6 Conclusion Windows Server 2016 promises to bring significant scale, graphics and cloud workload improvements. However, we found that migrating from Server 2012 R2 to Server 2016 may reduce the number of virtual desktop users in Microsoft RDS environments. The number of processes running in the background and storage footprint may impact centralized server capacity. Should this stop you from upgrading? Absolutely not. We recommend optimizing performance and accounting for anti-virus tools when predicting performance in a production environment. After you run initial testing and optimize performance, make your configuration changes and re-run the tests. By going through every phase of VDIops and automating management along the way, you can increase the likelihood of a successful Server 2016 migration and improve virtual desktop experience. 9

11 7 Learn more to #VDILikeAPro Before you conduct your own testing, read the Login VSI and VMware ESX test logs and Windows Server 2016 performance charts. Feel free to use our #VDILikeAPro information for your own evaluation but please keep in mind Login VSI s policy on fair use. If you have any questions or would like additional information on this topic, visit the original blog post and let us know your thoughts! For additional information about Login VSI or our products, visit 8 About the tests Hardware Dell PowerEdge R730 server 2x Xeon 2.3GHz 12 Cores/24 Threads (E52670 v3) 384 GB DDR4 RDIMM at 1866 MHZ Local storage using Flash VMware vsphere 6.0b with default configuration VMware Horizon 6.0 was used to deploy the desktop pool Virtual machines The knowledge worker workload 4 vcpu / 32 GB Mem per VM (12 VMs total) For both Windows Server 2012R2 & Server 2016 the x64 version is used Office 2016 x86 Windows and Office fully patched Internet Explorer 11 Stateful VM s & local profiles Test method Based on Standard Login VSI functionality All tests are 100% automated Every test is repeated 10x Between every test the hosts are fully rebooted After each reboot the host is idled for 15 minutes All tests are executed in Microsoft RDP 10

12 9 About the authors Mark Plettenberg is product manager at Login VSI and has played a critical role in the development and growth of Login VSI. Sharing his views on End User Computing around the world as speaker, on tradeshows, in workshops or at customer sites, Mark is not just interested in performance of IT systems but loves to test and tune the performance of motorcycles. Ryan Bijkerk is a research and development engineer at Login VSI. He is also an Microsoft MVP in App-V and part of the Project VRC research consortium on VDI. He is founder and chief blogger at logitblog.com. Omar Bouhaj joined Login VSI in 2012 as a Support Consultant. Back then, he supported customers, vendors and partners worldwide. Currently Omar is involved in DevOps (or better, VDIops) and Continuous Delivery for all Login VSI products as Test Engineer/Manager. You can ask Omar anything about Login VSI products, and he can also fill you in on the history of Hip-Hop. In his spare time, he loves DJing, travelling and enjoying the great outdoors Login VSI is a trademark of Login VSI, Inc. and Login VSI, B.V. 11

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