Citrix Acquiring Sanbolic - Taking Control from Storage Companies

15 January 2015 | By Ralph Vugts

Citrix has recently acquired Sanbolic, in a move aimed at reducing complexity for its VDI and application delivery deployments.

Sanbolic focuses on software that optimizes data management across any type of infrastructure. Thereby improving storage load balancing, application availability and delivering the highest-performance end-user experience. This technology will be an enabler to optimize the delivery of application-specific workloads from any type such as SSD, Flash and traditional hard drives within NAS, & SAN and cloud based deployments.

  • Citrix has taken a step closer to competing directly with traditional storage vendors such as NetApp, EMC, IBM, etc as customers demand flexibility and agility alongside lower cost.
  • Sanbolic with Citrix should allow for newer products to be released in the near future which will surely allow for much more prescriptive virtualization solutions.
  • Citrix now offers mobility, networking, hypervisor and storage solutions, allowing customers a near one stop shop for virtualization needs.

With Citrix aiming to make it easier to deliver virtual desktops and applications through its products such as XenDesktop and XenApp, this takeover move clearly outlines Citrix ambition to make it easier to go virtual.

The biggest barrier for most large scale XenDesktop and XenApp deployments has been around storage requirements. The ROI on virtualization can be lowered due to costly storage beyond what makes financial sense to most IT departments. XenDesktop deployments use Provisioning Services (PVS) and Machine Creation Services (MCS) for VDI and hosted-shared application presentation. These typically rely heavily on costly high-end storage platforms especially those that support high IOPs and different storage technologies.

Machine Creation Services usually comes with a recommendation to use thin provisioning which would use only as much data as needed for write caching instead of as filling up disk space for each target device. Provisioning Services on the other hand requires a large repository to hold the “images” for the operating systems while it streams these images to target devices. Although the overall storage space requirement is lowered using this method, IOPS and caching are even more vital. IOPS can be up to 30 IOPS per desktop depending on the functionality chosen within Provisioning Services. This can result in tens of thousands of IOPS requirements for large-scale VDI deployments. It should be stated that Citrix has recently added functionality to its Provisioning Services technology for any changes which are written to a write cache in memory then overflowed to local virtual hard drive which has dramatically reduced the IOPS requirement during Writes operation.

Storage is a critical part of any XenDesktop and XenApp deployment. System outages can now impact hundreds or thousands of workers at a time. A virtual desktop architecture often requires SAN connectivity for the virtualization servers and NAS connectivity for end-user storage, which can require multiple storage systems. Provisioning virtual desktops often requires hundreds of desktops at a time. And while securing end-user data is now a possibility, storage systems have a critical role in both protecting the data and even making sure that a user history can’t be altered or deleted.

With the purchase of Sanbolic, Citrix bids are likely to reduce infrastructure complexity and thus remove a traditional barrier to deployments of VDI and application delivery technologies. For legacy Citrix clients, this technology may also lower running costs, most likely to be achieved through tech-refresh cycles.

For more information or to discuss this further, feel free to contact the GlassHouse Technologies team.