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Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

VDI Storage with Cloud Volumes ONTAP: Customer Case Studies

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Cloud-hosted virtual desktop infrastructure, or VDI, takes advantage of public cloud economics, scalability, and security to lower the total cost of VDI ownership. However, hosting a virtual desktop infrastructure in the cloud is not without its challenges, all of which have been dramatically magnified by the unprecedented growth in WFH due to the COVID-19 crisis.

These challenges include performance issues, poor connectivity, and application inaccessibility between different types of devices, visibility issues that can make a VDI difficult to monitor and manage across hybrid environments, and more. In this critical time, these disruptions can have real operational impacts that will affect a business on the operational and, potentially, financial levels.

As a data management layer that runs on top of AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud storage services, Cloud Volumes ONTAP has compelling value propositions for cloud-hosted VDI storage and operations, supporting features such as data protection, high availability, storage efficiencies, multiprotocol file share services, cloud automation, Kubernetes integration, and more. Let’s take a look at five VDI case studies to see how this flexible platform benefits major global enterprises.

Global Company Ramps Up Its VDI Storage Capabilities Over the Course of a Single Day

One Cloud Volumes ONTAP user is a leading financial advisory company headquartered in the US. This company’s wide global operation—which includes services in over 140 countries, employing more than 45,000 employees—was suddenly in a difficult position with the work disruptions caused by the global COVID-19 crisis. A massive number of users needed access to their existing self-hosted VDI.

Cloud Volumes ONTAP, which they had already been using on Azure to serve their backup, DR, data protection, and business continuity needs, was able to help. The VDI had been using on-prem NetApp storage for file sharing. The new VDI remote access requirements meant expanding that infrastructure to the cloud—and fast. The deadline was to match the entire on-prem deployment in the cloud overnight.

With the pay-as-you-go, or PAYGO model, Cloud Volumes ONTAP allowed the IT team to deploy a fully configured replica of the on-prem VDI storage system in Azure that spanned across a number of regions, making sure that the increased WFH demands were met without impacting the system, and maintaining the company’s business reputation. And it all took just over 24 hours to do.

Choosing Cloud Volumes ONTAP gave the company these additional benefits:

  • A lightning-fast cloud adoption of Azure, giving them infinite scalability for the VDI when WFH demands eventually exhaust the self-hosted system.
  • Continual syncing and transfer between the two environments via SnapMirror® data replication.
  • Security for extremely sensitive data with in-flight and at-rest encryption and backup automation using NetApp Snapshot™ technology to make sure data is always protected from corruption or ransomware.

Global Architectural Firm Migrates a VDI Environment to the Cloud

This US-based architectural firm operates fifteen offices worldwide. Its multidisciplinary, distributed teams of architects, engineers, industry specialists and builders execute innovative large-scale projects such as commercial buildings, education and sports facilities, multifamily residences and convention centers.

Their self-hosted VDI infrastructure had already proven itself as a productivity enabler that allows their employees to work seamlessly from anywhere at any time with any device. As part of their strategic decision to shift their business- and mission-critical applications to the cloud, they decided to use Cloud Volumes ONTAP for Azure to host their file shares and their entire VDI infrastructure.

The benefits:

  • Ease of migration: Using Cloud Volumes ONTAP powerful point-in-time NetApp Snapshot technology and data replication features they were able to lift and shift their applications to the cloud, with minimal need for refactoring.
  • Multi-protocol file sharing for SMB/CIFS as well as NFS and iSCSI protocol access.
  • Reduced CAPEX by shifting their hosted VDI costs to OPEX.
  • An enhanced disaster recovery solution as a cost-effective secondary data center.

Travel Industry Giant: Shared Storage Solution for VDI Users

This US company owns and operates some of the world’s best-known online travel brands. They operate several hundred travel booking websites in ~75 countries, with listings for hundreds of thousands of hotels and hundreds of airlines.

Seeking a highly available shared storage solution for their 1000+ VDI users, they deployed Cloud Volumes ONTAP HA for AWS. Seeing that the solution was easy to deploy, with only minimal support required from NetApp’s cloud experts, the company has decided to make Cloud Volumes ONTAP the backbone for their VDI infrastructures worldwide. Using this dual-node configuration, they are able to prevent data loss (RPO=0) and recover in under sixty seconds (RTO<60).

CRM SaaS Provider: Migrate VDI Environment to AWS

This US software company was a SaaS pioneer and its enterprise SaaS applications continue to dominate the market. As part of a strategic direction to migrate their own production workloads to the public cloud, they sought to migrate their on-premises VDI that was running on NetApp FAS systems. Looking for a cloud-based VDI solution that would provide the same enterprise-grade storage features as their current data center deployment, they decided to test Cloud Volumes ONTAP for AWS.

After a successful proof of concept, the company is moving to production while scaling requirements and tuning the solution accordingly. Cloud Volumes ONTAP lets them change instance types, right-size their VDI instances, and cut down their storage costs using NetApp storage efficiencies. Ultimately their VDI migration will go global, serving 3,000 internal users across the US, Europe, and Asia.

Building Products Manufacturer: Disaster Recovery for VDI Environments

This publicly traded enterprise is a leading manufacturer of building products and materials for the construction industry.

Their head of Enterprise Infrastructure was an IT manager at JP Morgan during 9/11 and thus a firm believer in the business-critical importance of a disaster recovery solution. With the company having only a single data center, he decided to implement a cloud-based DR strategy for their file systems, databases and VDI environments. Deploying Cloud Volumes ONTAP on Azure they were able to quickly build out a reliable DR environment for their file systems, databases and VDI environments that leverages NetApp SnapMirror® data replication technology.


Business continuity during times of turmoil and uncertainty might seem like mission impossible. Ramping up VDI capabilities is one way that companies can meet the needs of its employees working from home. However a VDI deployment with components across complex multicloud and hybrid cloud environments can be difficult to monitor, manage, and control. Rather than being empowered by VDI, end-users may experience operational and performance issues. And administrators may find that costs related to VDI cloud usage soar out of control.

To meet these VDI challenges, enterprises can turn to NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP. These case studies show Cloud Volumes ONTAP can quickly expand a VDI’s scale, performance, availability, data protection, and cost savings. VDI deployment is becoming business critical— Cloud Volumes ONTAP lets you treat it that way.

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Yifat Perry, Technical Content Manager

Technical Content Manager