Kaviza HowToGuides: Getting Started

How To Guides: Overview and Getting Started

Kaviza radically simplifies VDI and eliminates the expensive overhead of management servers, shared storage SANs, SQL servers, etc with its Shared Nothing VDI grid architecture.

In this section, we list what you need to get started with Kaviza, and how to size your servers and deployment. If you have comments on additional topics you would like to see covered, please enter them at the bottom of this page.

What You Need to Get Started with Kaviza

See how you can deploy Virtual Desktops for under $500

Video: Overview and Bill of Materials to deploy Kaviza

This video highlights the bill of materials you need to get started with Kaviza and provides a brief overview of the Kaviza grid architecture.

Sizing your Servers

How To Guide with some recommended configurations

There are three key resources to consider when sizing a server. They are 1) CPU cores, 2) RAM and 3) Number of disks and their total storage capacity. The rules of thumb below are based on performance numbers published by VMware and Citrix because Kaviza is an out-of-band solution leveraging hypervisors from these vendors. The resources are:
  • CPU: Rule of thumb: 6 to 10 desktops per core. Use a number in the higher end of this range for task workers and a number in the lower end of the range for desktops that will be more heavily used. If you are using CPUs with hyper-threading (e.g. Intel Nehalem CPUs) which have two threads per core, the hypervisor vendors have suggested doubling the number of desktops that can be supported per core. Our suggestion would be to use "6" as the desktops per core when doing this.
  • RAM: Rule of thumb: 0.5 to 1GB for XP and 1.5 to 2.0GB for Win7 desktops. Reserve at least 1GB for they hypervisor and 1GB for the Kaviza VDI-in-a-box appliance.
  • Disk: Rule of thumb: 4 spindles for 25 to 30 desktops, 6 to 8 spindles for 50 or more desktops. We strongly recommend SAS drives. Use the larger number in the range if using 10K RPM drives (as opposed to 15K RPM drives). We recommend having 0.5TB to 1TB of usable storage space per server (see the slide deck below to determine the exact storage required for your specific case). Use Raid 0 or Raid 10. Since Kaviza maintains redundant data across the servers, you can use Raid 0. Raid 0 provides the highest performance. However, since disks have a higher probability of failure, Raid 10 can help reduce server failures.

Use the minimum of the above rules of thumb to determine how many desktops can be placed on a server. For instance if you have only a single quad core processor and 64GB of RAM and will be running XP desktops, and you elect to use "10" as the number of desktops per core, you can support 40 desktops. However, at 1GB per XP desktop, you can support up to 62 desktops (reserve 1GB for the hypervisor and 1GB for Kaviza's VDI-in-a-box appliance). Since 40 is less than 62, this server can support 40 desktops assuming you have enough spindles.

Refer to the slide deck below for more details, and explanations about grid sizing and our N+1 high-availability approach.

Click here for slides on how to size a server.

Sizing your Servers for a Proof of Concept (POC)

Many ask us what is the minimum server requirements for a POC. If you just want to try 2 or 3 desktops you can get by with a simple server that has 1 dual- or quad-core CPU, 4 to 6GB of RAM and 125GB disk (ideally a SAS drive instead of a SATA drive since the SAS drives are much faster). We do many of our demonstrations on a lap top with 8GB of RAM, 1 quad-core processor and a 128GB SSD drive. However, you should note that this will allow you to play with and understand how Kaviza works but you should not use this as a gauge for the performance. With such limited RAM and a slow drive your performance is likely to be sub-par. Remember that of the RAM, 1GB will be needed for the hypervisor and Kaviza. With a 4GB RAM, that leaves just 3GB. You should allocate a minimum of 1.5GB of RAM for a Win7 desktop and no less than 0.5GB of RAM for an XP desktop. So with 4GB of RAM you should not go beyond 1 or 2 Win7 desktops and 6 XP desktops.

Supported Hypervisors

Kaviza supports the following hypervisors

  • VMware vSphere versions 4.0 and 4.1. NOTE: For trials, if you have downloaded a free version ESXi from the VMware web-site, do not install the license key that comes with the free ESXi download. If you install this license key, the APIs required for the Kaviza VDI-in-a-box™ kMGR virtual appliance to work with the hypervisor will be closed and you will not be able to proceed with the setup. Leave the license selection in ‘Evaluation Mode (No License Key)’. This will allow kMGR to work with the hypervisor properly. During this trial period (60 days), make sure you convert to a paid hypervisor license (at least an Essentials license).
  • Citrix XenServer version 5.6. NOTE: We will soon support version 5.6.1 and 5.7. To access version 5.6 please go to the Citrix download site and click on the "Log in" at the top right (and create an account if you don't have one) to access the older version 5.6 of XenServer.

Tip! Did you know?

You can do a 10-desktop POC with a server that has:

  • 1 Dual-Core Pentium
  • 8GB RAM for XP, (2x for Win7)
  • 250GB SAS Drives Raid 0

Tip! The Kaviza Grid Explained

You manage the Kaviza grid as one entity even though it has no single control point. This design eliminates bottlenecks of conventional VDI while centralizing management: