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Project Moonshot can spur widespread VDI deployments, says Carrenza

Matthew Finnegan | April 10, 2013
HP gave the official launch for its Project Moonshot hyperscale system yesterday, as one of the customer trial participants highlighted the benefits of running web caching or VDI using the high density servers.

"This was a beta unit and we were able to run on it, and run on it alone for the night and two weeks either side," he said, adding that the system handled a peak of about sixty transactions a second with "no noticeable issues".

However, one of the main business uses Sutherland sees for implementing Moonshot in its business in future is around caching for websites. HP itself has been using Moonshot for its own site, and the caching of static web pages is one of the areas in which the low end servers can provide benefits.

One of the advantages of using physical servers is the ability to get rid of the virtualisation layer when performing low compute intensity applications, Sutherland explained.

"Most of our customers that are doing something web-focused are running memcached instances. At the moment we typically run those as virtual tin, but if we could run those as much more performant physical devices we can do it more efficiently than we are at the moment."

"So a Moonshot enclosure full of blades optimised to support an active LAMP stack is going to give us a lot more performance from a customer perspective than how we do it today."

Sutherland also sees potential for the delivery of virtual desktop infrastructure to its mid market customers, with desktop virtualisation on a large scale failing to make a significant impact so far.

"The challenge with VDI has been that when you boot all those servers at the same time, you need massive amounts of IOPS while those devices all boot. So if everyone comes in and logs in at the same time you have got a challenge.

"A chassis full of Moonshot servers with SSD in them, you have got maybe four or five desktops per server but vast quantities of IOPS, so you can boot all of these things really easily," he explained.

"The underlying systems are all sitting in the SAN and you use FCoE or something in order to communicate with them, and you have a really interesting way of delivering VDI, and doing it very cost effectively. That is very much a new area for us, and something that we can see as being very interesting."

There are clear limitations to the practical use of the Moonshot systems, which are targeted at performing one application function at a very large scale, and the servers are not intended to provide the flexibility of power of more traditional blade systems.

"It is tactical, it doesn't work for every kind of workload and we wouldn't expect it to. But it delivers enough value to mean that it is worth us integrating that type of server infrastructure as well as blade systems."


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