Earlier this month, OpenStack Summit was conveniently held in Leostream’s back yard of Boston. I took the opportunity to avoid my Waltham commute, attend a particularly interesting session, and participate in some great follow-up conversations centered on OpenStack VDI. Here’s what I learned. 




The session: Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) with OpenStack

I attended OpenStack Summit on Wednesday specifically for Alessandro Pilotti and Justin Rackliffe’s presentation on VDI with OpenStack. (If you weren’t able to attend OpenStack Summit, never fear, you can watch a recording of their session on the OpenStack web site!)

They gave a very thoughtful presentation, touching on the reasons enterprises host VDI in a cloud infrastructure, and giving the pros and cons of three potential management tools for VDI in OpenStack, even braving a demonstration.

Which leads me to:


Lesson one: OpenStack VDI tools have a lot of room to grow.

My general take away was that using Microsoft RDS on OpenStack felt a little hacky, integrating Citrix MCS into OpenStack seemed a little intimidating (think lots of .NET scripting), and the open source connection broker project is still a little young.

But, here’s what I found most interesting. Of the sessions I attended, this one by far had the greatest number of attendees chatting with the presenters and asking questions, afterwards.  The topic of OpenStack VDI, if not front of mind, is definitely bubbling up in a number of organizations.


The conversation: How to use OpenStack as a VDI platform

After the presentation, I chatted with Stacy Véronneau, the Director of OpenStack Solutions at CloudOps, about what it takes to make OpenStack a platform for VDI.

At Leostream, we provide a connection broker that manages user connections to desktops hosted in OpenStack, as well as provisions, power controls, and terminates those desktops. We even have a Leostream Gateway to connect users to OpenStack instances. But, we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about how to optimize that desktop’s performance based on the platform it runs on, or even how to make sure it run, in general.

Stacy does, particularly when it comes to OpenStack. Which leads me to:


Lesson two: Desktop loads, particularly for Windows, require special consideration on OpenStack.

From compute to storage to IOPS, running Microsoft Windows operating systems and desktop workloads on OpenStack requires careful architectural decisions and designs, or even the most mature VDI management tools won’t make OpenStack VDI successful.  While VDI tools for OpenStack mature, so too should the knowledge base surrounding how to architect OpenStack specifically for VDI workloads.


The marketplace: So many vendors in one place

In between sessions – one of which taught me how to build a test OpenStack environment in my spare time, which I did! – I wandered around the Marketplace. I saw an ecosystem surrounding OpenStack that is vibrant, varied, and full of passion.

Mainly, I visited our partners who provide an OpenStack distribution, namely Canonical, SUSE, and Red Hat. What I learned from them:


Lesson three: Even given the challenges of lesson one and two, people are asking about how to make VDI a reality in OpenStack.

Moving to OpenStack is an investment. After an organization starts on that path, they want to see how many workloads they can move down that road.

OpenStack Summit Boston boasted 750 sessions, one of which focused on VDI. You may not be impressed, but that’s one more than they’ve had in previous Summits. The conversation will continue, and I’m curious and hopeful about where it will lead.