Real-time Profile Replication for Large-scale Multi-site VDI Deployments

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Large scale profile replication (and container replication) for VDI should be faster, easier, and resilient during outages. Yet implementing a reliable, continuously available, and high performance replication solution seems like the wild west. There are lots of options. And quite a few VDI experts out there who can help. Yet, what’s scary, is that most user profile management platforms (from VMware Horizon to Citrix UPM to Liquidware) have penciled in Microsoft DFSR (DFS Replication) as the de facto replication solution of choice (in their best practices manuals).

Warning! If you’re looking for multi-site, active-active HA and bidirectional profile replication, for large numbers of virtual desktops, please consider your alternatives to DFSR. (And I don’t mean Robocopy!)

If you’re familiar with Microsoft DFSR and all of its caveats, or are a storage guru, please contact us for a demo or free proof of concept.  If you’re on a team leading or supporting decisions around VDI, or want to learn more, please read on.

Resilio’s solution for VDI profile replication is intended for companies using VMware Dynamic Environment Manager (DEM), Citrix User Profile Management (UPM), Ivanti Environment Manager (AppSense), Liquidware ProfileUnity, and/or Microsoft FSLogix

Resilio’s solution for VDI provides an alternative to conventional replication tools like DFSR that reduces recovery times from days to minutes—and keeps files in sync within seconds across any number of sites—for active-active HA—that you centrally control, monitor, and manage through a single pane of glass console in the Resilio Connect management console. 

VDI Use Cases

Use cases for Resilio’s VDI profile replication solution include:

  • Large scale deployments (100+ VDI users). If your company is supporting widely distributed teams running virtual clients that need continuous and fast access to virtual desktops, Resilio can help.
  • Remote work: Replicate VDI user profiles, containers, and other user files for remote workers at home, in branch offices, and other remote locations.   
  • Cross-Region Replication (CRR) and Cross-Zone Replication for Azure and other cloud providers. Replicate and sync files within and across any number of cloud regions and availability zones.  
  • Microsoft DFSR Replacement and Azure File Sync alternative. Resilio offers a turnkey replacement for DFSR and AFS. Resilio is much easier to manage (especially at scale) and offers end-to-end resilience and security, and predictability moving files across any network. It’s ideal for multiple sites, hybrid clouds moving to Azure—or those considering the migration. You get reliable bidirectional profile replication (and SMB share replication)—and it’s vastly easier to manage as you scale to support multiple sites, on-prem, cloud, or hybrid.
  • Disaster Recovery readiness: Meet and exceed recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs) for DR using any IT or cloud infrastructure.  Long story short: Resilio + DFSN = highly resilient, active-active HA for warm or hot multi-site DR.
  • WAN optimization out of the box: Unlike Microsoft DFSR—and other storage replication tools from <name your vendor>, Resilio Connect is low latency and replicates user profiles reliably at full speed across any network, no matter how bad the latency and packet loss.
  • Azure Readiness and Migration: Resilio makes an “ongoing migration” to Azure painless and reliable. Resilio enables you to extend your on-prem Windows Servers to Azure Files, Azure NetApp Files, Azure Blobs, without having to jump through hoops and deal with limits on files, file sizes, or number of objects supported. There’s also an option to transform your Windows boxes into cloud caching gateways. Resilio offers a comprehensive file replication solution for Azure hybrid clouds.

In short, the benefits of using Resilio Connect for profile replication are:

1. Active-Active High Availability (HA) means that all sites are continuously active and in use.  If a failure occurs on one server or an entire site, users are rapidly redirected to the available site using the Microsoft DFS namespace or other failover tools. Optionally, you can just use Resilio Connect to keep profiles in sync and available without DFSN. For Windows, Files are managed directly in Windows File Explorer. For Mac environments, files are managed through the macOS Finder. And so forth…

2. Improved productivity for end-users.  Users load virtual desktops faster–within seconds.  We hear from customers that they’re seeing a 30-90 second speed up in logon times. Resilio reduces time to desktop by up to 5x over the competition by concurrently updated all profiles in real-time (across any number of locations). 

3. Fewer support tickets.  Resilio reliably “just works” so you can ease the burden on your VDI and IT support team.  Check out this blog from James Moore on how his previous company supported 2500 concurrent and widely distributed VDI users. When it comes to IT support, James says “no news is good news”.

4. Warm to hot site Disaster Recovery in case of an outage. RTOs can go from days to minutes. RPOs can be measured in seconds. Cross-region and cross-zone replication extends availability globally.  Replicate bidirectionally, many-to-one, one-to-many, or many-to-many.

5. IT infrastructure flexibility.  Use any hybrid cloud (Azure, Citrix, VMware, AWS, and others)—and any user profile management environment (VMware DEM, Citrix UPM, Liquidware ProfileAffinity, or Microsoft FSLogix).   Use any device–and Windows Server or other resources running popular OS platforms like Linux, macOS, and a few strategic NAS systems, too.  

Challenges

Implementing VDI is no easy task. Each user profile management system (from VMware DEM to Citrix UPM to Liquidware and FSLogix) poses unique challenges replicating user profiles, apps, and other settings. Worse, conventional tools like Microsoft DFSR included with WIndows Server are error prone and break when replicating larger numbers of files, SMB shares, profiles (both local profiles and VDI user profiles) or virtual machines across storage locations and data centers. DFSR functionality usually fails at the worst possible time–when there’s an outage. Most enterprises need to reliably replicate large numbers of files and move from active-passive to active-active multi-site configs.

Some conventional profile replication tools like FSLogix Cloud Cache offer simplicity and active-active HA–but at the cost of performance–when deployed across sites or in larger deployments.  And poor performance degrades the end-user experience, forcing users to wait longer during logon.

In general, the challenges typically include but are not limited to: 

  • Active-passive high availability (HA) solutions fail to meet enterprise service level requirements for uptime. Users and applications may be offline for extended periods. 
  • DR tools fail to meet desired RTOs and RPOs. Recovery times may take days. Files are not current. At best, older versions of files can be restored. At worst, data corruption or data loss occur. 
  • Global file systems perform poorly over distance. Global or cloud file systems that rely on centralized storage trickle updates from cloud storage to remote site caches. In distributed scenarios, VDI profiles may become stale or out-of-sync.
  • Degraded end-user experience leads to an increase in the number of support tickets, decreased productivity, and thwarts VDI adoption.  FSLogix profile containers, for example, pose replication challenges across data centers due to FSLogix Cloud Cache.

Resilio’s Solution or VDI Profile Replication

Implementing Resilio Connect for VDI profile replication is pretty easy. We offer a free proof of concept to jumpstart your deployment and learn best practices.  

In short, Resilio Connect is peer-to-peer. All endpoints (servers) play a role in replication; files are hashed across multiple endpoints in parallel to transfer and replicate files concurrently. As stated earlier, the solution is real-time and rapidly replicates user profiles, app data, and other settings—across as many data centers and cloud regions as needed.  

SO … if you’re looking for active-active HA across multiple sites, we’d be happy to show you a demo. Resilio Connect is well suited to organizations with two (2) or more sites (data centers or cloud regions), and 100 or more user profiles. You would use Resilio Connect to enable bidirectional active-active HA across sites. The P2P system ensures resiliency and replicates file permissions and other metadata with all user profiles and containers.

The Resilio solution replaces DFSR or your conventional storage replication tools. Resilio is  software-only, using agents installed on VDI host servers (physical, virtual, or containerized). Resilio agents support popular operating systems, virtualization platforms, and cloud services.   

The Resilio Connect management console gives administrators an easy to use, centralized system to visualize, monitor, and automate all file delivery operations. Administrators manage agents, create and run jobs, control bandwidth allocations, and deploy job instructions across the organization. It’s easy to automate jobs through scripting and an API set. 

Resilio Connect is also compatible with popular profile management tools such as Microsoft FSLogix, Citrix Profile Management, as well as VMware Horizon and Dynamic Environment Manager. 

Resilio Connect Advantages over Conventional Replication

Deliver active-active HA at full speed

Active-active high availability enables fast failover across data centers for file servers and file shares using DFS—while also speeding up time-to-desktop. Profile and Office containers are replicated in real-time. Sites can be located anywhere globally, and utilize multiple cloud regions and availability zones. All sites are always active and enabled for fast failover.   

Resilio’s non-disruptive, highly available architecture eliminates single point of failures (SPOFs) to give you peace of mind. Sync jobs reliably just work in predictable, measurable timeframes.  

Reduce time-to-desktop by up to 5x

Resilio improves the overall end user experience by speeding logon and logoff times into the VHDX (virtual desktop). Compared to conventional replication solutions such as DFS replication (DFSR), Resilio speeds up site-to-site replication by 10-20x depending on the network conditions, while also reducing time-to-desktop.

Customers report a 2-5x speed up in time-to-desktop compared to conventional caching tools like FSLogix Cloud Cache and Microsoft DFSR for VMware DEM.   

Improve site-to-site replication performance by 3x

Concurrently replicate profiles, user files, and application files to improve replication performance—in any direction.  Compared to DFSR, the performance improvement is closer to 10x across the LAN and 20x over the WAN.  The more files and worse the network conditions, the bigger the benefit you will see with Resilio Connect. 

Resilio’s WAN optimization capabilities offer end-to-end predictability for replication and sync using unreliable and high latency networks. Customers obtain full-utilization of bandwidth across any distance, using any IP network. Administrators simply allocate bandwidth policies based on available network capacity; increase bandwidth to increase performance. 

Meet and exceed your goals for DR 

You’ll see faster recovery times to meet or exceed RTOs and less data loss to improve RPOs. During logoff or when a file changes, updates on the target sites are propagated within seconds.  File changes are synchronized in parallel across all sites, in real-time. Resilio has no dependencies on storage platforms or replication schedules. 

Through capabilities like cross-region replication, Resilio helps customers meet their objectives for warm and live DR.   

You can use pretty much any IT or cloud environment as part of your DR solution.  Another benefit is flexibility for DR—because you can use any IT infrastructure hardware and pretty much any cloud.  

For Citrix UPM replication, Resilio helped one VDI customer save $8.6 million in DR costs. The customer also used Resilio Connect for cross-region replication on Azure to keep replication traffic within their cloud provider’s network to minimize data egress fees.   

Reduce recovery times from days to minutes

With all user profiles concurrently synchronized across all sites, file recovery times are greatly reduced. Profiles are stored as files—and kept in sync within seconds, once changes are propagated. Files are continuously accessible from any site.   

One joint VMware DEM and Resilio customer reported reducing recovery times from days to minutes.  “Using Resilio Connect, we can restore a single file—in some cases in less than a minute—using the exact same IT infrastructure (servers, storage, and DFS namespace).”

Secure and protect files globally

Resilio’s solution secures and protects files, end-to-end. Encryption protects files at rest and in flight. There’s no reliance on 3rd-party software, VPNs, or cloud services. The solution can be air gapped as needed. An optional Proxy Server also simplifies security for remote work and other VDI use cases.  

One Resilio Citrix UPM customer is obtaining a 2-5x improvement in time-to-desktop.  “Our goal is 30 seconds for user login and load times,” said the company’s VDI project lead. “Prior to Resilio, we were seeing 45 to 90 seconds using FSLogix Cloud Cache and it was taking up a lot of storage IO. Moving to Resilio’s solution for Microsoft FSLogix VHDLocations and Citrix, we were able to both achieve all-active HA and get our user login times down to 15-30 seconds.” 

Summary

For larger scale scenarios you need faster time to desktops, active-active HA across multiple sites,  consider Resilio Connect. When it comes to moving files fast and in real-time–across multiple endpoints concurrently–Resilio can’t be beat in terms of speed, agility, resilience, and scalability. And of course, you have the flexibility of using storage you already own–on your choice of IT and cloud infrastructure.  

We’d appreciate the opportunity to learn more about your goals and needs. Please feel free to schedule a demo to see if Resilio Connect can help your company replicate file data faster.  

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Resilio Connect is a scalable, P2P solution for syncing and transferring enterprise data in real time, that is trusted by leading companies.

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