Cisco Reference Architecture for 4000 Users on XD 5.6 and XA 6.5 on vSphere 5.1 with EMC VNX 7500

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Reference Architecture:

The combination of technologies from Cisco Systems, Inc, Citrix Systems, Inc, VMware and EMC produced a highly efficient, robust and scalable 4000 seat mixed Desktop Virtualization Infrastructure delivering outstanding end-user experience with the following concurrently running workloads:

  • 2000 Citrix XenApp 6.5 Hosted Shared Desktop sessions
  • 1000 Citrix XenDesktop 5.6 Pooled Hosted Virtual Desktops with PVS Write Cache on Tier O Storage
  • 1000 Citrix XenDesktop 5.6 Hosted Virtual Desktops with Personal vDisk


While this reference architecture uses the XenDesktop 5.6 and XenApp 6.5 management architectures, there is a striking similarity of architecture to the recently released XenDesktop 7 "Excalibur".  In the new XD7 architecture, both XenDesktop and XenApp are combined from a Management and Licensing perspective to bring together all of the Citrix FlexCast technologies into a single platform.  This new model is sure to drive further consolidation in the desktop space and make it easier for desktop solution architects to seamlessly provide additional capabilities and mobility to thier end users without adding significant complexity or management overhead.


The architecture deployed is highly modular. While each customer’s environment might vary in its exact configuration, when the reference architecture contained in this document is built, it can easily be scaled as requirements and demands change. This includes scaling both up (adding additional resources within a Cisco UCS Domain) and out (adding additional Cisco UCS Domains and VNX Storage arrays).

The 4000 User XenDesktop 5.6 and XenApp 6.5 solution includes Cisco networking, Cisco UCS and EMC storage which the computing and storage that fit in two data center racks, including the access layer network switches in the Cisco UCS rack.


This document details the deployment of a 4000 seat mixed workload desktop virtualization solution featuring:

  • Citrix XenDesktop 5.6 Pooled Hosted Virtual Desktops with PVS Write Cache on Tier O Storage
  • Citrix XenDesktop 5.6 Hosted Virtual Desktops with Personal vDisks
  • Citrix XenApp 6.5 Hosted Shared Desktops
  • Citrix Provisioning Server 6.1
  • Citrix User Profile Manager
  • Citrix StoreFront
  • Citrix NetScaler VPX
  • Cisco Nexus 1000V Distributed Virtual Switch
  • Cisco Virtual Machine Fabric Extender (VM-FEX)
  • VMware ESXi 5.1 Hypervisor


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This reference architecture validates the performance of the solution and provides guidelines to build similar solutions.


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Reference Architecture


Original Links:


Originally Published:  May 2013 Documents Attached:

  • Reference Architecture:  Citrx_EMC_UCS_XDXAscale.pdf


(Document attachements are done to ensure that the collateral referenced in this post survive any changes to the orignal links.  As documents are updated from time to time, the best practice should be to use the original document links, however, they are also attached directly to ensure longevity of the link)