Atlantis ILIO vs Flash storage cost comparison

Posted by on May 12, 2014 in Storage | 2 comments

I often want to do this type of exercise on different types of solutions but don’t have the time to. There are plenty of vendors that make claims around the cost benefits of their products along with technology benefits. In this post I won’t be testing or questioning the performance of Atlantis ILIO. I have used the product in the past and talked to customers and there is very little question about ILIO being able to offer amazing performance.

What I do want to dig into is the value prop and address some of the claims that are made against other storage options. Atlantis seems to still be marketing itself the same way it did a few years ago when people were still trying to architect VDI on classic storage arrays with a 3 tiered model. Most of the comparisons on their site and in their presentations focus on these classic arrays or NAS devices. Below are some topics I wanted to point out as being mostly historical.

  1. End up with lots of excess capacity to get needed IOPS
  2. Storage will cost too much to achieve required performance
  3. Marketing focuses on storage costs saved but this is nullified by ILIO licensing likely
  4. Uses an inflated IOPS number per desktop, this drives up cost of shared storage alternatives

Today there are numerous storage options available that are a better fit for VDI. In the 3 years since ILIO has been on the market there are several All Flash and Hybrid Storage arrays available that offer great performance at affordable pricing. Some of these arrays mostly focus on performance while others are focused on providing data services along with performance.

Comparison Data

To make the comparison I had to create a fictitious set of requirements. For the sake of this comparison the sample will be for 1000 virtual desktops. They will be Windows 7 VMs with 1vCPU and 2GB of memory. They will have a 30GB virtual disk but will utilize Linked Clones in VMware View for space savings. I used 50 IOPS per desktop for the steady state which is pretty high for an average user. The real number is likely 50% of this but I wanted to be realistic and allow for peaks because desktop IO is very spiky by nature.

This would require a total of 7TB of usable storage capacity for desktops. The IOPS requirement would be 53,000 for the desktops and replica image. So any shared storage solution needs to easily meet these requirements. For Atlantis ILIO the comparison will only use a pair of local drives in each server for storage. The architecture will rely on ILIO to run on the local storage and utilize deduplication to meet the capacity requirements.

The compute used for the comparison is Cisco UCS blade servers. The B200M3 server with dual E5 processors and 12 cores were used. The configurations are identical between the two builds other than the ILIO configuration is using more memory per blade server. This allows for ILIO to use as storage and allowed us a bit higher consolidation ratio resulting in fewer servers.


  • Storage list price

  • Number of desktops
  • Blade server memory
  • # of servers
  • Compute costs
  • Amount of storage
  • Storage cost per Desktop
  • Licensing costs
  • Cost Per desktop
  • Atlantis ILIO

  • $150

    per desktop

  • 1,000
  • 384GB
  • 8
  • $450,000
  • 1TB
  • $8
  • $150,000
  • $608
  • Tintri T540

  • $100,000

    List price

  • 1,000
  • 256GB
  • 10
  • $461,000
  • 13.5TB
  • $100
  • Zero
  • $561


The costs used for this comparison are all list prices and I’m sure some tough negotiating with the vendors or a partner could yield some slight differences. But this should serve as a good measuring stick for looking at things with open eyes. I picked Tintri because I have experience in using them, this comparison could have easily been done with Nimble, Nutanix and others with similar results.

Besides cost and performance points I think that the shared storage model can offer other benefits. Customers can continue to enjoy native HA features in vSphere, better performance reporting and other data services. A shared storage solution will likely allow you to supply storage needs to the VDI infrastructure components such as brokers and other servers. While ILIO would require them to utilize another storage source.


There is not one single right way to architect an infrastructure design for VDI. There are many good solutions from different vendors. Each of which will work great if done properly or can be terrible if done wrong. I simply want to offer a comparison based on list price. I highly recommend that you don’t take any vendors marketing pitch at face value, do your research and do real comparisons between the alternatives that you will be considering.


About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design


  1. Hi,
    Can you explain the “Storage cost per Desktop”. I don’t understand how the cost of storage per Desktop is 8000$ when using in-memory ILIO.


    • My mistake, should be $8 per desktop. Its the cost of a pair of local disks in each server. I used this as the cheapest possible method, not necessarily the best alternative. I put in the total and have updated the table.

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