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CIO  February 2009

CIO February 2009

Subject:

Re: Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

From:

John Kaftan <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

The EDUCAUSE CIO Constituent Group Listserv <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 12 Feb 2009 22:19:37 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (91 lines)

We are playing with the Wyse VXO thin client connecting to a VMWare 
Virtual Machine via RDP.  It is working fine but since we are using the 
free version of VMWare there is no VDI or provisioning.  It is all a 
manual process.  Still it looks very promising.  The client we are using 
has a very rudimentary OS.  Basically you just set what terminal server 
you want to connect to and your video and network settings and off you 
go.  Our test user is at a remote site with a site-to-site VPN to our 
main campus.  She was having trouble running Banner over the wire.  We 
installed the thin client and she is much happier accept that her audio 
and video streaming is very poor, not that she needs either to work.

Wyse has a software suit that can be installed on the server (in this 
case XP workstation) to accelerate multimedia and USB support.  Our next 
step is to install that suite to see if it helps.  Technically she would 
be hard pressed to make a case that listening to music and watching cute 
video streams that her kids send her is necessary.  However, we do not 
want a rebellion on our hands either.  If possible we want folks to not 
really notice the difference and even appreciate the extra space on 
their desk and how quiet it is. 

There are also powerful arguments regarding lower power consumption 
especially if you can replace a CRT with a LCD at the same time.  It 
makes them feel like they are getting something special too rather then 
getting something less.  In terms of supporting this VM it would be much 
easier for our help desk to support her especially since she is remote.


We have another pilot that is running Secure Global Desktop by Sun.  We 
have SunRay thin clients there that connect to Win2003 terminal servers 
via a Sun front end.  We are using RDP there as well.  That project is 
also looking very well.  We have provisioned 15 SunRays in our training 
room and they are working beautifully but also have issue with streaming 
video.  In a terminal server environment we have challenges with special 
apps that either are not meant to be run on terminal servers or are a 
security risk to be installed on a public server.  We can get around the 
security risk by deploying more servers in VMs and install the special 
apps there.  SGD has the ability to publish apps like Citrix so you can 
publish just the app and never the desktop on a particular server so 
that folks cannot see apps they are not supposed to get to.  Obviously 
we can control who has access to what apps on a given server via 
security and, if we migrate to Active Directory eventually, group 
policy.  I am just saying when you use a terminal server apposed to a 
virtual desktop you will have these complications.

I once worked at an ASP that used Citrix to provide a front end.  We had 
over 300 servers in our Citrix farm and up to 4500 concurrent 
connections.  I have to say that I was very impressed with the Citrix 
offering.

Another advantage might be providing desktops to our remote users.  For 
example, if we can offer a virtual lab that has special software that 
students need for their classes then they will not have to come in to 
the LAB to do their work.  They could get to a desktop from anywhere and 
we might be able to reallocate one of our labs back to a class room.  
Or, for some classes, students could conceivably get their own desktop 
for the semester.  Then at the end of the semester they just hand in 
their desktop to the Professor as their final project.  It is very 
exciting stuff.










Gary R. Holeman wrote:
> I realize that there was a recent discussion about VDI, but I wanted to bring it up again.  I have moved as CIO from one institution to another in the last month.  The situation I find here at Morehead State University is that we have very little ability to manage the desktop computers we have.  Our Windows desktops are not joined to a domain and each modification of the desktop is currently requiring a staff member to physically touch the machine.  We are also very new to Active Directory.  We must bring about a change to this situation very quickly.  We also recently have had our desktop computer vendor go into bankruptcy (Gateway/MPC) and are in the middle of a bid process for a new desktop/notebook/tablet vendor.  We have been very successful here in using virtualization of servers using VMWare.  As most of you know, that technology has proven itself very well.  As I'm looking at state budget cuts, we're deciding to extend the replacement cycle for our desktop/notebook computers from 3 to 4 years.  So, I'm wondering if I might be in a situation similar to eastern Europe and Asia a few years ago where cell phone technology and market penetration passed that in the United States because those areas were so far behind the US in wired technology.  So, they simply leapfrogged us in wireless technology rather than build out the wired infrastructure.  I'm wondering if since we at this institution are so far behind in desktop management if we should leapfrog past the normal desktop management processes and move to virtual desktops.  I'm waiting for my vendor to find me a higher ed institution that has implemented virtual desktops in wide-spread deployment for faculty/staff desktops.  Have any of you done that or do you know an institution that has?  I realize many of the battles I may face in user acceptance, but if I can see someone that has done that, this might be an opportune time in the light of budget cuts.  By the way, I understand that the thin client devices are not necessarily less expensive than fat client devices.  But I believe the replacement cycles for either a desktop computer used as a VDI thin client or a device designed as a thin client will probably be much longer than our current replacement cycles.  Perhaps as much as an 8 year refresh cycle.
>
> Thoughts?  Opinions?  Directions?
>
>
> Gary R. Holeman
> Assistant Vice President for Technology/
> Chief Information Officer
> Morehead State University
> 150 University Blvd
> 110 Ginger Hall
> Morehead, KY 40351
> (606)783-2068 Office
> (606)783-5078 Fax
>
> **********
> Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.
>   

**********
Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.

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