Behind the scenes of Wellesley College's desktop virtualization rollout

By , Network World |  Virtualization, desktop virtualization

When did the project start and how far along are you?

The project began in late spring with configuring the back end, building and testing sample desktop environments, and consulting with interested departments about their software needs. Part of what delayed the project is we are upgrading the central storage. This is a huge cultural shift for many users, so we needed to make sure there would be buy-in from key administrators before proceeding further. I have been using it effectively from my Mac for browser testing of apps and for testing Outlook-Gmail connectivity. It is great. We are talking to some faculty members about using a virtual desktop to run statistical software, which we believe will get going after the usual beginning of the semester activities settle down.

What technologies did you wind up going with and why?

Back end -- VMware, NetApp for file storage, Active Directory for access control. On the Macs, we use the VMware View client. As I mentioned earlier, when appropriately configured, this combination works. We also have tremendous expertise in all of these technologies in our organization.

What end user devices are being supported via VDI?

Macs, PCs and tablets, thin clients.

What if any changes needed to be made to the university's network to support VDI?

Nothing much. We have a lot of capacity to support this through the wired network and also we have a lot of capacity left in our Internet connectivity.

What sort of resources (people, money, time) are you putting into the project?

One systems engineer configured the server and is responsible for maintaining the back-end and provisioning accounts as required.

One desktop administrator is responsible for building and maintaining the client desktops and consulting with users on customizations.

One project manager is responsible for identifying potential new uses for VDI and consulting with users.

Several desktop support staff have been involved in testing. It is very hard to quantify this, but none of the staff has spent a lot of time on this. I would say that the total effort would be four weeks of one staffer's time. We did consult a fair amount with NetApp on setting this up.

What special skills are needed by staff to plan and roll out this project?

Deep understanding of VMware, SAN architectures (in our case NetApp and how IOPS works, how to use the analysis tools to monitor and manage capacity), managing Windows images, Active Directory and networking (especially for efficient routing).

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Anything that you would have done differently if you could start over?


Originally published on Network World |  Click here to read the original story.
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