In the future the school has big VDI plans. Esser is working on the idea of a virtual lab in which there is no thin client associated with particular virtual machines. Instead they get there via software. Abstracting the computing environment would be key so users could get at resources from lots of different locations and devices. Users could sync data and migrate smoothly to new machines while maintaining their old data set, he says. With this model, he hopes to expand the supported endpoint devices to include iPads and Android tablets.
There are more than 100 virtual machines used regularly at the school and that may double by the end of this year. If individual user desktop profiles could be associated directly with the underlying data, applications, storage and processes rather than with virtual machines that pulls these elements together, it would simplify and streamline the virtual backend, Esser says.
He says he'd also consider cloud vendors offering desktop as a service with a pure Web interface that would cut out clients altogether. The question is where would the central store of data reside? He says he could see a provider supplying the Web interface to data stored on school-owned devices, but not putting that data itself in the cloud yet.
Before that could happen, cloud licensing would have to improve to better define what belongs to the customer and what belongs to the provider and how it is all secured. The school would not pioneer such relationships. "We'd have to see someone else's case law on that," Esser says.
Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.