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Dallas/Ft. Worth engineering school at The University of Texas at Dallas partners with Applied

Premier Dallas/Ft. Worth engineering school at The University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas) partners with Applied to replace hard-to-manage PCs with a mix of persistent and non-persistent virtual desktops for labs, faculty and staff. The project dramatically reduced desktop provisioning, patching and support costs and improved service for end users, making UT Dallas a trend-setter for VDI in higher education.

UT Dallas started down the VDI path in 2002 when Engineering IT Manager John McConnell realized that managing 400+ physical desktops, 16 different gold images and a wide range of applications took too much of his IT staff’s limited resources. McConnell recently managed the implementation of 250 Windows 7 virtual desktops accessed by VMware View, which succeeded in improving both IT efficiency and increasing student, faculty and staff service quality.

At UT Dallas, the desktops being served by the installation are also called VDIs. Their VDI environment supplies users with their VDI desktops. For the tech-heads, their implementation is based on VMware View, as compared to Citrix XenDesktop or Microsoft VDI/Hyper-V, with software from Liquidware Labs to provision and manage their desktops. View then delivers that desktop to the users or labs.

When McConnell arrived at UT Dallas in 2000 he had a desktop PC connected to all his peripherals and powering two 22″ displays. Beginning in 2002, McConnell installed 60 Sun Ray clients in two engineering labs replacing Sun workstations. Those labs ran on a large Sun SPARC-based server and presented a Solaris desktop to the engineering students. McConnell had a Sun Ray allocated to him, but he connected very rarely, and only via the Sun Ray client on his desk. Later in 2010 UT Dallas replaced their SPARC-based VDI server with Intel-based servers running VMware’s vSphere Hypervisor and View. Throughout 2012 and 2013, McConnell and his department tested new software from Liquidware Labs, VMTurbo and NoMachine and began installing Samsung’s All-In-One 22″ Teradici-based PCoIP thin clients and then added Teridici’s APEX 2800 server off-load cards in their vSphere hosts to improve video performance.

Then, McConnell began to implement 10Zig’s second generation dual-display Teradici-based zero clients. This allowed users to connect larger 27” monitors which enabled students to have plenty of desktop space to develop their electrical and mechanical designs.

McConnell also purchased iPads (VMware View offers desktop access from both iOS and Android), and gave his laptop up to one of his staff. “I haven’t looked back,” said McConnell. “My main workstation is now the same two monitors, but this time connected to a thin client not much bigger than a cable modem that offers audio, high quality dual output video and even USB device support (including my web cam, though it’s choppy sometimes and cannot do HD).”

When McConnell is in a meeting, he will often takes notes in the cloud, usually Google Keep, but also has his VDI running just in case he needs to jump over and access his more extensive materials in Microsoft OneNote. OneNote is an application that is an incredibly feature-rich and designed-for-note taking application. He has been using since it came out, it doesn’t run on iOS or Android, and he has struggled with that incompatibility for years, though it works fine on his VDI.

When McConnell  is at home he uses his iPad to connect to his VDI environment to monitor and manage his View environment. “Applied has been a great partner to work with and they have helped us throughout this whole process. Applied has done a great job of helping us evaluate different server, storage, networking and software solutions in addition to being our preferred Sun/Oracle partner for over 10 years.”

For more information on how you can reduce costs and complexity in your IT environment simply contact Applied Engineering.