Insights, Best Practices and Forward Thinking from the Customer Facing Team, Solution Architects and Leaders on Extreme Performance Applications, Infrastructure, Storage and the Real-World Impact Possible

VDI: When Using Less Power is More Powerful

by VIOLIN SYSTEMS on October 5, 2012

Gregor Waddell, Assistant Director IT, Anglia Ruskin University is joining us for a two part blog series where he shares his insights on the university’s VDI initiative.

In 2011 we were faced with a challenge: Anglia Ruskin University needed to provide a brand new 300 seat Cambridge student IT open access area, within a new building which was built with no provision for additional cooling – traditional ‘thick clients’ were not a viable option. The need to reduce power consumption while at the same time creating an excellent user experience for over 32,000 students were central motivators in Anglia Ruskin University’s decision to deploy a VDI solution using Violin flash Memory Arrays.

We wanted a modern and attractive desktop for our student and staff community that could take advantage of recent technology innovations to improve their experience. VDI technology was ‘coming of age’ and offered a promising and credible solution.

Convinced by the concept and advantages of virtualisation for our server infrastructure, we had already pushed almost all of our server estate over to VMware vSphere based virtualisation. This naturally led us to consider Desktop Virtualisation and related thin client technologies as a potential way forward.

Storage performance considerations were a key factory in designing our solution. VDI relies heavily on storage performance and our existing traditional spinning disk arrays were not up to the task.  The virtual machines needed 80-100 IOPS per desktop in our more demanding environments, of which most were writes. After considering several options we chose the 3000 Series Violin flash Memory Array.

The Implementation

In September 2011 we successfully launched the new Hosted Virtual Desktop into the new IT open access area and library – initially providing capacity for around 400 concurrent desktops. This was followed by a roll-out of the desktop to the rest of the University’s student IT open access areas supporting approximately 1000 concurrent users.

The new desktop is also now being rolled out to our staff - with most of our specific software such as Tribal SITS being delivered using application virtualisation.

The results

  • Provided an nearly indistinguishable user experience to that of traditional PCs
  • Reduced power consumption with around a 30-40% saving, per user, when compared to traditional PCs and monitors
  • Reduced boot times from an average of 8-9 minutes to between 30-60 seconds
  • Calculated that the capital expenditure would be similar to that of a PC deployment at numbers greater than around 500 concurrent users with a saving, year on year, in support and management costs.
  • Significantly increased flexibility to deploy new software easily.

In my next post I’ll share some key insights and considerations for a successful VDI implementation.

If you’d like to understand more about the Anglia Ruskin University VDI implementation with Violin Systems, please read the full case study.