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Student Computer Labs Moving to Virtual Desktops

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After a successful pilot in the Library this past fall, ITSS staff plan to roll out virtual desktops to all basic access student computer labs for fall semester 2012. ITSS will be using VMware View to provide the virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI).

VMware View allows us to host the desktop operating system within a virtual machine (VM) running on our VMware cluster. Existing computers will be reused during the initial rollout and will be replaced with "zero client" hardware during the regular hardware refresh cycle. Zero client hardware is less expensive, has lower maintenance, and consumes far less power than standard CPUs. The zero clients were used in the pilot, and students who used them did not notice any difference between this hardware on VM and the standard computers running the OS and software locally.

VDI also gives us several other advantages over the traditional lab offering. We will be able to update and deploy software more quickly. It also will let us easily maintain several distinct lab offerings to suit class needs. The service also supports a ‘Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)’ environment, which may allow users to run lab software on their personal devices in the future.

Stop by the lab just past the ITSS Computer Help Desk in the Library to use one of the new zero clients. Let us know what you think!