Project Description

Technology Validation

This project will validate the following virtualization expectations:

  • Thin-Client performance User Desktop performance expectations
  • Performance variations between the different Thin-Client protocols
    • RDP
    • Soft PCoIP client installed at the user home PC or office thin-client
    • Firmware PCoIP thin-client
  • Sizing and Scalability of Users/Server
  • SAN performance
  • Energy efficiency of Virtual Desktop/Thin-Client over Traditional Desktop models
  • Application Virtualization capability and speed of deployment to user
  • Storage needs for a typical administrative user
  • The categories/complexity of desktop user environments surveyed in each of the Project Steering faculties or departments

Project Challenges

We have taken a "pilot" approach to this project in order to test how this technology works in the UBC environment. There are some known challenges and risks including:

  • New Technology :
    VMWare View 4 (virtual desktop application), VMWare Thin-App for application virtualization, new thin-client desktop device configuration and support. While this is a newer version, VMWare as a vendor has been in the business of virtualization for many years and this product is relatively mature. We have engaged one of their top technical sales engineers on a weekly basis, to help us overcome technical implementation issues.
  • Enterprise Active Directory :
    is a requirement for scalability of Virtual Desktops and EAD is being implemented in parallel under the Identity and Access Management program. We have been in close contact with the IAM/EAD project teams and working within UBC IT, ensuring that this environment is stable, redundant and production-ready before and during the pilot stages.
  • Network Infrastructure :
    UBC has numerous firewalls and network bandwidth / availability between sites. Virtual Desktop performance consistency demands a reliable, consistent and efficient network topology between the core, internet and user sites. For the pilot, we have confirmed the network topology and have direct access to network resources to resolve firewall issues for the VDI implementation. We will be monitoring the traffic and defining the level of bandwidth / user. We'll also define some Service Level Objectives as a baseline for any VDI services.
  • New Desktop Support paradigm :
    new technology requires a different set of tools and processes to manage the user's desktops now residing on a server hosted environment. There is a need for process development, shakedown and training. We have a subproject team focussed on the development of add-on support and deployment processes, and for the creation of a new image management processes. We're drawing upon the support expertise from SIS and UBC IT to formulate the initial template for the pilot. Our approach is to 'add' to current processes and not redevelopment. Our team is also reviewing the new VMWare toolset for desktop support and we are not adding on any other 3rd party support tools.
  • Aggressive Schedule :
    This project has a very aggressive timeline. In fact, more aggressive then many VMWare reference implementations. This has been mitigated to some degree by 1) VMWare's out-of-the-box solution which reducing testing cycles 2) small implementation scale 3) high degree of in-house technical expertise with VMWare technology 4) on-call VMWare technical resources 5) lessons learned from reference VMWare customer implementations and 6) strong UBC cross-faculty stakeholder involvement in this project.
  • User Needs Analysis :
    even though it's done in parallel with development, there is a strong focus, resourcing and performance-based benchmarking approach to ensuring the initial and future user needs are measured, documented and relayed immediately to the architect/design team. A business analyst has visited and interviewed representative users and the IT support teams for all the faculties/departments of the project steering team members. The users needs have been analysed and documented to the project SharePoint site.
  • Project Management :
    strong project management required to ensure complete focus on the immediate project deliverables, rapid issue resolution, clear communications and stakeholder engagement. A project manager was hired who brings prior VDI implementation experience into this project.