University of Vermont

Jeffords Hall

Virtualized Desktop Computer Lab in Kalkin

Project Timeline: 
May, 2012 to December, 2012
Project Progress: 
100%

The Virtualized Desktop project focuses on virtualizing one computer lab in the Kalkin building as a pilot to build the capacity and  to create a demonstrable configuration to roll out VDIs across campus. This pilot project is a collaboration between Enterprise Technology Services (ETS) and School of Business Administration with the goal of reducing energy consumption by computer labs.  

At the end of September, the first two Virtual Desktops were deployed. One uses a demo Dell/Wyse P20 Thin Client, and the other is a repurposed Dell Optiplex 755 with a 60GB SSD replacing the traditional Hard Drive to decrease power consumption & heat as well as to increase performance.  Most lab users have not noticed a difference from the previous traditional desktops.  The full rollout of VDI for all machines in the Kalkin computer lab took place in January 2013.  An open house in Spring 2013 introduced  campus lab managers to this energy-saving technology.

The goal is to reduce our lab power demands, extend the useful life of our client lab equipment, and enhance our lab management flexibility. Currently, UVM has  approximately 825 semi-public workstations on campus in computer labs. The project drivers for this include:

  1. Reduced Power consumption: Virtual Desktops can be optimally accessed using ‘Thin Clients’ which can draw 1/10 as much power to operate.  Assuming a conservative estimate of UVM lab machines being on an average of 8 hours a day, 243 days a year:  If UVM virtualized 500 of the 885 Computer lab workstations using thin clients; the potential Annual Savings in power would be ~57,633 KwHs.  
  2. Extended the Useful Life Lab Client Equipment:  Currently, public workstations at UVM are often replaced/refreshed every three years based on available warranties from manufacturers.  Virtual Desktops connected to from client nodes (Thin clients or re-engineered off warranty desktops) can more justifiably be used well beyond their three year warrantied life cycle.
  3. Improved Lab Image Management and Deployment:  Virtualizing the Desktop to the data center allows for centralized management of workstation images with simplified image/workstation deployment.  It will also enable additional rollback options for lab updates, multiple lab workstation configuration options (Windows 7, Windows 8 and Linux available virtual machines to connect to from the same workstation) and image maintenance will be greatly improved.

 

Thomas Chittenden, a lecturer at the School of Business Administration, will teach BSAD 195: Green IT & Virtualization in Fall 2012 when the lab is complete. 

Project Champions: Enterprise Technology Services, Thomas Chittenden (BSAD), and Nicholas Gingrow (Information Technology Professional for BSAD).
Clean Energy Fund Award: $25,000
Final Project Cost: $24,866
 


UPDATES

2/8/12: Virtualized desktop project presented to Clean Energy Fund Committee. The project presentation can be found here

5/21/12: All-day vendor presentations from Citrix and vmware to ETS and BSAD team.

9/18/12: From Nick Gingrow- "Through an evaluation process this summer, we selected VMware View to implement VDI and ETS has installed, configured and deployed the VDI solution. We have begun testing the solution by creating virtual machines and using them on both repurposed old hardware, and on demo thin clients from both Dell/Wyse and HP/EVGA. We plan to repurpose desktops in a small lab by the end of the semester to get student feedback before our main deployment for the Spring 2012 semester." 
 

9/26/12:  From Nick Gingrow- "Today Matt & I deployed our first two Virtual Desktops. One is using a demo Dell/Wyse P20 Thin Client, and the other is a repurposed Dell Optiplex 755 with a 60GB SSD replacing the traditional Hard Drive to decrease power consumption & heat as well as to increase performance.

I have put a sign above each machine to tell students that these are Virtualized desktops funded by The UVM Clean Energy Fund, and that if they have any questions or feedback to contact Matt or myself. We hope to get some feedback from students over the next few weeks so that we can improve the user experience before our full rollout in Kalkin 102 this Spring."

1/14/2013: The VDI Lab in Kalkin is up and running, with 7 new thin clients and 7 repurposed desktops.  The course that incorporates these machines is taught this semester by Thomas Chittenden.

1/30/2013: Sponsor signs added on desktop backgrounds of each VDI machine. 

VIDEOS

11/8/12: Interview with Nick Gingrow on the project [Vimeo].