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Thin Client and Virtual Machines Thread, Your VDI adventures - good or bad, please share. in Technical; Originally Posted by Fruity Hi all. Itís been suggested that we look at moving across to a VDI system, replacing ...
  1. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fruity View Post
    Hi all.

    Itís been suggested that we look at moving across to a VDI system, replacing some, but not all of our aging classroom PCís. What I would like to know is what have been your experiences of introducing a hybrid (VDI/Physical) system. Has anyone started and then abandoned the project? Has VDI been promised to be the miracle cure for all IT issues and then not lived up to its expectations, or has it been installed and people wondered how they ever done without it?

    I know itís a bit of a marmite subject, but Iíd be very grateful for you guys sharing your experiences and who knows, I might even make 25+ posts in the process.

    Cheers all
    __________
    Fruity.
    Waste of time see here

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave_O View Post
    Waste of time see here
    Have to totally disagree with this.

    We started trialing VDI using VMWare View 12-18 months ago and this summer undertook a major project to replace a large percentage of our ageing PCs with zero clients.

    Here are my observations:

    1. Ensure you have the system set up properly. A few schools that have complained about VDI did not have the system set up correctly which led to reliability issues.
    2. Which manufacturer of software to go for? I read up extensively on offerings from the 3 major players and decided on VMWare mainly due to the features and for what I consider to be the best protocol (PCoIP) available at present.
    3. Server Hardware. Don't scrimp here. We have 6 HP DL 380 G7 servers with dual 6 core processors and 192GB of Ram each. Storage is run from 2 7TB HP Lefthand SANS.
    4. Zero Clients. If you use RDP as your protocol then expect performance issues. We purchased PCoIP chipset zero clients and force the use of the PCoIP protocol to all devices and we have not received any issues at all relating to user experience.
    5. Performance. We are running around 550 clients off the 6 servers (92 VM's per host) with RAM being the only issue. Processor usage is less than 30%. This is helped by the installation of:
    6. Teradici Apex 2800 server offload cards. These cards offload the protocol processing from the server CPU's to a PCI card.
    7. Network Infrastructure. Do not expect to have great results if your core backbone is not up to the job. We have a HP 5400ZL core switch with gigabit uplinks to perimeter switches. Extensive use of VLAN's prevent any QoS issues.

    Benefits

    1. Power usage. A zero client uses around 20% of the power used by a standard PC. This will save money in the longrun through electricy usage and:
    2. Heat output is reduced considerable. This limits the need for air conditioning to be used and rooms which have air conditioning are not set as cool as they previously were using standard PCs. This again saves money and is:
    3. Green IT. This is not a fad but something that every business/school needs to be considering. The benefits of the above not only help the bank balance but also do a lot to help reduce our carbon footprint.
    4. Device life. Zero clients to not have moving parts and should last 5+ years without performance decreases. These devices also cost less than standard PC's and offer dual video outputs as standard. This decrease the maintenance budget and reduces hardware waste.
    5. Zero client management. By using Teradici based zero clients we are able to use their FREE management console. This allows us to quickly update devices to lastest firmware versions, lock down any settings menus and connect the devices to our VMWare servers and specific VDI Pools preventing the need for the end user to do anything.
    6. Power cuts. Being in a countryside location we regularly face power cuts. When one occurs a users session continues to run on the servers and the user to automatically reconnected when they log back on without losing their work. This requires minimal battery backup. We do have a generator onsite but there is a 5 second delay when it kicks in and offloads to main power. We also do not see corruptions in windows installation and hard disk issues due to these failuers.
    7. Quick deploy of updates and applications. We rebuild the base image around of the desktops around once a month which takes around 4-5 hours to do. Rebuilding 550 desktops in 4-5 hours!!!!! New applications are thin app'd quickly and deployed easiliy to users via group policy.
    8. BYOD. We will soon be launching BYOD to students and will offer users a VDI to connect to so they can use our network applications on their mobile phones, ipod touch's, tablets and PC's. We can therefore offer limited connectivity as standard and then offer locked down and monitored usage through View.
    9. Working from home. By moving to VDI staff and students are able to work from home on snow days or if they are unable to get to work/school due to other circumstances. This also enables students to increase their independent learning opportunity. Finally parents do not have to purchase expensive software packages to enable their children to work at home. Most of our software is site licensed and the new Microsoft agreements have made this possible. Only a couple of our software packages do not support this and we have disabled these from external connectivity.


    Drawbacks

    1. Performance for full screen HD video. The compression used for VDI is not good enough to offer this yet. HD video in a small window is fine and is more than adequate for teaching and learning. I have seen some old PC's in schools which can't offer full screen due to their poor performance. When we started testing VMWare View we were using version 4.5 and there has been a big improvement in the jump to 5.1. I would say give it another year or so and this will be much better.
    2. Applications compatibility with ThinApp. We have only had issues with 3 applications/suites so far. Office 2010 (installed on the base image as it does not like being thin app'dat present) Adobe Design suite 6 (as they do not offer a license server. We have stuck with 5.5 which works fine. This is more an issue with increased security of their product without offering a decent activation option. AMEE does not help with this. Sibelius has used a network server for licensing for years) and we are having issues with a game maker product which doesn't even have an MSI. We have workarounds for each of these and in terms of the smaller software products there are normally other competitors to choose from.
    3. Initial cost. Yes this is high but savings are seen on a 5 year balance sheet. On hardware and software costs alone we are expecting a minimum of £60,000 saving over 8 years and this does not take into account the electricity savings.

    Business users have been using VDI for some time now and Education will follow soon. Software vendors which do not keep up in offering compatible applications will end of losing out. So many school software packages and moving to web based platforms (including office and Scorm packages) that just make virtual desktop implementations easier. This is a good opportunity to review and consolidate what applications are being used.

    Most of our users are not even aware they are using a virtual desktop which is more than proof that the solution works and we will not be moving back.

    VMWare have asked us to take part in a video case study which will be great for the marketing of our school and great for our personal CVs.

    Anyone who would like to see our system up and running is more than welcome to visit. Just drop me a PM.

  3. #33

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    There are so many questions that this post raises, however rather than addressing the cost saving (TCO) and energy efficiency issues which I have some reservations over I will restrict myself to generic concerns.

    1) What was the consultation process with staff? Who is the driving force behind this initiative?
    2) Who implemented the solution? Your comment "A few schools that have complained about VDI did not have the system set up correctly which led to reliability issues." is eluding to something.
    3) Why would you want a solution that a) lasts 8 years b) costs a lot every 8 years to replace?
    4) Are any of the thin clients laptops? The move now is towards portable devices why would you commit 8 years to kit that is fixed?

    I spent a long time defending a solution which in the end was not fit for purpose both in terms of cost and usability and it took some considerable self reflection to admit defeat.

    OK I lied, I am interested in how you arrived at the cost saving figures. I am really struggling to fathom how the cost of the thin clients (with 8 years warranty), back end hardware (with 8 years warranty), VMWare licensing and SnS for 8 years, Microsoft VDM/VDI licensing for 8 years (which you need as there is no coverage for zero clients in the normal EES MS agreement - no OEM license) set against the cost of 550 desktop/laptop/tablets can save £60,000. If you can answer these questions then I am more than willing to change my mind and would love to come and see this solution.

  4. #34


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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave_O View Post
    OK I lied, I am interested in how you arrived at the cost saving figures. I am really struggling to fathom how the cost of the thin clients (with 8 years warranty), back end hardware (with 8 years warranty), VMWare licensing and SnS for 8 years, Microsoft VDM/VDI licensing for 8 years (which you need as there is no coverage for zero clients in the normal EES MS agreement - no OEM license) set against the cost of 550 desktop/laptop/tablets can save £60,000. If you can answer these questions then I am more than willing to change my mind and would love to come and see this solution.
    The costs you are quoting are quite outrageous though. We are 'only' paying £400 per year for 50 desktop licenses and £300 per server per socket.

    To answer some of your other points, The project was driven by what the IT dept wanted - windows computers with students having administrative permissions. It's on a rolling program so we pay every year and not every 8. The thin clients are ITX boxes and cost £130 each - we'd need these for terminal services anyway so it still works out cheaper to do VDI than desktops do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CyberNerd View Post
    The costs you are quoting are quite outrageous though. We are 'only' paying £400 per year for 50 desktop licenses and £300 per server per socket.

    To answer some of your other points, The project was driven by what the IT dept wanted - windows computers with students having administrative permissions. It's on a rolling program so we pay every year and not every 8. The thin clients are ITX boxes and cost £130 each - we'd need these for terminal services anyway so it still works out cheaper to do VDI than desktops do.
    Each one of those ITX boxes needs to have a Windows OEM licence though to get the EES VDA licence upgrade, so that's instantly another £50 per box.

    I am a little skeptical of the VDI cost saving figures as well. Electricity savings are so marginal now with the new 'green' PSUs which are in desktops.

    The VDI experience is not the same as a full fat desktop, I can guarantee that someone could tell which is which in a side by side comparison. When you are replacing hardware the worst thing you can do is replace it with a lesser alternative, which IMHO is what VDI delivers in a school. It is VERY popular in business because it opens up avenues like remote working really easily and for most corporate applications its great. But audio redirection, scrolling performance and video playback are not as good as a full fat desktop and since thats what a lot of the PCs are used for I just don't see the benefit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamo View Post
    Each one of those ITX boxes needs to have a Windows OEM licence though to get the EES VDA licence upgrade, so that's instantly another £50 per box.
    But thats the same for running desktops, the extra is the VDA license upgrade.


    Quote Originally Posted by Jamo View Post
    The VDI experience is not the same as a full fat desktop,
    It depends on the speed of the client. Full screen high quality video works here, but our clients are quite powerful - on something like the zero with VMWare I'm not surprised it doesn't work . With Spice the server offloads the work onto the client so theres an advantage in having more powerful clients.
    The real benefits is in how quickly it is to deploy. 1000 clients takes about 30secs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CyberNerd View Post
    But thats the same for running desktops, the extra is the VDA license upgrade.


    It depends on the speed of the client. Full screen high quality video works here, but our clients are quite powerful - on something like the zero with VMWare I'm not surprised it doesn't work . With Spice the server offloads the work onto the client so theres an advantage in having more powerful clients.
    The real benefits is in how quickly it is to deploy. 1000 clients takes about 30secs.
    The EES agreement includes the VDI licence upgrade for stations which already have the OEM licences, so all workstations we buy have OEM licences.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamo View Post
    The EES agreement includes the VDI licence upgrade for stations which already have the OEM licences, so all workstations we buy have OEM licences.
    Sorry, I don't understand (I don't have EES as we don't use MSOffice) we just buy a win7 license and a VDI license. Without VDI we still buy a win7 license.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CyberNerd View Post
    Sorry, I don't understand (I don't have EES as we don't use MSOffice) we just buy a win7 license and a VDI license. Without VDI we still buy a win7 license.
    Well the EES agreement gives you the VDI licence as part of your standard Windows licence so as long as you have the OEM licence you have the VDI licence. If you buy a thin client with no OS or with Linux etc, then you have to buy a VDI licence anyway even though you have the EES agreement.

    MS class the VDI (VdA) licence as an upgrade (the same as all the EES licences) so since linux isn't a valid upgrade path you have to buy extra licences.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamo View Post
    Well the EES agreement gives you the VDI licence as part of your standard Windows licence so as long as you have the OEM licence you have the VDI licence. If you buy a thin client with no OS or with Linux etc, then you have to buy a VDI licence anyway even though you have the EES agreement.
    I thought Windows VDI licenses where a part of MDOP? Which is an additional £1-2 on top of the standard Core/Enterprise-CAL packs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tmcd35 View Post
    I thought Windows VDI licenses where a part of MDOP? Which is an additional £1-2 on top of the standard Core/Enterprise-CAL packs.
    To be honest right now I have no idea which of the weird MS licences we have allows that!

    Probably the one which allows right click, and the Windows Key keyboard licence... I have no idea!

  12. Thanks to Jamo from:

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    [QUOTE=Jamo;939237............... It is VERY popular in business because it opens up avenues like remote working really easily and for most corporate applications its great. But audio redirection, scrolling performance and video playback are not as good as a full fat desktop and since thats what a lot of the PCs are used for I just don't see the benefit.[/QUOTE]


    I don't think this is true - most business don't require video (many deliberately disable it), if you remove video performance from the equation RDS/Citrix beat VDI in almost every aspect and provide very similar performance to a PC.

    Scrolling and audio should be fine on a normal low cost thin client, full screen HD video at 30+ FPS is the issue,
    and if that is the requirement - nothing today will beat a PC (or Windows7 thin client - which to all intents and purposes (and cost) is a PC!)
    Last edited by Axel; 4th March 2013 at 12:13 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CyberNerd View Post
    The costs you are quoting are quite outrageous though. We are 'only' paying £400 per year for 50 desktop licenses and £300 per server per socket.

    To answer some of your other points, The project was driven by what the IT dept wanted - windows computers with students having administrative permissions. It's on a rolling program so we pay every year and not every 8. The thin clients are ITX boxes and cost £130 each - we'd need these for terminal services anyway so it still works out cheaper to do VDI than desktops do.
    The costs "I" am quoting? These are the figures quoted in the original article! As to the list of hardware and software these are what is need to implement the solution over the stated 8 year period. To clarify I did emphasise Zero client. If it is, then an OEM license is needed to be covered by EES and a VDI/VDM license. reading through the thread I am worried that perhaps the solution is not licensed properly.

    I'm waiting with anticipation for the cost analysis which will show me without question that these £60,000 savings can indeed be made.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Axel View Post


    I don't think this is true - most business don't require video (many deliberately disable it), if you remove video performance from the equation RDS/Citrix beat VDI in almost every aspect and provide very similar performance to a PC.

    Scrolling and audio should be fine on a normal low cost thin client, full screen HD video at 30+ FPS is the issue,
    and if that is the requirement - nothing today will beat a PC (or Windows7 thin client - which to all intents and purposes (and cost) is a PC!)
    The bit about video/audio is exactly why it suits business but not so much education.

    Students have to watch video as part of lessons, and audio recording is a necessity. If all they did was browse the internet it would be ok, but I am still not convinced about scrolling speed, it just wasn't the same!!

    James

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamo View Post
    The bit about video/audio is exactly why it suits business but not so much education.

    Students have to watch video as part of lessons, and audio recording is a necessity. If all they did was browse the internet it would be ok, but I am still not convinced about scrolling speed, it just wasn't the same!!

    James
    I haven't read the full thread, but the thing about audio recording not working is false. I have 4 or 5 clients (businesses) who use digital dictation via a combination of USB redirected devices and also traditional jack plugs. This works with Audacity too although for major requirements (i.e cubase etc) you don't want to be using VDI.

    VDI has its place where it suits but as highlighted here its not always the case in all parts of a school, the majority would probably not notice the difference (i.e Admin staff etc) whereas as you say students who need to use videos would.

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