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Thin Client and Virtual Machines Thread, My conclusions on VDI and other things in Technical; James I am interested, what is the name of the school? At the time of my original investigation the Xen ...
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    James

    I am interested, what is the name of the school? At the time of my original investigation the Xen solution was not well advanced. I created a Xen setup a little over three months ago but found the performance was little different from VMWare View.

    Dave O

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    EduTech's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave_O View Post
    James

    I am interested, what is the name of the school? At the time of my original investigation the Xen solution was not well advanced. I created a Xen setup a little over three months ago but found the performance was little different from VMWare View.

    Dave O
    I have PM'd you mate.

    I did not use the Xen Solution, It was Sun/Oracle VDI Provided by CutterProject.

    Might be worth Speaking with Kim/Andy at Cutter Project to be honest they specilise in VDI as a whole not just Oracle VDI so would be able to help for future reference.

    James.
    Last edited by EduTech; 2nd January 2011 at 07:20 PM.

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    Tony

    You can contact me by finding S60 5EJ.

    Dave O

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave_O View Post
    I would like to pass onto you my experiences of running VDI in school over the past two and a half years. I do have to say this has not been a pleasant journey and I do have to question my own motivation for promoting the solution in the first place. In retrospect I believe I was motivated more by a desire to try out the new technology rather than what is/was in the best interests of the school. This soiree into VDI has come at a price to the school both financially and in terms of attitudes to new technology.

    The solution chosen was VMware View on 100 Wyse thin clients the details of which I have posted in a previous thread (VMWare Virtual Desktop Infrastructure). After initial excitement and subsequent disappointments I have finally concluded that, certainly in our environment, VDI is not worth pursuing. This decision is based not just on cost but more importantly on the usability of the solution. Obvious questions spring to mind; was the network fast enough? Was the back end sufficiently powerful? Were the thin clients powerful enough? Was the software setup correct? Were effective trials done prior to implementation? Did you consider other VDI solutions (bear in mind this was the end of 2007)? The answer to all of these I believe is yes. I am happy for anyone to challenge me on this in the interests of moving forwards but numerous periods of discontinuity experienced by staff and students have taken their toll and the decision to move away from this solution, already taken.
    I'd join James in arguing that VDI can work, in the correct environment with the correct setup. I'm not saying your setup was bad/incorrect (from the sounds of it the reverse is quite true!), but since implementing a 100 seat XenDesktop deployment this September it's been great. There have been some teething problems (mainly due to single points of failure) that have been worked out, but while the system has been running it's been great. In fact we now routinely sub out-of-action PCs with Wyse Xenith zero-clients while they're being repaired by Dell. We've found that the thin client system we have in place is capable of coping with everything that's been thrown at it - including basic audio and image editing, and basic CAD work.

    Now I'd be willing to accept that our experience is slightly different because we've only just implemented this system and there's been a huge amount of development in two years, I also wasn't a fan of VMWares VDI and app virtualisation solutions compared to Citrix so this isn't an apples to apples comparison.

    For us the costs for a VDI deployment and a PC deployment are pretty similar. Ok the VDI actually worked out cheaper (for us!) but we've found the savings don't come in the hardware, or (supposedly) long lifecycle of the thin clients but in the reduced energy consumption, the reduced man hours needed to maintain the clients and the simplicity they provide. It takes us roughly 2 minutes to provision a new computer anywhere in the school - that's from getting the box to having a working unit on the desk, and we have the bonus that the clients are tiny . The major bonus for us was the remote working aspect - the fact that we can provide a desktop to anyone with (theoretically) all of the same software they use in school? Great

    I will agree with you however that VDI is not for everyone, nor suitable for every school. I know plenty I wouldn't try it in. Because of our mix of applications and how our clients are used VDI makes sense for a large amount of our install base, but even knowing that there are challenges and changing use patterns to consider. VDI helps, but I wouldn't consider it a silver bullet and I wouldn't look on it as being cheaper than a PC - just different, with a different use-case.

    The final (very rambling) thought I'll leave on is 1-1 computing initiatives. I know we're being pushed that way, and while I dislike it I can see laptops/netbooks/tablets being the next thing that every child is equiped with. VDI does help to provide a unified desktop to every person, regardless of the equipment they are using. Bring your own PC (BYoPC) is becoming big in the workplace and will trickle down to schools. I can see a good learning platform, application virtualisation and VDI all helping immensely with that. It's also one of the reasons we decided to try VDI ourselves

  5. Thanks to Soulfish from:

    Dave_O (3rd January 2011)

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    EduTech's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soulfish View Post
    The final (very rambling) thought I'll leave on is 1-1 computing initiatives. I know we're being pushed that way, and while I dislike it I can see laptops/netbooks/tablets being the next thing that every child is equiped with. VDI does help to provide a unified desktop to every person, regardless of the equipment they are using. Bring your own PC (BYoPC) is becoming big in the workplace and will trickle down to schools. I can see a good learning platform, application virtualisation and VDI all helping immensely with that. It's also one of the reasons we decided to try VDI ourselves
    I am going to second that one also, because if every child is going to have to be provided with a Laptop/Notebook for them to work at home etc. and the fact you will need control over this what better way to make it a ThinLaptop (or what ever the word is) so they have a Terminal so to speak opppose to a full blown laptop, which will only work using a VDI Environment and therefore usless to any theives etc. but also they would login to a desktop at home from the pool provided at school. (using VPN Generally).

    I have tested one of these from outside of the main network, and they work just as if they were on the school network. I never managed to test it fully outside of the network at the school due to the fact it required some changes via LEA but from the testing i did do it is a way forward for both Staff whom require laptops at home and also Students if it did ever get to that stage.

    Also, as a side note i used to have a VMware ESX Server but never did test there VDI Software so not sure how good/bad it actually is. My Expirience with VDI is only using Sun/Oracle Software and Hardware.

    James.

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    we spend 15 months sruggling with our xen vdi before we got it to run as expected , in that time had on site help from 2 different so called experts in xendesktop. I was nearly ready to admit defeat when october halfterm I rebuilt the servers provisioning the desktops. Suddenly it all started to preform despite the experts going on about needing SAN of the back end. Our FC San is in need of replacing / increasing as size is an issue . I started with an XP image on 2 73gb drives in a dell blade and that worked just fine. (so the whole red herring about number of spindles being my problem was proved wrong) then pressed some old compaq servers and disk arrays into service with FreeNas on OpenFiler copeid images there for better resiliance, still works just as well.

    In hindsight our biggest problem was using the citrix Proof of concept document then trying to go to live deployment.Needs more hardware than they would like to admit in the back end but when its working its brilliant , also been able to give remote desktops to staff and pupils and reuse old harware.

    Biggest advantage to me is the "can you install this software for a lesson tomorow" used to involve ghosting rooms of pc,s (down time). now we have 2 vdi images and version numbering we just update one and it becomes live as soon as they log off.

    Its the time saving and the green issues that sell it for me. (plus thin clients are lighter to carry around the site )

  8. Thanks to imiddleton25 from:

    Dave_O (3rd January 2011)

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    forgot to say we have 90 vdi 60 wyse xenith, 20 Axel M80 and rest are dell vostro laptops

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    Soulfish

    I would love to come and see this in action (any day, any time), if nothing else, to restore my faith in VDI.

    Dave O

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    Yes I really have issues with "experts" never really found one that was. In any field. There are very few areas of IT (relevant to the school context) which, after a little time and effort cannot be fathomed. It would be great if the "experts" were paid on performance so rather than paying them 700 per day and end up with nothing, only pay when everything is working OK (or have definitely identified the problem). That would really help focus the mind.

    Like Soulfish, I would like the opportunity to visit and look at your implementation in action. I note that you are in York, not too far from us in Rotherham. Of course you are quite welcome to visit us and see how IT should be done (just kidding - breaking one of my own cardinal rule relating to trumpet blowing).

    Dave O

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave_O View Post
    Soulfish

    I would love to come and see this in action (any day, any time), if nothing else, to restore my faith in VDI.

    Dave O
    Just to say I have seen Soulfish's network and his VDI and it impressed me, its certainly very quick to logon and shows no signs of being anything less than a standard PC for the end user. It certainly made me think more about this kind of thing for the longer term future, but not the imediate short term due to as I think most people have commended on, and that is the costs. I have a large volume of old PCs and Terminal Services with them would be a starting place for us I think.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave_O View Post
    Yes I really have issues with "experts" never really found one that was. In any field. There are very few areas of IT (relevant to the school context) which, after a little time and effort cannot be fathomed. It would be great if the "experts" were paid on performance so rather than paying them 700 per day and end up with nothing, only pay when everything is working OK (or have definitely identified the problem). That would really help focus the mind.
    I have to say that "experts" annoyed me greatly as well. I was told time and again that it would be impossible for us to get a working XenDesktop system setup and running on our own as it was simply too complicated that we needed the help of "experts". If anything it made us do things on our own, and as you've found Dave with a little time and effort anythings possible

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave_O View Post
    Soulfish

    I would love to come and see this in action (any day, any time), if nothing else, to restore my faith in VDI.

    Dave O
    I'd love for you to come visit - and the same goes for anyone else that's interested in VDI or how we do things here. I've got your PM so I'll drop you a line

    Quote Originally Posted by john View Post
    Just to say I have seen Soulfish's network and his VDI and it impressed me, its certainly very quick to logon and shows no signs of being anything less than a standard PC for the end user.
    Still have one or two bugs to iron out, but hopefully they should be gone as we move to the newly released XenDesktop 5 - which actually looks pretty easy to setup compared to XenDesktop 4!

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    We're running Xen Desktop with Wyse Zentihs here, on a VMWare hosted infrastructure. 250 desktops are available for use at any time, either on site, or remotely via our Citrix Portal. If anyone wants to come and have a look, they are welcome.

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    Soulfish

    Nice to know there are other out there who feel the same as me. Yes the expectation of "experts" that schools IT support are not capable doing anything other than the most basic of tasks, is common. I has some jackass say "did I know that stored procedures are really quite complicated" and I should "leave them to the experts". Didn't have the heart to tell him I was an DB programmer for 8 years.

    Always best setting things up yourself saves a lot of time and money and you learn so much. Also you know where the problems are and how to rectify them. VMWare, ESX, HBAs, Fibre and SAN were supposed to be really hard. Just follow the instructions and hey presto.

    Where abouts are you?

    Dave O

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    ASJ
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    Hi

    I would like to add to this that we have a VDI solution in our school. Running XenDesktop, XenServer, Equalogic SAN and 3 fully populated Dell chassis. Originally we were using Chip PC thin clients but these were changed to Wyse TC's as their performance was better. The Gold image is XP SP3 (1ghz CPU and RAM) with Office 2007 installed. All other applications use AppV to stream them (this works very well). We also use AppSense to control the virtual environment.

    There are normally 4/500 desktops in use at anyone time peaking to 700. There is also a CAG for external access.

    Andrew

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    @AJ ... you know you have just volunteered to hold a meeting at your school. I'm sure some of the other Northants folk would be interested in seeing it. ;-)

    ps ... are you doing BETT this year?

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