Journey to Desktop VirtualizationPhoenix Rises onVirtualization Initiative Legacy apps mean virtualization challenges for Claudiu Budurlean Apollo Group’s University of Phoenix Technical Director, Client Computing Technologies, Apollo Group, Inc.Claudiu Budurlean oversees a successful Virtual Client Computing (VCC)initiative for Apollo Group, the company whose flagship University of Phoenixis a leader in for-profit, post-secondary education. Now serving as Apollo’stechnical director of client computing technologies, he has more than 15 yearsin the industry, and was previously responsible for 140,000 endpoint devicesin 220 countries for logistics giant Deutsche Post DHL.But Budurlean says the 22,000-desktop virtualization project he’s managing at Apollo is one ofthe most complex projects of his career, and success is coming only after what he callsHerculean efforts by his team. The biggest single challenge: nearly 100 proprietary applications,many developed for Microsoft Windows* XP and Internet Explorer* (IE) 6.0. As an industrypioneer, Apollo considers those applications critical for its business success—but they causedsignificant problems for the virtualization team and at one point forced a change in strategy.“We sank our teeth into those applications,” Budurlean jokes. “We broke our teeth on them.”Standardize and Virtualize “Lesson 1: never underestimate your apps.Budurlean came to Apollo Group in 2008 as Lesson 2: never underestimate the network.part of a wave of change that also brought anew CIO and a commitment to modernize the Lesson 3: always have a plan B.”technology foundation and position Apollo forfurther growth. Joining the enterprise architecture strategy team, Budurlean developed a plan tostandardize, automate, and optimize the enterprise desktop. By 2010 he was leading both theVCC project and a closely interconnected desktop refresh (DTR) initiative.“We had older and nonstandard technologies, and our OS environment was a mix of WindowsXP with various service packs,” Budurlean recalls. “We knew we could increase the productivityof our workforce, improve support, and achieve better efficiencies by getting rid of oldertechnology, moving to a modern OS, and deploying virtualization.”
Journey to Desktop Virtualization to manage because you’re dealing directly with the individual. People often believe the computer in front of their eyes is almost like private property. So, first we had to remind them that these are company assets and we need to manage them.” Budurlean’s team wanted to clearly understand users’ desktop environments before virtualizing them, but Apollo’s application suite presented an immediate challenge. “We use tools such as Altiris* to scan the environment, but many of the tools don’t function well when you have browser-based applications,” says Budurlean. Instead, the project team conducted a manual discovery that queried users on their applications, work habits, and challenges, as well as capabilities they’d like to have on their desktops. The team then worked with external Budurlean envisioned a client environment that business analysts to aggregate the findingsAt a Glance would better suit the company’s dynamic workforce. “We have student-facing groups that into a discovery report that served as the basis for the VCC project. Of course, the applicationsProject physically move every few weeks or months and activities users reported didn’t always• Virtual Client Computing initiative to deliver from building to building,” he explains. “They match their actual usage, so the team had to the benefits of desktop virtualization to have a lot of physical desktops with repetitive, adjust accordingly as the project proceeded. approximately 15,000 enterprise users locally stored data that they move along. There’sAccomplishments a tremendous amount of duplicate data and• Deployed virtual applications to 1,300 cost involved with moving them.” The Center of a Tangled Web users, published desktops to 800 users, Budurlean points to a second aspect of desktop and hosted virtual desktops for 500 users Virtualization would allow greater mobility and complexity that raised the degree of difficulty for• Deploying 10,000 more virtual desktops centralized storage. “We want our users to have the VCC project. “The desktop is one component through 2012 the performance benefits of thick clients, but of the tangled web of technology that you haveLessons Learned decoupled from the physical desktop,” says to deal with because the desktop connects to a• Enterprise-wide virtualization isn’t a Budurlean. “If we can virtualize the session or network, to storage, to the data center,” he says. one-size-fits-all solution. Analyze end-user needs and choose the right virtualization virtualize the published desktop, we can allow In Apollo’s case, all those elements were in flux. model for each user category. these individuals to roam or even work remotely The same modernization drive that spurred the• Legacy, browser-based proprietary without having to move their systems along client refresh also led Apollo to overhaul its applications can be very difficult to with them. We want to provide a computing servers, storage, and network infrastructure. virtualize separately. Plan accordingly and platform that is ubiquitous, flexible, and “Everything was in flight to be upgraded, uplifted, secure the support of in-house software adaptive to the business dynamic and growth.” and renewed,” Budurlean says. The virtualization development resources. project affected the desktop refresh rollout, and• Coordinate across the enterprise to But it was easier said than done. vice versa. manage desktop virtualization’s impacts on the network, storage, and server infrastructures. The VCC team has met the challenge through• Stay flexible. Even with great up-front Starting from User Needs close coordination with other project leaders to planning, application complexities can Apollo applied a number of best practices to balance priorities and orchestrate their require adjustments. its desktop virtualization project, starting with approaches to avoid disrupting the business. a focus on user needs. “People think the “We have to carefully orchestrate our desktop is easy, but the truth is far from that approaches to maintain the student focus perception,” Budurlean says. “The desktop is at all times and not disrupt the business one of the most complex environments IT has internally,” Budurlean says. “It is a very fine line
Journey to Desktop Virtualization Key Technologies • VMware vSphere* ESXi Hypervisorthat the project team, myself, and the other The team developed an evaluation scorecard, • Citrix XenApp* and Citrix XenDesktop*project and program management teams are identified VMware View* and Citrix XenDesktop* • Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V*)trying to balance.” and XenApp* as suitable technologies, and and AppSense* Environment Manager worked with a consultant to conduct a POC of • Lenovo PCs and laptops with Intel® Core™ the VMware and Citrix solutions. Apollo chose i5 vPro™ processors; Intel® Solid State DrivesLaying the Groundwork Citrix based on its balance of technical, for executives and software developersThe VCC and DTR teams spent more than a commercial, total cost of ownership (TCO), and • McAfee Endpoint Encryption* withyear laying the groundwork for their success. return-on-investment (ROI) criteria. Citrix also hardware-accelerated encryption performance via Intel® AES NewAmong other actions, they established a test scored points for its ability to use high-definition Instructions (Intel® AES-NI)2lab, conducted proof-of-concept (POC) video and audio capabilities on a local client todeployments, developed a scorecard that improve the user experience.balanced various selection criteria, created aphysical-to-virtual transformation matrix, and business-critical apps that its programmerschose client technologies, virtualization Browser Wars and had developed over a period of years. “Manyapproaches, and virtualization technologies. Proprietary Apps of these applications had outgrown By September 2010, the desktop refresh was themselves,” Budurlean says. “They collidedApollo standardized on Lenovo* desktop and well underway and the VCC rollout was with each other. They were poorlylaptop PCs based on Intel® Core™ i5 and i7 vPro™ beginning, with an implementation team documented. A lot of them were embedded inprocessors1 and is proactively replacing laptops that included one program manager, two Internet Explorer 6, which is 13 years old andthat are older than 2.5 years and desktops older permanent project managers, two project notoriously difficult to work with. They hadthan 3.5 years. The company also supports coordinators, two architects, a director, a senior multiple browser plug-ins, which made themApple Macintosh* computers with Intel Core i5 manager, and several technical resources, plus difficult to virtualize by themselves.” Adding toand i7 processors. “There will always be a need Budurlean as technical director and senior the challenges, Apollo’s in-house softwarefor rich clients, because there are applications architect. Wherever possible, users got a new developers were focused on creatingand scenarios such as AutoCAD functionality or PC or laptop with a virtual image, and the goal next-generation applications and couldn’t giveother processing-intensive tasks,” he says. “If was to transition everyone to a PC running much time to the virtualization effort.you’re in a low-bandwidth scenario or have to Windows* 7 or a Macintosh running OSX*.be disconnected from the network, then a The team expected to provide application The VCC team engaged with Microsoft to testtraditional desktop is a must.” virtualization to 70 percent of its users, application compatibility and found that most published desktops to 20 percent, and HVD apps should function successfully in theAfter testing multiple approaches to for the remaining 10 percent. Windows 7 environment. But there was avirtualization, the VCC team decided on a mix of catch. “We failed to test what we call theapplication virtualization, published desktops, While most aspects of VCC proceeded browser wars,” Budurlean recalls. “There isand hosted virtual desktops (HVD). “We don’t smoothly, some areas of the network proved such a vast and huge difference betweenwant a one-size-fits-all solution,” says Budurlean. inadequate for the original scope of work, so Internet Explorer 6 and Internet Explorer 8“We chose three distinct ways of virtualizing the processes and technologies had to be that we will face significant efforts in tryingdesktop so we don’t have to shoehorn everybody reevaluated. The biggest headaches came to uplift them to Windows 7 and Internetinto the same virtual environment.” from Apollo’s complex suite of home-grown Explorer 8 or virtualize them using Microsoft applications. Like many companies, Apollo had App-V* or Citrix XenApp.”To standardize the movement from physicalto virtual client computing, the teamdeveloped a transformation matrix that helps Apollo Group’s client virtualization started with athem map user requirements to virtualization discovery process to understand users’ applications,approaches. Users are assigned to categories work habits, challenges, and unmet needs.based on job descriptions, functions, andhardware types. Budurlean calls it a cookie- “We don’t want a one-size-fits-all solution. We chose threecutter approach with multiple cookie cutters. distinct ways of virtualizing the desktop so we don’t have toThe plan was that most task workers wouldhave published desktops, most developers shoehorn everybody into the same virtual environment.”would use HVD, and most applications would Claudiu Budurlean,be individually virtualized. Technical Director, Client Computing Technologies, Apollo Group, Inc.