Virtualized Desktops Spur Use of 'Bring Your Own Device,' Allowing Users to Have 24x7 Access to Applications on Devices of Their Choice
Virtualized Desktops Spur Use of Bring Your Own Device,Allowing Users to Have 24x7 Access to Applications onDevices of Their ChoiceSponsored podcast discussion on how a community school corporation is moving to desktopvirtualization to allow students, faculty, and administrators ﬂexibility in location and devices.Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod. Sponsor: VMwareDana Gardner: Hi. This is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and you’relistening to BrieﬁngsDirect.Today, we present a sponsored podcast discussion on how enterprises are increasing their use of desktop virtualization in the post-PC era. We’ll also learn about the new phenomena of "bring your own device" (BYOD) and explore how IT organizations are enabling users to choose their own client devices, yet still gain access to all the work or learning applications and data they need safely, securely, and with high performance. [Disclosure: VMware is a sponsor of BrieﬁngsDirect podcasts.] The nice thing about BYOD is that you can essentially extend what do you doon premises or on a local area network (LAN) to anywhere, to your home, to your travels, 24×7.The Avon Community School Corporation at Avon, Indiana has been experimenting with BYODand desktop virtualization, and has recently embarked in a wider deployment for both for the2011-2012 school year. We’re about to hear their story.So please join me now in welcoming our guests -- Jason Brames, Assistant Director ofTechnology at Avon Community School. Welcome, Jason.Jason Brames: Hello. Great to be here.Gardner: We’re also here with Jason Lantz. He is the Network Services Team Leader there atAvon. Welcome, Jason Lantz.Jason Lantz: Hello.Gardner: Let’s start with you, Jason Brames. It sounds like youve been successful with servervirtualization over the past couple of years with roughly 80 percent virtualization rate on thosebackend systems. What made it important for you now to extend virtualization to the desktop?Why has this become an end-to-end value for you?Brames: One of the things that is important to our district we noticed when doing an assessmentof our infrastructure. We have aging endpoints. We had a need to extend the refresh rate of our
desktop computers from what was typical -- for a lot of school districts typical is about a 5-year refresh rate -- to getting anywhere from 7 to 10, maybe even 12 years, out of a desktop computer. By going to a thin client model and connecting those machines to a virtual desktop, were able to achieve high quality results for our end users, while still giving them computing power that they need and allowing us to have the cost savings by negating the need to purchase new equipment every ﬁve years. Gardner: So even though those PCs have 150,000 miles so to speak, you cankeep them going and keep them running for another couple of years.Brames: Yeah, and most importantly, providing that quality of service and computing power thatthe end user has grown accustomed to.Gardner: Tell us a little bit, Jason, about Avon Community School Corporation, the grades, yoursize, what sort of organization are you?Supporting 5,500 computersBrames: Were located about 12 miles west of Indianapolis, Indiana, and we have 13instructional buildings. Were a pre-K-to-12 institution and we have approximately 8,700students, nearing 10,000 end-users in total. We’re currently supporting about 5,500 computers inour district.Gardner: That’s a large number. What was the problem you needed to solve when you werelooking at this large number of devices and a large number of users? I assume that you probablywant to get an even higher penetration of device per user.Brames: Absolutely. By going with virtual environment, the problem that we were looking tosolve was really just that -- how do we provide extended refresh rate for all of those devices?Gardner: What I was driving at was not just the numbers but the ability to manage that. So thecomplexity and cost, was that part of the equation as well?Lantz: As you said, with that many devices, getting out there and installing software, even if it’s a push, locally, or what have you, theres a big management overhead there. By using VMware View and having that in our data center, where we can control that, the ability to have your golden image that you can then push out to a number of devices has made it a lot easier to transition to this type of model. We’re ﬁnding that we can get applications out quicker with more quality control, as far as knowing exactly what’s going to happen inside of the virtual machine (VM) when you run that application. So that’s been a big help.
Gardner: And we’re talking about not just productivity apps here, I assume. We’ve got customapps, educational apps, and Im going to guess probably a lot of video and rich media.Lantz: A lot of our applications are Web-based, Education City, some of those. It’s a lot ofgraphics and video. And we found that were still able to run those in our View environment andnot have issues.Gardner: Why don’t you tell us a little bit about your environment? What are you running interms of servers? What is your desktop virtualization platform, and what is it that allows you tomove on this so far?Lantz: On the server side, were running VMware vSphere 4.1. On the desktop side, wererunning View 4.6. Currently in our server production, as we call it, we have three servers. Andwere adding a fourth shortly. On the View side of things, we currently have two servers andwe’re getting two more in the next month or so. So we’ll have a total of four.Access from anywhereGardner: Now one of the nice things about the desktop virtualization and this BYOD is it allows people to access these activities more freely anywhere. My kids are used to being able to access anything. If you were to tell them you can only do school work in school, theyd look at you like you’re from another planet.So how do you manage to now take what was once conﬁned to the school network and allow thestudents and other folks in your community to do what they need to do, regardless of where theyare, regardless of the device?Brames: We’re a fairly afﬂuent community. We have kids who were requesting to bring in theirown devices. We felt as though encouraging that model in our district was something that wouldhelp students continue to use computers that were familiar to them and help us realize some costsavings long term.So by connecting to virtual desktops in our environment, they get a familiar resource whiletheyre within our walls in the school district, have access to all of their shared drives, networkdrives, network applications, all of the typical resources that are an expectation of sitting down infront of a school-owned piece of equipment. And theyre seeing the availability of all of thosethings on their own device.We’re also seeing an inﬂux of more mobile-type devices such as tablets and even smartphonesand things like that. The percentage of our users that are using tablets and smartphones right nowfor powerful computing or their primary devices is fairly low. However, we anticipate over timethat the variety of devices we’ll have connecting to our network because of virtual desktops isgoing to increase.
Gardner: Jason Lantz, are you at the point where youre able to extend the same experience forthose students who would be in school using a PC, getting all of mileage out of that that theycan, saving you guys a few dollars in the process, but then move over to their own device, let’scall it a tablet, and start right into the same session? How is that handoff happening? Are youthere able to segue and provide a uniﬁed experience yet?Lantz: That’s part of phase two of our approach that we’re implementing right now. We’vegotten it out into the classrooms to get the students familiar with it, so that they understand howto use it. The next step in that process is to allow them to use this at home.We currently have administrators that are using it in this fashion. They have tablets and are usingthe View client they connect in and get the same experience if theyre in school or out of school.So we’re to that point. Now that our administrators understand the beneﬁts, now that our teachershave seen it in the classrooms, it’s a matter of getting it out there to the community.One of the other ways that we’re making it available is that at our public library, we have a set ofmachines that students can access as well, because as you know, not every student has access tohigh-speed Internet, but they are able to go to library, check out these machines, and be able toget into the network that way. Those are some of the ways that we’re trying to bridge that gap.Huge win-winGardner: It sounds like a huge win-win, because you’re able to reduce your costs, increaseyour control, and at the same time give the students a lifecycle of learning across all of thedifferent devices and places that they might be. I think that’s fabulous.Lets ﬁnd out a bit more about how far into this you are. Jason Brames, you mentioned that youhave about 5,500 devices endpoints. How far into that number are you with desktopvirtualization? Then, maybe you can give us a sense of how many BYOD instances you havetoo?Brames: Currently have 400 View desktop licenses. We’re seeing utilization of that license poolof 20-25 percent right now, and the primary reason that we’re seeing that utilization is becausewe’re really just beginning that phase, with this being our ﬁrst year for our virtual desktop rollout. We’re really in the second year, but the ﬁrst year of more widespread use.We’re training teachers on how to adequately and effectively use this technology in theirclassroom with kids Its been very highly received and is being adopted very well in ourclassrooms, because people are seeing that we were able to improve the computing experiencefor them.
Gardner: I understand that you’ve had a partner involved with this. TIG I believe it is. How didthat affect your ability to roll this out so far?Lantz: Technology Integration Group has resources that allow us to see what other schooldistricts are doing and what are some of the things that they’ve run into. Then, they bring backhere and we can discuss how we want to roll it out in our environment. They’ve been very goodat giving us ideas of what has worked with other organizations and what hasn’t. That’s wheretheyve come in. They’ve really helped us understand how we can best use this in ourenvironment.Gardner: Sometimes I hear from organizations, when they move to desktop virtualization, thatthere are some impacts on things like network or storage that they didn’t fully anticipate. Howhas that worked for you? How has this roll out movement towards increased desktopvirtualization impacted you in terms of what you needed to do with your overall infrastructure?Lantz: Luckily for us we’ve had a lot of growth in the last two to three years, which has allowedus to get some newer equipment. So our network infrastructure is very sound. We didn’t run intoa lot of the issues that commonly you would with network bandwidth and things like that.On the storage side, we did increase our storage. We went with an EqualLogic box for that, butwith View, it doesn’t take up a ton of storage space with link clones and things like that. Sohaving seen a huge impact there, now as we get further into this, storage requirements will getgreater, but currently that hasn’t been a big issue for us.Gardner: On the ﬂip-side of that, a lot of organizations I talk to, who moved to desktopvirtualization, gained some beneﬁts on things like backup, disaster recovery, security, and controlover data and assets, and even into compliance and regulatory issues. Has there been an upsidethat you could point to in terms of being a more centralized control of the desktop content andassets?Difﬁcult to monitorLantz: When you start talking about students bringing in their own devices, its difﬁcult tomonitor whats on that personally owned device. You can use appliances like Mac and things likethat.We found that by giving them a View desktop, we know whats in our environment and we knowwhat that virtual machine has. That allows us to have more secure access for those studentswithout compromising whats on that student’s machine, or what you may not know about whatson that student’s machine. That’s been a big beneﬁt for us allowing students to bring in their owndevices.
Gardner: Otherwise you’re bringing something onto your networks that you really don’t knowwhats there, and lose control. This allows you to have that best of both worlds ﬂexibility at someappreciation of how to keep your risks low.Lantz: Absolutely.Gardner: Do we have any metrics of success either in business or, in this case, learning termsand/or IT cost savings? What has this done for you? I know its a little early, but whats the earlyresults?Brames: You did mention that it is a little bit early, but we believe that as we begin using virtualdesktops more so in our environment, one of the major cost savings that we’re going to see as aresult is licensing cost for unique learning applications.Typically in our district we would have purchased x number of licenses for each one of ourinstructional buildings because they needed to utilize that with students in the classroom. Theymay have a certain number of students that need access to this application, for example, buttheyre not all accessing it during the same time of the day or its on a machine that’s on a fatclient, a physical machine somewhere in the building, and its difﬁcult for students to have accessto it.By creating these pools of machines that have specialty software on them we’re able tosigniﬁcantly reduce the number of titles we need to license for certain learning applications orcertain applications that improve efﬁciencies for teachers and for students.So that’s one area in which we know we’re going to see signiﬁcant return on our investment. Wealready talked about extending the endpoints, and with energy savings, I think we can provesome results there as well. Anything to add, Jason?Lantz: One of the ones that’s hard to calculate is, as you mentioned, maintenance ormanagement of this piece and technology, as we all know you’re doing more with less. Thisreally gives you the ability to do that. How you measure that is sometimes difﬁcult, but there aredeﬁnitely cost savings there as well.Gardner: Just to be clear, the folks that are adopting this ﬁrst in your organization, are these thestudents, are they folks in a lab, a research environment, faculty? Who are the people that grokthis and really jump on it ﬁrst?No lab deploymentBrames: The ﬁrst place where we’re deploying are the student computing stations in ourclassrooms. We’re not deploying to lab environments as much as we are to those locations in ourclassrooms.
A typical classroom for us contains four student computing stations, as well as, depending uponthe building size, three to ﬁve labs available. We’re not focusing our desktop virtualization onthose labs. We’re focusing on the classroom computing stations right now. Potentially, well alsobe in labs, as we go into the future.Then, in addition to those student computing stations, we’re seeing those applications where ouradministrative team or principals and our district-level administrators are able to begin usingvirtual desktops to access while they’re outside of the district and growing familiar with that, sothat whenever we enter into that phase where we’re allowing our students to access from outsideof our network, we have that support structure in place.Gardner: That sounds important especially for those later grades and high school grades,because this is probably the type of experience they’re going to be getting should they move ontocollege, where they are going to each have a device and have this ubiquity. It seems to me thattheyll be one step ahead, if they get used to that now in high school. Even junior high school setsthem up to be more productive and adapted to what theyll get in a college environment.Lantz: In a lot of organizations, it would make sense to start there. With their higher level,theyre going to be able to use it outside the districts probably more than the elementaries. Butfor us, it made sense with our older hardware. It’s primarily in a lot of our elementaries, middleschools, and intermediates. So it made sense that that’s where we would start.Gardner: I know budgets are really important in just about any school environment. If you wereto say, "Listen, the cost it would take for us to make sure each individual student had their owndevice would be X and the cost of supporting it would be additional each year," you might getsome pushback. Im going to make a wild guess on that.But it sounds to me like you’re able to go with desktop virtualization and increased use ofBYOD and say, "Listen, we can get to near one-to-one parity with student to device for a lotless."Do you have any sense of the delta there between what it would be if you stuck to traditional coststructures, traditional licensing, fat client, to get to that one to one ratio, compared to what you’regoing to be able to do over time with this virtualized approach? Any sense of how big a delta thatwe have there?Brames: Our ﬁnance department has been very supportive of us in this whole endeavor, and thereturn on investment (ROI) cost calculations and everything is something that our ﬁnance team isvery good at. We appreciate that they were able to recognize with us that this is something thatwould be beneﬁcial to the district.I apologize that Im not actually prepared to put any numbers on it. Because were early, puttingan actual number is challenging for me right now.
Metrics of successGardner: Jason Lantz, I know actual numbers are dollars, but do you have any sense of maybea percentage or even just a generalization of what the comparison between the old way of gettingthe one to one versus the new ways?Lantz: Its little bit difﬁcult. In our Advanced Learning Center -- and Jason, you can help me outwith this -- as far as student-owned devices versus people bringing in their own devices, do youknow what those numbers would be?Brames: Advanced Learning Center is the school building that has primarily senior students andadvanced placement students. There are about 600 students that attend there.Last year, 75 percent of those students were using school-owned equipment and 25 percent ofthem were bringing their own laptops to school. This year, what we have seen is that 43 percentof our students are beginning to bring their own devices to connect to our network and haveaccess to network resources.If that trend continues, which we think it will, we’ll be looking at certainly over 50 percent nextyear, hopefully approaching 60-65 percent of our students bringing their own devices. When youconsider that that is approximately 400 devices that the school district did not need to invest in,that’s a signiﬁcant saving for us.Gardner: That’s a very rapid growth rate, and so youve been able to accommodate that. Butyou’re going from 25 percent to 43 percent and you’re certainly not seeing that uptake in termsof your total cost. So it’s a saving on signiﬁcant basis.Brames: It is a little bit of a small snapshot right now. Our senior center has seen this increase,and district-wide we think that our results can be projected to our K-12 grade levels over time.Gardner: I commend you for being able to anticipate and accommodate these trends, becausethis is happening so rapidly with these devices.One last set of questions on advice for others who would be moving towards more desktopvirtualization and the enablement of BYOD. If you could do this over again, a little bit of 20/20hindsight, what might you want to tell them in terms of being prepared?Lantz: One thing that’s important is that when you explain this to users, the words "virtualdesktop" can be a little confusing to teachers and your end-users. What Ive done is taken theapproach of it’s no different than having a regular machine and you can set it up to where it looksexactly the same.
No real differenceWhen you start talking with end users about virtual, it gets into, okay, "So it’s running backhere, but what problems am I going to encounter?" and those sort of things. Trying to get thatend user to realize that there really isn’t a difference between a virtual desktop and a real desktophas been important for us for getting them on board and making them understand that it’s notgoing to be a huge change for them.Gardner: Over time, as it becomes seamless, they wouldn’t really know. They just log in basedon their password and ID and then the things just work.Lantz: Yeah.Brames: Yeah, I think so.Gardner: Very good. You’ve been listening to a sponsored podcast discussion on howenterprises and in this case, a learning group are increasing their use of desktop virtualization inthe post-PC era. And they’re also very much on top of a new phenomenon around "bring yourown device."I’d like to thank our guests. We’ve been here with Jason Brames. He is the Assistant Director ofTechnology there at the Avon Community School Corporation. Thank you, Jason.Brames: You’re welcome. Thank you.Gardner: And we’ve also been joined by Jason Lantz, Network Services Team Leader there inAvon, Indiana. Thank you, sir.Lantz: All right. Thank you.Gardner: This is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions. Thanks again to ourlisteners, and don’t forget to come back next time.Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod. Sponsor: VMwareSponsored podcast discussion on how a community school corporation is moving to desktopvirtualization to allow students, faculty, and administrators ﬂexibility in location and devices.Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2011. All rights reserved.You may also be interested in: • WMworld Case Study: City of Fariﬁeld Uses Virtualization to More Efﬁciently Deliver Crucial City Services
• Case Study: CharterCARE Health Partners Leverages Cloud and VDI to Aid Digital Records Management and Regulatory Compliance• Tampa Bay Rays Hit Home Run with Virtualization that Enables Tablet Applications Delivery in the Field• VMwares Carl Eschenbach on the Scope and Depth of Cloud Computing and How CIOs Will Have to Adapt• VMworld Showcase: How ADP Dealer Services beneﬁts from VMware View in its expanding use of desktop virtualization• VMworld Case Study: City of Pittsburghs IT success and the beneﬁcial synergy between virtualized servers and desktops