National Science Lab Testing, and Liking, New VDI Deployment

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2011-01-07 Print this article Print

title=Desktop Within a Desktop} 

This is really a desktop within a desktop, Goldstone said.

"One of the nice things is that the Citrix client is available for all of our regular desktop platforms. We have users here on Windows, Macs and Linux desktop, and we always try to make sure that our enterprise solutions can accommodate all of our 'customers.'"

Once the employees have their corporate window up on their desks, they still have access to Internet Explorer and Firefox browsers from their local desktop. From there, they can go to Websites that the lab doesn't allow them to access internally, Goldstone said.

"It's by design a non-persistent environment, so anything they download during their session, when they log off-poof, it's gone. The [local] desktop is destroyed, and a new one is created," Goldstone said. "However, we do let them have a little persistence in the form of bookmarks, browser settings and such."

To be clear: Documents saved inside the Citrix/Kaviza virtual desktop window stay on the corporate server; most other documents on each local client get zapped when the session ends. There are exceptions to this: When specific types of documents are identified ahead of time, they can be transferred across the two environments, Goldstone said.

"We don't allow USB or drive mapping," she said. "We do allow printer mapping; it's a nice thing to be able to print to your local printer. The only way you can move documents back and forth [between the two environments] is to e-mail say an attachment from your personal account and your lab e-mail account, or vice versa. Or you could FTP, potentially."

Goldstone said that this system can be made available for corporate partners and contractors, but typically those people bring their own corporate laptops into the office to do their work. Historically, the IT staff has had to connect those to the LLL system on an individual basis, and as any network admin knows, that's tedious business.

"We're currently working on a guest network-a virtual network-for plugging those in quickly and easily," Goldstone said.

LLNL eventually wants 1,000 seats

Currently, LLNL's is a pilot program with 250 active users and licenses for as many as 1,250 people.

"Part of the test is to find out what a reasonable ratio is because I can't give one of these to everybody-we have 5,000-plus knowledge workers," Goldstone said. "People log in and log out throughout the day, and the desktops get shared. Kaviza has implemented an idle time out for us, so that when someone conscientiously logs out, that desktop gets destroyed and a new one gets created.

"Likewise, if they just disconnect or leave the window open on their desk, eventually it'll hit the idle timeout and be put back in the pool."

Eventually, LLNL would like to have 1,000 virtual desktop seats, Goldstone said. The testing will be concluded "soon," she said, and it looks very much as if the lab will buy the whole setup and run with it.

While checking out VDI systems, Goldstone looked at VMware's desktop software, PC/IP, and saw that there was only a client for Windows.

"We've been very impressed with the performance of the Kaviza desktop and the Citrix HDX [high-definition user experience] protocol, combined with the ability to deploy it to all our users," she said.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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