Unidesk Makes Virtual Desktop Deployment Feasible
The user personalization layer is a sandboxed environment that allows users to install their own applications or make changes to the system appearance, Rose explained. The user is responsible for maintaining the apps installed on this layer. Since the personal applications have the potential of "breaking" the entire desktop for a multitude of reasons, Unidesk also provides IT managers with the ability to take snapshots of the virtual desktop. If something in the personalization layer breaks, the manager can rollback the layer to the last known "good" version, and the user still retains some settings, he said."It's complete freedom for users, but [with] locked-down systems for IT," Rose said. Bertke said the DoDD's virtual desktop has a fixed look, with a certain number of shortcuts and wallpaper, but users can create their own shortcuts and place them inside a "Shortcuts" folder available on the desktop. This was the result of creating a balance between standardization and personalization, according to Rose. The ability to create customized desktops was critical, since the virtual desktop was rolled out to "98 percent" of the department, he said, "even developers." The only systems that didn't make the move were legacy applications that had actual hardware attached to the system. But the team is investigating options for either migrating those legacy applications or finding a way to create a virtual instance of the attached system, noted Rose. In the server virtualization phase of the DoDD project, the department consolidated 10 data centers-one one for each development center scattered around the state-into two data centers, and virtualized all the servers, including databases, Web servers and application servers, Bertke said. Since the servers were virtualized on to the VMware vSphere platform, it was logical to use VMware View to deliver virtual desktops. The DoDD also deployed a storage-area-network to meet storage requirements and expanded the network pipe so that it would be able to support the new applications without compromising speed and performance, Bertke said. Unidesk supports a number of other VDI connection brokers besides VMware View, including Pano Logic and Citrix XenDesktop, to provide operating system management and application delivery, according to Rose. Even though virtual desktop technology is mature, Bertke said Unidesk's simplified management dashboard was critical to the department's decision to move to virtual desktop. "Without Unidesk, I don't know if we would have done it," he said. The department spent $1.5 million for the virtual desktop upgrade, which included thin clients, VMware, Unidesk, new servers, the SAN, and licenses for Windows 7 and Office 2010, Bertke said. The server virtualization phase was budgeted for $750,000, he said.
Unidesk's management dashboard also keeps separate snapshots for applications and data in the personalization layer, Rose said. This way, if the user needs to roll back application changes, the data remains unaffected, he said.