VMware, Unidesk Enable Ohio DoDD's Deployment of 1,500 Virtual Desktops

The state of Ohio's Department of Developmental Disabilities deployed a $1.5 million, 1,500-seat virtual desktop infrastructure using Unidesk management software and VMware View platform.

The Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities made the virtual desktop shift for all 1,500 employees as part of a larger project to modernize its infrastructure.

The department announced a new virtual desktop infrastructure, based on management software from Unidesk and VMware View, on Feb. 28. The combination allowed DoDD to create custom desktops, allow user personalization, and support data persistence between sessions, Tom Rose, chief marketing officer of Unidesk, told eWEEK.

The DoDD embarked on the effort over a year ago to update its aging infrastructure to be "more agile" and to take advantage of private cloud computing, Kipp Bertke, the Information Technology manager at the Ohio DoDD, told eWEEK. As part of the two-year strategic infrastructure project, the DoDD had recently finished upgrading the local-and wide-area network and fully rolled out server virtualization, Bertke said.

"The next step was the desktop," Bertke explained. He'd been watching the virtual desktop market "for years," and the timing was just right-90 percent of the DoDD's desktops were more than five years old, he said.

Operating under the "guiding principle" of "keep it simple," Bertke's team wanted to streamline desktop management while improving performance and the user experience. The team also wanted to customize desktops according to department and user requirements, he said. PCs are generally a "pain to manage," so it made business sense to standardize all user systems. But users have certain preferences and want to be able to do some things their way, such as storage disk drive selections and printer setup, Bertke said.

Unidesk takes a layered approach to virtual desktops and replaces the "whole stack of tools" typically used to manage the operating system, applications and users, said Rose. The base layer is the operating system image, and the IT team can perform all OS-management tasks on the single image to have it available for all users, he said.

The next layer is for approved applications. IT can create different layers with software appropriate for each user group, he said. If there is an application update, the IT manager can update just the application layer specific to the group using it and not affect all other groups. The application and operating system layers are locked and not modifiable by the user, Rose said.

The fact that a single operating system image can be used regardless of the group's application needs also reduced the VDI storage requirements, Rose said.