Sun VDI for the Education Market

Hi,

Today I want to have a brief look at Sun VDI with the focus on the education market. And this just because the interest in that segment is quickly raising for VDI solutions. There are some specific requirements for this market:

  • Costs are important for everyone, but budgets in the education market are typically the smallest.
  • Non Windows desktops have a big footprint driven again through costs and also as students are more open and flexible towards alternative desktops.
  • Administration needs to be straightforward. In schools or training setups you typically find the teacher doing the administration and setup.
  • Especially the clients need to be zero managed. Or in other words clients need to be installed in a plug and play manner.
  • Noise reduction, students and trainees simply need to concentrate on their work.
  • All data and configuration should always be on the server. Only interface for the students might be a USB stick to transfer their homework.
  • Students should learn how to use certain applications but also to control and administrate their own desktop. This requires a sandbox for the students where they can experiment without impacting the IT environment or other students.

Sun VDI is specifically suitable for the requirements of the education market. The solution is completely server based, meaning all desktops are hosted on servers, while the desktop display and interaction is done on ultra thin clients - called Sun Rays - that do not hold any state. Or in other words you can unplug the device from the network or power without losing your session or any data.

The way how such a deployment is operated is quite simple. After the setup of the system the administrator imports a desktop that he has previously created on his laptop using VirtualBox. This desktop is called a template. Thereafter, the administrator typically just replicates (clones) the template to as many instances as he needs. This replication is completed within minutes. Finally the administrator assigns his users to the new replicated desktops and the setup is done. Now the students can login into a system, select their desktop and are ready to work. How long the desktop belongs to the student depends on the policies that the administrator defines. This can be a one time usage, so desktops are deleted after logout, desktops can stay permanently with the student or something in between. Below I have a couple of examples how Sun VDI can be deployed from small to larger deployments:

Sun VDI for schools


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This is an example of an VDI deployment in a school in Italy. The school has just a single server and about 10 Sun Rays deployed into various rooms in the school. The desktops deployed are based on the Edubuntu distribution. The server itself can a be workstation such as the Ultra 27, with 12 GB of RAM and 2 hard disks. The VDI demo guide explains pretty well, how such a setup could be done. For a final rollout just a few adaptations need to happen.


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Sun VDI for Training Centers


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A second use case is actually a training center, where the students learn about a certain piece of software. Here are aspects such as rolling out fresh training environments (desktops) within a short amount of time important. And it is also important that the setup can be reverted in a short amount of time. This is all covered by Sun VDI in a very flexible manner. An example deployment of a training center for 100 students would require 3 servers, such as the X4170 configured with 2CPU, 48GB RAM, 2 \*146 GB disks and 4 Ethernet ports. In addition you would need one storage server, that stores all the desktop images. Here a 7110 could be suitable, but this depends on the type of training that should be executed. It is important to note, that such a setup would allow one of the servers to be down, while the other servers still manage the remaining load to large extend.


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Sun VDI for Universities

I don't have specific pictures of large cross campus deployments. But the principal remains the same. This can actually best be documented by one of the Sun VDI deployments that we did at the JavaOne event last June. More than10000 conference participants could use their own personalized desktop for the duration of the event. And a deployment for a university would not look that much different.
I hope this has been some valuable information and actually has not been too techie. If you want to try it out, just have a look at our VDI 3.1 EA and the related documentation.
Cheers,Dirk
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