How much does your business dread having to upgrade its computers for the new versions of essential applications?
Computer processors become obsolete within several years of purchase. Upgrading or replacing the hardware--and installing new operating systems, peripherals, and applications--is laborious. It's also expensive.
Suffering Leads to Savings
"One of our clients, a midsized school district, had had enough," says the vice president of operations at a Cisco Certified Partner.
"The CTO was in so much pain just talking about having to upgrade thousands of district computers for [Microsoft] Office 2010 that I said, 'Let's explore VDI [virtual desktop interface technology].'"
Eight months later, district faculty, staff, and students were using the new software on virtual machines, which connect to the district's data center.
The cost savings to the district: up to 50 percent per desktop and about 40 percent weekly time saved for the IT staff at every school. The district also invested in a WAN switch, back-end servers, and storage that will enable the data center to serve more devices and applications in the future.
How the IT Partner Did It
The success of the VDI project arose from the following factors:
- Synchronizing with client values and priorities. Understanding the client's business is as important to Cisco Certified Partners as understanding its technology. "The district is not in a high-income area, but is dedicated to giving its students a top-notch education," says the partner vice president, who regularly travels to attend district public meetings. "The school board is remarkably forward-thinking. The IT group's top priorities are a superior user experience and high IT staff productivity--which is especially important because there are a lot of low-tech users. And the district makes its budget decisions based on total cost of ownership, not just CapEx."
- Expertise from engaged engineers. This Cisco Gold Certified Partner is a locally owned firm "with big expertise," says the vice president. "We're engineering driven, with several staff who have the Cisco® CCIE certification." The firm offers small and midsized businesses enterprise-class solutions; it has been a cloud data center host and managed services provider since 1999. "Our engineers have done server virtualization projects, and we anticipated early on that desktop virtualization would be the next big thing in infrastructure consolidation. We were very excited about doing VDI, and our engineers' enthusiasm moved this project ahead quickly."
- Efficient processes. Within a few months of its initial meeting with the CTO, the partner presented proofs of concept with three VDI vendor options, along with its recommendation. Upon the district's approval, the partner built the data center and trained the district IT staff, and together they began rolling out VDI to about 150 users a week. The partner also provides ongoing support.
Top Result: Lower TCO with New Technology
The total cost of ownership for the VDI solution is lower for the district than traditional desktop upgrade solutions on multiple fronts:
- Labor costs. The district would have to hire more staff or engage contractors to install new PCs, operating systems, peripherals, and all the applications for them. It would also have to staff up its technical support for users. All these expenses would recur with every upgrade. By contrast, a virtual desktop is a quick and easy installation, and application changes can be rolled out in minutes, with no truck roll. District techies now provide the vast majority of user support from the help desk in the district data center.
- User productivity. With VDI, users experience a familiar interface that puts them at ease. "You can standardize with the same applications, and upgrade without difficulty," the vice president says. Applications on the VDI machines include Apple iOS, Microsoft Office and Outlook, Rosetta Stone and other audio, 2D rendering, video, e-learning, and student testing. And the virtual desktops can be customized for specific user groups.
- Control of security and user activity. The centralized management of VDI lets the district IT department ensure that current antivirus and other security software is installed, patches are up to date, and access to applications is authorized." You can even 'deep freeze' classroom computers," says the vice president. "At the beginning of the class period, students log in and do whatever, including do personal downloads from the web. But their VDI login is temporary. When the student logs off, VDI rebuilds the machine within five seconds."
- Scalability. The network infrastructure is built on a Cisco® switching fabric that allows the district to easily expand its computing. "For example, the ease of changing service profiles for the Cisco UCS® B-Series Blade Servers lets a new blade come online in minutes instead of hours," says the vice president.
The desktop virtualization project brought the district the real results it sought, for both the near-term upgrade and the long term.
How to Find the Expertise That You Need
To achieve these types of results, look for the Cisco Certified Partner logo. All Cisco Certified Partners have been trained to successfully deploy, operate, and optimize Cisco solutions--and can become your trusted adviser on a variety of technologies.