Virtual Desktop

VDI/Virtual Desktops

The Samuel Merritt VDI project provides a solution to support SMU’s initiative to create an online learning capability that decouples Faculty, Staff, and Students from the physical campus without jeopardizing productivity or security.  Additionally, the VDI project will provide remote accessibility to data and applications using devices such as iPads, tablets, laptops, etc., facilitating a “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) initiative.

Do I need something specific to run this virtual desktop?

Here's all you need:

  • An internet connection
  • A device to connect with:
    • Windows Desktop or Laptop
    • Mac Desktop or Laptop
    • iPad Tablet or Phone
    • Android Tablet or Phone
    • HTML 5 Web browsers including Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Safari
    • Thin Client

That's it.  From anywhere with an internet connection, you can use a browser, downloaded client software, or a downloaded app, log in, and you're there.

Why are we doing this?

  • Accessibility: you will be able to log into your computer from anywhere at any time. You can access it from your smartphone, tablet, PC, or Mac. All you need is a network connection.
  • No more VPN: although VPN is a great tool for being able to access SMU resources off-site, being able to log into your desktop is more reliable.
  • No more OWA: Outlook Web Access (OWA) has been the go-to for access your mail off campus, but if you're able to log into your virtual desktop, you'll be able to use the Outlook software client like you would on campus.
  • It's faster: because the processing power for everything is taking place on the server instead of your computer, your programs will run much faster than it would on your physical machine.
  • Reliability: If your computer died right now and an IT Service Desk Technician could drop everything they were doing to get a replacement computer set up, it would take an hour (at the least) to image a computer, set up your email and printers, and have you logged in. It would take more time for each additional piece of software. With VDI, there's no such thing as your computer "dying." Just log off, and log back in.
  • Lower hardware requirements: The hardware requirements to run your virtual desktop on your physical computer is much less than running your desktop and software on your physical computer. Your virtual desktop will run just as good on your 8-year-old computer as on a computer you go buy today. Instead of dealing with the wait of submitting a tech request for a new computer, waiting for it to get approved, waiting a few weeks for the equipment to be ordered, delivered, and set up, we just install some software, and you just log in.

Completed Milestones:

  • The underlying VDI Compute and Storage Infrastructure has been architected, designed and implemented successfully
  • The supporting virtualization platform, VMware vSphere and Horizon View, has been implemented and integrated
  • The Labs and Libraries in Oakland, Sacramento, and San Mateo have been converted to thin clients with VMware client to access VDI desktops
  • RES integrated for managing personal workspace profiles and local data management
  • Faculty and Staff currently undergoing limited virtual desktop testing

Next Steps:

  • Faculty – a set of Adjunct devices have been deployed to test and validate the virtual desktops.  A limited set of users will be testing the virtual desktop images. Following successful testing, the remainder of the devices will be deployed locally use.
  • Staff – A questionnaire was sent to key participants in late 2017 to ensure we have adequately captured the necessary requirements relative to accessing applications and printing. A selected group of end users are currently testing the desktop images.  Following successful testing, all Staff users will have access to the virtual desktops.

Timelines:

We anticipate completion of Phase 2, deployment of all virtual desktops by the end of August 2018.

Request more information

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