Hillsborough County Fla. Implements 1,200-User Virtual Desktop Infrastructure with Unidesk Desktop Layering SoftwareUnidesk allows county government to manage virtual desktops from a single Microsoft Windows gold image, deploy applications quickly, and reduce the effort needed to service desktops.
April 24, 2012
The Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) based in Tampa, Fla., is implementing a new Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) with Unidesk® desktop layering software to offer greater mobility to 1,200 of its workers across 25 departments. Planned for summer completion, the VDI project will enable employees to securely log in to their virtual desktops using office PCs, smartphones, tablets, laptops, and home computers to continue providing vital county services, even when disruptions such as traffic jams, facility closings, or major events prevent access to the county’s downtown Tampa headquarters.
Hillsborough County BOCC’s Information & Technology Services (ITS), which provides technology integration and support services for communications, desktops, servers, business solutions and data management, will also benefit from the VDI project. ITS will use Unidesk “layers” to: create, update, and patch all virtual desktops from a single Microsoft Windows gold image; package, deploy, and manage standard and departmental applications quickly, without the complexity of application virtualization; and reduce the time and effort needed to service desktops. Based on the 100+ virtual desktops that have already been rolled out, the county estimates Unidesk will also reduce VDI storage capacity requirements more than 70%, substantially reducing VDI implementation costs.
The Unidesk-managed desktops are being hosted on HP blade servers and HP storage, deployed on VMware vSphere™ virtualization infrastructure, and securely accessed through VMware View™ desktop virtualization software. The solution was delivered by Presidio®, a leading HP, Unidesk, and VMware solution provider partner.
“As a county government IT department, we’re focused on providing superior services to our citizens, not just managing our computers and networks,” said Scott Caryer, Senior Server Administrator, Information & Technology Services for Hillsborough County BOCC. “Our users expect us to make the applications they need readily available anytime, anywhere, and that’s what VDI with Unidesk provides. We can configure desktops using any combination of Unidesk gold OS and app layers in minutes, and give employees secure access to their desktops through VMware View from almost any device.”
Hillsborough County BOCC’s ITS organization was an early adopter of server virtualization technology, with great success. Desktop virtualization was the natural next step to enhance access to mission-critical applications and reduce the cost of desktop operations in the county’s main office and, eventually, its eight satellite offices. But it wasn’t until ITS evaluated Unidesk that the organization felt comfortable proceeding with the 1,200-user VDI initiative.
Noted Caryer, “We really wanted to give all of our users their own virtual desktop so they could have a real PC experience, but we couldn’t afford the storage needed for full-sized virtual machines, and it would have been too costly to manage the multiple images. We tried non-persistent desktops with application virtualization and profile management, but the first apps we tested took days to virtualize. With about 50 key apps, that would take as much time as before virtualization. Profile management also added unwanted complexity. Unidesk solves these management challenges by giving us the best of persistent and non-persistent VDI in one easy-to-use solution.”
Unidesk layering technology offers a simpler alternative to typical non-persistent virtual desktops, while providing equivalent storage savings and greater personalization. Unidesk persistent virtual desktops retain all user customizations, including the user-installed applications required by ITS administrators and BOCC power users. The county’s 50 applications are layered by Unidesk in the same amount of time it takes to install the applications once on a regular desktop - typically less than 30 minutes. Once layered, applications can be assigned to one or more desktops without reinstallation. Desktops can be created, patched, and updated in batch or one at a time, simply by combining the gold operating system layer with different application layers. Unidesk’s ability to share common layers across many desktops reduces the VDI storage footprint by as much as 70%.
Hillsborough County BOCC has joined dozens of others state and local government organizations such as City of Foster City, Calif., City of Kent, Wash., Oconto Count, Wis., Tarrant Regional Water District, Tex., Tulare County, Calif., Ventura County, Calif., and Vigo County, Ind., which are implementing Unidesk to expand the benefits of VDI to more users, reduce desktop operational expenses, and cut VDI storage costs.
Organizations interested in learning more about Hillsborough County’s VDI experience can attend the free live webinar “Hillsborough County’s Road to VDI Success” at 2pm ET on Wed., April 18, 2012. To register, visit: www.unidesk.com/hillsborough-county
Unidesk Corporation (www.unidesk.com) enables customers to centralize more desktops on data center servers and build a stronger business case for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). Unidesk® desktop management software for VDI is the easiest way to create, patch, personalize, and support desktops and deliver applications for organizations implementing hosted virtual desktops on VMware vSphere®. By using Unidesk’s patent-pending desktop layering technology with Citrix® XenDesktop®, VMware View™ and other VDI access solutions, customers can expand VDI to more users, reduce desktop operations costs up to 30%, cut VDI storage costs up to 70%, and foster a more productive, agile workforce. Unidesk Corp. is a privately-held company with headquarters in Marlborough, Mass, USA.