Providing enough lab space to accommodate students is a challenge that many educational institutions face. When Northeastern University’s College of Engineering invited Envision and Dell to visit their campus in mid-2015, it was to discuss innovative solutions to address this exact challenge.
Along with our partners at Dell, Envision proposed a High Performance VDI solution to meet Northeastern University’s needs. With virtual desktops, the College of Engineering’s students would have access to resources from anywhere on campus, thereby minimizing the need for dedicated lab space.
Proof of Concept
While the team at the College of Engineering liked what they heard from Envision, they were also understandably cautious. As a technology, VDI holds incredible promise, but it is a challenging solution to deploy effectively, especially for a large-scale organization like Northeastern University where performance and availability is paramount. To answer these concerns, Envision’s engineers and the College of Engineering IT team began this engagement with a proof of concept that was kicked off in October, 2015.
For this proof of concept, Envision stood up a virtual desktop infrastructure to support a small group of test users. This solution used Dell r730 host servers along with Teradici PCoIP offload cards, NVidia GPU acceleration cards, and VMware Horizon Enterprise software. This initial user group put the solution through its paces and the deployment more than lived up to expectations.
Deploying a High Performance VDI Solution
The proof of concept was deemed a success and plans were initiated for the Production rollout phase of the engagement. This phase was architected to handle a much larger group of the College of Engineering’s student base. Just as the proof of concept exceeded expectations, so did this final VDI deployment. This solution is now in full production at the College of Engineering.
As a result of the work that Envision and Dell have done at Northeastern University, the College of Engineering no longer has resource or space constraints when it comes to their labs. High performance virtual desktops have allowed students to access application resources they need, from whatever device they want and from wherever they choose.
Based on the success of the College of Engineering’s VDI rollout, they have decided to expand their VDI footprint, and other units at Northeastern University are also planning to get involved in VDI.
"COE's VDI environment is now an important part of our student computing strategy, and we’re looking forward to working with Envision on setting up Phase II to meet the demand."Lisa K. Koch, Ph.D.
Asst. Dean for Educational and Computer Technology
College of Engineering, Northeastern University