City of Kent, Wash. Launches IT "Help Desk for the Future" Based on Unidesk Virtual Desktops
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Marlborough, Mass., Oct. 25, 2011 – The city of Kent, Wash., is building an agile, future-proof IT service organization and launching a fleet of virtual desktops based on Unidesk® desktop management software for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), a move officials say will lead to a host of operational cost savings for the city and vastly improved service for its users.
Deployed on VMware vSphere® and accessed by Pano Logic zero clients, the Unidesk-provisioned and managed virtual desktops are expected to reach up to 800 workers across most city departments, including public safety, administration, public works, finance and more. Users will enjoy the same customizable desktop experience they’re accustomed to with PCs, but with “anywhere, anytime” access to desktops, faster access to new applications, and virtually instant desktop repair.
For the Kent IT organization, Unidesk serves as the management foundation that enables the IT team to quickly create desktops that satisfy all of the city’s use cases, including persistent desktops that preserve all personal desktop settings, applications and configurations. Unidesk is also enabling Kent IT to centrally package and deliver some 75 different applications, including access to Oracle and SAP databases, law enforcement applications, and the many applications required on a departmental, group, or individual basis.
“Unidesk is the platform that makes our entire virtual desktop initiative viable,” said W. James Hettrick, Technical Services Manager for the City of Kent and a former city CIO brought in to spearhead the project. “With Unidesk layers, we can give users any desktop or application they need – or that we want them to have -- without the headache of training our IT staff on a mix of more complicated tools.”
The Need for Unidesk
As Kent IT began converting its aging desktop PCs to virtual desktops running on a new 10G network, it realized the operational costs of managing and patching multiple Microsoft Windows OS images, delivering departmental applications, and supporting city workers’ highly customized desktops would be challenging with an IT service desk staff of just three. The high costs of data center storage needed to host stand alone persistent desktops also threatened to make the VDI project cost-prohibitive.
After a successful pilot, Kent IT selected and began implementing Unidesk to overcome all of these challenges. Unidesk enables Kent IT administrators to quickly create virtual desktops from a single gold operating system layer and any combination of pre-packaged application layers. Deploying new applications is fast and easy -- install the application once to create a layer, then assign to any desktop without ever having to install the application again. Patching is just as easy -- update a layer once, and all desktops using that layer are updated. All layers are versioned and can be rolled back as needed to “undo” application conflicts or errors. Another key feature of Unidesk is it stores only single instances of each layer, so VDI storage can be reduced up to 70%.
According to Brad Soper, Project Lead and Network Specialist for the City of Kent, “We’re big fans of Unidesk because we can manage all our applications in one place and push changes out quickly to many users. We’re hitting almost every department city-wide with over 70 different software products, but with Unidesk we can also protect each user’s modifications, and deliver the critical applications needed by each department."
Immediate Results and a Help Desk for the Future
So far, the results have been as expected. Kent IT has reduced its OS images organization-wide from dozens to just two – one OS layer each for Microsoft Windows 7 and XP – so the staff is spending less time on repetitive image management tasks. Setting up new desktops and deploying new applications requires an estimated hour or less, compared to the half day or more previously required. With Unidesk’s powerful “rollback and repair” functionality, administrators can immediately fix desktop problems by simply changing layer priorities or reverting to an earlier layer version. From a storage savings perspective, Kent virtual desktops that would have required 30-40 GB of SAN Storage require only 6-8 GB with Unidesk.
Hettrick says that while the new desktop management approach made possible by VDI and Unidesk has yielded immediate operational benefits, it’s also laying the foundation for expanded services in the future. “Call times for tickets on our service desk have gone from next business day to a few hours or even minutes,” Hettrick says. “We’re also able to test new applications, such as the surveillance system we’re currently evaluating, and deploy it as a Unidesk layer to multiple locations. We now have the ability to instantly push out a whole new set of applications to departments and individual users on an as-needed basis.”
Unidesk and Pano Logic - a Killer Combination
All Unidesk desktops are being created on the city’s VMware vSphere virtual infrastructure and accessed by solid state Pano Logic zero clients, which connect peripheral input-output devices such as keyboard, mouse, Dual DVI displays and audio output to the virtual desktops. Because Pano zero clients have double the life expectancy of traditional PCs and use only 6 watts, the city will be able to reallocate the cost savings to other projects and services. But it is the combination of Pano and Unidesk that Hettrick believes will give Kent a future-proof virtual desktop fleet that will be easy to support, maintain, and extend.
“The combination of Unidesk and Pano is really the killer combination that makes virtual desktops work at a price point that any city, school or other government organization can afford,” Hettrick said. “One common thread in both solutions is simplicity, which is critical for those of us who don’t have large support centers. The other is flexibility. Our users won’t accept a desktop that doesn’t feel like their own. Unidesk makes it easy to create, patch, and support persistent, personal virtual desktops, while Pano gives users access to their virtual desktops from work, home, and anywhere in between,” Hettrick added.
To learn more about the City of Kent VDI implementation and Unidesk and Pano Logic integration, attend the upcoming webinar “Future-Proof Your Desktops – How City of Kent, Wash. Implemented VDI” on Nov. Wed., Nov. 16 at 2pm ET.
Unidesk® Corporation (www.unidesk.com) enables customers to centralize more desktops on data center servers and realize the full potential of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). Unidesk’s patent-pending desktop layering technology works with VDI access solutions such as VMware View™, Citrix® XenDesktop®, and Pano Logic to sustain all desktop customizations for end users, while enabling IT to provision and patch all desktops from a single set of shared operating system and application images. By creating uniquely personal, storage-efficient, and easy-to-manage persistent desktops on VMware infrastructure that can satisfy almost any use case, Unidesk VDI management software reduces desktop operations costs up to 30%, cuts data center storage costs for VDI up to 70%, and fosters a more productive, agile workforce. Unidesk Corp. is a privately-held company with headquarters in Marlborough, Mass, USA
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