Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing USA

Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing USA: Improving Efficiency and Mobility with Unidesk and Citrix

Unidesk and Citrix XenDesktop help keep the good times rolling for this leading manufacturer's expanding VDI implementation.

Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing USA

"After trying Unidesk, there was no going back. There’s nothing else like Unidesk layering. Most of our cost savings stems from how much more efficient Unidesk makes desktop management."

Paul Kramer
Information Systems Manager, Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing USA

VDI Helps the Good Times Roll

From the class leading Ninja® sportbikes and thundering Vulcan™ cruisers to the rugged Brute Force™ ATVs, MULE™ Side x Side vehicles and JET SKI® watercraft, Kawasaki products lead the powersports industry around the globe. The secret of Kawasaki's success is in designing and manufacturing products that offer balanced performance, high quality, reliability and excellent fit and finish.

The Lincoln, Nebraska facility of Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing Corp. USA (KMM) was opened in 1974. Spanning roughly 2 million square feet, it is one of the largest in the U.S. The facility now produces the MULE and JET SKI, as well as train and subway cars used by New York City Transit and Washington, D.C. Metro.

When KMM decided the time had come to simplify desktop management for IT and offer greater mobility for plant workers, it turned to Citrix, Tintri, and Unidesk. Today the joint solution is powering the manufacturer's expanding VDI implementation.

VDI Drivers: Mobility and Efficiency

Kawasaki was the first foreign vehicle manufacturer to build a plant in the United States. The KMM production facility consists of 10 buildings and measures one third of a mile long. Anywhere from 1,500 to 2,300 workers - most needing desktop access - may staff the plant depending on production schedules.

The 14-person Information Systems department was struggling to manage and maintain physical PCs. A more efficient way was needed to minimize the amount of time spent getting to, updating, and repairing desktops and delivering applications.

Mobility was another driving factor for VDI. KMM employees needed to be able to access their key Microsoft Windows applications without having to make a very long walk back to their office. They also required desktop access during their frequent travels, particularly on visits to Kawasaki headquarters in Japan.

Solution: Unidesk and Citrix XenDesktop

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) was the answer to KMM’s desktop challenges. Citrix XenDesktop was chosen to provide the high performance user experience KMM workers needed, as well as secure access from thin clients and mobile devices. Unidesk held the key to simple, efficient application and image management.

“I was working on my VDI presentation to management at Kawasaki headquarters in Japan, and I happened to see an eWeek magazine article on Unidesk,” said Paul Kramer, IS Manager at KMM. “We were still looking for a simple way to deliver our broad collection of applications without adding Windows image management overhead, so it was pretty timely.”

Paul downloaded Unidesk on a Friday evening and finished most of the installation and configuration from home. By noon on Monday, Paul and his team were deploying Unidesk layers in their test environment. “After trying Unidesk, there was no going back,” said Paul. Unidesk was part of Paul’s VDI presentation to management the next day.

Moving Into Production

Once the VDI pilot was proven successful, KMM settled on a permanent solution. The desktops would be virtualized on VMware vSphere, hosted on Dell PowerEdge servers, and accessed through Citrix XenDesktop via Dell Wyse Xenith clients. Unidesk would be used for application delivery, image management, and storage optimization. Tintri VM-aware storage was the final piece of the VDI puzzle, providing an affordable, easy-to-manage hybrid array that would deliver plenty of IOPS to each virtual desktop.

KMM now has more than 400 users in production. Over 100 applications are packaged and delivered as Unidesk layers to various desktops, all in combination with a single Windows 7 OS layer. Employees access their desktops Citrix Receiver on Dell Wyse clients and other devices.

Comments Kramer, “The Unidesk approach of having one Windows OS layer and then assigning application layers to specific users is exactly what we were looking for. It’s working very well. There’s nothing else like Unidesk’s layering technology.”

Painless Application Delivery

Because Unidesk operates above the hypervisor and below Windows, even KMM’s most complex applications are easy to package, deploy, and use.

Apps layered with Unidesk include standard ones such as Adobe Acrobat, CutePDF, FileZilla, Microsoft Office, RealPlayer and Microsoft Visio, as well as less common ones like Bruce’s Unusual Typing Wizard (typing tutor software), EmpowerTime (a timekeeping application), PartsManager Pro (equipment catalog management software), and VLC Player (open-source multimedia player). KMM also delivers its critical 3D CAD applications as Unidesk layers, including Kubotek KeyCreator, Kubotek Spectrum Lite, and Dassault Systèmes DraftSight.

Citrix XenDesktop with HDX technologies delivers a high definition user experience even for the 3D applications by compressing, caching and prioritizing application traffic and optimizing bandwidth.

Says Kramer:

“For those who are skeptical about whether graphics-intensive applications like 3D CAD can be run in VDI, the answer is yes. These apps are easily packaged as Unidesk layers. And we’ve had quite a few users say they run faster now through XenDesktop than their old PCs. We’re even running them on standard hosts without graphics offload cards.”

Tintri and Unidesk Ease VDI Storage

Tinitri VM-aware hybrid storage was chosen for its management simplicity and exceptional I/O performance. Before Tintri, 35 desktops created hour-long boot storms. With Tintri, 400 desktops boot in only 5 minutes.

Tintri and Unidesk are an ideal combination for VDI storage capacity and performance optimization. Unidesk makes virtual desktops more storage-efficient because the base Windows layer and common application layers are stored once and shared by many virtual machines. As a result, KMM’s desktops require only ~8 GB of space per desktop. KMM’s Tintri T-540 appliance has 13.5 TB of usable space, providing plenty of capacity for VDI expansion.

The side effect of Unidesk’s single-instance layering technology is that the most commonly accessed desktop storage stays pinned in Tintri’s SSD-based flash for outstanding I/O performance.

Comments Paul, “The only time we’ve seen our Tintri appliance serve I/O from SATA disk is during nightly backups. Our daily desktop use data is only served from flash.”

Time and Cost Savings

With Unidesk, KMM is seeing tangible savings in the amount of time and resources required for application management and desktop support. “We don’t have to visit users’ desks, and we don’t have to walk across the plant to add or remove software, patch desktops, or do break/fix,” said Paul. “It’s a lot faster for us, which translates into greater productivity for our end users.”

Paul estimates that replacing the plant’s remaining PCs over a 5-year cycle will save $154,000 in capital costs and $99,500 more in operational costs each year thereafter. “As we get more virtual desktops deployed, the economies of scale take over and we’ll see even more savings,” states Paul. “Most of that savings will stem from how much more efficient Unidesk makes application management.”

Deployment Details

  • Application Management
    Unidesk
  • EUC Platform
    Citrix XenDesktop
  • Server
    Dell
  • Storage
    Tintri
  • Application Layers
    100 Applications, 1 Windows OS
  • More Info
  • <8 GB per desktop
  • 10 minute break/fix
  • Key applications layered - Adobe Acrobat, CutePDF, FileZilla, Microsoft Office, RealPlayer, Microsoft Visio, Bruce’s Unusual Typing Wizard (typing tutor software), EmpowerTime (a timekeeping application), PartsManager Pro (equipment catalog management software), VLC Player (open-source multimedia player), 3D CAD applications including Kubotek KeyCreator, Kubotek Spectrum Lite, and Dassault Systèmes DraftSight

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