Trek Bicycle

Trek Bicycle: VDI with Cisco and Unidesk gives new meaning to computing mobility

Trek Bicycle is using VDI with Cisco, Unidesk, and VMware to free employees from lugging laptops to and from work - so they can commute with their bikes instead of their cars.

Trek Bicycle

"We were floored by Unidesk. I have a heavy Citrix background, and experience in SCCM, ThinApp, and many other app delivery technologies. I've never seen anything this easy. This is the first time I have seen a product do exactly what was advertised. It's enabling us to scale VDI with basically one person for management."

Chris Smith
Senior System Administrator, Trek Bicycle

Bicycles and Virtual Desktops - New Meaning to End User Mobility

Trek Bicycle, headquartered in Waterloo, Wisconsin, is a global leader in the design and manufacture of bicycles and related products. Trek believes the bicycle can be a simple solution to many of the world's most complex problems, and is committed to breaking down the barriers that prevent people from using bicycles more often for transportation, recreation, and inspiration.

A growing virtual desktop infrastructure with Cisco UCS, Unidesk, and VMware is enabling more Trek employees to live these beliefs. By freeing employees from having to carry laptops between home and work, more Trek staff are using their bicycles for the daily commute, giving new meaning to the mobility benefits that are often linked to VDI.

This guest post from Trek Senior System Administrator Chris Smith explains in his own words how Unidesk is enabling the beloved bicycle manufacturer to "scale VDI with basically 1 person for management."

Unidesk Transforms Management

I've used Unidesk for over a year and absolutely love it. It basically replaces all of the "extra" features of View, other than the actual broker. You create your OS layer, your application layers, and your templates, all within the Unidesk admin console, then spin them up from there. The integration between Unidesk and View is basically a PowerCLI command to add the newly-created machine into the View pool. All VMware ends up seeing is a manually-built machine with the View Agent.

Unidesk takes the idea of app deployment (Mirage, SCCM, ThinApp, App-V, or however you do it) that either doesn't work or takes a PhD to configure and tosses them out the window. Unidesk also replaces the View Composer pieces, as it holds the image itself. I use View only for the broker and security server at this point.

VDI Storage Efficiency

The added awesome benefit of it is how the layers are all stacked upon each other to form the PCs. Every layer is basically a VMDK file, and they're all mounted read-only (non-persistent, I think in VMware terms). The only files mounted persistent is "user personalization layer", which breaks into a user part and an app config part. So if your normal VDI machine has, say, 8 Gigs of Windows, 2 Gigs for user settings, and 10 Gigs of applications stored on it, you are looking at 20 GB per machine. If you have 100 of these, normally you'd expect to need 100 * 20 GB of storage (about 2 TB). Since Unidesk utilizes the shared VMDK files for apps and the OS, you're looking at only 100 * 2 + 18 GB for the whole environment (about 218 GB).

Tell your SAN admin that she needs to buy you a cup of coffee or something....I keep telling ours that but I'm still forced to bring my Folgers from home.

All told, I really love the solution. Better yet, IT WORKS. I had it fully running in a matter of a week in my environment, and that's including layering all the apps myself. I'm early in my VDI rollout, but I've had nothing but positive reactions from my users, and my storage admin didn't have to bite my head off, either. Maybe she's into tea......

The Case for Non-Persistent Desktops

While most of our users have persistent desktops that keep their customizations, you can also use Unidesk with a floating pool for non-persistent desktop use cases. You lose the value of the User Personalization Layer, but you still gain a lot of advantages.

  1. You still get to have exactly 1 OS layer.
  2. You still deploy the apps as layers.
  3. You still get the storage savings.

I would even add a fourth: the machines go back to default when the users disconnect. In any floating type pool, you are going to have some sort of roaming data solution in place. Maybe roaming profiles and folder redirection from a strictly MS background, or a third party solution of some sort, whatever, so there's no loss of features as far as the users are concerned. As someone who has 15 years of dealing with those from a terminal services and desktop support model, let me tell you that I would've loved nothing more than a system that would automatically revert to original state with each reboot.

I have a floating pool built on "Unidesk VMs" that I use for remote access purposes for everyone and for our standard users in the office. I have all the base applications that we use loaded in it. I use folder redirection to send the Desktop, Documents, Favorites, and Downloads over to our storage system, then have MS roaming profiles configured for an OU containing these machines. App data basically is all that gets stored on the profile share, so user logons are super quick. I've even turned on Microsoft UE-V, which is so slick I just giggle every time I see it work (basically saves application configs in a central repository as XML files and pulls/pushes them back when apps are opened, closed, etc.) UE-V allows my full PC users to have their applications settings, such as their Office Themes or whatever, populate into the VDI environment automatically, giving a more consistent experience across devices.

Anyway, don't dismiss using non-persistent desktops with Unidesk just because you won't get the user personalization layer on floating pools. There's still a ton of advantages with it.

The Bottom Line

We were floored by Unidesk. I have a heavy Citrix background, and experience in SCCM, ThinApp, and many other app delivery technologies. I've never seen anything this easy. This is the first time I have seen a product do exactly what was advertised. It's enabling us to scale VDI with basically one person for management.

Deployment Details

  • Application Management
  • Server
  • Storage
  • EUC Platform
    VMware Horizon
  • Users
  • Application Layers

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