How to Be Ready for a Virtualized Environment

Virtualized apps are very useful for students and staff, if rolled out properly.

For students looking to do school work anywhere at any time, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) technology is a huge asset. Universities that offer a VDI platform for popular applications and software can also save money on physical computer lab spaces that are seldom used.

Those who have done it say taking the time to create the right environment for a VDI deployment will pay big dividends for both users and the IT team. Follow these tips for a smooth rollout:

Focus on Tech to Enhance Experiences

Investing in bandwidth can guarantee the best user experience, says Chris Bonhorst, director of technical services at Pima Community College. But, other additions can also help ensure apps are running properly.

At University of Maryland’s A. James Clark School of Engineering, for example, IT staff added NVIDIA GRID K2 graphics processing units to their VDI setup to help run graphics intensive software that students needed to access.

In addition to the power and speed behind the apps, IT staff must also make sure that VDI won’t cause trouble with the existing tech the campus relies on.

David Johnson of Forrester Research recommends that IT resolve compatibility issues with existing infrastructure before deploying VDI, or integration snags will vex users and IT.

Make Sure All Users Are Prepared for VDI

As universities are looking to deploy a new VDI solution, it is essential that everyone is ready for it, from the top down.

Leaders should assess the IT team’s expertise to ensure staff have the necessary skills to install and maintain a virtualized environment. Then, they can address any deficiencies with training and hiring, says Steve Athanas, associate CIO of the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

The VDI platform and virtualized applications should also be tested with all users, not just IT staff, says Bonhorst.

JP Peters, the IT relationship manager of the University of Central Florida, suggests that leaders also plan and budget for communications and training directed at students and faculty.

For more on successful VDI deployments, check out our magazine feature, "Virtualized Apps Enhance Access, Ease Workflow for Colleges."

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Mar 05 2018