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In its most basic form, desktop virtualization is the process by which a user can access an operating system, desktop, and applications via a virtual environment. Instead of these components being installed on and accessed from a single computer, it’s all stored on a central server (or data center) and the user is essentially “remoting in”.
Of course, this is merely a general definition. Several methods of desktop virtualization exist that provide solutions to a variety of scenarios, making it a flexible and often scalable approach to IT management. When taking into account software installations, system updates, patches, security risks, hardware maintenance, and technical support issues; it is an appealing model to tap into because it addresses these areas in an efficient and systematic way. For example, desktop virtualization can deliver:
- Easier Installation of Software, Upgrades, and Patches: Installs and upgrades only need to be completed on the central server and changes are immediately delivered to all users.
- Faster Turnaround of Upgraded or Damaged Hardware: Because all of the data and applications are stored in the data center, support services are streamlined; getting users back up and running in less time.
- Ability to Access Data Anywhere: Depending on how desktop virtualization is utilized, a user can remote into a virtual desktop environment to access software applications and files from a variety of locations.
- Cost-Effectiveness: Companies save because it can reduce the amount spent on equipment and maintenance. In addition, it increases system security and minimizes cooling and energy costs.
Considering these benefits alone, it’s no wonder that San Jacinto College has adopted desktop virtualization strategies by implementing services that have increased management of our computing environment and improved delivery of services and support to the SanJac community. To date, ITS currently uses:
- VDI: VDIs provide users with a desktop environment that is hosted at our data center instead of locally on a user’s machine. This service can be accessed from any location within and outside the College. Virtual Desktops are appropriate for administrative use as they provide users with full access to a desktop and software applications from any location with internet access. VDIs are available to employees when requested.
- Dell On-Demand Desktop Streaming (ODDS): Utilized in several labs across the College, ODDS delivers a single, customized desktop to all computers within the environment. Because the desktop is stored at our data center and “streamed” to all computers, ITS is able to perform installs and updates quickly and easily while maintaining security.
In addition to what’s currently available, ITS is in the process of exploring additional methods that could be implemented at San Jacinto College and hopes to release more options in the future. Thanks to the flexibility of desktop virtualization, ITS can continue to provide improved support and access to the tools employees and students need in a safe and protected environment.