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Riverview. VIRTUALISATION IN LEARNING. Roseville College. Monte Sant ’ Angelo Mercy College. Agenda. Citrix XenApp & XenDesktop – Roseville College (James Stewart ) VMWare View – Riverview (Alex Gibson) VMWare View vs Citrix XenApp trial – Monte Sant ’ Angelo (Mark McLennan)

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virtualisation in learning



Roseville College

Monte Sant’ Angelo

Mercy College

  • Citrix XenApp & XenDesktop– Roseville College (James Stewart)
  • VMWare View – Riverview (Alex Gibson)
  • VMWare View vs Citrix XenApp trial – Monte Sant’ Angelo (Mark McLennan)
  • Question and Answers
why virtualisation
Why Virtualisation?
  • Each student has their own laptop (BYOT), so lack of SOE exists
  • Recognition that whilst in theory it is nice that students choose the appropriate application to create a piece of work that demonstrates their understanding of a concept, the reality is that standard application suits are necessary to teach certain subjects
    • Music
      • Sibelius
      • Acid
    • TAS
      • Photoshop
      • Illustrator
why virtualisation1
Why Virtualisation?
  • Not feasible to try and install each piece of software on individual machines
  • How do we handle students who lose their laptop and bring another home device. Lesson interruptions to reinstall software
  • No guarantee that student machines have the capabilities to run large software suites such as Creative Suite CS6
  • Licencing restrictions. Many software vendors don’t allow the installation of educational software on student personal devices
our requirements
Our Requirements
  • The main requirement was to provide virtualisation at the application layer, not desktop layer. A big focus of BYOT is personalisation of learning, and we wanted virtual applications to be more of an extension of the student’s laptop, not found on a remote desktop.
  • Needed to handed a whole year group (max 120 students) simultaneously with minimal performance drop
  • Needed to be able to run large, graphics and multimedia based applications (Adobe CS6, Acid)
our requirements1
Our Requirements
  • Needed to work seamless both onsite and over the Internet at home (assuming at least a good 3G or DSL line at home)
  • Fast application loading
  • Application preference remembering
  • Support of local hardware, including saving to local computer hard drives, webcam and USB support
  • Web portal for application access, as well as ability to use local shortcuts
  • Compatible with iOS, Android, Windows Mobile and Chrome OS.
why citrix
  • NetStrategy tasked withinvestigating current and upcoming technologies in mid-2012 and to demonstrate to Roseville College a pilot build that best met the stated requirements
  • A hybrid solution of Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop running on VMWare VSphere server backend proposed
  • Primary reason for Citrix is that is allowed for application virtualisation focus, whereas Windows Remote Desktop and VMWare View were more traditional desktop focused
  • 3 x Dell R720 servers
    • Dual Xeon E-2690 2.9Ghz CPUs, 256Gb RAM, dual 10GB NICs, dual 600Gb SAS local HDDs
  • 1 x Dell EqualLogic PS6110XS SAS/SSD Hybrid SAN (13TB storage)
  • Citrix XenDesktop Concurrent Enterprise Licence for 120 users
  • Microsoft Windows 2008 R2 Remote Desktop Services
  • NetStrategy Professional Services
  • XenApp(Windows 2008 R2) is used for:
    • Simple applications that don’t require isolation such as Microsoft Office, Geometer’sSketchPad, Inspiration
  • XenDesktop(Windows 7) is used for:
    • More complex applications that require isolation, such as Creative Suite CS6 (which requires administrative rights on XenApp),
    • Heavy multimedia apps that require driver level access to the OS such as Acid Studio
  • App Store
    • Portal access that presents available XenApp and XenDesktop apps in one location
supporting learning
Supporting learning
  • All 7-12 students have their own personal laptop (BYOT)
  • 2012 saw 4 computer specialist labs at over 90% utilisation
  • 2013 has 2 computer specialist labs (one TAS, one Music) at less than 50% utilisation
  • Students and teachers are now using virtualised applications on personal laptops instead of using computer labs
  • Students can now access all required software from home on their devices
supporting learning future
Supporting learning – Future
  • Currently investigating and testing changing TAS lab to a universal dock system where students can plug their laptops in and use their device with large widescreen monitor and graphics tablets for graphic design and multimedia
  • Investigating the use of Citrix ShareFile to work hand in hand with XenApp/XenDesktop as a shared repository available to all College members on all devices.
lessons learnt
  • Citrix is a complicated beast. You need very good in-house or very good outsourced technical services
  • Receiver capabilities differ. Mac and Android receiver versions lag a little behind Windows and iOS versions
  • Some applications just won’t place nice. Sibelius 6 is one such example
  • Its amazing what 3G networks can support
  • Students will always find a way to break something that you never thought possible, or can’t replicate in testing
lessons learnt1
  • A well designed virtualisation solution is expensive, but worth it!
  • So far, it is proving as a successful alternative to a school owned 1:1 fleet with SOE
why vdi over ts
Why VDI over TS?
    • Brian Madden paradox… VDI has become TS
  • Choice between operating systems – Desktop OS rather than App delivered from a Server OS
  • More flexible application support. E.g. Solid Edge
  • Ability to be flexible and agile about student devices.
  • Licensing cost (at the time).
  • In my opinion administration and management is easier than Citrix.
re implementation
  • MacBook Airs with no BootCamp meant Vmware View needed to improve.
  • VDI boot times and overall performance was not impressive.

New Setup:

  • Floating dynamic pools, using the local SSD storage.
  • Profiles sync back to SAN storage.
  • Always on desktops eliminates boot storms and speeds up time to connect.
  • VMware Windows 7 Optimisation guide.
infrastructure benchmarks
  • 3 x HP BL490c G7 blades
  • Dual Xeon X5650 2.67 Ghz, 198GB RAM, 600GB FusionIO SSD local storage (91,000IOPS)
  • Current number of Desktops: 215 *
  • Max concurrent in use: 157
  • Benchmarked max: ~210 (Win7 4GB RAM)

- Host paging to disk (SSD) seen at around 90 desktops per host

  • Tools: VMware View Planner, IOMeter

* 85 x Windows XP 2GB RAM

impact on learning
Impact on Learning
  • Efficient learning – accessible anywhere, anytime. Access to all required network resources
  • Move to BYOT – teachers can be confident in delivering a lesson using devices
  • Primary place for school work
where to next making better use of our vdi
Where to next? Making better use of our VDI
  • Extending life of lab machines by booting directly into Virtual Desktops
  • Deploying thin clients in some areas, e.g. Opacs machines
  • Wait for the technology to mature further
  • VMWare Horizon
why virtualisation3
Why Virtualisation ?
  • Monte, a “Mac” School:
    • ~1200 Students
    • ~150 Staff
    • 1450 Macs
      • 2009/10 White Macbook’s (10.6.x) > 2012 MacAir’s (10.8.x)
  • Except for TAS:
    • 1.5 PC Labs (45 Win7 PCs)
    • “2D Design Tools”
      • Laser Cutter, 3D Prototyper
  • … And the Business Office
general requirements
General Requirements

Find a solution that:

  • Delivers the required application(s)
  • On our Network Infrastructure
  • Within our tiny budget
  • With the ability to scale up and out in the future
general requirements1
General Requirements

Find a solution that:

  • Delivers the required application(s)
    • On campus or at home
    • Fast
    • With local and remote file access
    • With local USB (file and print)
    • Backed Up
    • …access to the internet…
  • On our Network Infrastructure
  • Within our tiny budget
  • With the ability to scale up and out in the future

“60 concurrent users,

Equivalent Application Functionality,

For less than the cost of a PC Lab”



Write Criteria/Requirements

Build VMWarePoC

Build Citrix PoC

Initial Testing

Student Test Round 1

Tweaking / Refining

Student Test Round 2

Decision ?

defining criteria
Defining Criteria
  • Environment
  • Delivered Applications
  • User Experience:
    • Complexity
    • Start up Time
    • Application Performance

defining criteria1
Defining Criteria
  • Solution Functionality:
    • File Access
    • USB/External Devices
    • Printing
    • Internet Access
    • Native File Association

defining criteria2
Defining Criteria
  • Solution Complexity:
    • Administrative Overhead
    • Application/SOE Maintenance
    • Backup/Restore and DR
  • Solution ‘Client Robustness’:
    • Performance over slow internet
    • …over ‘intermittent’ internet
    • Mac sleep/wake cycle

defining criteria3
Defining Criteria
  • Future Proofing:
    • Scaling up, Scaling out
    • Move to ‘cloud’ ?
  • Client Management
  • Solution Cost:
    • ROI
      • Licencing (Upfront and Recurring)
      • Applications

poc build vmware
PoC Build - VMWare

VMWare – Horizon View 5.2

1 x Dell R710 – ESXi 5.1

(x5680 3.33Ghz 2 x 6 Cores, 128Gb, Internal SAS, iSCSI to SAN)

2 x Win2k8 Server VMs (On Production VM Environment)

  • View Connection Server
  • View Composer
  • View Transfer Server
  • SQL Server

N x Win7 Desktop VMs

Extreme x670 10Gb Core Extreme x350 1Gb Edge

Dell EqualLogic PS6110xv Motorola AP7131

poc build citrix
PoC Build - Citrix


1 x Dell R710 – Win2k8

(x5680 3.33Ghz 2 x 6 Cores, 128Gb, Internal SAS, iSCSI to SAN)

5 x Win2k8 Server VMs (On Production VM Environment)

  • Licence Server
  • StoreFront
  • Streaming Profiler
  • Netscaler
  • App Center

Extreme x670 10Gb Core Extreme x350 1Gb Edge

Dell EqualLogic PS6110xv Motorola AP7131

gathering feedback
Gathering Feedback
  • User Testing
  • Student Survey




  • Performance
  • Synergy (already VMWare backend)
  • Desktop/Application Management


  • Boot up time
  • Another SOE
  • Scalable limit


  • Teach ‘Windows Skills’
  • Horizon Suite



  • Seamless
  • Fast start up
  • XenApp and XenDesktop
  • Theoretically scales well


  • Fine tuning applications
  • Whole new backend to maintain


  • Citrix ecosystem of products
questions answers

Alex Gibson –

James Stewart –

Mark McLennan -