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Virtual lab environment being tested

Monday, March 18, 2013

The University of Georgia’s central IT department and several other units on campus are piloting a virtual lab environment for computers in some locations.

The Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) pilot is being conducted with 200 computers on campus — most notably with 100 new PCs at the Miller Learning Center (MLC).

Enterprise Information Technology Services (EITS) is spearheading the VDI pilot. Other participating units include the College of Veterinary Medicine, Terry College of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Agriculture, and the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

While a PC traditionally runs its operating systems and applications locally at each computer, virtualized PCs use cloud-based technology to move those services to a central, secure environment.

With the pilot, UGA units are replacing aging, slower PCs with thin clients in a virtual lab environment. Instead of bulky towers at PC stations, virtualized computers use a smaller thin client that can be attached to the rear of a monitor. That leaves more physical space at PC stations for users.

In addition, virtualized PCs have quicker processing and maintain their performance for years, instead of slowing as time passes. At the MLC, the virtualized PCs have a login process that is about four times faster than existing lab computers at the center.

IT staff can also instantly update software at virtualized PCs in a lab and resolve technical issues faster. Virtualized PCs can further reduce energy costs.

If the pilot is successful, EITS plans to extend the number of virtualized computers to most of its 500 PCs at the MLC sometime after the pilot. The virtualized PCs are located on the third floor at the MLC.

No need for bulky towers at PCs. The small thin clients shown attached to the rear of these monitors operate the virtualized PCs.