ABC School District Webinar Q/A


For those of you who missed the June 18th TechTalk on the design for a 20,000 user environment, missed out. Well, not really.  Luckily, we recorded the presentation so you can watch it whenever you desire.  As you know, the webinar was based on a reference design for a 70,000 user school district.  Links to the materials are as follows:

In addition to the materials, we also had some really great questions during the webinar, which I’ve answered below: Continue reading “ABC School District Webinar Q/A”

Delivering Desktop Images at the School


In a previous post, I discussed how many different desktop images the ABC school district required for their desktop virtualization design: five. Read the previous blog to find out why five were needed. With 18,000 virtual desktops, the challenge now becomes on how to design/scale the Provisioning services environment. And even still, what happens if one Provisioning services server fails. What happens to the virtual desktops that server was supporting? With the ABC School District, it was originally decided to use 8 servers, each with 6 NICs. However, since the release of the reference design, we are instead allocating 13 … Continue reading Delivering Desktop Images at the School

Hyper-V and XenDesktop – What the School Decided


To cluster or not to cluster, that was the question for the ABC School District. For those of you that read through the ABC School District reference design noticed that the environment was based on Microsoft Hyper-V.  And not only that, it consisted of two distinct groupings:

  • Virtual Desktops
  • Infrastructure

Why the two groupings? Because we require different levels of availability for the virtual machines.  From the school district’s perspective, a desktop is not a server, it is a desktop. That means desktops do not require the same level of high-availability as server workloads.  The Infrastructure group is clustered, meaning that the virtual servers are critical and can be live migrated to another Hyper-V server if needed.  The Virtual Desktops group is not clustered. By splitting the components up into two different Hyper-V groupings, we can better align the technical functionality with the business requirements. Continue reading “Hyper-V and XenDesktop – What the School Decided”

The Virtual School Is In Session, Please Take your Seats


Once upon a time, there was a little school (70,000 users) with a  little problem (desktops over 5 years old) with a little idea. The school was trying to find a way to make the tax money go further. The newest desktops were 5 years old with many more approaching 10 years.  Depending on the school within the district meant different endpoints, different applications and even different quality.  With so many students having home PCs, the school was also interested in allowing these students to work with their applications while not at school.

The school decided to try something new… desktop virtualization.

But if you had to create a desktop virtualization design for a school or your organization, how would you begin? What would you focus on?  What do you think are the most important design components?  That is what we will focus on during a Ask the Architect TechTalk on June 18th at 1PM Eastern time.  Not only will we focus on the hypevisor, which is Microsoft Hyper-V, we will also focus on the three Citrix FlexCast models used, the image delivery solution, applications integration and how the XenDesktop farm is designed.

There will be many interesting points throughout the TechTalk including this one: Continue reading “The Virtual School Is In Session, Please Take your Seats”

How many desktop images do I really need?


One of the main goals with desktop virtualization is to reduce the number of required desktop images. The fewer number of images, the easier it is to support and maintain the desktop environment, which makes desktop virtualization so promising when compared to the traditional desktop approach. The goal is a single image, but oftentimes, other factors play a role in slightly increasing that number. Take, for instance, the ABC School District.

The design called for 5 different desktop images, as shown in the figure.
Continue reading “How many desktop images do I really need?”

I Choo, Choo Choose You


From the words of Ralph Wiggum, I Choo, Choo, Choose You [to be my FlexCast model].

Choosing the correct FlexCast model always leaves people wondering if they made the right decision.  The answer to this question requires us to look closer into the user requirements.  For example, the ABC School District Reference Design was recently published, and as can be expected from the title, it is based on a large school district (70,000 total users, 20,000 concurrent).  How did we decide which FlexCast model was most appropriate?
Continue reading “I Choo, Choo Choose You”

This School House Rocks with Virtual Desktops


Imagine an environment where:

  • The endpoints are over 5 years old
  • Users’ personal computers are state of the art
  • Applications have not been patched in over one year
  • Each office has different configurations, although they should be identical

These are some of the challenges with one particular environment: the ABC School District.

This particular school district consists of 50 school campuses that supports 70,000 users.  Due to limited funding, the technology infrastructure is aging quickly.  Thanks to a voter approved tax levy, the ABC School District is receiving an infusion of money to upgrade their computing infrastructure. Instead of going down the same path of distributed computing, the ABC School District has decided to implement desktop virtualization based on the following architecture: Continue reading “This School House Rocks with Virtual Desktops”