March 4, 2012
Through the financial assistance of a UF Technology Fee award, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) launched a pilot program to test virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) for teaching and research.
Under the new, flexible environment, instructors have the option of installing software for students’ use specific to their particular class. Prior to VDI, operating systems and software were installed on each workstation. This meant new software and updates to existing software had to be installed manually on each machine. In virtual labs, operating systems and software are on a server allowing for a single process to deploy changes.
Lab manager Dr. Christian Russell has already seen savings in maintenance time as well as hardware, software, and energy costs. “I am spending less time putting out fires, and more time testing and improving service.” Using virtual machines makes it easier to handle security alerts, since CLAS IT staff can immediately remove any machines and have them available again within minutes.
The feedback from students and instructors has been positive, with some requests for increased access and speed. Many survey respondents asked for the VDI program to be expanded to other labs. For more information about VDI, contact Brad Harwood.