DINFOS Introduces VDI
March 11, 2013
The information technology team at DINFOS is implementing a program called Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, or VDI, which is a server that allows users to securely access information on their network computers in a more efficient manner.
The DINFOS IT team began implementing VDI six month ago.
"The solution that we're implementing right now is going to allow staff to access their applications and access their desktop easier anytime, anywhere," said Ibukunolu Sanni, a system engineer who is part of the DINFOS IT team.
At present, DINFOS staff members are issued a government laptop in order to work remotely. They log onto their network computers by using a Virtual Private Network, a process that can take as long as 10 minutes. The new VDI system reduces the login time dramatically and allows users to access their network computer desktops via a roaming profile.
"My whole objective is to reduce the footprint. Right now, you've got people who go TDY [temporary duty] with two pieces of equipment," said Chief of DINFOS Information Technology Dennis W. Cornell, referring to a desktop and laptop.
The VDI system reduces the equipment necessary to work remotely to one piece of equipment -- a Common Access Card-enabled computer. Eventually this capability will extend to the use of a Common Access Card-enabled tablet.
"Right now, the benefits you'll see for a teleworker or someone who goes TDY is that they can use their own equipment," Cornell said. "We'll provide them instructions on how to download drivers for the CAC readers. There are two additional programs that would have to be installed, but it would be a pretty seamless process."
The new VDI system, which relies heavily upon servers to perform functions, will allow DINFOS to switch most of its computers to cheaper, more efficient "thin" clients. Thin means staffers will no longer need the computer that typically sits at an employee's feet.
By switching to thin clients, DINFOS will save money from software licensing costs, equipment costs and increased hardware lifecycle.
"Looking at lifecycle management now, you're looking at roughly five years of usage out of a single work station," Cornell said. "With a thin client, I can probably stretch that out to seven years."
Considering the difference in cost and the sheer number of work stations at DINFOS, the amount saved would be significant, he said.
The DINFOS IT team said the plan for the VDI system upgrade has been in the works for a couple of years and is projected to take two years to fully implement. The equipment and licensing were implemented last year.
Resources for the new hardware will be implemented throughout 2013.
Although it will take a while before VDI reaches DINFOS students, the plan is that they, too, will be able to use this improved technology. DINFOS staff working remotely will immediately see benefits once the server is upgraded.
"They won't have to worry about being accountable for another piece of equipment," Cornell said. "I can just give them a CAC reader -- and I have tons of those."
The DINFOS IT team works diligently to ensure its roaming profiles maintain the same level of security when accessed remotely as when accessed traditionally via desktop PC.