Desktop Virtualization in the Educational Environment

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1 Desktop Virtualization in the Educational Environment The Problem High Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for school computers. TCO goes beyond the original purchase price of hardware and software. It includes a multitude of direct and indirect costs including maintenance and support staff, hardware and software upgrades, anti-virus protection, application changes to maintain compatibility, and disaster recovery. Apply these additional expenditures to hundreds of desktops spread out across multiple locations and the cost to maintain and manage a school district s computers can be quite high. Increasingly complex management issues, derived from multiple hardware platforms, servicing a wide variety of end users (students, teachers, administrators), and the distribution of software/application updates further increases desktop ownership costs. Maintaining large quantities of distributed PC s, software, and personal applications across multiple facilities is a complicated and growing issue which currently requires very labor intensive solutions. License management for a hundreds of computers running a multitude of programs and applications offers numerous challenges concerning distribution, updates, and security. PC upgrades, repairs, and new installs put constant pressure on IT resources. The following discusses one solution designed to alleviate these desktop management issues while lowering the total cost of computer hardware ownership. Current solutions One method which has been implemented within educational environments to alleviate problems associated with desktop management has been server based VDI solutions such as VMware and Citrix. Minimally configured PC s or thin clients connect to virtual desktops stored on a central server. These virtual desktops generally have one standard image and use server resources to operate. Server-based VDI solutions tend to have several major drawbacks. First they require a robust backend server infrastructure. Typically one server has the capacity to host 90 virtual machines. For districts with hundreds of computers the capital expenditure required for server hardware will put an enormous strain on the IT budget. Second, existing server-based VDI solutions do not offer end user desktop customization. Students, staff, and administrators that require special software/applications do not have the capability to self-install and manage programs which are not included on the base image. Third, server-based VDI requires an ever present network connection in order for virtual desktops to function. If the network connection fails, end users will not be able to access their machines. In summary traditional serverbased VDI solutions have high up front costs, cannot be easily customized to meet end user needs, and have one point of failure. A second option commonly used by school districts is ncomputing solutions. ncomputing employs one central workstation as a host to 7-15 access points (typically a monitor with an attached ncomputing node). These access points share the resources of the central workstation. ncomputing solutions help reduce IT expenditures by allowing a district to purchase one computer instead of seven. While ncomputing is an ideal solution for classroom environments where access points are clustered the solution does have its limitations. With multiple access points sharing the same resources certain audio,

2 video, and process heavy applications may have issues running properly. Additionally ncomputing environments cannot be centrally managed without third party software as each central workstation operates independently. Similar to server based VDI solutions ncomputing has a single point of failure. If the central workstation becomes infected or inaccessible, any access points pulling resources from the host cannot operate. Lastly the true cost of an ncomputing solution can vary. While districts may be able to support seven users with one computer, resulting in large upfront cost savings, there are additional costs such as the LCD screen, mouse, keyboard, and licenses which must be considered *. Poor management capabilities, limited platform options, and performance issues tend to negate initial upfront cost savings of only having to purchase one computer for seven users. TKOEDucation Virtual Desktop Solutions TKOEDucation, in cooperation with mokafive, has utilized the concepts applied to data center virtualization, with a twist, to pioneer a virtual desktop solution specifically designed for the educational environment. This centralized desktop management solution is designed to lower TCO while simplifying complex hardware management issues. mokafive can dramatically cut IT costs associated with computer maintenance while improving the end user experience through customization, policy settings, and automatic updates. In short, save money and simplify computer management. How mokafive works mokafive uses innovative technology to install a virtual desktop onto a user s physical machine, regardless of the hardware platform (Dell, HP, Toshiba, Mac). This virtual desktop, referred to as a LivePC image, utilizes the underlying resources of the physical machine to run its OS and other programs. The LivePC image sits on the Management Server and is managed by administrators through the Management Console. Administrators control the entire virtualization process from the creation of the image(s), to its distribution and modification. The management console provides admins with the ability to create user groups, set policies, and provision resources. Using the Creator and Management Console administrators can upload an existing image to the Image Store or create one from the ground up. A user will access their virtual desktop by logging into the mokafive player. The player acts much like a windows log in and can be installed on the user s physical machine via active directory assignment, direct download from the web, or direct USB install. When a user logs into the mokafive player for the first time it will prompt them to download the LivePC image they have been assigned. The virtual desktop is downloaded onto the user s hardware and can be up and running within 5 minutes. Policy settings and bare-metal options give administrators the ability to lock down host machines to deny users access to the physical hardware, making the virtual desktop the only system accessible by students and staff. Once the LivePC image has been created and downloaded onto the user s physical machine the mokafive player will receive any image updates and changes implemented by the admin via the Management Console. This unique architecture allows IT administrators to standardize an entire district PC s, distributed across numerous campuses, from one central location. It eases many of the maintenance and management tasks associated with software updates, application roll outs, and adding / removing users. mokafive s easy integration with Active Directory allows IT administrators to immediately identify current users, utilize * Please see appendix A for price comparison

3 existing user names and passwords, and create user groups. mokafive s specialized design negates the need for costly high end servers typically required to run virtual desktops. It also allows for desktop functionally without the need for online connectivity and can be scaled quickly to accommodate new users. What truly differentiates mokafive from current virtual desktop solutions is the end user s computer architecture. LivePC s are automatically split into separate layers: User Data and Settings, User-installed applications, and Base Image with District OS and Applications. Layers allow users and departments to customize their Live PC image locally, while IT maintains the Base Image. Administrators can also utilize a robust set of policy settings (over 75 options) which can limit/define a user s ability to control the user applications and user data/settings layers. In terms of the educational environment it allows IT administrators to standardize their entire PC environment on one image while still providing users with the ability customize their computer. Computer labs can be provisioned to fit specific class room needs, teachers can access their work programs (grade book applications, district data base information), and districts can entertain the idea of Bring Your Own Computer (BYOC) initiatives. IT is still managing the desktop and its data, while users have the ability to install necessary applications. This layered architecture also allows users to self-recover. If a user acquires a virus via application download, the application layer is isolated, meaning the virus is also isolated. A quick rejuvenation of the LivePC image to previous settings and the virus is gone. The unique design of the mokafive virtual desktop coupled with robust policy controls furnish an IT administrator to set up a custom computer environment, throughout an entire district. Imagine being able to create separate images based on the needs of students, teachers, and administration staff. Take it one step further and develop custom images for specific schools, computer labs, and libraries. Mokafive s ability to integrate with an existing Active Directory makes creating groups, setting policies, and determining user settings quick and simple. IT administrators can provision a district s teachers with one standard image then provide access to user applications to allow teachers to customize their PC s. Conversely an admin may install unique standard images for each district computer lab, based on what classes use each lab, and lock down the user application layer to ensure hardware safety and PC continuity.

4 What is a LivePC image? Think of the LivePC image as a virtual computer, complete with its desktop, applications, documents, files, etc. A LivePC image manifests itself as a collection of files and folders on a computer. The LivePC is comprised entirely of software. Images tend to range anywhere from 500MB to several GB in size. What is a mokafive player? The mokafive player is an application that runs on the end-users computer. The player acts as a log in portal allowing users to download and run LivePC images. Depending on the users information an assigned image will be downloaded onto the physical machine via the player. This is a one time occurrence. Once installed on the hardware any updates to the LivePC image, implemented by an admin through the management console, will automatically be distributed via the player. What is the Creator? The Creator is a tool which allows for image creation, authoring, updates/modifications, and publishing images to the Management Console. What is a Management Console? A web application that connects to the Management Server and provides administrators an interface for changing policies, managing Live PC images, and targeting images as defined user groups. Allows administrators central management of an entire PC environment, regardless of computer location. What is a Management server? The Management Server is the management component of mokafive. Once installed on your server it allows administrators to manage LivePC images, set security and usage polices, and revoke access. What is a Primary Image Store? Server that stores and tracks images that are uploaded by the mokafive creator. What is the Database? Server that holds policy updates, logs, configurations, and device information. mokafive supports Microsoft SQL server for the database. Typical mokafive Virtual Desktop Configuration

5 What are the hardware requirements for supporting a mokafive environment? Servers: Server A: 4GB RAM, 2.0 GHz dual core CPU, Windows Server 2008 SP2 (or R2) 64-bit standard, 50GB free disk space Server B: 4 to 8GB RAM, 2.0 GHz dual-core CPU, Windows Server 2008 SP2 (or R2) 64-bit standard, 100GB free disk space Server C: 8GB RAM, 2.0GHz quad-core CPU, Windows Server 2008 SP2 (or R2) 64-bit standard, 100GB free disk space Clients / access points: Mokafive Creator (authoring tool for creating LivePC images) - x86 computer with PAE (physical address extension), 1 GHz dual core CPU, minimum 2GB memory, 4GB disk space, sound card installed Mokafive Player (software used to run LivePC images) - x86 computer with PAE (physical address extension), 2 GHz Pentium 4 processor, minimum 2GB memory, 4GB disk

6 Potential Server Infrastructure Design TKOEDucation, in cooperation with mokafive, offers a fully customizable virtual desktop solution. We understand each school district is different. This is why the required back end support for the solution has been designed for complete scalability. Larger districts with thousands of users have the option to install more than one server for optimum performance. Smaller districts, or individual schools, can support mokafive virtual desktops using just one server. Client hardware has minimal requirements, allowing schools to use existing computer from a variety of manufacturers as access points. Designed to help schools manage their desktops more effectively, TKOEDucation Virtual Desktop Solutions will lower the TCO for school PC s. Minimum infrastructure requirements combined with the ability to use current systems as access points allows districts to implement a virtual desktop solution for a relatively low cost. The benefits realized by mokafive will directly result in labor and hardware cost savings. PC maintenance becomes a simplified, automated task for an entire district or school. Disaster recovery becomes a much quicker process, with data and hardware protected by the mokafive architecture. Installation for new users and removal of outgoing users takes minutes. The advantages afforded by TKOEDucation virtual desktop solutions are designed to ease the burden of district wide PC management and support while drastically lowering IT costs.

7 Advantages of TKOEDucation Virtual Desktop Solutions Ease the challenge of managing district-wide desktops and applications PC s are difficult and expensive for school districts to maintain, manage, and secure. mokafive will centralize administration and maintenance of desktop images. This allows the administrator to update every user s system from one location when new application or software installations are required. Enable districts with multiple hardware platforms, running a variety of software programs and applications, to standardize all systems within hours. mokafive can be utilized to customize images to fit the varying needs of multiple user groups (i.e. teachers, students, administrators) Provide staff with the ability to use their work computer at home. District specific applications (grading software, payroll programs) are now safely accessible from off-site locations. Quickly add or remove users. Fast roll outs for new software applications or program updates (i.e. Migration to Windows 7) Equip limited IT staff with the tools to manage an entire districts PC s Move users/groups as students advance in grade. Reduce costs and IT budget Centralize PC desktop operations and desktop image management, decreasing desktop administration overhead. 90% reduction of server costs, as compared to VDI. 60% reduction in support costs, derived from users ability to self-recover. Potential for 100% reduction in hardware costs with Bring Your Own Computer (BYOC) initiatives. Dramatically reduce the long term costs associated with annual purchases of new hardware and replacement computers/ parts. Lower licensing fees associated with Anti-Virus protection. Contain IT Risk Individual systems are protected by patented mokafive technology. Seven Layers of Security including a built in AV scan, protect user files and system hardware. Data protection with the ability to disable stolen or lost equipment from the central management console. Distribute security patches district wide via central manage console. Centralize each users data (e.g. My documents) to the Datastore sever, easing data management and disaster recovery while improving machine performance. Customize even-triggered desktop policies. Limit user access and functionality to ensure hardware security and performance.

8 Summary Client-based desktop virtualization using TKOEDucation virtual desktop solutions powered by mokafive technology provides the optimum solution for virtualizing an educational computing environment. TKOEDucation has been working with K-12 institutions for over 14 years. We intimately understand the needs and challenges faced by school districts and IT administrators. Desktop management is an increasingly complex issue schools encounter as they work to upgrade PC hardware, software, and applications. Our virtual desktop solution is specifically designed to lower IT costs while vastly improving the delivery, support, and upgrades of student and staff machines. Our managed service offering simplifies the process, limiting the need (and associated costs) for complex back end server installations. TKOEDucation s mission is to help schools, libraries, and non-profits save money on their technology purchases while providing quality products, outstanding technical support, and superior service. Our mokafive virtual desktop solution embodies these beliefs, providing cutting edge technology solutions designed to lower a district or schools desktop TCO. For additional information please contact: Sean Dion: Director, TKOEDucation About TKOEDucation TKOEDucation, a division of TKO Electronics, Inc (since 1997) specializes in providing alternative computing solutions to K- 12's throughout the U.S. Our mission is to help schools, libraries, and non-profits save money on their technology purchases while providing outstanding technical support and customer service. TKO Electronics is a privately held company in Westlake Village, California with locations in Texas, Puerto Rico, and Florida. For more information please visit About mokafive Founded in 2005 by Stanford researchers, mokafive has pioneered a groundbreaking solution for centralized desktop management. Their unique architecture, referred to as virtual layers, allows IT to maintain a base layer while enabling user to customize their computer. For more information please visit

9 Appendix A.) Access point cost comparison: TKOEDucation Virtual Desktop Solutions vs. ncomputing Item Description Estimated Cost Per Access Point Workstation (Host) (assume 7 access points utilize host ) Dell OptiPlex 780 Core 2 Duo 2.93GHz 2GB 250GB HD X series node ncomputing Node $75 Monitor 19 LCD Monitor $125 Keyboard Standard $15 Mouse Standard $10 OS License Microsoft Windows 7 $55 Anti-Virus License Symantec Endpoint Protection (annual fee) $10 Total $375 $85 Item Description Estimated Cost Per Access Point TKOED Optiplex 745 Bundle Dell OptiPlex 745 Core 2 Duo 2.13GHz 2GB 80GB HD Windows XP $ LCD Monitor Keyboard Mouse MokaFive player (monthly fee) $6 Total $405

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