MetaRed, the collaborative project formed by ICT managers from Ibero-American Universities, held past Monday, October 5 a webinar where several educational centers revealed how they have equipped their classrooms to turn them into hybrid teaching spaces to face the new scenario posed by Covid-19.
The University of Murcia (UMU) was one of the organizations invited as speaker. In addition to detailing the videoconferencing equipment that they have installed in the classrooms, they talked about their VDI infrastructure with UDS Enterprise, which played a very important role during the lockdown period. It continues to be one of the fundamental pillars of its IT strategy** to solve the challenges of blended learning imposed by the current health situation.
Pedro Miguel Ruíz Martínez, Vice-Rector of Strategy and Digital University of the UMU, explained that they have designed an ICT Plan for Digital Teaching for this course 2020/2021 in which “each center establishes the best pedagogical model for each subject, be it face-to-face, online or hybrid, and it is ready to face any contingency.” Within this plan, the expansion of the virtual desktops service (EVA) with UDS Enterprise is contemplated.
For years the computers in the IT labs of the UMU where practical teaching is taught have been virtualized. UDS Enterprise is the software through which the platform is managed and that works as access portal to the virtual desktops used by students. “This VDI infrastructure became during the lockdown period one of the main supporting base so that the students could carry out their practices and the staff work from home,” said Jesús Valverde, Head of Computer Rooms at UMU.
The platform was providing service to students, teachers, administration and services staff, researchers... supporting some demand peaks of more than 11,000 accumulated virtual desktops per day and around 800 simultaneous. "We had 100% availability, but there was a certain slowdown in response times attributable to hardware limitations, which was not sized for these levels of demand. We had never had so many requests at the same time," commented Valverde.
The Area of Information Technology and Applied Communications has taken measures to improve its VDI infrastructure, so that it is prepared to simultaneously provide service to all users of the university if necessary. The flexibility of UDS Enterprise has allowed them to find the solution that best suits their requirements.
After evaluating whether to choose to expand their on-premise architecture or extend it in the cloud, they have decided to increase their infrastructure in the cloud by 30% with VMware and AWS. UDS Enterprise's compatibility with virtually any third-party technology has given them the freedom to choose the most advantageous cloud provider for their project. “The adoption of VDI in the cloud is one of the strategic lines of our digital transformation plan. Thanks to this decision we have achieved significant savings compared to on-premise infrastructure,” Valverde assured.
The IT team is already working to deploy this new infrastructure and integrate it into its virtual desktop platform. Once the process is finished, the UMU will have a complete desktop virtualization solution ruled by UDS Enterprise. It will consist of two on-premise platforms (one with oVirt and one with VMware vSphere) and another in the cloud with VMware and AWS.
Thanks to UDS Enterprise, they can manage these three platforms in a very simple and centralized way through a single web administration panel. In addition, a new functionality introduced in UDS Enterprise 3.0, the so-called “Meta Pools”, allow the grouping of the three platforms so that they work as if they were one. They also allow them to set the virtual desktop allocation policy that works best for them so that none of the three platforms is stressed. They can configure the system to assign them, for example, according to priorities and percentage of use of each platform, controlling the use of each of them at all times. Thus, they will guarantee optimal performance and an agile, seamless service for around their 39,000 potential users.
For more information about the experience of the University of Murcia with the VDI broker UDS Enterprise, see the following posts: