Virtualized Desktops Deliver Mobile Learning

Colleges and universities across the country seek to provideengaging, personalized learning environments, using multimedia-rich curriculato support collaborative education and distance learning. And, armed withlaptops, tablets and smartphones, students and faculty are demanding anytime,anywhere access to educational resources and applications. 

Thomas Jefferson School of Law (TJSL), an independentnonprofit school in San Diego, started as a small, part-time evening lawprogram for working professionals in 1969. It expanded into a full-time lawschool with a growing student base and an evolving curriculum.

In 2010, we realized that major changes and upgrades neededto be made to the outdated IT infrastructure. But creating a successful new ITenvironment required moving away from the conventional server-client computingmodel to give us new ways of working and thinking.

In early 2010, the opportunity to radically change thecomputing model presented itself when TJSL began constructing a new facility tohouse its faculty, staff and 1,000 students. We began testing remote desktopvirtualization solutions. However, while many solutions were capable ofhandling standard office applications, every one we tested failed to adequatelysupport the multimedia experience required in our environment.

In August 2010, we found a solution that worked: Teradici?sPC-over-IP technology (PCoIP), Samsung zero-client displays and VMware Viewdesktop virtualization. Up and running in just four months, we eliminated 200desktop PCs, replacing each with a Samsung NC240 24-inch PCoIP zero clientmonitor, providing faculty, administrative staff and students with a flexiblecomputing experience. The PCoIP protocol compresses, encrypts and encodes theentire computing experience at the data center and transmits ?pixels only? tothe user?s desk, for a simple, easy-to-manage centralized solution. Thistechnology allows our IT department to centrally manage virtual desktops whileproviding a rich multimedia experience.

As a result, our need for IT resources has beensignificantly reduced. We are now able to set profiles for each PCoIP zeroclient and push out firmware updates automatically. IT no longer wastes hoursgoing from computer to computer, manually updating each one. Instead, we canmanage everything from one desk, fixing any issues remotely.

At TJSL, we support mobile learning initiatives, enablingstudents, faculty and staff to remotely access our virtual desktops from theirpersonal laptops. By allowing individuals to download the VMware View client,we?ve enabled them to connect to the Internet and pick up where they left offon their desktop?whether using a PC, Mac or tablet.

We were also able to meet our green IT goals for the newbuilding. Implementing a virtual desktop infrastructure allowed us toeffectively run the entire virtual environment by using the solar array on theroof. We also reduced our servers from 35 to seven, which allows us to cool theentire data center with just two small air conditioners.

Moving to a virtualized environment has enabled us toprovide students and faculty with the best computing experience, both insideand outside the classroom, while also reducing costs.


James Cooper is CIO at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, BrianGraham is network administrator and Randy Krzyston is director of IToperations.