Anglia Ruskin University

Anglia Ruskin University Goes Green, Saves Power, Reduces Costs Using Liquidware Solutions

Anglia Ruskin University has more than 30,000 students and is one of the largest universities in the eastern UK. When the university planned construction of a new building on its Cambridge campus, it also wanted to showcase a modern, eco-friendly design that utilized natural cooling for the 300-seat computing area. The IT staff began exploring the use of virtual desktops to replace power-hungry, heat-producing PCs. The PCs that were in use were aging and increasingly time-consuming and difficult to maintain, and students frequently complained about poor performance.

With only six months to explore and create a POC/pilot for virtual desktops, the Anglia Ruskin IT team jumped into the project.  However, initial results were not promising. The virtual desktops required almost as much power as their physical counterparts.  They did not provide good video or sound quality.  And a prohibitive amount of storage was required to support the virtual desktops as originally configured.  Upon a recommendation from VMware who was supplying the View platform, the IT staff consulted Liquidware and evaluated their products to see if they could get a better outcome.

The Liquidware solutions, including Stratusphere FIT, Stratusphere UX and ProfileUnity, made all the difference. Liquidware experts provided advice about how to use their offerings in order to design and plan capacity for the virtual desktop environment, optimize performance and manage profiles. Stratusphere FIT was used in the assessment and planning phase to help determine which desktops and applications to virtualize as well as planning CPU, network, memory and storage capacity.  Stratusphere UX is being used to provide visibility into virtual desktops, hypervisors, networks and storage systems so Anglia Ruskin's IT staff can proactively optimize the environment as well as forestall issues from developing. The new design standardized on one master desktop image delivered to students, but the user profiles were managed by ProfileUnity. University staff had tried to leverage roaming profiles for the task but found that this approach was substandard, being easily corrupted and bloating over time. Once ProfileUnity was put into place, the University could leverage non-persistent, stateless virtual desktops, which considerably lightened the impact on the infrastructure, reduced the need for storage and reduced power consumption, while significantly accelerating performance of the desktops.

The new environment included:

  • Low-power Samsung and LG zero clients with upgraded sound and video
  • VMware View
  • Microsoft App-V for application virtualization
  • HP Blade servers
  • Solid state storage
  • 10 Gb network backbone
  • PCoIP
  • Windows 7
  • Liquidware Stratusphere FIT, Stratusphere UX and ProfileUnity

As a result of deploying Liquidware solutions, Anglia Ruskin met its objectives of launching a green facility and significantly reducing power consumption. The virtual desktops perform reliably in the non-cooled facility, and users confirmed that the desktops are performing much better than before with reduced login times and much faster application response.