Florida Atlantic University

FAU Virtualizes Data-Intensive, Graphics-Heavy, Engineering Desktops with Liquidware Solutions

Florida Atlantic University (FAU) opened in 1964 as the first public university in southeast Florida, and the first university in the nation to offer only upper-division and graduate level courses. FAU serves nearly 30,000 undergraduate, graduate and medical students at its 10 colleges, and offers more than 147 different degree programs across concentrations in the Arts, Sciences, Engineering, Business, Education and Medicine.

FAU planned a platinum-level green building with new data center to showcase its Engineering facility. Concurrent with the launch of the new building, they also wanted state-of-the-art workspaces to support the Engineering students and researchers. However, this would be no easy task because of the heavy graphics and data-intensity of the CAD, simulation and 3-D based applications, including SolidWorks, Autodesk, MATLAB, ADS, ArcGIS and ANSYS, among others, that students routinely used.

After an experiment launching persistent desktops failed, FAU IT staff turned to using non-persistent, stateless desktops with all user profile personalization and user-authored data handled by Liquidware ProfileUnity. The virtual desktop environment was a resounding success, and FAU was able to achieve significant results from the project, including:

  • Reducing student login times significantly
  • Allowing students to access personalized desktops off-campus on multiple device types
  • Achieving green power-consumption goals by using thin and zero clients to replace PCs
  • Centrally manage desktops, freeing staff to focus on upgrades rather than break/fix
  • Rapidly provision new desktops to researchers in hours rather than days or weeks
  • Reduce the application-refresh cycle from weeks to under a day
  • Boost desktop and user-authored data security by replacing USB sticks with central drives