As an early adopter of desktop virtualisation, Stellenbosch University has optimised their virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) even further by deploying a Tintri VMstore T540 unit that provides high throughput required to enable hundreds of simultaneous user logons and logoffs resulting from the university’s roster of 50-minute lectures and 10-minute breaks. 
This limited break time span where students log in and out places tremendous pressure on the VDI environment.
Educational institutions around the world are increasingly turning to virtual classrooms to provide their faculties with flexible ICT services to enable their students to connect securely to hosted applications, curricula and exams.
VDI simplifies the IT operations of universities by eliminating patching, provisioning and repair time as well as offering instantaneous delivery of custom classroom or laboratory applications for different fields of speciality.
The university recognised the potential and cost-effectiveness of Tintri’s VDI appliance solution purchasing the first unit on the continent to be used in an academic environment. It now has a fully deployed VDI solution capable of running 1 000 Windows 7 virtual machines and servicing 8 000 students in the humanities faculties.
VDI allows users to run an operating system and execute applications from a desktop, laptop, thin client, tablet or smartphone where the processing power and capacity is delivered by the server and not the user’s own device. The most obvious benefit is that there is no longer any need for huge, power-hungry and expensive workstations or personal computers.
“Until now, obtaining enterprise class VDI has only been within the scope of corporate IT as it was too costly and complex for a university environment like ours.
“This virtual desktop implementation has enabled us to provide Windows 7 to ‘thin clients’ on campus across various buildings and academic disciplines, while saving electricity and reducing endpoint device dependencies and management,” says Jan Louw, Stellenbosch University.
“Most importantly, it provides access to specialised applications for students, lecturers and researchers in a truly flexible way.”
“This consolidated datastore platform is the next wave of innovation that dramatically simplifies storage infrastructure and delivers flash-based performance,” says Faiza Brown, sales director of First Technology one of South Africa’s leading single-source providers of IT products and services.
“It should be considered by organisations looking for a simple, cost-effective alternative to traditional products as it eliminates the complexities, skill levels and costs normally associated with enterprise-class VDI installations.”
Breaking into three global rankings in quick succession since 2011 – the QS World University Ranking, The Times Higher Education World University Ranking, and the Leiden Ranking – this upgrade underscores Stellenbosch University’s position among leading higher educational institutes as it enables students, researchers and academics even better access to its central network.
The immediate benefit of Tintri, a VM-aware storage platform without the complexity and costs associated with traditional general purpose storage, is that custom and standardised desktops can be delivered to students and personnel on demand and literally in seconds, without the need for extensive IT personnel to configure and maintain individual computers.
Older computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones can all access the same desktop and applications, regardless of operating system.
“The Tintri unit not only excels in providing the IO operations per second (IOPS) and capacity required for VDI, but it does it within a 3U footprint,” shares Louw.
“As an enterprise class device that integrates easily with VMware vSphere and paves the way for providing access to IT resources from students’ laptops, tablets and smartphones. This greatly compliments Stellenbosch University’s bring your own device (BYOD) and green IT initiatives.”
Retailer of Tintri, Networks Unlimited’s chief technology officer, Tim Pope, sees VDI as an increasingly popular option for IT departments seeking to simplify desktop management tasks and centralise security and data protection.
Tintri has been designed without the complexity of legacy storage solutions for those businesses that require specialist storage to overcome the storage bottlenecks that had previously plagued VDI projects.
Tintri’s VM-aware software is purpose-built storage appliance delivers increased flash performance at disk prices with intuitive management specifically for VMs.
Its benefits include being a VDI platform for 1000 virtual machines, migration with zero operational down-time, enhancement of the traditional back-up window by 40% (reducing the backup time cycle) and full VMWare integration with realtime monitoring and statics per VM meaning no more admin guessing.
All monitoring and storage operations are at the VM-level, including storage-level space and performance efficient snapshots and clones.
“With Tintri’s flash-enabled storage, VDI IOPS issues vanish and traditional storage tasks like provisioning LUNs and volumes become unnecessary,” Pope says.
“Administrators can easily scale Tintri units to support thousands of desktops, as they are managed centrally without the need for technicians to go from computer to computer, updating and managing patches as well as repairing broken operating systems, so saving time.”
Tintri’s flash-based storage array and native VM-aware features help storage and virtualisation administrators to instantly visualise and overcome the storage bottlenecks that had previous stalled VDI projects.