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Click here to join the conversation and chat with experts on Virtual Labs for Higher Education Thursday Nov. 17th, 2011

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Chat Transcript

ericaatdell Hello, welcome to the Dell Tech Center chat on Virtual Labs. I'm Erica Hilgeman, Solutions Manager for Desktop Virtualization, and Patrick May, our Virtual Labs engineer, is also online. Let us know what questions you have.
ericaatdell Hi, all, take a look at some trends we saw at Educause around Dt Virtualization here:
Dell-LanceB Hello Erica ...
David_Wilcoxen will ther ebe a call # for audio?
David_Wilcoxen Hello you 2 =)
Dell-LanceB @david, this is just a text based chat
Dell-LanceB no audio
David_Wilcoxen ok thx
Dell-LanceB Np
ericaatdell No audio, folks, sorry. This will be text only - if lots would prefer audio, we'll do that next time.
Dell-JeffS hello, hello!
Dell-LanceB We are going to wait a few more minutes for some more folks to join, before we get started ...
Dell-LanceB So todays chat is on Dell Virtual Lab 3.0
Dell-LanceB If you would like more information please follow this link -  
Dell-LanceB Also right click on the links to avoid getting kicked from the chat ...
Dell-LanceB I think we are about ready to get started today.
Dell-LanceB I will turn it over to Erica and Patrick
ericaatdell Good afternoon, all! We wanted to open up for some questions around Dt Virtualization and the Virtual Labs solution in particular.
ericaatdell But, if no one has a question to start with, I 'll start with one of my own.
ericaatdell Is Sw licensing a challenge for you when looking at Dt Virtualization? We heard a lot about that at Educause. If so, can you give us an example?
Patrick_May If anyone has any technical questions about our Virtual Labs product, I'd love to hear them!
ericaatdell Or, alternately, can you share what technologies you've been testing in your environment?
Dell-LanceB @patrick, could you give everyone a little background of the Virtual Lab for those that are not familiar?
Patrick_May Virtual Labs is Dell's product intended to virutalize the physical computer labs on a University campus. By using virtualization technologies we are enabling universities to better serve the students by letting them have access remotely, choose the device which they are most comfortable accessing the environment with, and schedule thier lab time to best suit thier needs.
Patrick_May The benefits to the Universities are the ability to reduce license costs by scheduling the time at which students are able to access the environments rather than putting a license on each machine in a lab, less desk-side support of the systems because students are using their own, and a more manageable environment that reduces power and cooling needs as well.
Dell-LanceB So is this a hosted / cloud type model?
Patrick_May Typically this is a locally hosted (on the campus data center) deployment
Patrick_May but it has many cloud-type features such as the ability to access the solution from anywhere.
Patrick_May the preference to host locally on the campus comes from the high-end applications that work with this solution and the bandwidth/processing power they require... the closer you are, the faster they run.
Patrick_May Virtual Labs also recently was awarded Vmready certification, the first Education solution to gain this certification.
ericaatdell Patrick, can you talk a little bit more about the testing and validation process we went through to put the Virtual Labs solution together?
Patrick_May Absolutely. We do extensive testing to ensure that each of these Education-specific applicaions works properly in the environment. Hundreds of ours of testing on the actual applications to ensure that they are going to work properly, all of the features... and we also do performance and benchmark testing as well.
Patrick_May in doing this, we ensure that these depolyments go smoothly for customers by taking on the burden of testing what they will want to use in the solution
Patrick_May but, Erica, I think it might be interesting to talk about some of these deployments as well
ericaatdell We heard from a lot of customers at Dell World that they had trouble with applications like Autocad. You were able to get that up and running in the lab, and we have it going in a few customer environments as well. Are there any special ways you set up the stack to enable advanced apps like Autocad?
Patrick_May The Advanced applications like Autocad require plenty of processing power as well as memory in order to run properly. This will probably always be true, even in a virtual environment. The real trick to getting them to run with stability is to have the infrastructure set up properly from the beginning and give the power-hungry applications the memory they require.
Patrick_May One of the more interesting things to me is the multi-device and multi-os choice
Patrick_May we aren't asking the students to make a choice they may not be comfortable with, we are taking on the burden of testing the product to ensure that it is stable on many different operating systems and platforms.
Patrick_May along with this, we also test peripherals that students might need to use such as a digitizer tablet with Adobe Illustrator
ericaatdell Good point, can you elaborate on the platforms we tested wtih?
Patrick_May in order for students to be comfortable adopting these technologies, we need to allow them to set some of the terms as well
Patrick_May we tested these applications on several different flavors of Windows such as Xp and Windows 7, both 32 and 64 bit versions
Patrick_May we also tested on Osx Snow Leopard and Osx Lion
Patrick_May For the portable / tablet environment, we have tested on Google's Android 3.0 Honeycomb with dual-core tablets as well as on the ios 4.3 and 5 releases
ericaatdell Patrick, you talked about deployments. We have some interesting ones out there right now, with more in process. One of our coolest deployments right now is with University System of Maryland, where they're doing a 500 user pilot of a Dell Virtual Lab, using technologies from Dell and Citrix, as well as Fischer International, who's helping out with a Shibboleth federated Id management solution. They plan to roll this out to all of their students, and potentially even K12's and State Gov't agencies in the area.
Dell-JeffS So Patrick... Techcenter community is focused on the It admins/pro's... what about managing the solution from the standpoint of the school's It dept?
Patrick_May Well, Jeff, I'm glad you asked!
Patrick_May The solution has many built-in features that make for easier management from the standpoint of the school's It Department. The staff can easily check status of the virtual machines, servers, and other applicances remotely through applications that work on many smartphones.
Patrick_May they also have less to worry about in terms of a virus, because if a student happens to infect one of the virtual machines they can simply shut it down and spool up a new one virus-free
Patrick_May these two features alone should prove to save plenty of time and potentially money as well
Dell-LanceB Erica you talked about licensing of software at bit ago, what issues are you seeing and what is Dell doing to help?
Dell-JeffS Hey Emptyone, shutting down any Vm's from a smartphone? :)
ericaatdell Thanks, Lance. What we're seeing is that Dt Virtualization, while it's got tons of benefits, also creates some complexity in terms of Sw Licensing. You're going from installing Sw directly on lab machines to students potentially bringing up these applications on their personal machines. Plus, not all Sw providers handle Virtualized licensing in the same way.
ericaatdell Our customers are having to navigate relicensing potentially hundreds of applications. While Dell doesn't have an automagic answer for this issue yet, we're working on a number of fronts to help.
Patrick_May Erica: How quickly can these Universities realize thier Roi?
ericaatdell We are about to publish a Sw Licensing guide on that will address virtualized licensing for the applications we tested through the Virtual Lab solution, and one of our members, Doug Hughes, is involved in an Educause consortium of universities investigating this issue for these and other providers.
Emptyone Hi Jeff, not yet :)
ericaatdell Patrick, you asked about Roi, and that's a bit of a tricky question when it comes to Dt Virtualization, since the logic is not as simple as Server Virtualization (do with 50 servers today what you did with 100 yesterday). But, the Roi is real if you do the upfront homework to understand what use cases are suited for Dt Virtualization.
ericaatdell So, for example, we are working with a large university that's significantly consolidating lab facilities because they no longer need specialized labs for one or two programs. They are reclaiming this space for classrooms, etc., which is delivering immediate Roi because they are avoiding building a new building.
Dell-JeffS @emptyone Yeah, me either. Mostly angry birds and weather. :)
ericaatdell Others are looking at it from the perspective of It effectiveness. We worked with another school that started with 6 people doing basic support on their labs - patch pushing, hard drive swapping, etc. After virtualizing they were able to redeploy 4 of these 6 people to more strategic projects.
Patrick_May Erica: That is great, these strategic deployments can really benefit the students in many ways
ericaatdell And, we have a video online ( where the Ny ischool talks about never buying more Sw licenses than they need, and saving money by avoiding wasted licenses.
Dell-JeffS There's actually a @techcenter educational lab (I forget which university) but it shows up in my twitter search that could use this... seems most of the tweets are complaining about getting access.
Dell-JeffS getting access to the lab that is... the students talk about wait times, noisy/annoying other students in the lab.
ericaatdell @jeffs - Yep, longer term, we want to take a look at what the learning outcomes are of giving students anywhere anytime access to their stuff. I know I did my best work at 3am.
Dell-JeffS I did mine at 3:00 Am too!
Dell-JeffS of course, I worked 12-8 at a datacenter and had my own As/400...
Dell-JeffS so I didn't have to do the labs at school, just printed and took them in
ericaatdell Wow you are dating yourself a bit.
Dell-JeffS :)
Dell-JeffS I started when I was 4
Dell-JeffS we could use virtual labs in the Dell Techcenter as well.. we have a guy in Germany, a few in China & Japan that want access to ours. :)
ericaatdell But, we're working with both the Analyst and Academic communities to start getting an understanding of whether all this technology stuff really does impact Roi in the medium term, but also larger objectives over the long term like graduation rates, student safety incidents (I no longer have to walk to the lab in the dead of night), and student retention particularly at commuter and community colleges.
Dell-JeffS Considering the maturity of blackboard, online classes... seems right in line
Dell-LanceB Just a reminder, if you have further questions or would like to discuss any of the topics we talked today feel free to post them here -  
Dell-LanceB Also, if you would like to get in touch with a Dell specilist to find out more about Dell Virtual Lab go here -
Dell-LanceB We have just a couple minutes left, does anyone have anything to add or say before I wrap this up?
ericaatdell Thanks for having us today!
Dell-LanceB Alright, I guess that about wraps it up for today, thanks everyone for joining and chat with you in 2 weeks.
Dell-JeffS Thanks!
Dell-LanceB No chats next week do to the holiday
Dell-LanceB Thanks eveyone for joining today
Dell-JeffS I think the 3 you ran this week make up for it. :)
Dell-LanceB It has been a fantastic week for chat ...
Dell-Warren_B Thanks Lb!