Agencies Deploy VDI with an Eye Toward BYOD

Virtual desktop infrastructure sets a foundation for mobility.

The Department of Energy deployed virtual desktop infrastructure so its employees can work wherever it’s convenient for them, whether in the office, at home or on the road.

Deputy CIO Donald Adcock says VDI enables the DOE to streamline the management of desktop infrastructure and potentially extend the PC replacement lifecycle. This lets the department make better use of existing hardware and choose less costly replacement devices.  

Adcock says VDI also provides a remote access solution to support a more mobile workforce and a path to a bring-your-own-device program in the future. 

Currently, DOE’s Office of the CIO is piloting a VDI program that includes rolling out the technology to 500 people. Over fiscal year 2013, the DOE expects to expand this program to include 2,000 employees at its headquarters and at some field sites. By next fiscal year, the DOE plans to have VDI as an option for a majority of its federal and contractor employees across applications ranging from email to operating systems and web-based business applications.

Adcock notes the VDI project is part of the DOE’s broader IT Modernization Strategy, which establishes a comprehensive approach to cost-effective, efficient IT management. “These efforts are helping to lay the groundwork to support VDI implementation as well as BYOD programs, helping to both streamline our IT assets and provide mobility options for employees,” he says.

3.3

The estimated average number of connected devices per knowledge worker by 2014

SOURCE: Cisco IBSG Horizons Study (Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group, May 2012)

Brett Waldman, IDC research manager for client virtualization software, says a quest for efficiency and cost savings drives IT departments to deploy VDI.

“VDI lets IT departments separate the apps from the underlying hardware, allowing them to deliver apps anytime, anywhere on any device,” Waldman says. The technology simplifies the task of replacing and managing PCs and allows IT staff to deliver legacy Windows apps to users regardless of device type.

A Broad Vision

NASA Goddard CIO Adrian Gardner says the space agency piloted VDI internally last summer with thoughts of complementing a BYOD policy.

Gardner says the agency hopes to support VDI to deliver science and math applications for visiting scientists and foreign students. “On the BYOD front, today we provide visiting scientists and students with machines, but the goal would be to have them bring their own devices.”

Beyond that, Gardner hopes to roll out VDI to the rank-and-file staff at the Goddard facility.

“The idea would be to put a VDI client on everyone’s machine so we could provide secure and simplified access,” he says.

Like many other federal agencies, NASA Goddard’s plans for VDI and BYOD are on hold due to the challenging fiscal climate.

Mar 18 2013