This blog post is part of a series on supporting power users in a hosted desktop environment. Check out our first blog on Mobilizing the Workforce – How to Handle Task, Knowledge, and Power Users. You can also learn more by watch our on-demand webinar on delivering mission critical applications with Leostream and HP RGS.
In today’s day-and-age, IT departments find themselves in the middle of a constant battle between opposing forces. On one side, are end users who require access to applications, data, and computing resources. On the other side, are their bosses, who demand that the IT staff saves money for their organization. What’s an IT staff to do?
In some cases, the answers are relatively simple. Task workers can be given shared terminal server (RDS) sessions. Laptops can be scaled down to the lowest performance level required to perform the tasks. But, industries such as oil & gas, architectural design, or automotive and aerospace engineering (to name a few) have a user class that requires more power.
These users access complex, graphic-intense applications and data, and they require high-performance workstations. How can you lower costs while still providing these users with the resources they need?
Let’s look for savings in two places: 1) the hardware and 2) the software.
A Little about Hardware Costs
From a hardware perspective, performance is typically key. Advancements in graphics card and virtualization technology make it possible for you to increase density on workstations without sacrificing performance. Now, instead of dedicating a workstation to a particular user, you install multiple virtual machines on that workstation and allocate those virtual machines to users. In the end, you need less hardware, which cuts down on costs.
For more information on these options, see our past blog “Hosting Graphic-Rich Applications in the Data Center”.
Lowering Software Costs
Another large expense associated with power users is the cost of their applications. Modern CAD applications can cost thousands of dollars per seat, if not more. And, some of these applications may not allow you to take advantage of virtualization technology, i.e., the application may need to be installed on a dedicated workstation.
Providing individual software licenses to each user can quickly get expensive. Instead, install the application on a dedicated workstation in the datacenter and, in a sense, allow users to timeshare the application. The key to sharing applications is finding a connection broker that allows you to provide access to the application to the appropriate users, while maximizing the application’s use.
What aspects of a connection broker can help you maximize utilization? For one, look for a connection broker that can monitor idle time on the desktop. Think of the case where a user kicks off a calculation and then leaves for home. By monitoring user mouse and keyboard movements and CPU levels, a connection broker can automatically log the user out when their calculation is complete, freeing up the application for another user.
Also, look for a connection broker that tracks all events in the user’s session, from login to disconnect to lock to logout. By tracking the user’s session, you know exactly how long a particular workstation is in use and can track your users’ behaviors. Do your users tend to disconnect from their workstation without logging out, even when they are finished with the application? If so, set up connection broker rules that give the user a certain amount of time to log back into their disconnected session, then automatically log them out, freeing up the application for another user.
Accurately tracking the user’s session also allows you to report on resource utilization. Are your shared applications only used 50% of the time? Maybe you can discontinue one license and repurpose that hardware. Is your shared resource used 99% of the time? Maybe you need to invest in more infrastructure. Make sure you look for a connection broker that makes it easy to report on these statistics.
These are just a few examples of how using a connection broker can help you maximize and track application utilization. – Tip: Download our eBook to learn how a connection broker simplifies hosted desktop environments.
There’s one last piece to the puzzle. If you host the workstation in your data center, you need to connect the user to that desktop. And, if that workstation is hosting a graphic-intense application, you need a high-performance display protocol.
Look for a display protocol that supports the client devices that your users want to use to log in, while providing the required performance. No matter how much you save in hardware and software costs, if the display protocol isn’t up to the task, your users will not be productive. HP Remote Graphic Software, for example, provides access to 3D graphics applications flawlessly, securely, and instantly from any location on any PC. And, it provides access to both Windows and Linux workstations. – Tip: download our guide on choosing and using display protocols.
It’s a lesson we learn early on in life. It’s good to share! By using the right connection broker and display protocol solutions, you can apply that lesson to your expensive applications. A solution that keeps your users productive and lowers IT costs? Sounds like a win for both sides of the battle.