Roger Williams University

RWU BYOD & VDI

Date:01 Mar, 2017

Skills:vGPU Desktops, Virtual Desktops, BYOD

Roger Williams University

The Need for VDI & vGPU Implementation

Roger Williams University (RWU) offers its students programs with working methodologies that mimic real-world experiences. To support this curriculum, RWU tapped systems integrator Logical Front to install a VDI solution with NVIDIA GRID to give it’s architecture students flexibility. Now, students can work from anywhere, on any device, even when using graphics-intensive applications like Autodesk’s AutoCAD®, Revit®, and Adobe® Creative Suite® 6.

The Challenge

RWU needed tech that could keep up with their sharp architecture students, which ultimately pointed to a VDI solution. The biggest hurdle was the ability to effectively provide access to the graphics-rich applications that its students require. Additionally, the clunky desktops took up valuable space in the classroom. Fitting this criteria, VDI had the potential to allow students more flexibility and enjoy real-world training. However, everything needed to work seamlessly for adoption to take hold.

“Before we started testing VDI with NVIDIA GRID, we were seeing many problems. Many solutions just didn’t work with the intense graphics and video environment that an architecture department needs,” explained James Galib. “Consequently, when we had more than 8-10 people connected, the frame rates in 3D renderings would just drop and get jumpy. The applications became clunky to use and it just wasn’t conducive to architecture work. As a result, students weren’t able to maintain a good project flow,” added Ryan Tiebout. “We were getting very frustrated searching for a VDI solution that could support our graphics needs. No other schools seemed to have VDI systems in place at this level,” continued Galib. “That’s when we started working with Logical Front. They introduced us to GPU virtualization with NVIDIA GRID and that really saved the project—otherwise, this initiative may have failed.”

The Solution

Logical Front setup RWU with a custom VDI system dubbed “rCloud” featuring Dell Equallogic storage, PowerEdge servers, and PowerConnect switching mated to 12 NVIDIA GRID K2 boards. Equally important, NVIDIA’s GRID vGPU technology allows up to 8-16 concurrent users to share one GPU. As a result, rCloud can support up to 96-192 concurrent graphics users. RWU’s IT group saw immediate improvements the GPU virtualization provided, notably from the students, who reacted positively to the upgraded performance and flexibility. With GRID, architecture students can now access graphics-intensive applications like AutoCAD outside the lab, and see the high level of performance on any device.

“GRID totally opens up what our students can do, and it raises the bar for our university as a whole.” – Ryan Tiebout, Systems Operation Manager, RWU

 

Results

Because of the great success with VDI in the architecture program, RWU is keen to expand rCloud. Starting with the engineering program, the ultimate goal is to make it accessible to all students across campus. Currently, 1,000 RWU students (a quarter of the student body) have access to rCloud. Consequently, students are allotted varying levels of graphics power based on their field of study.

“We are planning on ramping up rCloud by bringing in more GRID K2 boards. Additionally, we will introduce K1 boards to increase our density and cater to less heavy graphics users.” explained Tiebout. “The K2 boards will bolster our vGPU to cater to our graphics power users. Meanwhile, the K1 boards with ensure students can still enjoy superb graphics performance even on more basic programs. Students can use any program, anywhere, giving them the flexibility to work outside a lab or the library, no matter what they’re working on.”

 

“We are so excited to bring this cutting edge technology to students.” – James Galib, IT Director, RWU

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