While desktop refresh cycles are imperative for high performance requirements, these cycles can prove expensive. A year and a half ago, KPIT Cummins, the technology solutions partner for manufacturing corporations faced the need to refresh and deploy its 1200 desktops across India. This resulted in KPIT Cummins evaluating various desktop technologies, which helped it zero in on VDI solutions as the best route to optimal performance and cost effectiveness.
VDI and private cloud to the rescue
With its special focus on industries like automotive, energy & utilities, industrial equipment and semiconductors, KPIT was growing considerably, and wanted to avoid purchasing individual desktops. Other key drivers behind the VDI solution selection included quick desktop provisioning, data confidentiality, regular security updates, and security benefits of centralized management. KPIT’s team realized that VDI implementation proved to be the best solution when it came to saving procurement to deployment cycle time and efforts.
As the first step, KPIT performed a thorough analysis of user usage patterns for memory, computing and other resources to reduce implementation challenges. Using capacity planning tools and open source technologies on a sample of 500 machines, KPIT collated the long term usage trends followed by in-house systems. This helped KPIT understand VDI solution requirements like the operating system, memory, disk space utilization and images to be loaded on the systems.
After assessing its requirements, KPIT evaluated several OEMs. The exercise resulted in KPIT zeroing in on a combination of VMware, Cisco and EMC’s (VCE) Vblock solutions. VMware was chosen for its virtualization capabilities, Cisco for server and networking, along with EMC for storage. “Our evaluation parameters were maturity of the technology, solution’s stability, peer references, as well as management commitment from the OEM partner,” says Sandeep Gandhi, senior program manager of global data center services at KPIT Cummins. VDA Infosolutions was the deployment partner for this VDI initiative.
VCE consortium provides system support to KPIT’s V-Block. “A single call can ensure that everything is taken care of by the individual OEMs at the backend,” says Faheem Kolhar the senior manager, client Services at KPIT Cummins. The company has signed a single license for the Vblock solution, instead of individual licenses.
KPIT has deployed HP thin clients and other devices like tablets and iPads. Windows XP and Windows 7 are the primary operating systems running on the systems.
To provide end-users with central transactions and management capabilities, KPIT built its private cloud in Pune, which hosts all major applications like SAP and Microsoft Exchange. “The decision to go for a private cloud was to ensure on the fly provisioning of servers,” says Gandhi. With private cloud deployment, KPIT claims to have reduced the administrative overhead by 80%.
The requirement for a private cloud and VDI solution was raised in Oct 2010. KPIT spent two months for a proof of concept (POC) exercise, and an additional two months to finalize the solutions for these technologies, before it went in for the final implementation.
The business stake holders for the VDI solution deployment included top management representatives like the members of senior executive management, senior delivery management, and the finance team. “VDI is a huge cultural shift for our organizations, so we wanted the consent of those directly impacted by the solution,” says Kolhar. As the ROI for a VDI solution isn’t immediate, IT management had to present a strong business case. “We highlighted the tangible management benefits post VDI deployment. This helped, as the stakeholders agreed that it will change our way of working, thereby increasing efficiency,” says Gandhi.
Cloud setup highlights
KPIT’s V-Block includes Cisco Unified Computing Systems (UCS) with eight servers for the private cloud and 12 servers (each holding 100 virtual desktops) for its VDI solutions. VMware View is the VDI solution in place at KPIT. The end users comprise a mix of task-workers and power users whose requirements include Windows, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Exchange clients, Internet and development tools.
For the top management personnel who access applications over tablets and iPads, KPIT opted for VMware View version 5, as version 4 proved incompatible with these clients. Some of the engineering design users are not provided with virtual desktops, as they require high computing and memory power for mechanical engineering drawing applications.
KPIT performed data center power and cooling alterations to match the new infrastructure. Following the implementation, training sessions were conducted for the end-users to help better change management.
VCE V-Block 1U
100 TB EMC NS480 Storage – 45 TB user data storage and 45 TB primary storage
VMware Vsphere 5
VMware View 5
What has KPIT achieved?
KPIT has witnessed a good percent of reduction in desktop management costs, as well as power consumption costs. Instead of four administrators, the VDI solution requires just two personnel for deployment of desktops and allocation of resources. Gandhi believes that quick provisioning helps ensure instant productivity of new hires due to the reduction in time for procurement and deployment of new desktops from days to minutes. Some of the intangible benefits of KPIT’s VDI solution rollout include quick central anti-virus deployment, quick upgrades to images, and reduction in data loss risks.
KPIT estimates a five year time frame to receive direct and indirect ROI for this initiative. By March 2012, KPIT hopes to setup an identical Disaster Recovery site for the VDI setup as well as private cloud solution. “It will be located in Pune itself, but further away from the current site,” says Gandhi.