California Polytechnic State U Virtualizes CAD Labs with Citrix Technology

XenApp 7.11 and XenDesktop 7.11

In this Campus Technology news article, reporter Leila Meyer highlights Citrix customer California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly). Cal Poly adopted XenApp, XenDesktop and NetScaler ADC in the computer labs for its aerospace and biomedical engineering programs, repurposing nearly 300 aging PCs and ultimately saving more than $300,000 in IT spending.

California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) has overhauled the computer labs for its aerospace and biomedical engineering programs by implementing virtual desktops and applications.

The computer labs were filled with aging equipment in need of replacement. Rather than replacing the labs’ 288 desktop PCs with newer models, the IT department deployed Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop virtualization technology, as well as the Citrix NetScaler ADC application delivery controller and load balancer.

The virtualization technology enabled the IT team to repurpose the labs’ 288 desktop PCs as thin clients. The aging PCs no longer have to run graphics-intensive computer-aided design (CAD) software locally. Instead, the software runs on a server and students can access it remotely through the thin-client PCs, resulting in improved performance, according to a news release.

Citrix reported that the university saved nearly $300,000 by repurposing rather than replacing the PCs. The implementation also “simplified administration and significantly reduced the amount of time spent deploying new engineering applications,” according to the company. As part of the virtualization initiative, the IT team created a centralized data center that is capable of supporting as many as 500 users at one time, nearly doubling the capacity of the computer labs while improving management and monitoring capabilities.

To support virtualized CAD software in the computer labs, the university implemented Citrix’s HDX 3D Pro graphics acceleration technologies, which are designed to optimize the virtualization of rich graphics applications. According to the company, the technology has reduced the delays associated with rich graphic applications, making it easier for students to collaborate on projects.

Funding for technology in higher education institutions rose in 2016[1] as   many colleges and universities attempted to differentiate their schools and offer students a bridge into the workforce with the latest technology. California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), a nationally ranked, four-year university in California, has saved more than $300,000 in IT spending by deploying Citrix XenApp, Citrix XenDesktop and Citrix NetScaler ADC in the aerospace and biomedical engineering programs’ computer labs, which had equipment that had been used for years and were reaching the age typically requiring replacement. The IT department was able to repurpose existing desktops as thin clients to dramatically reduce the cost of constant PC refresh cycles, while also giving students hands-on experience with software tools they will use in the workforce.

By securely virtualizing desktops and applications using Citrix technology, Cal Poly’s College of Engineering IT staff realized a number of benefits. First, they were able to repurpose 288 existing PCs as thin clients, while achieving performance improvements that surpassed a more expensive hardware refresh and saving nearly $30,000. The move also simplified administration and significantly reduced the amount of time spent deploying new engineering applications. Lastly, by creating a central datacenter infrastructure capable of supporting 500 users at once, the university was able to nearly double capacity in the computer labs, while adding enhanced management and monitoring capabilities.

For students, the most significant benefit of the project is the improved user experience. By using HDX 3D Pro in XenDesktop, a technology that enables the secure delivery and performance of graphics-intensive CAD applications, multiple students can collaborate on projects at the same time without experiencing delays that often come with this rich graphic apps.