TransGrid takes proactive approach to virtual desktop growth

The publicly owned electricity utility is moving VDI off its SAN and onto converged infrastructure

NSW government-owned electricity network operator TransGrid is preparing to migrate virtual desktops off its SAN and onto Nutanix converged infrastructure appliances.

TransGrid conducted proof of concept testing in January and a tender was issued at the end of that month.

The tender documents stated that the corporation was seeking four Nutanix NX-3450 appliances to be installed in TransGrid's two data centres, as well as support services.

"Equipment was racked and stacked late last year, and we went through the POC in January," said TransGrid planning and architecture manager, Michael Milne, who is overseeing the project.

Milne said he is just awaiting approval to execute the tenders, and the migration process will begin shortly afterwards.

"We're not live on Nutanix yet, but we're certainly well on the way to getting there," he said.

"We expect to have the existing virtual desktop users all migrated across to Nutanix and have all the support arrangements in place for that program within the next two months."

The main driver for the project has been to separate the virtual desktop and enterprise application workloads, he added, in a "proactive" move to head off performance problems.

"So that if there were performance issues on the storage area network, it wouldn't affect the desktop experience and vice versa if we had issues in the Citrix VDI environment it wouldn't have any impact from an applications perspective."

"Most of the organisation is still using laptops, so I didn't want issues with the virtual desktop environment affecting performance of apps back to laptops," Milne said.

He said that the new solution would offer better performance when it came to virtual desktop workloads compared to a traditional SAN host environment.

The other advantage is that moving VDI to Nutanix appliances will delay the "inevitable expansion" of the SAN.

"We're in the middle of implementation from a virtual desktop perspective so the number [of virtual desktops] is growing and we are continuously evaluating new use cases for the virtual desktop environments," he said

For example, although there's no active project relating to it, Milne said he is looking at host-based graphics acceleration for virtual desktops.

"The introduction of things like intensive graphics programming at the backend, on the host, enables workloads like CAD packages which traditionally you wouldn't have virtualized," he said.

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