Planning and Implementing a Horizon Virtual Desktop Solution for a Healthcare Provider

May 6, 2015

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By Nancy Beckus, Writer and Editor, End-User-Computing Technical Marketing, VMware

Stephane Asselin, Senior Architect, End-User-Computing Technical Enablement, VMware

Chi Chung Wong, End-User-Computing Architect, VMware

In the fall of 2013, Carroll Hospital Center (CHC), a Maryland healthcare provider, faced a challenge: It needed to transform its end-user desktops to a secure, centralized desktop environment for local and remote users using a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution. CHC wanted to convert 800 users initially, but have the ability to scale up to 1,500 users, encompassing CHC’s main location in Westminster, Maryland, as well as users in managed practices throughout the surrounding area.

“There were two options available to us: improve the current Citrix installation or implement a new VMware Horizon with View solution. To improve and expand the Citrix installation would be quicker but not cheaper initially or in the future. After evaluation, CHC preferred the Horizon with View solution because the virtualization uptake and technology development at VMware is more progressive, and the technology is moving faster.” – CHC

VMware Horizon with View Reference Implementation Case Study for Carroll Hospital Center describes this project.

What Is a Reference Implementation Case Study?

A reference implementation study (RIS) consists of the following steps:

  • Describes the project approach
  • Presents the business benefits for a specific customer site
  • Explains the architecture used
  • Records lessons learned

A RIS is built on a foundation of best practices, but trade-offs are made to meet specific project requirements or constraints. When referencing these implementations, it is critical to know where the architecture has deviated from best practice and where improvements could be made. For information about other technical reference architectures, visit VMware Horizon 6 design resources.

A RIS is intended to help customers in the early phases of planning, designing, and deploying a Horizon-based solution. It provides examples of successful implementations that meet specific vertical-industry challenges and the benefits gained.

The View in Horizon 6 Solution

View in Horizon 6 is a desktop virtualization solution that simplifies IT manageability and control while delivering the highest fidelity end-user experience across devices and networks.

By centralizing the desktop environment, IT organizations can

  • Automate desktop and application management
  • Reduce costs
  • Increase data security

This centralization results in greater end-user freedom and increased control for IT.

Horizon 6 is built on and tightly integrated with VMware vSphere, the industry-leading virtualization platform, allowing customers to extend the value of their VMware infrastructure and its enterprise-class features, such as high availability, disaster recovery, and business continuity.

Horizon with View Solution Components

A View deployment consists of several common components that represent a typical architecture. See the following figure.

VMware_Horizon_with_View_Solution_Components

CHC Reference Implementation Study

The View solution for CHC delivers Windows 7 virtual desktops to CHC staff initially by way of repurposed desktops acting as terminals in kiosk mode. CHC will replace these desktops with thin clients in a later phase.

CHC has many different types of users across divisions and departments. The initial phases focused on two use cases: Nursing and General, and Information Services, which account for more than half of the CHC staff.

CHC has already planned to increase the number of users to 1,500 and move the remaining use cases to the View environment during phase 2. The reference implementation white paper VMware Horizon with View Reference Implementation Case Study for Carroll Hospital Center provides details about how CHC was able to plan and implement the solution for 800 users and the key lessons learned.

Project Overview

The CHC VDI project evolved quickly. During July and August 2013, CHC was asked to deliver a VDI solution by the end of September 2013. Given the short time frame, expanding the existing Citrix environment seemed the obvious choice. However, due to issues with performance and reliability, CHC decided to invest instead in View, extending the delivery time to January 2014.

A professional services organization was selected to deliver the solution, which included the architectural design and implementation. After the design was completed, a test environment was implemented for approximately 80 users for a four-week period, with the main focus to evaluate load capabilities, SSO, and the electronic medical records (EMR) system.

The successful test phase allowed CHC to go live at the end of January 2014. Subsequently, 600 users were migrated to the production environment.

CHC has already planned the next stages of the project:

  • Replace client hardware with thin or zero clients after the current hardware lease agreement expires.
  • Document the identified use cases and implement desktop pools to support these users.
  • Complete the migration of 1,500 users to the View production environment.

In Conclusion

It was important to engage end users throughout the implementation to ensure that the requirements were captured and to manage user expectations. As the project progressed, it was evident that issues and resolution steps needed to be documented. A knowledge base was created not only for user education, but also for knowledge transfer within the IT operations and support staff. This highlighted the project benefits, such as ease of management, maintenance, and supportability.

A clear and well-defined RIS can go a long way toward keeping all concerned parties informed about setup and deployment plans.

For more detailed information about this implementation, see VMware Horizon with View Reference Implementation Case Study for Carroll Hospital Center.

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