Qld Health Commission injects virtual desktops

Virtual desktop nirvana is to have all apps streamed from the backend

The Queensland Health Quality and Complaints Commission (HQCC) is nearing completion of a $400,000 IT infrastructure overhaul that will see virtual servers and desktops used throughout the organisation.

When information systems manager Steven Moskwa joined the commission in 2007 the impending desktop and server refresh became the main impetus for an integrated virtual server and desktop environment which would also enable better remote access.

“We looked at an all-in-one solution where we went with SAN storage and successfully dipped our toes in the pond with HP blades to replace rack mounted servers,” Moskwa said.

“The other main business case was virtualisation and remote access through the remote gateway.”

The HQCC did not go to tender for the virtualisation software, but implemented Citrix XenServer and XenDesktop products because of familiarity with Citrix and Queensland's all-of-government licensing agreement with the company.

Being a small state government agency with 80 staff, Moskwa said the IT team did not want to deal with different technology for different situations and Citrix, with its remote access software, was deemed the most appropriate for the organisation.

In the data centre, HQCC has about 15 virtual servers “with the capacity to run more” on eight quad-core bladeservers.

Citrix XenServer is virtualising Windows Server 2003 R2 guests. Windows XP professional is on the desktop.

“We have a published desktop now, but are looking to move to a full streaming desktop,” Moskwa said. “You can deploy the XenDesktop in a continuum, but it acts as a rich thick client. You can move to a middle ground via a single image, or the true nirvana is to have all the apps streamed from the backend.”

Streaming the desktop will bring a degree of benefit over thin clients for the commission, which is looking to extend out its three-year desktop refresh to five years.

With about 50 per cent of the desktops virtualised, those staff are using much the same applications, and the remainder have other business apps that need to be tested.

“Another business driver is telecommuting,” Moskwa said. “The Citrix remote gateway is working to access internal business applications and is more secure with multi-factor authentication.”

Moskwa said the commission's virtualisation strategy has paid off with definite business process improvements.

When it reaches 100 per cent deployment of virtual desktops, the HQCC will do more training and look at options for its TRIM records management system and Resolve case management application.

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Tags virtualisationCitrixVDIxenxenserverCitrix XenDesktop

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