Virtual Desktop Upgrade Increases Training Effectiveness

Cmdr. Sean O’Brien, Naval Education and Training Command Deputy Chief Information OfficerThis blog was written by Cmdr. Sean O’Brien, deputy chief information officer, Naval Education and Training Command. His team provides secure, reliable, state of the art information technologies and the world’s largest training network to enable the NETC mission – Training Every Sailor.

The Center for Naval Air Technical Training Unit (CNATTU) Keesler, MS, recently became the first learning site in Naval Education and Training Command’s domain to implement the Virtual Desktop Initiative (VDI). Desktop virtualization provides multiple student and instructor workstations from a centralized server environment, which eliminates physical workstations in a classroom.

It’s a huge deal for NETC and the Navy.

NETC students will spend more time learning and less time becoming familiar with their workstations. That’s because they’ll experience faster logins, response times and the same desktop no matter what station they access. This will provide a more familiar and standard experience.

VDI provides a much more secure environment too. When a student logs in and then logs off, any changes to the operating system disappear. If a student generates or downloads a virus or malware from the Internet, it’s gone for good when they log out. Why is that so important? Viruses and malware change the operating system. With the VDI environment, the students get a clean operating system every time they log in. Technicians will now be able to focus more on customer issues instead of pushing security and system updates on each workstation.

 GULFPORT, Miss. - Students at Center for Naval Air Technical Training Center Unit (CNATTU) Keesler are the first in the Naval Education and Training Command domain to benefit from desktop virtualization.  Desktop virtualization provides multiple student and instructor workstations from a centralized server environment, which eliminates physical workstations residing in an electronic classroom.  (Official U.S Navy/Released)


GULFPORT, Miss. – Students at Center for Naval Air Technical Training Center Unit (CNATTU) Keesler are the first in the Naval Education and Training Command domain to benefit from desktop virtualization. Desktop virtualization provides multiple student and instructor workstations from a centralized server environment, which eliminates physical workstations residing in an electronic classroom. (Official U.S Navy/Released)

 

When we need to update, we only have to update three servers. It’s a huge time and electricity saver, and reduces the workload to a level commensurate with our manning. It’s reliable and faster. Now, instructors spend less time fighting technology and more time teaching.

VDI also reduces our IT footprint. We can remove 300 desktop computers and all the maintenance, service, cooling and space requirements associated with them and replace them with one very efficient and powerful server.  All maintenance and service can be completed at the server.  Depending on the deployment at the site, this reduces the manpower and operating costs by 25 percent or more.

VDI brings a great deal of flexibility too.  Each “zero client” can be reconfigured in a matter of a minutes, if not seconds! In addition,  all can be done simultaneously to the same or different configuration as required.  So, in the past, it could take several hours or days for someone go to individual computers to upload new software, operating systems, patches, security settings, etc. Now with VDI,  uploads only have to be done once to the master software image, and is then replicated on the fly and deployed as requested.

The initiative is a five-year plan to deploy the VDI to more than 36,000 daily users and replace 80 percent of the more than 23,000 desktop computers in more than 2,500 classrooms at 68 learning sites around the world.

How do you think technology has changed training? How will technology continue to evolve in the training environment?