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California Polytechnic State U Virtualizes CAD Labs

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.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at [email protected].

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