oVirt logo Hey, remember Virtual Desktop Infrastructure? Still wondering if people are actually using it? I know, right?

It seems that VDI, which a lot of people thought was very much a bypassed technology, is still a growing sector in IT… and free-software tools are lending VDI deployments a stable and free platform on which virtual desktops can be managed.

A new case study from the oVirt project details the needs of the Universidad de Sevilla in Seville, Spain, which has an enrollment of over 60,000 students. Due to fewer consoles on campus than students, the school must provide effective transportable computing environments for its students. To accomplish this, they initially looked at a VMware-based VDI solution.

According to Miguel Rueda, Technical Manager of Universidad de Sevilla, the costs for a vSphere solution "were really high," which led IT decision makers at the University to turn to UDS Enterprise for a more cost-effective solution.

At the start of the 2011-12 academic year, Rueda related, the University connected with then-brand-new UDS, based in Madrid, Spain. The new firm had already generated some success within Spanish universities by delivering virtualization solutions, and they were confident they could pull off a similar win with Sevilla.

When moving away from vSphere, a big part of the savings were achieved directly because of the oVirt virtualization management solution.

It was very much a perfect fit. The University of Sevilla already had Dell blade hardware and were continuing to incorporate additional blade servers into the infrastructure. This kept their initial hardware investment lower, and the extensibility kept costs down as well. Using the Dell hardware with CentOS operating systems enabled the University to choose the effective–and free–KVM hypervisor platform for creating and running the virtual machines that make up the VDI system.

To start, the University chose to pilot this new VDI architecture through its OpenLabs Project, delivering the content for eight courses across 180 virtual desktops: This pilot solved the OpenLab's problem with desktop space issues as well as overall accessibility to applications for students. Nowadays, more than 3,000 students use this virtual desktop infrastructure.

If successful, it is very likely this type of VDI deployment based on oVirt will be a model for a lot of other universities (and commercial entities) to follow. For more information on the process the Universidad de Sevilla used, visit the case study at oVirt.org.