DynTek is an IT consulting and services firm that specializes in delivering the right technology solutions to meet customer needs—regardless of the technology vendor. In recent years, the company has focused on helping customers optimize their infrastructure, which includes server virtualization. However, the company also saw a need for desktop virtualization and unified infrastructure management, so it evolved its practice into one that delivers private cloud infrastructures. DynTek now helps customers implement a Microsoft Virtual Desktop Infrastructure solution that includes Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 with Hyper-V, Microsoft Application Virtualization, and Citrix XenDesktop, along with Microsoft System Center products. As a result, customers can refocus IT personnel to strategic tasks; help IT be more responsive; and reduce licensing, operational, and capital costs.Situation
DynTek is an IT consulting and services company that focuses on delivering dynamic technology solutions to customers—from data center virtualization to endpoint computing. The company primarily serves midsize companies, in addition to small business and enterprise customers, across all industries. Because of its broad customer base, DynTek faces customers with an equally broad range of business needs. As such, the company prides itself on its multiple-vendor approach to finding customers the right technology for their specific business challenges. In fact, DynTek has partner status with several technology vendors; not only is the company a member of the Microsoft Partner Network, but it also works with Cisco, Citrix, Dell, McAfee, and VMware.
While DynTek offers a range of technology solutions, the underpinning of its approach is to help customers optimize their core infrastructure—the backbone of most IT organizations. “We use the Microsoft approach to core infrastructure optimization,” explains Brian Gancherov, Director of Technical Services at DynTek. “It is a priority, and has been for several years, to move customers from a basic infrastructure to a dynamic infrastructure that is easier to manage and more efficient.”
||A virtual desktop solution built on Microsoft and Citrix products and technologies means that we’re using best-of-breed technologies for our customers. These are our go-to solutions.
Director of Technical Services, DynTek
As a key component to that approach, DynTek has focused most of its infrastructure projects on server virtualization. “We have been virtualizing server environments for our customers for so long now that we assume that any infrastructure project will include some level of virtualization—it’s become critical for an optimized environment,” says Grant Nadell, Managing Director at DynTek. While the company believes in the Microsoft vision of an optimized infrastructure, however, DynTek recalls that prior to 2008, most of its customers virtualized their server environments by using VMware. “There was widespread understanding that VMware was the only game in town,” continues Nadell. “It’s one of the reasons customers were willing to spend the money on a relatively expensive solution.”
The company does not take a server-centric approach to optimized infrastructures and also promoted what it termed “access infrastructure,” which provides customers the ability to extend access to applications and other network resources from virtually anywhere and on any device. Access infrastructure was a direct response to the various needs of its customers, including granting remote network access for mobile employees, granting application access for vendors and partners, and enabling employees to use personal computing devices to access company IT resources.
However, DynTek recognized that customers did not want to just access applications. What customers needed was effective infrastructure management capabilities, too. “Customers may come to us and ask for the capability to access applications from anywhere, but when you assess their business and technology issues, it comes down to customers needing highly efficient, optimized infrastructures with the ability to provision services automatically,” explains Nadell.
Specifically, customers needed a unified management strategy for servers, desktop computers, and applications to reach the highest levels of IT efficiency. “Enabling an efficient IT department that can support rapidly changing business needs at a lower cost is the goal that all IT organizations need to reach for,” says Nadell. “Delivering IT resources as a service, coupled with comprehensive management across physical and virtual assets is how they get there. It is up to us to educate our customers on the best technologies out there and help them reach that goal.”Solution
In 2010, DynTek started to evolve its “access infrastructure” approach and began offering customers private cloud infrastructures. A private cloud—a cloud infrastructure that is dedicated to one organization—offers a solution to balance server cost with on-demand delivery of standardized IT services via shared resources. For DynTek, a private cloud infrastructure means taking an approach that is not data center centric, but that encompasses server, desktop, and application virtualization. “For us, a private cloud is more than just the data center,” explains Gancherov. “It also takes into consideration the desktop infrastructure for a comprehensive approach to IT efficiencies.”
Best-of-Breed Technologies for Virtual Desktops
For its customers who need desktop virtualization solutions, DynTek uses a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) that takes advantage of both Microsoft and Citrix technologies—true to its vendor-agnostic approach to solving customers’ business needs (Figure 1). The VDI solution includes:
“A virtual desktop solution built on Microsoft and Citrix products and technologies means that we’re using best-of-breed technologies for our customers,” says Gancherov. “These are our go-to solutions.”
|Figure 1. DynTek uses a combination of Microsoft and Citrix products and technologies |
for its best-of-breed approach to server, desktop, and application virtualization—enabling highly
efficient IT services.
When DynTek works with customers on any desktop virtualization project, it first defines use cases to determine which desktops should be virtualized and centrally hosted in the data center. “It is uncommon that every desktop in a company’s environment needs to be virtualized, so it’s important to define the use cases up front,” explains Nadell. “The most common scenarios are those customers with remote offices who need secure access to server-hosted desktops, and also those customers who allow employees to use unmanaged devices, such as personal computers, smartphones, tablets, and pad devices.”
After defining use cases, DynTek then runs a proof-of-concept (POC) project for customers by using Hyper-V, Citrix XenDesktop, which includes Citrix XenApp, and Microsoft App-V. It also implements System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 for centralized desktop management. The company typically gets the POC up and running in just under two weeks. When the POC is complete, customers usually implement a larger pilot deployment and, eventually, a full production rollout of the VDI solution. An Optimized, Private Cloud Infrastructure
Once a customer has deployed a VDI solution based on Microsoft and Citrix technologies, and running on Hyper-V with Virtual Machine Manager, it often prompts a new discussion with DynTek about server virtualization technologies and private cloud infrastructures. For instance, customers who have not used Hyper-V prior to their desktop virtualization projects are thrilled with the results of the pilot deployment. In particular, customers realize that they can achieve increased virtualized server densities with features in Hyper-V like Dynamic Memory. By using Dynamic Memory, customers can automatically pool memory on a host server and dynamically distribute it to virtual machines based on server workloads, without service interruption.
||Microsoft has released some tremendous innovations, like Dynamic Memory, that exceed the capabilities of VMware. That is why customers are willing to switch to Hyper-V, even after using VMware for years.
Director of Technical Services, DynTek
As a result, many customers—even those who have previously used VMware for server virtualization—closely evaluate and implement Hyper-V for their server virtualization after using it for desktop virtualization. “When it comes to Microsoft and how they have evolved their virtualization technologies, it’s not just feature parity,” explains Gancherov. “Microsoft has released some tremendous innovations, like Dynamic Memory, that exceed the capabilities of VMware. That is why customers are willing to switch to Hyper-V, even after using VMware for years.”
After virtualizing the desktops and servers, DynTek completes its private cloud implementations by using the Microsoft System Center family of products to streamline and automate infrastructure management tasks across the entire environment, including physical and virtual resources. In addition to System Center Virtual Machine Manager, DynTek implements Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 to monitor the state, health, and performance of its servers and to meet service level agreements for the services and applications it delivers through the data center.
In addition, DynTek uses Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R3 to help customers comprehensively assess their server and client infrastructures and deploy software updates across distributed environments. It also uses Opalis to orchestrate and automate IT management tasks across System Center products. “Opalis is one of the most important technologies for a private cloud infrastructure,” says Gancherov. “It brings everything together with workflows that automate the tasks that even efficient IT organizations have been doing manually for years.”Benefits
While each customer has a different business need to address, and desktop and server infrastructures at various stages of virtualization and with different technologies, DynTek knows that a private cloud infrastructure can be the underpinning of any efficient IT organization. By delivering virtual desktop solutions based on Microsoft and Citrix technologies, server virtualization solutions, and centralized management capabilities offered through System Center products, DynTek helps customers reduce IT bottlenecks and enables flexible IT organizations that can respond to rapidly changing business needs. Customers can also reduce costs, compared to other third-party solutions, by not only using advantageous licensing options from Microsoft, but by also reducing their reliance on IT-owned assets.
Reduces Burden on IT; Focuses Efforts on Strategic Tasks
DynTek knows that many IT departments are burdened with maintenance and management tasks that take precious time away from more strategic initiatives that support the business. “A lot of IT departments are struggling through manual tasks with never-ending checklists for tasks as simple as updating server software. In some cases, manual tasks include validating that services have started, starting manual services, or any number of other manual processes,” says Gancherov. “During business hours, IT personnel do their best to respond to the needs of employees and maintain service levels. Then, because no one has the budget to hire unlimited personnel, those same IT employees are working through the night and on weekends to maintain and manage servers. However, with a private cloud infrastructure, we can automate all of that work, reduce the burden that is put on IT, and enable them to focus their attention on strategic work, rather than the mundane, manual maintenance.”
Enables Rapid-Response to Changing Business Needs
By delivering private cloud infrastructures, DynTek helps customers transform their IT departments into ones that can quickly respond to changing business needs. “IT departments need to keep pace with how quickly the business is moving, but at the same time, those IT departments are stretched for budget and personnel,” explains Nadell. “With a private cloud infrastructure, however, IT departments can be as flexible as they need to be to meet business demands.”
||IT departments need to keep pace with how quickly the business is moving, but at the same time, those IT departments are stretched for budget and personnel. With a private cloud infrastructure, however, IT departments can be as flexible as they need to be to meet business demands.
Managing Director, DynTek
In fact, the flexibility that DynTek helps to inject into customers’ IT departments is far-reaching and covers multiple scenarios that are common across today’s technology landscape. “Whether IT organizations need to deliver services and applications across distributed environments, whether they need to enable remote work scenarios as more and more employees work from home or while on the road, or whether they need to offer access to IT resources through personal devices that are not managed by the IT department, a comprehensive private cloud infrastructure with a VDI solution enables IT organizations to meet those needs quickly and reliably,” continues Nadell. Reduces Licensing, Operational, and Capital Expenses
By taking advantage of Microsoft and Citrix technologies, including server virtualization with Hyper-V and centralized management with System Center products, customers can reduce their costs in several ways.
First, customers who use Hyper-V as their hypervisor and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 Enterprise can take advantage of flexible licensing from Microsoft and also get access to four virtual machines concurrently from one host. Customers who use Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 Datacenter can host unlimited guest operating systems with each license. “It’s simple math, especially once customers see the capabilities they get with Hyper-V compared to VMware,” says Nadell. “Customers who switch to Hyper-V can save more than 68 percent on licensing costs alone.”
Second, customers can keep their operational costs in line by automating service provisioning and server maintenance tasks with a private cloud infrastructure, thereby avoiding the need to hire additional IT personnel to keep pace with increasingly complex IT environments. “Most businesses have IT infrastructure that is running 24 hours a day,” explains Gancherov. “However, by auto-provisioning services and orchestrating maintenance with a private cloud, they don’t have to hire more people to keep their infrastructure running. Effectively, those customers are avoiding what would typically be a scenario that requires added operational expenses.”
Finally, with a VDI solution, customers can reduce capital expenditures on client hardware or, in some cases, meet the budgetary constraints of already-reduced capital budgets. Where the proliferation of consumer computing devices in the corporate world can appear to be a burden for some IT departments, it can be a welcome opportunity to reduce ongoing capital costs associated with client hardware if the company has a reliable virtual desktop infrastructure. “Imagine a company that decides it needs to open a remote office with 1,000 new employees, each of whom needs a computer,” explains Nadell. “That might not only be a stretch for IT personnel to accommodate quickly, but would also consume tens of thousands of dollars from a capital budget. However, if that company has a virtual desktop infrastructure in place, they can instead offer employees a stipend to purchase a personal device on which they can access a virtual desktop, thereby eliminating the need to own 1,000 more IT assets.” Microsoft Cloud Power
Microsoft offers a complete set of cloud-based solutions to meet business needs, including solutions for advertising; communications (email, meetings); collaboration (document storage, sharing, workflow); business applications (customer resource management, business productivity); data storage and management; and infrastructure services. In addition, customers can take advantage of an entire ecosystem of solution providers and Microsoft partners.
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