The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) wanted to improve the performance and simplify the management of its desktop computing environment. As executives considered the advantages of upgrading the organization’s desktop
operating system to Windows 7, they saw an opportunity to deploy virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) to deliver greater flexibility to application developers —without compromising network security. As a participant in the Microsoft Rapid Deployment Program
for Windows Server 2012, OECD evaluated the enhanced Remote Desktop Services feature. Through access to personal virtual desktops running the Windows 7 operating system, OECD developers were able to remotely connect to network resources up to five times faster—while
IT leaders benefitted from simplified management of VDI components through a centralized administrator console.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) promotes policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world. It seeks to achieve this mission by providing research and thought leadership to inform
decision making at all levels of government.
||We gain flexibility on many different levels through the improvements to Remote Desktop Services in Windows Server 2012—from the different deployment scenarios to the ability to deliver a full-fidelity Windows experience on a variety
| Marius Fodoreanu
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
OECD has approximately 2,700 employees spread across numerous locations. To promote greater productivity, executives allow workers to use a variety of computing devices—including their personal mobile devices—to connect to corporate resources from practically
anywhere. In fact, OECD is moving forward with a companywide bring-your-own-device initiative. In addition to working with executives to create new security guidelines and policies, IT leaders began evaluating the need to upgrade the organization’s server
infrastructure to enable more secure, remote access from any device.
Over the past two decades, the organization has increasingly standardized on Microsoft technologies. It has used the Windows XP operating system on its desktop and laptop PCs and relied on Windows Server 2008 R2 as its enterprise application platform. In
conjunction with its planned upgrade to the Windows 7 operating system, the organization wanted to expand its use of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) to support simplified IT management, stronger security, and greater workforce flexibility. Windows 7 offers
a number of features that facilitate the move to a VDI environment, including faster start times and improved network connectivity.
IT leaders at OECD see the organization’s adoption of VDI technology as a way to embrace the bring-your-own-device trend and ultimately support the delivery of business applications to consumer devices—while maintaining high levels of data security. As a
first step, they sought to pilot a larger-scale rollout of Windows 7 virtual machines to the organization’s application developers. “This group met a number of important criteria, which made them the perfect test group for evaluating the benefits of a VDI
deployment,” says Marius Fodoreanu, Systems Architect at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. “First, they have specialized requirements for performance as they build, run, and test applications. Second, many of our developers work from
remote locations and need varying levels of network bandwidth at different times during the day. And, given the large number of computers that our developers use, we need to centrally manage access to these machines to ensure proper compliance.”
Executives were eager to evaluate and support a test deployment of virtual desktops. Specifically, they were looking for a server platform that would enable flexible, controlled access to virtualized work environments from practically any location.
OECD decided to participate in the Microsoft Rapid Deployment Program for Windows Server 2012, the latest version of the server operating system. Windows Server 2012 introduces dozens of enhancements to the previous version, including improvements to
the Remote Desktop Services (RDS) feature. “We were excited to test improved high-availability support for Remote Desktop Services in Windows Server 2012, in addition to the ability to centrally administer multiple RDS deployments,” says Fodoreanu.
The organization’s IT team worked with Microsoft Services to create a proof-of-concept demonstration of the Remote Desktop Services server role in Windows Server 2012. The team set up two server clusters on HP ProLiant BL460c blade server hardware, both
of which were running Hyper-V, the embedded virtualization technology in the solution. IT staff distributed the two-node cluster, with the Remote Desktop Services component installed, across two separate data center locations. They configured the second, four-node
cluster to manage the virtual desktop machines.
OECD took advantage of the ability to deploy and manage multiple instances of the Remote Desktop Services feature through the centralized interface in the Server Manager role in Windows Server 2012. This centralized interface replaces the use of multiple
tools in the previous version of the software, such as Remote Desktop Services Manager and RemoteApp Manager. “The ability to manage all aspects of a VDI deployment from a single console made our tests run so much easier,” says Fodoreanu. “And we like the
added flexibility of using Windows PowerShell to automate deployment and management tasks in the future.”
Pilot Deployment to OECD Developers
||We were excited to test improved high-availability support for Remote Desktop Services in Windows Server 2012, in addition to the ability to centrally administer multiple RDS deployments.
| Marius Fodoreanu
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
With Windows Server 2012, organizations can choose between two main deployment options: virtual desktops or session virtualization. Within the virtual desktop infrastructure scenario, they can opt to deploy personal or pooled collections of virtualized
PCs. From the administrator console, OECD deployed personal virtual desktops running the Windows 7 operating system to 60 of its developers. “Our developers need the ability to administer their own virtual machines, but as we look to expand our VDI rollout,
we’ll plan to use pooled virtual machines,” explains Fodoreanu.
Personalized User Settings
In the coming months, OECD plans to extend virtual desktops to a total of 100 employees across a variety of devices, including tablet PCs running the Windows 8 operating system. While deploying pooled collections of virtual machines, the IT team will
use the User Profile Disk feature in Windows Server 2012 to store personalized user settings and application cache data on a virtual hard disk that persists in a centralized storage location. This means that any changes that employees make to their profile
from their last session are immediately available the next time they log on to any machine.
The user group for the organization’s pilot deployment of Remote Desktop Services in Windows Server 2012 included developers working in three different locations. From these various geographies, developers compared the speed with which they could run
applications and connect to other network resources against the initial benchmark of two minutes and 30 seconds.
Although it was not the focus of its initial evaluation of the solution, OECD wanted to test improvements to the Microsoft RemoteFX tools in Windows Server 2012. Introduced in Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1, RemoteFX encompasses a set of technologies
designed to preserve a high-fidelity end-user experience by accelerating graphics processing. In particular, the project team tested the ability to render a variety of rich media formats, including high-definition video, over a wide area network connection.
By adopting Windows Server 2012, OECD has already experienced a number of benefits. For example, it can more easily deploy virtual desktop infrastructure and centrally monitor this environment to ensure compliance with security management standards.
And, through support for a variety of deployment options, OECD can roll out Windows 7 and standardize its desktop environment—while still providing a rich, personalized computing experience for workers with specialized requirements.
Increased Operational Agility
OECD can now use enhanced desktop virtualization capabilities in Windows Server 2012 to deliver a rich computing experience to employees working from practically any location. And OECD will assess the possibility for employees to access their applications
and data from a greater variety of devices—while ensuring easy maintenance of personalized user profiles to boost productivity. The organization will also take advantage of several distinct deployment options for its VDI environment, depending on the needs
of each group of employees. “We gain flexibility on many different levels through the improvements to Remote Desktop Services in Windows Server 2012—from the different deployment scenarios to the ability to deliver a full-fidelity Windows experience on a variety
of devices,” says Fodoreanu.
Faster Access to Network Services, Improved Application Performance
OECD realized performance gains in its VDI environment. Developers were able to establish a remote access connection to network resources in approximately 30 seconds. Also, the organization can now virtualize data-intensive workloads on Hyper-V servers,
including high-performance computing applications.
Simplified IT Management
OECD benefits from the simplified deployment and management of Remote Desktop Services components on multiple servers using wizard-based tools accessible through a single administrator console. From a centralized interface, IT staff can create virtual
desktop or session collections, deploy and patch images, and manage users. And they can use Windows PowerShell to automate many of the tasks and workflows associated with managing a VDI environment. “The ability to use the Remote Desktop Services interface
in Server Manager, together with Windows PowerShell, is a powerful combination,” says Fodoreanu. “It means our administrators can deploy VDI components quickly and reduce the day-to-day complexity of managing our environment.”
Windows Server 2012
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