In 2012, due to its relocation to new headquarters, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation pondered on quite a few infrastructure changes. With regard to user terminals, the Ministry approved the virtualization of a significant percentage of the new workstations to be installed, including approximately 600 out of 750 terminals using ultra-thin clients as desktop devices. Most recently, as CONICET moved to the Scientific Hub, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation also recommended the use of virtual workstations supporting another protocol (PCoIP), specially designed to support such virtualization infrastructure and with fewer technical constraints.
The decision of installing virtualization terminals was made based on criteria related to avoiding the past situation of each computer becoming a very particular problem, with a complexity and variability of specific configuration, which in turn created an unmanageable amount of specific problems.
“Precisely because users have their own particular uses, because they get access to different sites, other kinds of software (different from standard personal computers) are installed, and such complexity may lead to instability. All of us individually experience it,” D’Alessio said.
Troubleshooting implied recurring technical support incidents in an attempt at restoring the good working order or even having to install all over from scratch, producing delays and downtime of the equipment. Sometimes, depending on the glitch, the need would arise to replace the computer.
In the government area, such situation is becomes a great inconvenience: First, because, as anywhere else, equipment downtime turns out to be untimely. Second, because hardware procurement processes in government agencies involve a significant administrative burden and take a long time.
“Sometimes, a staff member would have troubles with the equipment in a week when it should be working at its best, for it meant to support a critical activity, and anticipating the cost of such downtime is difficult indeed,” D’Allesio said.
It was concluded that virtualization would reduce downtime of workstations, from one week in the past to only 30 seconds.
“We can get a machine very much alike to that operated by the user, ready to assign it to him/her and remove the failed machine, without the users leaving their desk and without the us leaving ours. Most importantly, the operation is completed in 30 seconds. This is one of the reasons that prompted us to bet on virtualization.”
Furthermore, because of the very complexity of the task, workstations tend to be different one to another, and their management tends to be rather difficult as well. That also brings some setbacks and delays in the provision of services to users. Meanwhile, the very virtualization solution comes along with an infrastructure of tools that promote management with a certain level of control and swift deployment of additional tools,” the executive officer added.
Still another reason for which the Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation opted for virtualization was the flexible, more effective and faster allocation of resources (memory, processor). This was not the case in the past.