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My name is Daniel Kwong, and I am the IT Analyst for Sacramento City College. I graduated from Sac State with a BS in CIS in 2000. Now, I have 10 years of experience at Cosumnes River College working in desktop support, automation, and planning. For the past 3 years, I have  worked at Sacramento City College in enterprise support, server management, infrastructure planning, and virtualization.

Located in downtown Sacramento, Sacramento City College is a 2 year educational institution that provides exceptional educational opportunities to over 24,000 students.  The campus provides computing services and support to over 3,000 PC’s and Macs in over 50 computer labs spread across 3 centers.

As a hands-on IT Analyst, I recognized that the old way of managing desktops was too cumbersome and required too many hours of labor to conduct regular periodic tasks such as installing and updating software, imaging labs, and responding to the needs of the campus.  The techs were constantly making changes to the image and postponing updates to meet the demands and services levels of the labs they were responsible for.  This left little to no time for innovation and professional development and also left some of the end users frustrated since the changes there were counting on could not be implemented in time.  There was also much rumbling surrounding desktop backups, mobile computing, and profile management.

Selling the idea of VDI to management using the above reasoning did not gain much traction.  It wasn’t until the focus changed to cost savings that management begun to embrace the idea.  The selection of VMWare View for our VDI solution was a fairly straightforward decision.  We were already familiar with the ESX platform, the learning curve to create a View environment was not steep, and the View POC

Prior to purchasing Nimble for our VDI storage solution, I was working with a system that was very hard to manage, did not have adequate performance monitoring, was inflexible, and had questionable reliability.  Based on those factors and the IOPS needs of VDI I crafted the criteria for a SAN specifically for our VDI environment that included the ability to deliver a high level of IOPS when needed, was easy to manage and monitor, have sufficient redundancy to ensure reliability, be cost effective, and have a robust support network.  There were a very limited number of vendors that could meet this criteria.  The ones that were considered were; DataCore, Dell/Equalogic XVS, XIOTech, and Nimble.

I purchased 2 CS220 arrays which are configured to replicate to each other.  There are currently 130 desktops available and I am adding an additional 150 by the end of the year.  The workload also includes all of my production servers as well as all servers supporting VDI.  Those servers run SQL, IIS, applications, file, and print services and are mostly Windows based.  The two arrays are named NSAN1 and NSAN2.  NSAN1 primarily serves all odd numbered volumes and NSAN2 serves all even volumes.  Each volume replicates to the other array on an hourly basis.  In the event of a failure or planned downtime, I can promote the volume on the available array.  VDI linked clone disks do not get replicated.  I also use a standard backup software package to backup the servers individually in a traditional manner.

I have had a very positive experience with Nimble Storage from start to finish, and continue to be impressed by the amount of momentum the company continues to gain as it grows while maintaining its personal connection to its customers.  Everyone who I have come into contact with at Nimble Storage has been an outstanding individual, but there are a few that I would like to acknowledge specifically: Tom Riggins and the entire support team.  My contact with the support team has been, hands-down, the most positive interaction I have ever had with IT support, and Tom has been great at keeping me in the loop and involved with what’s going on with Nimble.

I am currently using VMWare View 5.0 Premier with linked clones and persona management enabled.  We do not have a formal support policy on mobile users, but our general policy is that we will provide best effort support to mobile users (using their own device) on the iPad and Android devices as long as they are using a View client that is no more than 1 minor release lower or higher than the version that is running.  The infrastructure for supporting mobile users (and at home users) is in place, but not advertised to the campus community yet.

Written by:
Sachin Chheda