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Nutanix Hyperconverged Infrastructure Enables BAE Systems to Deliver Desktops as a Service

An Interview with Richard Zulewski, Solution Architect, BAE Systems Intelligence & Security (I&S) Sector

 
Important business drivers for desktop virtualization are security, compliance, and improved productivity. While Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) technology makes this possible, Desktop as a Service is the Business Model that has garnered interest from our government customers.

With the advance in technology provided by the Nutanix Xtreme Computing Platform, we can provide a cost effective solution providing consistent and continuous compliance while also shifting the security cost to adversaries through VDI’s non-persistent surfaces.

When the level of performance reaches the point where I am willing to trade in my physical desktop for a VDI session, we can also achieve improved productivity.

Earlier VDI architectures required extensive design and testing cycles before providing an acceptable level of performance. Often the only means to achieve success was to purchase a monolithic hardware solution built to handle the greatest number of concurrent sessions at the end of the transition period. While this approach could provide VDI, it completely failed as a cost effective solution.

Moving to the DaaS Business Model

 
To gain the numerous advantages of the Desktop as a Service business model, my solutions build upon the Nutanix hyperconverged platform. Security is a key consideration. We maintain a consistently secure infrastructure with an automated machine-readable process that provides continuous compliance of the security baseline (STIG). Another mitigation against advanced persistent threats is use of non-persistent desktop images. We can rollout a security patch to the entire desktop infrastructure in the time it takes to reboot a machine. This is a major driver for shifting the security cost to adversaries. Because Nutanix built the hardening details into the platform, accreditation of the solution is simplified.

By constructing an architecture where both the data and the desktops that access the data are completely contained within the datacenter we ensure control over sensitive information. Nothing is stored on the devices. The focus is on data oriented security delivered to trusted users and systems.

Trading in my Physical Desktop

 
The legacy storage architectures required enormously expensive disk arrays to provide the throughput required for desktop virtualization. Early adopters struggled with boot storms that often meant users would start their VDI session and leave to get coffee while the system started. Because the arrays were in separate enclosures from the compute, we used a high-speed fibre network to bridge the gap between computer and storage. My own experience with these VDI implementations was not something I remember fondly. Given the choice, I always preferred a physical workstation.

Today’s converged platform brings the compute and storage into the same enclosure eliminating the fibre channel network. Moreover, we are seeing incredible increases in performance in the software defined storage. By using Nutanix, I receive all the benefits of each software upgrade without having to purchase a new SAN.

This combination of compute and storage along with software-defined storage provides the platform I require for a VDI solution that actually delivers on the promise of improved productivity. Performance where I am willing to work within the VDI instead of directly on my workstation.

Concluding Thoughts

 
To design and build DaaS solutions requires the next generation in computing technology. Our customers want true DevOps not in years but minutes. They expect push-of-a-button overnight upgrade of desktop operating systems. To achieve the cost optimization we must build using the best our industry can provide.

Building VDI on hyperconverged software defined storage is the next generation. By taking all of the innovations Nutanix has produced, looking at what our customers need, and adapting the way we deliver services– Nutanix is enabling us to effectively and efficiently deliver on a new business model, DaaS.

About BAE Systems Intelligence & Security

BAE Systems provides intelligence and security services to manage big data, inform big decisions, and support big missions. BAE Systems delivers a broad range of solutions and services including intelligence analysis, cyber operations, IT, systems development, systems integration, and operations and maintenance to enable the U.S. military and government to recognize, manage, and defeat threats. The company takes pride in supporting critical national security missions that protect the nation and those who serve.

About Nutanix

Nutanix delivers invisible infrastructure for next-generation enterprise computing, elevating IT to focus on the applications and services that power their business. The company’s software-driven Xtreme Computing Platform natively converges compute, virtualization and storage into a single solution to drive simplicity in the datacenter. Using Nutanix, customers benefit from predictable performance, linear scalability and cloud-like infrastructure consumption. Learn more at www.nutanix.com or follow up on Twitter @nutanix.