With locations at every major airport in the country, a major rental car company had a network footprint that truly spanned coast to coast. So when they decided to migrate from traditional personal computers to a cloud-based virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), it was a huge undertaking.

The primary motivations were cost and security. It was getting expensive to install, support, and periodically upgrade or replace workstations at every check-in counter. Consistency in hardware was impossible, which required constant vigilance for configuration and interoperability issues. Labor costs were skyrocketing due to the need to physically visit each site to troubleshoot machines or deploy new services. Implementing uniform security, compliance, and back-up policies was difficult with data being stored on thousands of distributed hard drives. Another issue was mobility. IT wanted rental agents to be able to check in returning vehicles from the parking lot, speeding customers on their way to the terminal. It's hard to do that lugging a PC and printer around.

A scalable solution was needed to deliver fast, affordable, and repeatable end-to-end desktop and application virtualization. Through desktop virtualization, enterprises can move the entire desktop, including all applications, data, and the operating system, to the data center and equip all endpoints with thin clients—including mobile or portable devices—to access the system. After a thorough assessment, IIS recommended Dell EMC VxRail, the easiest and fastest way to implement a VDI solution.

VxRail uses a wide range of software, tools, and resources co-developed by Dell Technologies and VMware. The VMware hyperconverged software is vSphere-ready and based on vSAN software defined storage (SDS). Dell Technologies deployment and support tools integrate the software management within VxRail Manager. Data protection and replication are included and can support either hybrid or all-flash storage configurations. The scalable VxRail appliance uses GPU hardware and virtual software to support storage-heavy workloads with storage-dense nodes, graphics-heavy VDI workloads, as well as entry-level nodes for remote and branch office environments—perfect for the rental car locations. NVIDIA virtual GPU technology brings the power of NVIDIA GPUs to virtual desktops, accelerating performance to enable virtualized workspaces to perform just like physical PCs. The switch would be transparent to front line users, but not to IT, as it would dramatically reduce the complexity of the system and make it more flexible for upgrades going forward.

After deploying Dell EMC VxRail and swapping out PCs for kiosk-type terminals, the rental car company realized several benefits as the result of the switch to VDI:

  • Cost management. The cost of deploying applications and desktops was reduced when deploying virtual assets from a data center. Total cost of ownership was also reduced as the datacenter footprint is smaller; virtual machines and thin clients are cheaper, use less energy, and are easier to maintain than physical assets.
  • Improved security and disaster recovery. IT was able to implement consistent policies for compliance, safely store all data and applications against disasters in a centralized location, and monitor risks to better protect the network from viruses, malware, and ransomware attacks. If an issue occurs, all data and applications are restored instantly by reestablishing a connection to the data center.
  • Optimized IT resources. IT is able to centrally manage all virtual desktops from the data center, saving time and money by troubleshooting personal computers remotely instead of physically visiting each one. Integrated VxRail software life cycle management keeps software updates and patches current. Updates are easy to install and safe to implement because all software components are engineered, tested, and released as a bundle. Administrators are notified through the VxRail Manager when updates are available. As a result, the IT team was able to transition from being a largely reactive break/fix technical team to a more proactive group focused on continuing the digital transformation.
  • Scalability. VxRail is able to scale rapidly through its cluster and pod architecture, supporting thousands of virtual machines. This allows IT to spin up new resources as needed, and enables new locations to come online faster. As a side benefit, the VDI enabled executives to more easily connect from remote or home office locations with the same experience as being on the corporate WAN.
  • Mobility. Agents were supplied with handheld devices for checking in returning vehicles as drivers arrived at the lot. This reduced lines at every counter and made for more satisfied customers without sacrificing connectivity to the data center.
  • Rapid deployments and non-disruptive upgrades. IT is able to roll out new services and updates to all endpoints faster than ever before at the infrastructure layer through Dell Services. In addition, all locations are running the same software versions with the same rules for consistency.

Today, customers zip in and out with their rental cars while IT more easily maintains a secure national network environment managed from a single pane of glass at a centralized location.

As a Dell Technologies Platinum partner, IIS offers expertise in Virtual Desktop Infrastructure powered by VxRail, VMware, and Dell PowerEdge Servers. Our proven assessment strategy will help guide you in making the best decision for your organization. Reach out to the IIS sales team for more information on how your organization can smooth the transition to VDI.

Jay Singh

Written by Jay Singh