Improving the User Experience in the Digital Workplace
Wed, 19 Aug 2020 23:32:32 -0000|
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Originally published March 18, 2019
Ensuring a good user experience is a challenge for businesses interested in moving toward a digital workplace. While it seems intuitive that user experience improvement leads to increased productivity, that’s not the primary goal. “Increasingly, the success of digital workplace programs is being defined by how well business goals align with user needs, rather than just by productivity and costs savings,” said Esteban Herrera, partner and global head of ISG Research, in a news release about ISG’s recent Digital Workplace of the Future report.
In the digital environment, the user’s emotions and attitudes define the user experience. Aligning with user needs includes providing an experience that enhances how a person perceives and feels about the digital workplace. In fact, the ISG report identifies a shift away from traditional service level agreements (SLAs) in favor of end-user experience agreements (XLAs). The goal of an XLA is to monitor the user’s experience, identify gaps affecting the user, and then take corrective action. Ultimately, if the user enjoys working in the digital workplace, the benefits can include embracing new digital tools that improve productivity and collaboration with the business to further improve the digital transformation.
Operating systems and digital workplace applications are also designed to enhance the user experience, as software companies realize the important role that the application experience plays in the selection process. For example, each version of the Windows operating system has made advances in improving the user experience. In my own experience, it was an adjustment moving away from using shortcut keys, to the more visual experience provided by the Quick Access Toolbar in Office programs. However, in exchange, we receive a visually rich and intuitive user experience that created a demand for improved graphics virtualization.
It’s interesting how the presentation of color can play a significant role in the user interface of a program. “Research reveals people make subconscious judgments about a person, environment, or product within 90 seconds of initial viewing and that between 62% and 90% of that assessment is based on color alone,” according to CCI Color Institute for Color Research. This research highlights the importance of the presentation layer in the digital workplace. While a graphics processing unit does not affect the selection of color used in a user interface, it does affect color depth. In general, the greater the color depth the broader the spectrum of colors available.
The new NVIDIA T4 data center GPU with NVIDIA GRID software is designed to provide a native-PC user experience in a digital workplace. Users can use multiple screens and watch 4K video. The T4 also supports VP9 video decode and H.265 (HVEC) encode/decode and provides support for more than 1 TB of system memory.
Dell EMC now offers an integrated, validated, and tested solution for the digital workplace. The virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution combines PowerEdge servers with the NVIDIA T4 and GRID software and provides a comprehensive pathway to improving the user experience. After component integration, the solution is performance-tested to ensure its validity. As part of the testing process, engineers tune the system to maximize performance and efficiency, and document best practices. Finally, a separate team of experts evaluate the test results to ensure that the systems can be properly configured and sized for customers.
Monitoring the Dell EMC VDI solution is free and easy with Live Optics. Live Optics is a remote and agentless software for collecting data about your PowerEdge environment. It streams workload data from your system to an online analytics engine that measures, analyzes, and reports workload characteristics. Live Optics saves time by automating data collection and drives transparency by enabling system monitoring.
The goal of the new Dell EMC solution is to accelerate the time-to-value for the business in achieving an enhanced user experience for digital workplace users. Every digital workplace solution is different, requiring the design and size of the solution to match a customer’s requirements. This solution offers a great deal of flexibly in how it can be configured and sized for digital workplaces. Thus, customers have the capability to start with a foundation that matches their current requirements and incrementally grow as the business grows.
The user experience in the digital workplace doesn’t have to be a challenge. Companies can quickly enhance the digital workplace with a powerful combination of NVIDIA T4 cards, GRID software, and PowerEdge servers. This VDI solution was developed by a team of experts who have used digital workplaces, designed solutions, and been customers themselves. They understand the value of solutions that are easy to use and enable your business to quickly achieve its goals.
About the co-author
Anand is working as a Tech Marketing Engineer in Dell EMC VDI ready Solutions. He is specialized in VDI technologies, primarily based on VMware and Citrix Suites. In his role as Tech Marketing Engineer, he analyzes VDI solutions and build collaterals, which enable customers to understand technology better. Prior to joining Dell EMC, Anand worked on projects related to VDI solutions and managed all aspects of design and implementation of desktop virtualization projects.
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Dell EMC vSAN Ready Nodes: Taking VDI and AI Beyond “Good Enough”
Mon, 18 Oct 2021 13:06:37 -0000|
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Some people have speculated that 2020 was “the year of VDI” while others say that it will never be the “year of VDI.” However, there is one certainty. In 2020 and part of 2021, organizations worldwide consumed a large amount of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). Some of these deployments went extremely well while other deployments were just “good enough.”
If you are a VDI enthusiast like me, there was much to learn from all that happened over the last 24 months. An interesting observation is that test VDI environments turned into production environments overnight. Also, people discovered that the capacity of clouds is not limitless. My favorite observation is the discovery by many IT professionals that GPUs can change the VDI experience from “good enough” to enjoyable, especially when coupled with an outstanding environment powered by Dell Technologies with VMware vSphere and VMware Horizon.
In this blog, I will tell you about how exceptional VDI (and AI/ML) is when paired with powerful technology.
This blog does not address cloud workloads as it is a substantial topic. It would be difficult for me to provide the proper level of attention in this blog, so I will address only on premises deployments.
Many end users adopt hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) in their data centers because it is easy to consume. One of the most popular HCIs is Dell EMC VxRail Hyperconverged Infrastructure. You can purchase nodes to match your needs. These needs range from the traditional data center workloads, to Tanzu clusters, to VDI with GPUs, and to AI. VxRail enables you to deliver whatever your end users need. Your end users might be developers working from home on a containers-based AI project and they need a development environment, VxRail can provide it with relative ease.
Some IT teams might want an HCI experience that is more customer managed but they still want a system that is straightforward to deploy, validate, and is easy to maintain. This scenario is where Dell EMC vSAN Ready Nodes come into play.
Dell EMC vSAN Ready Nodes provide comprehensive, flexible, and efficient solutions optimized for your workforce’s business goals with a large choice of options (more than 250 as of the September 29, 2021 vSAN Compatibility Guide) from tower to rack mount to blades. A surprising option is that you can purchase Dell EMC vSAN Ready Nodes with GPUs, making them a great platform for VDI and virtualized AI/ML workloads.
Dell EMC vSAN Ready Nodes supports many NVIDIA GPUs used for VDI and AI workloads, notably the NVIDIA M10 and A40 GPUs for VDI workloads and the NVIDIA A30 and A100 GPUs for AI workloads. There are other available GPUs depending on workload requirements, however, this blog focuses on the more common use cases.
For some time, the NVIDIA M10 GPU has been the GPU of choice for VDI-based knowledge workers who typically use applications such as Microsoft PowerPoint and YouTube. The M10 GPU provides a high density of users per card and can support multiple virtual GPU (vGPU) profiles per card. The multiple profiles result from having four GPU chips per PCI board. Each chip can run a unique vGPU profile, which means that you can have four vGPU profiles. That is, there are twice as many profiles than are provided by other NVIDIA GPUs. This scenario is well suited for organizations with a larger set of desktop profiles.
Combining this profile capacity with Dell EMC vSAN Ready Nodes, organizations can deliver various desktop options yet be based on a standardized platform. Organizations can let end users choose the system that suites them best and can optimize IT resources by aligning them to an end user’s needs.
Typically, power users need or want more graphics capabilities than knowledge workers. For example, power users working in CAD applications need larger vGPU profiles and other capabilities like NVIDIA’s Ray Tracing technology to render drawings. These power users’ VDI instances tend to be more suited to the NVIDIA A40 GPU and associated vGPU profiles. It allows power users who do more than create Microsoft PowerPoint presentations and watch YouTube videos to have the desktop experience they need to work effectively.
The ideal Dell EMC vSAN Ready Nodes platform for the A40 GPU is based on the Dell EMC PowerEdge R750 server. The PowerEdge R750 server provides the power and capacity for demanding workloads like healthcare imaging and natural resource exploration. These workloads also tend to take full advantage of other features built into NVIDIA GPUs like CUDA. CUDA is a parallel computing platform and programming model that uses GPUs. It is used in many high-end applications. Typically, CUDA is not used with traditional graphics workloads.
In this scenario, we start to see the blend between graphics and AI/ML workloads. Some VDI users not only render complex graphics sets, but also use the GPU for other computational outcomes, much like AI and ML do.
I really like that I can run AI/ML workloads in a virtual environment. It does not matter if you are an IT administrator or an AI/ML administrator. You can run AI and ML workloads in a virtual environment.
Many organizations have realized that the same benefits virtualization has brought to IT can also be realized in the AI/ML space. There are additional advantages, but those are best kept for another time.
For some organizations, IT is now responsible for AI/ML environments, whether delivering test/dev environments for programmers or delivering a complete AI training environment. For other IT groups, this responsibility falls to highly paid data scientists. And for some IT groups, the responsibility is a mix.
In this scenario, virtualization shines. IT administrators can do what they do best: deliver a powerful Dell EMC vSAN Ready Node infrastructure. Then, data scientists can spend their time building systems in a virtual environment consuming IT resources instead of racking and cabling a server.
Dell EMC vSAN Ready nodes are great for many AI/ML applications. They are easy to consume as a single unit of infrastructure. Both the NVIDIA A30 GPU and the A100 GPU are available so that organizations can quickly and easily assemble the ideal architecture for AI/ML workloads.
This ease of consumption is important for both IT and data scientists. It is unacceptable when IT consumers like data scientists must wait for the infrastructure they need to do their job. Time is money. Data scientists need environments quickly, which Dell EMC vSAN Ready Nodes can help provide. Dell EMC vSAN Ready Nodes deploy 130 percent faster with Dell EMC OpenManage Integration for VMware vCenter (OMIVV) (Based on Dell EMC internal competitive testing of PowerEdge and OMIVV compared to Cisco UCS manual operating system deployment.)
This speed extends beyond day 0 (deployment) to day 1+ operations. When using the vLCM and OMIVV, complete hypervisor and firmware updates to an eight-node PowerEdge cluster took under four minutes compared to a manual process, which took3.5 hours.(Principle Technologies report commissioned by Dell Technologies, New VMware vSphere 7.0 features reduced the time and complexity of routine update and hardware compliance tasks, July 2020.)
Dell EMC vSAN Ready Nodes ensures that you do not have to be an expert in hardware compatibility. With over 250 Dell EMC vSAN Ready Nodes available (as of the September 29, 2021 vSAN Compatibility Guide), you do not need to guess which drives will work or if a network adapter is compatible. You can then focus more on data and the results and less on building infrastructure.
These time-to-value considerations, especially for AI/ML workloads, are important. Being able to deliver workloads such as AI/ML or VDI quickly can have a significant impact on organizations, as has been evident in many organizations over the last two years. It has been amazing to see how fast organizations have adopted or expanded their VDI environments to accommodate everyone from knowledge workers to high-end power users wherever they need to consume IT resources.
Beyond “just expanding VDI” to more users, organizations have discovered that GPUs can improve the end-user experience and, in some cases, not only help but were required. For many, the NVIDIA M10 GPU helped users gain the wanted remote experience and move beyond “good enough.” For others who needed a more graphics-rich experience, the NVIDIA A40 GPU continues to be an ideal choice.
When GPUs are brought together as part of a Dell EMC vSAN Ready Node, organizations have the opportunity to deliver an expanded VDI and AI/ML experience to their users. To find out more about Dell EMC vSAN Ready Nodes, see Dell EMC vSAN Ready Nodes.
Author: Tony Foster Twitter: @wonder_nerd LinkedIn: https://linkedin.com/in/wondernerd
Breaking down the barriers for VDI with VxRail and NVIDIA vGPU
Wed, 21 Apr 2021 15:17:54 -0000|
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Desktop transformation initiatives often lead customers to look at desktop and application virtualization. According to Gartner, “Although few organizations planned for the global circumstances of COVID-19, many will now decide to have some desktop virtualization presence to expedite business resumption.”
However, customers looking to embrace these technologies have faced several hurdles, including:
- Significant up-front CapEx investments for storage, compute, and network infrastructure
- Long planning, design, and procurement cycles
- High cost of adding additional capacity to meet demand
- Difficulty delivering a consistent user experience across locations and devices
These hurdles have often caused desktop transformation initiatives to fail fast, but there is good news on the horizon. Dell Technologies and VMware have come together to provide customers with a superior solution stack that will allow them to get started more quickly than ever, with simple and cost-effective end-to-end desktop and application virtualization solutions using NVIDIA vGPU and powered by VxRail.
Dell Technologies VDI solutions powered by VxRail
Dell Technologies VDI solutions based on VxRail feature a superior solution stack at an exceptional total cost of ownership (TCO). The solutions are built on Dell EMC VxRail and they leverage VMware Horizon 8 or Horizon Apps and NVIDIA GPU for those who need high-performance graphics. Wyse Thin and Zero client, OptiPlex micro form factor desktop, and Dell monitors are also available as part of these solutions. Simply plug in, power up, and provision virtual desktops in less than an hour, reducing the time needed to plan, design, and scale your virtual desktop and application environment.
VxRail HCI system software provides out-of-the-box automation and orchestration for deployment and day-to-day system-based operational tasks, reducing the overall IT OpEx required to manage the stack. You are not likely to find any build-it-yourself solution that provides this level of lifecycle management, automation, and operational simplicity
Dell EMC VxRail and NVIDIA GPU a powerful combination
Remote work has become the new normal, and organizations must enable their workforces to be productive anywhere while ensuring critical data remains secure.
Enterprises are turning to GPU-accelerated virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) because GPU-enabled VDI provides workstation-like performance, allowing creative and technical professionals to collaborate on large models and access the most intensive 3D graphics applications.
Together with VMware Horizon, NVIDIA virtual GPU solutions help businesses to securely centralize all applications and data while providing users with an experience equivalent to the traditional desktop.
NVIDIA vGPU software included with the latest VMware Horizon release, which is available now, helps transform workflows so users can access data outside the confines of traditional desktops, workstations, and offices. Enterprises can seamlessly collaborate in real time, from any location, and on any device.
With NVIDIA vGPU and VMware Horizon, professional artists, designers, and engineers can access new features such as 10bit HDR and high-resolution 8K display support while working from home by accessing their virtual workstation.
How NVIDIA GPU and Dell EMC VxRail power VDI
In a VDI environment powered by NVIDIA virtual GPU, the virtual GPU software is installed at the virtualization layer. The NVIDIA software creates virtual GPUs that enable every virtual machine to share a physical GPU installed on the server or allows for multiple GPUs to be allocated on a single VM to power the most demanding workloads. The NVIDIA virtualization software includes a driver for every VM. Because work that was previously done by the CPU is offloaded to the GPU, the users, even demanding engineering and creative users, have a much better experience.
Virtual GPU for every workload on Dell EMC VxRail
As more knowledge workers are added on a server, the server will run out of CPU resources. Adding an NVIDIA GPU offloads CPU operations that would otherwise use the CPU, resulting in an improved user experience and performance. We used the NVIDIA nVector knowledge worker VDI workload to test user experience and performance with NVIDIA GPU. The NVIDIA M10, T4, A40, RTX6000/8000 and V100S, all of which are available on Dell EMC VxRail, achieve similar performance for this workload.
Customers are realizing the benefits of increased resource utilization by leveraging GPU-accelerated Dell EMC VxRail to run virtual desktops and workstations. They are also leveraging these resources to run compute workloads, for example AI or ML, when users are logged off. Customers who want to be able to run compute workloads on the same infrastructure on which they run VDI, might leverage a V100S to do so. For the complete list, see NVIDIA GPU cards supported on Dell EMC VxRail.
With the prevalence of graphics-intensive applications and the deployment of Windows 10 across the enterprise, adding graphics acceleration to VDI powered by NVIDIA virtual GPU technology is critical to preserving the user experience. Moreover, adding NVIDIA GRID with NVIDIA GPU to VDI deployments increases user density on each server, which means that more users can be supported with a better experience.
To learn more about measuring user experience in your own environments, contact your Dell Account Executive.
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