University of Pisa Powers Remote Learning and Research

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic brought fundamental changes in the way we work. Rather than commuting to offices, campuses and other workplaces, millions of people found themselves working from home offices. This shift to home-based work brought a dramatic increase in the need for IT resources that are made available remotely.

This was the case at the University of Pisa, where the IT organization needed to support tens of thousands of students and faculty members working remotely. One of the keys to meeting this need was the university’s virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) environment, which is based on hyperconverged (HCI) systems from Dell Technologies and software from VMware.

The VDI environment

The University of Pisa’s VDI environment is built on Dell EMC VxRail, with GPU-accelerated Dell EMC PowerEdge servers. At the heart of this environment is VMware Horizon, a leading VDI solution. VMware Horizon is designed to simplify the management and delivery of virtual desktops and applications to end users via a single platform. It helps the University of Pisa’s IT administrators control, manage and protect all of the Windows resources end users want, at the speed they expect.

The university’s IT leaders initially used VMware Horizon to meet the computing needs of laboratories, administrative offices and other university units. They then expanded the Horizon focus to encompass the use of virtual machines for high performance computing.

The university adopted Dell EMC VxRail for a seamless, curated and optimized HCI experience. VxRail simplifies infrastructure, eases scalability and offers high performing virtual desktop infrastructure solutions. Powered by Dell EMC PowerEdge servers, engineered jointly by Dell Technologies and VMware, and optimized for VMware vSAN storage virtualization software, VxRail enables faster, better and simpler delivery of VMware-virtualized applications to solve a wide range of IT challenges and support almost any use case — including VMware Horizon for VDI.

The power of virtualization

A commonality here is the virtualization of IT resources. Virtualization is one of the keys to gaining the greatest value from the university’s investments, according to Maurizio Davini, Chief Technology Officer for the University of Pisa. With VMware vSAN, for example, the university can gain the benefits of hyperconverged storage stretched across several data centers. That enables the easy migration of workloads from one data center to another, while simplifying management and disaster recovery.

If a researcher needs to have access to the machine, to install their software, to do development and so on, they typically prefer VMs because they are more flexible.” – Maurizio Davini, Chief Technology Officer, @UniPisa

And that flexibility is one of the all-important outcomes here. With virtualized IT resources made available via VDI and other systems, the University of Pisa can now accommodate students and faculty members who learn and work from anywhere, while having the flexibility to meet new demands in the future as they arise.

To learn more

For a closer look at the virtualized environment at the University of Pisa:



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