Monika Bhardwaj, Cloud Consultant at Kasna
6 Minute Read
We are all learning new ways of working remotely and how to manage the IT overheads as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Users are demanding a quicker way to start using the system, where on the other hand, IT Teams are wanting to support the system, more securely.
This can easily be achieved by using Desktop as a Service (Daas) – a cloud computing offering that runs on third party hosted Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). All the resources are managed by the third party such as compute, storage and networking – including the cloud machines. The Daas provider lets the end-user use the desktop anytime, anywhere. The only thing required is a browser, internet connection and user login.
Benefits of considering a Daas?
- Easier to implement and use.
- Minimum to no CaPEX. Only OpEx will incur, unless the organisation chooses to run on-premise.
- Deploying desktops as-and-when required, based on user needs.
- Easy for IT operations to monitor the logs, usage, security of the system.
- BYOD ability.
Below, I will try to explain a specific Daas Service powered by Nutanix.
What is Nutanix?
Nutanix is a company that provides a scalable Desktop as a Service (DaaS) solution to run applications on various platforms including On-premise, On-cloud, and Distributed Cloud. Nutanix is considered to be a secure IaaS Solution, as it is created on Hyperconverged Infrastructure Technology (HCI) which can easily integrate with Compute, Storage, Networking, Security, and more.
Because of that, the application orchestration is in-built, which makes it easy for an IT or Operations Team to manage their systems easily from a remote location. Detailed information can be found in this solution brief. Nutanix claims to make the VDI experience a more modern, straightforward and efficient solution compared to the usual VDI competence in the market from products by Citrix and other competitors.
Which are the major cloud platforms Nutanix can be implemented on?
- Google Cloud Platform
- Amazon Web Services
- Microsoft Azure
The DaaS runs on the XI Frame, which is known to be a secure cloud platform giving flexibility to teams of any size whether they be Enterprise, ISVs to deliver applications, software-based applications to end-users, or desktop solutions.
The major benefit of this framework is that it is very easy for an IT team to automate the provisioning and deprovisioning of resources across IaaS based on the client’s requirements unlike, other VDI solutions like VMware or Citrix – that requires a complete setup of the landscape architecture, devops principles and other activities.
To understand more about the XI Frame, you can refer to their complete documentation.
In this article we will learn more about how Nutanix works with Google Cloud Platform and what are the main actions required for its successful setup.
To make a common use case for Nutanix clearer, I will explain it with a scenario.
Imagine there is a university called KAN. The university is offering different courses. Students are enrolled across the globe, and considering it is a distance learning environment, the University is struggling with many challenges including:
- Ensuring that the courses they are providing to the enrolled students are secure.
- Course content not being accessed by any external parties.
- The school having control over the data students can access.
- An IT Team not having a centralised location to be able to resolve the issues on students’ workstations, i.e.laptops/desktops.
- Cost incurred to manage operations.
- Time invested by each party – School, IT staff and students.
The main requirement of KAN is to look at a VDI Solution, which must include a rapid provisioning process of Microsoft RDS environment with an easy wizard-based control panel in the browser. To meet these requirements, KAN have started considering a multi-regional, secure implementation of a Google Cloud Platform VDI solution with Nutanix. KAN currently has an IT team responsible for setting up and evaluating a test drive version of the solution.
As a part of the IT administration team, you have been asked to start working on the initial setup and play with the sandbox environment to ensure that this is a secure solution meeting all the requirements of the University. Since this is a Sandbox environment, only key team members are involved in it and the tasks they would do are listed below.
How will it work for IT Admin?
- Create your Frame login.
- As a standard authentication process, users will receive a verification email. This process of User account verification and spinning up their instance takes 10-15 minutes ideally.
- Once the verification step is finished, users are asked to login at a specific link [Product team to be contacted for the org specific VDI links].
- After successful login, the user will see an admin dashboard console as shown in the screenshot below.
The landing page will contain some options. On the left hand side, you can see an admin panel, which has various configuration options, which will help the admins to manage & monitor their instance remotely.
Now I will briefly touch on some of the key options.
- Summary – gives an overall summary of the instance, sessions, and cloud provider.
- Sandbox – serves as the basis for actual Production instances. Sandbox provides the flexibility to install or update systems as an administrator.
- LaunchPads – Nutanix provides options to customise look and feel of the desktop or applications. If you want to create a custom desktop, click on ‘Add a Launchpad’.
- Settings – the key option for managing the various settings of EUI & VDI such as Sessions, Networking, Availability zones and so on.
- Users – add multiple users for remote desktop use. I will explain this use case in detail in the next section.
- Status – this will be key as an IT Team to keep an eye on the servers, their workloads, IPs, and status… here is the screenshot of it:
How to set up a Virtual Machine
- This can be done by logging into Admin panel
- Select settings
- Configure CVM
- Add Hosting Details, File Settings
You can add other details such as network settings and Citrix cloud settings. Once everything is set up, your dashboard will look similar to this screenshot.
How to test the Desktop
To test the Desktop or Application, an Admin needs to click on the ‘Launchpad’ button in the upper right corner as shown below.
Once the Launchpad button is clicked, Back-end resources will start the processes internally to spin up the virtual environment, which will have all the software required by the students and will look similar to the screenshot below. Look and feel can be customized a tiny bit.
To add or update the cloud platform of the organisation, such as in our case adding Google Cloud from the Admin panel in few simple steps:
- Select your organisation name that needs an update.
- Click on three dots that will give you the option of ‘Cloud Accounts’ .
- In Cloud Accounts, you will see 3 options: Google, Azure, and AWS. Select Google, enter the other details
- Select Create.
After a few minutes…voilà! Your organisation’s cloud platform has been created!
How to add users
Next logical step would be to add users, select ‘Users’ from the Admin panel
then click on invite Users.
- A Pop-up window opens
- Add email Ids of the Users (max.100 at once)
- Select their role
- Click Invite
(Multiple roles can be added to a User Profile)
Once the Users are added, they will receive an email to set a password. After setting the password, they will be asked to login with their credentials. Their desktop is then ready for use.
A student can now click on the desktop icon and navigate to their remote desktop environment.
In conclusion, this could be an effective, robust, file-based, and cost-effective solution for distributed teams. I have used the sandbox version of the product and found it pretty easy to configure each component.