‘Virtual’ Desktops Piloted By CFE FCU

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LAKE MARY, Fla. – The computer desktops at CFE FCU last twice as long as those at other credit unions and they're most likely more secure, because the desktops are virtual–CFE is the first credit union in the country to deploy the pint-sized machines by Pano Logic at 300 workstations across the $1.2 billion credit union.

The 2-by-4-by-4-inch virtual machines are zero-client -they store no operating system, applications or files. Instead, each machine connects to the data center server at each branch, which contains a personalized image of that user's system, applications and files. Users can plug any legitimate peripheral into a USB hub connected to the virtual desktop.

The virtual devices last longer than the typical desktop–as long as eight years--because they contain no moving parts, according to Kevin Wright, vice president of IT for the credit union.

In addition, virtual desktops use only 3 watts of electricity compared with the typical desktop, which can suck up to 450 watts, Wright said, noting that can be key during a disaster, when running off a generator, he said.

The hardware and desktop management software are provided by Redwood City, Calif.-based Pano Logic and run on free ESX virtualization platform software provided by Palo Alto, Calif.-based Vmware.

I can schedule Pano to do automatic updates and reboots, Wright told the Credit Union Journal. I don't have to depend on the end user to reboot, so I'm no longer behind on patching.

CFE will roll out the Microsoft Windows 7 operating system to the 300 virtual desktops in December, a task that will take all of an hour using Pano Manager, Wright said.

Wright said he can set up a new desktop for an employee in two to five minutes. I can deploy 25 virtual desktops for training sessions with a couple mouse clicks.

Technical support personnel travel 75% less to troubleshoot at CFE's far-flung branches than when full desktops were the norm, thanks to Pano Manager, Wright said.

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