Between heaven and earth

    This story is about one of the projects implementing IT solutions, namely, about the deployment of a system of virtual workplaces for employees of the Sukhoi Civil Aircraft company. And we chose it not by chance! After all, the successful work of many enterprises and organizations, especially such high-tech ones as the aircraft industry enterprises, depends on modern IT infrastructure today.

    IBS Platformix system integrator has deployed Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) for employees of this company. It was based on hardware from several manufacturers, including Lenovo servers and thin clients.

    What to replace the PC?

    VDI infrastructure is often used as an alternative to PCs, replacing obsolete personal computers with it at the workplace of employees. Cheaper thin clients (TK) are purchased for equipment of workplaces instead of PCs, and old computers continue to work as TKs until physical failure. It is characteristic that TCs consume less electricity compared to conventional PCs, even taking into account the power consumption of servers and disk arrays in the data center, which also constitute the VDI infrastructure. In addition, VDI-based workplace maintenance is less labor-intensive, which allows IT staff to be freed up for other tasks.

    This project is exactly the case. At the time of its preparation, the company's IT infrastructure included hundreds of workstations of development engineers and about a thousand personal computers of office users. This heterogeneous park of personal systems consisted of devices of different models and configurations, which complicated and increased the cost of their maintenance. Moreover, at that time they were already outdated and almost completely subject to replacement.

    In addition to replacing PCs and workstations, the company had another important task - to increase information security to protect intellectual property and prevent data leaks. And the overgrown and complex fleet of legacy equipment made it difficult to solve the accumulated problems and tasks in traditional ways, for example, using a VPN.

    Thus, the main reasons for starting this project were, firstly, the need to replace the inherited PC fleet and, secondly, the need to organize transparent cross-platform secure remote access with the ability to connect from unauthorized devices.

    In the VDI project, the company saw an opportunity to comprehensively solve many problems with access to various services, and thin clients not only provided the convenience of centralized management / administration and security, but also had an aesthetic appearance and compact dimensions.

    It should be noted that a significant part of personal computers was subject to replacement, only, as usual, the budget was limited, so it was important to spend every ruble rationally, choosing the best solution from several competing offers. And this decision had to cope with rather “difficult” tasks.

    Workstation Alternative

    Total office users numbered about 1,000 people, another 400 people worked with demanding graphic applications. They had to either provide powerful workstations, or use a more modern solution - VDI.

    In particular, the company "Sukhoi Civil Aircraft" uses in the design and technological preparation of production a rather complex architecture of information systems. Design is carried out in CATIA and NX, while the aircraft has a fully digitized 3D model. AutoCAD is used for partial registration of 2D geometry and for subsequent transfer of design documentation to several manufacturers. Engineering calculations for strength, aerodynamics, fluid and gas dynamics are carried out in NASTRAN / PATRAN and ANSYS systems, the unified storage of engineering data is carried out in the Teamcenter system.

    Although in early 2015, VMware announced support for NVIDIA GRID vGPU in VMware Horizon and vSphere solutions, implementing such solutions on VDI is not an easy task, requiring serious resources, cost, and a competent approach, but it was successfully solved. The results turned out to be quite decent, both technically and financially.

    Results of implementation

    As a result of the implementation of the VDI project, Sukhoi Civil Aircraft received a higher level of protection when transmitting and storing important information, ensured the centralized management of the IT infrastructure of workplaces and the provision of necessary IT services to employees. 1400 users were transferred to the VDI architecture, including 400 3D VDI places. As a result, it turned out that the cost of implementing VDI was comparable to the replacement of the PC fleet.

    In the VDI architecture, all data is stored on servers and data storage systems in the data center. This solution provides much more efficient use of computational and storage resources compared to full-featured workstations, and also provides functional tools for centralized administration of workstations.

    An important factor is also the centralized security of the VDI infrastructure and the very fact of storing business-critical information in the data center, the physical security of which is maintained at a high level.

    Another advantage of VDI is that when a need arises for a new workplace, it is created in any available configuration, and when it is no longer necessary, it is also simply deleted. Thus, in the presence of modern Internet channels, it is possible to allocate serious computing power to users anywhere in the country, which cannot be done with a physical machine that stands under the table.

    When implementing such solutions, it is important to choose the right software and hardware complex - the basis of VDI.

    How this project was implemented

    To optimize the cost of the solution were chosen, in particular, Lenovo servers and VMware virtualization platform. In addition to the cost, the equipment was selected according to three criteria: a proven supplier (as a guarantee of solution reliability), the possibility of easy scaling (in perspective), as well as its effective work in a heterogeneous IT landscape.

    The project was carried out in three stages. At the end of 2015, deliveries of equipment began, at the beginning of 2016 - its installation. Later, additional supplies of equipment were made to scale the system.

    Before the start of the project, the company independently tested various platforms. After testing, IBS Platformix implemented a pilot project by deploying virtual desktops for several users. The concept check proved successful, and it was decided to deploy a full-scale system.

    For the optimal cost of the solution, several variants of equipment configurations with different performance parameters were considered. In the development of specifications, much attention had to be paid to the details, planning a solution based on the prospects for scaling and growth.

    The customer, together with IBS Platformix, designed and designed the future system. The system integrator delivered VMware software and IT systems, installed the equipment and implemented the VDI system, deployed a productive system of virtual desktops, including migrated users, launched the system into trial operation, transferred it to commercial operation and provided warranty post-project support.

    The infrastructure of VMware Horizon virtual workplaces in a complex solved all the tasks associated with the creation, provision and support of virtual desktops. The old PCs (for simple tasks) and the new Lenovo ThinkCentre thin clients were used as a terminal for “delivering” the virtual desktop.

    Lenovo offers a range of thin clients. Thin client ThinkCentre M910 Tiny - one of the most compact in this class of equipment.

    However, the main equipment in the VDI infrastructure is not in the workplace, but in the data center.

    "Stuffing" data center

    The server hardware is located in the data center of the Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company on the territory of the enterprise. For client support with resource-intensive graphics graphics tasks, 13 servers are involved in the following configuration:

    • Lenovo NeXtScale nx360 M5
    • 2 x Intel® Xeon® CPU E5-2667 v4 @ 3.20GHz
    • 512GB RAM
    • 3 x NVIDIA GRID K2

    As for the equipment of the automated workplace, the machines for working with graphics differ only in the capacity of the RAM: 32 GB of RAM is installed on the productive systems, while on the rest - 6 GB. It uses an economical graphic profile (220q). In terms of the performance required for modeling systems, this was enough.

    Servers with virtual workstations and servers with information systems of the company are located in one data center and are connected by high-performance 10 Gbit / s channels through the server farm switching system. Client workstations connect to servers via LAN (100 Mbit / s), and part of the AWS from remote sites are connected to the data center via secure WAN channels.

    A compact corporate-class data center on 24 racks is equipped with precision air conditioners, and four 64 kW UPS and a rechargeable battery provide approximately 3 hours of battery life under standard load. This amount of time is necessary due to the lack of a DGU, which was not installed due to the complexity of the installation on the territory of the OKB.

    Opt for density

    One of the main decisions in the project was the Lenovo NeXtScale solution - a high-density hardware platform. As an alternative, traditional rack-mount servers were considered, however, since the data center area was limited, the choice was made in favor of high-density equipment. In the same data center, a high-performance Lenovo cluster was previously deployed.

    High-performance hardware and software (Lenovo server nodes and ANSYS software products) will soon be commissioned.

    Based on the Lenovo NeXtScale server infrastructure was formed - a single platform for demanding tasks. Servers support flexible mixed storage configurations.
    High-density hardware platforms are used when there is no possibility to place standard additional equipment in the existing data center. The cost of its installation and provision of work is lower than the creation of a second data center or the risks of financial loss of a business from the mismatch of IT infrastructure to real needs.

    Creating a VDI computing platform involved optimizing space utilization, while Lenovo solutions allow you to place 12 servers in a 6U rack space.

    Note that this project uses two types of server nodes. The first is used for tasks with heavy graphics. On servers of this type, two NVIDIA K2 cards are installed. Another type is standard server nodes that support office users.

    Lenovo n400 chassis and computing nodes Lenovo nx360 M5

    What is the result?

    This project is one of Russia's largest 3D VDI projects and the first such project in Russia, implemented on an industrial scale - for 1,400 users. It was implemented by Lenovo and IBS Platformix in the complex: from the preparation of the TZ and the delivery of the necessary equipment to post-project support. An important feature of the project was the preservation of the customer's investments through the use of obsolete PCs as thin clients: for two more years, these PCs were used in the 3D VDI system.

    In general, as a result of the project implementation, the following main advantages were obtained:

    • the ability to dynamically manage computational resources;
    • unification of the park software and arm;
    • centralized administration software and AWP;
    • a significant reduction in the number of incidents;
    • reduction of terms for provision of new workstations;
    • increased data storage security;
    • reducing the cost of maintaining remote offices.

    It is worth mentioning some specific features that need to be taken into account when implementing VDI projects:

    • User data is located on the disks of storage systems in the data center, the cost of which significantly exceeds the cost of disks in the PC.
    • The organization of the VDI infrastructure requires specialized software from vendors such as Microsoft, Citrix, VMware, etc.
    • Servers and disk arrays are installed in an expensive data center.

    This is not the first VDI project of Lenovo in Russia. Typically, such solutions are implemented, starting with a pilot test, when virtual desktops are deployed for several users, as was the case here. Based on the results of this phase, a decision is made on further deployment.

    The main driver for implementing VDI systems is data security and integrity, centralization of management and administration. As for the company "Sukhoi Civil Aircraft", this system was another important step in helping new and promising airliners to rise into the sky.

    Learn more about Lenovo products at this link .

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