Faculty Senate talks virtual desktops, thin clients

Analicia Haynes, Editor-in-Chief

The Faculty Senate discussed the possibility of implementing virtual desktops in areas across campus including academic departments and administration offices, with some exceptions.

Joshua Awalt, the interim assistant vice president of Information Technology Services, presented to the Faculty Senate and said virtual desktops have been on campus for several years; however, the push this year is to implement them all over campus in areas where they will work.

The refresh cycle is part of an initiative mentioned at a Jan. 18 Council on University Planning and Budget meeting.

The initiative includes upgrading and replacing Wi-Fi on campus, replacing hundreds of computers in several of the labs on campus and in classrooms with projectors and implementing virtual machines in areas except those that require Apple computers, certain power or certain software.

Awalt said the virtual desktops or machines will create a standardized using experience.

“It’s the same desktop no matter where you go,” Awalt said.

Awalt said though virtual desktops have been on campus for awhile, the Board of Trustees will have to approve purchasing thin clients or a machine with network connectivity that is compatible with the virtual desktop.

C.C. Wharram, a member of the Faculty Senate, said he remembers the campus using thin clients before.

“Can you do anything to reassure the people that I know who are going to read this and say, ‘Thin clients?’ and they’re going to come to me and say, ‘How different is the thin client experience in 2019 than what it was in 2008?’” Wharram asked.

Awalt said the technology has changed incredibly fast and the hardware is completely different and makes it no different than using a high-speed laptop or smart phone.

He also said the new 10 gigabyte connectivity on campus will ensure there is no bandwidth issues within any of the buildings.

Awalt said the virtual desktops will be implemented with the thin clients, and he said if approved by the Board of Trustees all the colleges on campus would receive an equal amount of thin clients and it would be left up to the deans to determine the need and therefore where they should be placed.

However, Wharram and other members on the Senate said the departments within the new college structure are not equal to one another in number, and this process might cause some problems.

Awalt said he was not trying to be political about it, he just wanted to be fair and divide the number that they are expected to receive by the number of the colleges and the library.

Billy Hung, recorder for the Senate, recommended Awalt talk to the Council of Deans or the vice president of academic affairs office to offer feedback and how they think it should be determined.

“This takes a little bit of heat off your seat,” Hung said.

Todd Bruns, the chair of the Senate, said to figure out a ratio that matches the reality.

Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].