A student uses a virtual PC in the Lockwood Cybrary.
It’s not often that we can pull something over UB’s
technically savvy students, but this fall, CIT replaced nearly 50
personal computers with virtual desktop devices in the 2nd Floor
Lockwood Cybrary...and no one has said a word.
The Virtual Desktop Initiative is a pilot project to replace
personal computer workstations in the computing sites with small
“zero client” devices, specifically HP’s EVGA
PD02 model. The zero client box provides display, keyboard
and mouse connectivity to a virtual workstation emulated on a
server. The zero client also provides USB and headphone jack
for remote storage and audio support.
Saira Hasnain, UB’s director of Enterprise Infrastructure
Services, has been directing this pilot project. “We
tried four different vendor’s devices, and selected one for
its best performance and cost effectiveness," she states.
“Many vendors provide this type of technology. At the end of
the day, big hardware is replaced by little hardware.”
The advantages of this pilot for students are the removal of the
bulky desktop unit from under Cybrary tables, allowing more space
for personal items, and significantly faster logins (10-20 seconds
faster). The exact same software is available as on a regular
“I think I didn’t notice the difference because we
(college students; our generation) have become desensitized to
technological changes,” said Anneka Cantone (Hutton), a
senior studying Biological Sciences. “They happen so often,
and things are constantly improving, getting faster, and becoming
smaller, that I hardly even notice anymore.”
UB benefits from the zero client too. The devices cost far less
than a PC to initially purchase, and use significantly less energy
to operate. In fact, the Virtual Desktop Initiative pilot
works toward UB’s commitment to environmental stewardship.
The zero client devices are expected to last longer than a typical
PC too, further reducing future investment.
Faculty should have no concerns since exactly the same software
is available. A potential advantage would be for these zero client
devices to access multiple virtual desktops so students could
potentially mount specialty software from school or departmental
Jason Distefano, a junior studying Business Administrative,
added, “I have been at UB for three years and use Lockwood
all the time, and I didn’t notice any difference between the
computers. Honestly, I didn’t even notice that the
tower was gone.”
Remarking on the lack of student concern, Saira said,
“It’s magic, as far as they’re