The IT service provider MATERNA uses a cloud computing model to provide complete training environments virtually and flexibly via the Web: With "Training in a Cloud", the company needed to configure user desktops for educational and training activities while sustainably reducing the cost of infrastructure and operation. The innovative concept is based on the desktop virtualization solution Citrix XenDesktop, the IBM Tivoli® Service Automation Manager and the software products developed by MATERNA ORBIS and DX-Union.
A major challenge for companies is managing training rooms for IT training: Because each periodic training generally needs a specific desktop configuration, so the training computer must be always completely refurbished. For more complex training - for example, for application developers or system administrators - it may take a few hours until the required applications and tools are installed on all devices. Once the course is completed, the work starts all over again because the computer must be prepared for the participants of the next training.
The IT service provider MATERNA knows this situation from its own experience. The company offers professional IT solutions for the optimization of business processes and workshops for IT Service Management / ITIL topic as well as training on the products of BMC Software and its own Workplace Management Solution DX -Union to. "We are developing for every customer tailor-made training, which we carry in our classrooms or at customer site," says Frank Wies Feller, Head of IT Management at MATERNA. "The administrative effort for the individual training, however, was considerably in many cases. In addition, we had to both on the client side as well as the backend hold powerful hardware resources that were rarely really busy. We therefore searched for a simpler and leaner way to operate the IT infrastructure for our training courses. "
In the area of user workplaces MATERNA had already gained some experience with technologies for desktop virtualization. Hence the idea to virtualize the user desktops for training activities and provide the services across the data center was created. "We wanted desktop management on the one hand to be very flexible and modular in design in order to depict diverse training requirements - on the other hand, our goal was to automate the configuration of the training environments as much as possible," explains Frank Wies Feller. "In addition, we pursued from the outset a cloud-based approach: The use and the organization of training should be browser based from any possible location, the entire infrastructure should be able to operate both in private clouds and in public clouds. For this "Training in a Cloud" concept combined two MATERNA own software products - the Workplace Management Suite DX-Union and the conference management software ORBIS - with the desktop virtualization solution Citrix XenDesktop and the IBM Tivoli Service Automation Manager.
For the provision of applications MATERNA uses the Application Streaming technology from XenDesktop: In accordance with the relevant training requirements, the required applications "on demand" to be streamed to the virtual desktop and executed in an isolated environment. XenDesktop can order within a few moments of individual components the user desktops for any training scenario. Students can use the virtual training environment from any device from - in a seminar room of MATERNA, the workstations in their companies or on their private home PC. The only entry requirement is a terminal with an Internet connection. When connected, all communications between the client computer and the data center is secured by the SSL-VPN solution Citrix Access Gateway.
The special feature of the "Training in a Cloud" concept is that it involves the entire business service from the conference planning to automatic provision of virtual training workstations. The event provider can write out training on the MATERNA seminar management software Orbis. These are then automatically available in the Internet about the MATERNA Self-Service Portal Caruso on the Internet where the student signing up for a training of their choice. After the end of the registration period, the organizer of the events can release the necessary training environments for the duration of the event. ORBIS passes this request in the background at the Workplace Management Solution DX-Union. Based on the technical requirements of the training, which are stored in a central service catalog, DX-Union met in time for the start of the course on the configuration of the virtual training environment. Thus, the solution ensures that the scheduled time for every participant an own training environment is in the data center. "Training in a Cloud" is not restricted to individual desktops, but also supports complex training environments with different back-end servers. The server workloads are likewise provided using the Citrix Provisioning Services of standardized images. The model of training, including the associated content can be easily stored as described in DX-Union.
"With 'Training in a Cloud' we were able to reduce the cost of setting up the training environments by around 90 percent," says Frank Wies Feller. "At the same time, we have gained an incredible flexibility: We are now in a position, at very short notice to organize and deliver training and unusual configurations. We have become completely independent of spatial and technical requirements, we don't have to take into consideration he space or the hardware facilities of a seminar room."
MATERNA can thus respond more effectively to the individual training needs of customers - and at the same time ensure a consistently high quality of training: Since the training desktops today run in fail-safe data center, they can even handle a hardware malfunction of a terminal in a few minutes: The user can immediately use the training environment on another computer and continue training.
"The 'In a cloud training' concept impressively demonstrates what cloud computing can do today," Frank Wies Feller summarizes. "With Citrix XenDesktop we have our idea of service-based provision of training desktops in a productive solution that has proven itself." Several training providers are currently testing "Training in a Cloud" and also want to use to virtualize their IT infrastructure and automate the complex seminar-management solution.
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