New and emerging technologies in virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) allow businesses and employees more flexibility than ever before. With complex and data/graphic rich files, software, and platforms guiding design firm services across the globe, AutoDesk integration into a VDI seemed impossible. However, through strategic programming and planning, ISG has been able to successfully run VDI for the past two years allowing ISGers to exercise their ingenuity from anywhere, anytime.

Virtualization, Accessibility, and Flexibility

We have all heard the term virtualization in some shape or form – Cloud Computing, Citrix, VMware, or Microsoft Hyper-V. For those of us not privy to such techy discussions, virtualization, or VDI, at its core is simply running multiple servers or desktops on a single hardware host. VDI allows employees to access work files, software, and real-time documents from any device with internet access vs. being tied to local servers and limitations that come with such systems.

The new, faster, and more convenient VDI has become mainstream in the last five years. Who wouldn’t like the ability to connect to their work desktop from a phone, tablet, mac, windows PC, or simply inside a web browser – anytime, anywhere in the world with the only requirement being an internet connection?!

it-pictureWith this type of environment, users can connect and utilize company licensed software products from any device. Snowed in? Connect from home. Traveling? Connect from the airport, hotel, etc. The end user desktop has the same experience in all cases, assuming a good internet connection. This environment also allows a company to scale desktop performance up or down. If a user is working on a large project and needs more computer memory than currently allocated, the system will change settings in less than a few minutes; the same goes for hard drive space.

Many firms struggle with file size and accessibility issues. Prior to VDI, fifteen to twenty minute save and load times were the norm. With VDI, save and load times of a minute or less on even the largest files are normal, while small or typical office files take seconds. With over 230 architecture, engineering, environmental, and planning professionals across the Midwest, VDI was not only a defined need, but integration into AutoDesk products served as a critical component to success.

ISG IT Director and lead VDI integrator, Eric Eby, recently provided a keynote speech at the industry leading annual Midwest University conference in Minnesota to further explain ISG’s success with VDI AutoDesk integration.

“We were able to successfully run AutoDesk products in a VDI environment by utilizing vGPU or virtual Graphics Processing Unit. vGPU allows graphics cards to be installed in a server and virtualized so that GPU’s get passed through to a users Virtual Desktop. The virtualized graphics card contains graphic profiles that allow IT to configure how much of the graphics card a user gets. This can result in up to 32 users per graphics card providing custom and flexible employee solutions utilizing critical design products.”


While integration is not easy task, the below factors can positively impact efforts.

  1. Storage: The right storage hardware is at the heart of the system. SSD stands for Solid State Drive and can be thought of as an oversized and more sophisticated version of the humble USB memory stick. SSD provides a great option for large amounts of data and software. Other options include storage area network (SAN) providing access to consolidated, block level data storage.
  2. Speed: Increasing the speed of connectivity is highly recommended between virtual desktops and servers. With virtual desktops, faster speeds help with opening, saving, and interacting with anything that resides on a server.
  3. Wide Area Networks (WAN): Using anything less than fiber optic cables to expand communications links to a wider geographic area, is not stable. Investing in fiber is a wise investment to consider.

ISG professionals and clients have benefited from the mobility and flexibility of a VDI. Cloud providers like Microsoft Azure are also starting to offer vGPU desktops, with many others on deck to follow suit. With more and more employees wanting or needing to work from home, virtual desktops and program integration are the future for A/E industry workforce.

Want to check out ISG’s keynote video – see it here:

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Meet Eric Eby

A self-proclaimed geek at heart, Eric leads and manages ISG’s innovative IT infrastructure across the firm’s office locations throughout the Midwest. As Director of Information Technology, Eric is continually evaluating,...