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Nerdio Manager for Enterprise Case Study: Kaplan

Case Study

Learn how a global enterprise organization deploys, manages, and cost-optimizes Azure Virtual Desktop company-wide with Nerdio Manager for Enterprise quickly and easily. 

 

About Kaplan

Kaplan is a global provider of educational and career services for individuals, schools, and businesses. Founded in 1938 in Brooklyn, NY as a test prep company, Kaplan now has operations in nearly 30 countries and serves one million-plus students and thousands of educational and corporate clients. It’s known for expanding access to education and pioneering digital learning technologies. In addition to prepping students for high stakes exams, Kaplan offers undergraduate and graduate degrees and helps universities enroll new international students, build online programs, and create new career readiness programs for students. 

Kaplan’s Metis business is a leading provider of data science skills training for individuals and businesses. Kaplan is also a leading provider of professional instruction for licensing exams for attorneys, physicians, and nurses. Kaplan’s IT team works constantly to ensure access and productivity for all its users. 

The Situation

Responsible for all end-user computing for Kaplan, the Technology Services team is comprised of desktop services, desktop engineering, service desk and identity and access management for Kaplan’s teams throughout North America. In particular, the desktop engineering portion of the team maintains their complex and vital virtual desktop environments. 

The use of virtual desktops has been part of Kaplan’s business continuity blueprint. The IT team’s goal is to keep widely dispersed users running despite myriad complications, natural disasters, power and connectivity or other technical issues.  

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a substantial increase in the number of users needing to work from home in a secure environment. From the onset of public health restrictions in March of 2020, Kaplan’s IT team prepared for the challenges to come by seeking options for secure remote work. This need for flexibility also necessitated rapid deployment of a scalable technical solution. “We had to fast-track the ability for people to work from home in a secure environment, so we scaled up virtual desktops,” said Chad Marino, Executive Director, Technology Services, Kaplan North America.  

This included the remote use of company-issued laptops connecting to Kaplan resources through a VPN or virtual desktop. The company’s call center -which primarily used on-premises desktops– were able to use personal computers through virtual desktop technology.

The Solution 

When IT leadership was looking for the best way to implement its virtual desktop plans, they reviewed several alternatives, including Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD). As a Microsoft Azure customer, Kaplan knew that AVD was well-suited to their needs. While very familiar with its usability strengths, the team was also focused on managing costs. The ability to easily scale to the users’ peaks and valleys was an important factor in this regard.  

In choosing the most effective solution in terms of AVD deployment, management, and cost-optimization, Kaplan reviewed many options. With recommendations from Microsoft, combined with their own research, the Kaplan team held a “bake-off” pitting Nerdio against a similar product on the market. 

“We were blown away by Nerdio Manager for Enterprise’s capabilities in our demo. Our internal team was excited to show off all it could do,”– Chad Marino, Executive Director, Technology Services, Kaplan North America.

The Results 

Nerdio Manager for Enterprise has exceeded expectations as Kaplan’s chosen solution. Its enterprise-level features supply the automation, management, scalability, and cost optimization that are critical to the virtual desktop initiative at Kaplan. Nerdio offers keen insight into how the system is working: how many users are connected, statistics around CPU utilization, latency, and login times, which are all extremely valuable as the Kaplan team manages the enterprise’s virtual desktop environments.   

“From a pain-point perspective, Nerdio Manager for Enterprise’s auto-scaling is a key functionality. We couldn’t have done what we needed to do without that,” Marino said.

“We’ve never had the kind of visibility we get with Nerdio,”– Chad Marino, Executive Director, Technology Services, Kaplan North America. 

“Our Nerdio team has been great as we continued our evaluation and we scaled this out to a large number of users,” according to Marino. “We wanted to make sure it could do everything we needed; solid automation without administrative headaches. And again, the cost was so important. We wanted to make sure we could turn on machines when we needed them and turn them off when we didn’t – without the constant involvement of our IT team,” he continued.

Nerdio Manager for Enterprise can save enterprise organizations up to 75% on Azure compute and storage costs through its advanced auto-scaling capabilities. Download the application today from the Azure marketplace and begin a free 30-day trial: nerdio.com/nerdio-manager-for-enterprise

DOWNLOAD THE CASE STUDY HERE

Find Nerdio in the Azure Marketplace: nerdio.com/nerdio-manager-for-enterprise

AVD MANAGEMENT

Multi-Cloud and On-Premises Deployment with Azure Stack HCI (Coming Soon)

Deploy Azure Virtual Desktop in Azure and extend the session host VM placement to on-premises and other cloud using Azure Stack HCI. Nerdio Manager automates deployment of session hosts, AVD agent installation, and full integration into the AVD deployment in Azure.

Create a brand new Azure Virtual Desktop environment or allow Nerdio Manager to discover an existing deployment, connecting to existing resources, and manage them.

Deploy Nerdio Manager from Azure Marketplace and configure a new AVD environment with an easy to follow, step-by-step configuration wizard. First group of users can access their AVD desktop in less than 2 hours.

Service providers, system integrators, and consultants can leverage Nerdio Manager’s scripted AVD deployment template. Create complete environments with desktop images, host pools, and auto-scaling in minutes.

Create and manage AVD environments that span Azure regions and subscriptions. Quickly link Vnets and resource groups and manage AVD deployments world-wide from unified portal.

Link multiple Azure tenants under the same Nerdio Manager instance and manage AVD deployments that span Azure AD tenants. User identities and session host VMs can run in separate tenants for maximum flexibilty and security.

Deploy and manage AVD environments that span across sovereign Azure Clouds. Cross-sovereign cloud support allows identity (e.g. users and groups) to be in one Azure Cloud, while session host VMs are in another Azure Cloud.

Management of workspaces, host pools, app groups, RemoteApps & custom RDP settings

Administer every aspect of AVD with Nerdio Manager including workspaces, host pools, application groups, RemoteApp publishing, RDP properties, session time limits, FSLogix, and much, much more. Every Azure service that AVD relies on can be managed with Nerdio Manager.

Deploy and manage AVD session host VMs. Hosts can be created manually or with auto-scaling, deleted on-demand or on a schedule, re-imaged to apply updates, run a scripted action, resized, put into or taken out of drain mode, and more.

Manage user sessions across the entire AVD environment, within a workspace, host pool or on a single host. Monitor session status, disconnect or log off the user, shadow or remote control to provide support, or send user an on-screen message.

End users have the ability to log into Nerdio Manager with their Azure AD credentials and manage their own session, restart their desktop VM, or start a session host if none are started in a host pool. (Ability to resize and re-image own desktop is coming soon.)

Create, link, and manage Azure Files shares including AD domain join. Synchronize Azure Files permissions with host pools, configure quotas, and enable SMB multi-channel. Manage file lock handles and configure Azure Files auto-scaling to increase quota as needed.

Create, link, and manage Azure NetApp Files accounts, capacity pools and volumes. Configure provisioned volume size, monitor usage, and use auto-scaling to automatically adjust volume and capacity pool size to accommodate the needed capacity and latency requirements.

FSLogix configuration can be complex and overwheling, but not with Nerdio Manager. Create one or more FSLogix profiles with all the needed options, point at one or more Azure Files, Azure NetApp Files, or server locations and select from VHDLocations, CloudCache and Azure Blob storage modes.

Multiple identity source profiles can be set up and used automatically on different host pools. Active Directory, Azure AD DS, and Native Azure AD are all supported. Choose the appropriate directory profile when adding a host pool and all VMs will automatically join this directory when being created.

Create a copy of a host pool with all of its settings: auto-scale config, app groups and RemoteApps, MSIX AppAttach, user/group assignments, VM deployment settings, etc. Save time by creating host pool “templates” that can be cloned to any Workspace, Azure region or subscription instead of starting from scratch.

Apply user session time limits at host pool level. Automatically log off disconnected sessions, limit the duration of idle sessions, control empty RemoteApp session behavior and more.

Assign Azure AD users to personal desktops to ensure the user will log into a pre-configured VM. Un-assign personal desktops from users who leave the organization and re-use these VMs for new users.

Pre-configure custom Azure tags for all Azure resources associated with each host pool. Tags can be used for charge-back and cost allocation by host pool.

When creating session hosts using NV-series VMs NVIDIA and AMD GPU drivers are automatically installed.

Move existing host pools from Fall 2019 (Classic) object model to Spring 2020 (ARM) object model. Choose to whether to move or copy user assignments. Existing session hosts are automatically migrated or new ones can be created in the ARM host pool.

Automatically enable and configure AVD integration with Azure monitor. Zero configuration required. Azure Monitor Insights for AVD can be used instead of or in conjunction with Sepago Monitor.

AVD personal desktops to Windows 365 Cloud PC migration (Coming Soon)

Migrate users from AVD personal desktops to Windows 365 Enterprise Cloud PCs using an existing image and user assignment. (Coming soon)

WINDOWS 365 ENTERPRISE MANAGEMENT

Cloud PC License Usage Optimization (Coming Soon)

Cloud PC device lifecycle management

Cloud PC user group assignment

Intune primary user management on Cloud PCs

Migrate AVD personal desktops to Cloud PCs (Coming Soon)

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