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Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) for Remote Access

Thornton Tomasetti has invested in a Virtual Device Infrastructure (VDI) system to provide high-
performance remote access to standard company systems and software from anywhere (in North
America) from any device.

Please read through the notes below to understand what this is and how to use it.

The purposes of the VDI system include:


If an employee wants to work on projects requiring tools like Revit, Tekla or SAP from home
at night or on a weekend, they can do so without borrowing a loaner laptop.
As part of our Disaster Recovery program. If an office becomes unavailable (snow day,
earthquake, police activity nearby, etc.), displaced employees can access company
resources from anywhere else they can get an internet connection.

OUR VDI SETUP

Were using Citrix XenDesktop to deliver remote access to specially-configured virtual machines,
physically located in Chicago, from anywhere in the USA. Using special client software (free from Citrix),
any modern system can connect to our VDI infrastructure and, with appropriate user credentials, access
one of the available VMs.

We have three typical machine configurations available for employee use:

IL1 Administrative Desktop (20)


A basic desktop image with our default tools and utilities (MS Office, a variety of viewers, Bluebeam,
etc.).

IL1 Structural Desktop (16)


A typical structural image with Tekla Structures added. All CAD/BIM and structural software typically
available is on this image.

IL1 Structural Desktop with GPU (14)


The same as above with the addition of a powerful GPU to handle complicated screen updates.
Anything that can take advantage of a GPU will look better on these systems.

Each tier of VMs is more expensive than the previous and consumes more resources to operate. Please
use the lowest configuration that serves your needs.

HOW TO CONNECT
There are multiple ways to connect:

Work Computer
For your work (Windows) computer, we will install the Citrix Receiver software automatically when
you are granted access to the VDI system. Once installed, launch the Receiver client and you should
connect automatically. For a Mac, see the Home Computer section below.
Home Computer
For a home computer, visit http://receiver.citrix.com/ to download and install the client. Launch it,
enter your email address then username and password when prompted, and you should be
connected.

Mobile Device
For a mobile device, you can get the Citrix Receiver client from the corresponding app store, though
a visit to http://receiver.citrix.com/ may work as well.

Shared Computer
You can also connect by visiting our VDI website (https://vdi.thorntontomasetti.com). That site may
offer to install the client for you, or it may allow you to run a session without a permanent client
install. Remember to log off of the website when finished on a shared computer.

The various Receiver interfaces differ slightly, but they all allow you to pick from available desktop types
(Citrix sometimes calls these applications). Select one or more to add to the main window, then just
click an item to launch it. The desktop should be ready to go, in which case you will be logged in
automatically. If the desktop is not finished booting, you may need to wait a while. Theres not much
feedback when connections dont work, but itll be obvious if you dont see a desktop appear within a
handful of seconds.

You can use two screens, if you have them. Drag the window to a position where it is split across both
screens and then click the full-screen control. For this to work on a Mac running Mavericks, you need to
disable a Mission Control preference that makes each monitor a separate Space.

There are two ways to close out a VDI session:

Disconnect
Close the VDI window or select the Disconnect option where you would otherwise select Log Off. A
disconnected session stays alive and waits for you to reconnect. This is fine if you are switching
between machines or otherwise need to go offline for a short time, but it wastes an expensive VM if
youre not going to come back to it for a long time. The system is configured to log off a
disconnected session after two hours.

Log Off, Restart or Shut Down


Use the normal Windows shutdown process to log off, restart or shut down the VM. The VDI system
will shut down or boot up unused systems as needed. Your preferences, desktop items, and other
settings will be preserved, but anything else changed on the C: drive will be discarded so the next
user will have a clean system to work with.

If you are using a public, shared, or loaned system, be sure to log off of the Citrix Receiver website or
application to ensure that nobody else can reconnect as you when you walk away.

GETTING HELP

Solutions Center personnel are familiar with the VDI environment and can provide basic troubleshooting
assistance. They can also help with all normal support issues that happen to arise on a VDI machine.
Known issues:
There are a limited number of actual VMs available for each type. We anticipate demand will be
high. Please dont squat on a VM. If youre done using it, or wont need it for the next hour or
more, log off (dont just disconnect) to make the system available to others.

Logons take multiple minutes, and may be further delayed if the VM has recently started up. This
should be similar to a normal desktop.

System performance may be sluggish if the VM has just finished starting up. Most of the time, the
system is quite responsive a few minutes after logon.

The System is located in the Chicago office. If you are working with data far from the Chicago office,
file operations will be affected by typical WAN performance constraints. In most cases, this will still
be better than performance opening the same files via VPN on a laptop.

This system will not work if you cant get to the internet, or if your connection is particularly low
quality. Any circuit that qualifies as broadband should be adequate. DSL will probably work
unless youre sharing the circuit with an entire hotel.

Extended VDI sessions on mobile networks can be expensive, particularly if you are roaming
internationally. If you know you will be connected for a long time, try to find a free or low-cost
wired or Wi-Fi circuit to use instead.

Safari on a Mac may not correctly launch VDI sessions when starting from the website linked
above. Launcher stub files may be saved to the Downloads folder instead of opening a session.

If you can log on to the system but cant connect to a VM, either all the VMs are in use or theres a
good chance that the server is experiencing problems. Try a different machine configuration or
reach out to Solutions Center and we will investigate.