Askham Bryan College implement Microsoft Remote Desktop 2012

Askham Bryan College is one of the fastest growing land based colleges in the country. The college needed to provide its staff with a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) Solution that met the needs and demands of all remote staff. The college approached various resellers for quotes on VDI solutions and costs were around £100,000. The college’s IT Department implemented a Microsoft Remote Desktop 2012 hybrid solution utilizing resources from both VMware and Hyper-V which saved them over £80,000. This not only provided a remote solution but a VDI Platform that would provide a return on investment and an saving on the total cost of ownership over the next five years estimated at £640,000.


Askham Bryan College currently has 8 centres across the North of England that provides HE and FE courses to approximate 7500 students. It is essential that college staff can access Askham Bryan IT resources whilst moving from sites and when using other academic institutes’ IT resources.

Askham Bryan College is like so many other academic establishments in the UK. We are constantly looking to drive down costs in the current climate and still deliver high quality IT Services for staff and students. The college felt that with all the new technologies hitting the current market, we should not only be looking to save money over the next five year’s but look at providing the college with a state of the art VDI infrastructure and remote access solution at a low cost.

Askham Bryan’s IT Department spent a considerable amount of time researching market leading vendors for a suitable VDI solution and the additional products that can enhance performance and end user experience. The college decided to invest in a Microsoft Remote Desktop (RDS) 2012 solution; this allowed the college to integrate other Microsoft products into the RDS solution through the use of the Microsoft campus agreement.


Askham Bryan College runs the majority of projects internally, not only to save on consultancy costs but to develop internal technical skills. Ryan Mangan the Head of IT Services designed the solution and built the server platform with Nathan Berry, one of the colleges IT Technician’s.

The Setup for the RDS 2012 solution:

  • ·         600 GB of space for the virtual machines on VMware
  • ·         6 VMware virtual machines running Microsoft Windows Server 2012
  • ·         2 HP ProLiant DL380 G6/8 Servers, Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V hosts
  • ·         2 HP Nvidia Quadro 2000 Graphics cards for Remote FX
  • ·         2 QNAP TS-1279U-E10G/2.88TB-SSD
  • ·         Remote Device licenses for 800 devices.


The VMware Virtual setup consisted of two active/active connection brokers configured with a SQL Express 2012 Server. We also built a Remote session host and one webserver/ Remote desktop gateway for external access. The final server we built in the VMware environment was the 2012 KMS server allowing Virtual desktop to obtain licenses without the input from administrators.

The two Hyper-v Hosts were configured to use Cluster shared volumes providing high availability. We installed the Nvidia Quardro 2000 graphics cards into the Hypervisors allowing us to use Remote FX. Both QNAP storage devices were configured to use RAID 6 to provide redundancy and increase performance.

The end result has provided improved performance, reliability and ease of management with reduced costs. All users receive standard desktops which has benefits for both administrators and end-users.

We are currently testing various thin client devices and the use of Windows thin PC on existing hardware. We will shortly be in a position to continue the rollout and plan to replace 60% of the college’s desktops with thin client devices over the next two years. We have also set the foundations for future Brings Your Own Device (BYOD) Projects.

This solution has exceeded all expectations and has been a big success within the college.

We would like to thank PHOENIX SOFTWARE LTD WWW.PHOENIXS.CO.UK for providing the licensing for this project

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