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Virtual Pro Workstations

How Graphics Workstations make it a high-performance choice for Design and Media professionals

By Sashishekhar Panda
May 28, 2021
6 min read

While the world has quickly adapted to a remote working model based on the cloud, this is not fully true (yet) for the creative, design and graphic professionals, who are still tied to their high-end expensive workstations with specialised graphic cards to render and create complex images or videos. In this work from anywhere scenario, there is a huge need to enable graphic design professionals to collaborate in real-time on large or complex designs. However, this is very difficult in the current setup, as user files are typically stored locally on workstations.

Graphics workstations are extremely expensive and require specialised hardware. For example, most graphic design software is GPU intensive, and hence, you would need workstations that have faster processors. You will also need a huge amount of RAM so that you can use heavy graphic intensive tools easily. Scaling up this infrastructure is not easy, as it is not only expensive but also difficult as it means configuring the hardware right from processor speed, screen resolutions and even hard disk speeds.

As most image or video files are large in size, users face huge challenges in uploading and downloading these files to a common repository. Not only does this take a huge amount of time, but it also consumes a lot of network bandwidth, and often leads to delayed projects. Most often, users are also unable to access applications and files from a remote site or from home, which creates a negative impact on productivity.

Interrupted workflows associated with network latency and lengthy cycle times for remote file access or editing are typical issues encountered by graphic designers, especially in a scenario where multiple users work on the same project files on central storage. From an infrastructure perspective, the constant cycle of hardware upgrades due to evolving technology makes existing hardware obsolete.

There is also an additional risk of the theft of an intellectual property design that is left unsecured on an individual’s workstation.

The promise of virtual workstations

Virtual workstations can address the above-mentioned challenges by providing access and computing power from the data center. Virtual Workstations are powered by Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) that enhance the user experience by offloading tasks from the CPU.

Virtual workstations can include many cores, with the GPU memory going up to 256 GB, starting from 16 GB. Each virtual workstation can be shared between multiple users or a pool can be created to deploy identical applications to a specific group of users and automate virtual workstation provisioning.

As the software applications run on servers inside the data center (including the real-time 3D graphics rendering), the client device does not need to be very powerful. It can run on any operating system and users can access their software applications and content on inexpensive PCs, laptops, zero clients, tablets and even smartphones using standard browsers and a normal Internet connection.

Virtual workstations are equipped with remote display technologies to facilitate the delivery of rendered, encrypted pixels from the data center to the remote client. The graphics commands of each virtual machine are passed directly to the GPU, without translation by the hypervisor. This allows the GPU hardware to be allocated for each user to deliver the ultimate virtualised graphics performance.

Actual data never leaves the controlled environment of the data center. This ensures that the company’s sensitive data cannot fall into the wrong hands through misplaced or insecure laptops. Data remains in the data center and cannot be ‘copied’ to laptops or USB drives.

While this is an exciting technology, not every organisation is equipped to efficiently tap the potential of virtual workstations. With any other technology, there are the usual challenges of cost of deployment, management, and capacity upgrades. When more apps or services are added, many organisations face difficulty in delivering a consistent user experience. As the number of users increases, organisations experience scalability issues in maintaining the quality of service.

The need for a Graphics Workstation-as-a-Service model

Today, more than ever, graphic design professionals need world-class graphics workstations in a pay-per-use consumption-based model, equipped with reliable support. A managed service provider can ensure the expected performance and resolve issues quickly by delivering a consistent user experience on any device while protecting user application and content.

If this is offered in the Graphics Workstation-as-a-Service model, users can experience a physical workstation-like visual experience using any device cost-effectively. This opens up a host of possibilities – from users who need to use intensive 3D CAD software to a design project, where a lot of engineers across different remote locations work on the same design file at the same time.

Managed service providers also enable employees to choose the devices that are right for them and their work style with a universal client that works natively on the broadest range of desktops, laptops, thin clients, tablets, and smartphones. The service can be accessed from any browser or device supporting remote visualisation.

List of applications supported

Today, graphic designers have a variety of GPU supported applications that they can choose. Some of the popular ones include:

ApplicationFeatures supported
Adobe – After Effects CCMotion graphics and effects
Autodesk – AutoCAD2D & 3D CAD design, drafting, modelling, and architectural drawing
NVIDIA IrayPhotorealistic rendering solution
Autodesk – Maya3D Modeling, animation and rendering

The role of managed service providers

As managed service providers work with the latest technologies, they are best equipped to provide the most optimum price-performance ratio. For example, managed service providers use the adaptive H.265 based Deep Compression Technology, which enables optimal performance on WAN and wireless networks, while giving access to sharp, responsive 3D graphics applications from anywhere. Similarly, HDX 3D Pro can offer a CPU-based lossless codec to support applications where pixel-perfect graphics are required.

The Graphics Workstation-as-a-Service model can provide a range of benefits. Some of these benefits include:

  • Enhanced productivity due to the ability to deliver superior graphics performance with the same responsive experience as a physical workstation
  • Anywhere collaboration is now possible as employees can use the device of their choice to access fully 3D capable virtual workstations from anywhere
  • Protection of Intellectual property is ensured as new employees and contractors can be onboarded while ensuring the security of protected files in the data center
  • Lower TCO as organisations can opt for OPEX based plans instead of committing capital upfront
  • Quicker provisioning as managed service providers can quickly provision the required infrastructure on demand
  • Organisations save on hardware refresh costs as all infrastructure is provided by the managed service provider

Other benefits include improved disaster recovery and business continuity; lower IT helpdesk calls; reduction in unplanned downtime and better user experience, productivity, and management.

Today, Graphics Workstation-as-a-Service is a reality, and it is imperative that organisations take proactive steps to free the creative energies of graphic design professionals by making use of this productive technology. Looking at the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the huge changes in the way we work, it is high time that organisations started looking at leveraging the huge benefits of virtual workstations and unleash the imagination of creative professionals by unbundling them from the limitations of traditional IT infrastructure.



Sashishekhar Panda
VP and Head - Products & Services

With 16 years of rich expertise in product marketing and lifecycle management of data centers, hosting and cloud services, Sashi heads Extended & Federated Cloud Services and Infrastructure Management Services at Yotta. He has been previously associated with Reliance, Nxtra, Tata, among other companies.

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