How CDC's research cloud went virtual

After consolidating its servers the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Informatics Research and Development Activity laid the foundation for managing a virtual infrastructure and move to a private cloud.  Now researchers at CDC looking to build Web prototypes and explore new technologies have a virtual software lab where they can test and refine software applications before taking them live.

The lab got permission to operate in October 2010, starting out as a resource center for the National Center for Public Health Informatics, according to Dale LaValley, the lead engineer for IRDA.

At the time the lab had high-powered workstations but subsequently consolidated its internal and external servers into a virtualized system based on VMware ESX and later ESXi, which is a foundation for building and managing a virtualized IT infrastructure.

The lab later moved to VMware Sphere V, which allows organizations to build cloud infrastructures.

The lab was also an early user of VMware Lab Manager, which allows users to provision virtual machines for testing applications. However, VMware is phasing out that product, and the lab is moving to the company’s vCloud Director, which will take the cloud to the next level, LaValley said.

The vCloud Director has a self-service portal, which will allow users to request virtual machines. The lab can approve the requests and vCloud will automatically build the machines. vCloud will also turn IRDA’s infrastructure into a hybrid cloud, extending into the public cloud.

VMware's vShield wraps security around the cloud, helping ensure that IRDA’s 25 customers remain within their own sandboxes. IRDA also has deployed VMware View, a virtual desktop infrastructure environment that allows IRDA to host desktop computers at the Atlanta-based lab, which can be accessed by remote users.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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