Reading, UK May 19, 2014 – When WDH (Wakefield and District Housing) wanted to deploy a new virtual desktop infrastructure to speed up log-on times, improve manageability and cut costs, the company turned to IGEL Technology. WDH is responsible for more than 31,000 homes in the Wakefield district.
WDH’s desktop solution published applications from Citrix XenApp to 900 standardised Dell Desktops. The IT and Business Systems Change team began considering changing to a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) because the organisation was facing a number of business challenges.
A major difficulty was the log-on times for people working at remote sites. Although geographically bound within Wakefield, the organisation has 75 different locations, 48 of which are Independent Living Schemes (formerly known as sheltered accommodation), which had 1MB ADSL connections into the IT infrastructure.
“When someone logged on to the system, they would have to download their profile over the connection and this could take anything up to 30 minutes at a time,” said Andrew Howard, Project Manager at WDH. “Our teleworkers, who work from home and offer call centre support to our tenants, were also suffering the same difficulties.”
In addition, WDH was in the process of mobilising more of its workforce. With changes in legislation and housing associations operating in a new way, it was important that employees calling on tenants should have information at their fingertips. As a result, these employees were being issued with tablets for their work. “Mobile workers in the past had also experienced problems logging onto the network and with the increase in mobile workers, we needed a different desktop solution,” explained Andrew.
The organisation first virtualised all its servers using VMware, making large savings on electricity and hardware. The team then turned its mind to the desktops and built a detailed business case. “With our VDI we wanted speed, performance, flexibility, mobility, and manageability,” said Andrew. “Manageability and access were key, and we needed to make sure that we weren’t paying any more than for our current desktop solution.”
WDH looked at five potential thin clients and quickly narrowed this down to three manufacturers, which included IGEL. “We invited each manufacturer in with an engineer to set up the devices, and looked at their technical knowledge and competency. While on site we observed how they escalated issues through their organisation and evaluated what tools and systems would be required,” said Andrew. “For the end users, the devices work in much the same way but the IGEL Management software was far superior. The ease of use and flexibility blew all the competition out of the water.”
The IGEL Universal Management Suite software (UMS) can be used to set up, maintain and upgrade all IGEL thin clients from a central location using a policy-based graphical interface. It is a simple-to-use management tool, which can have thin clients up and running in minutes. Intuitive to use, secure and scalable up to 100,000 thin clients, the IGEL UMS drastically reduces management time for IT administrators.
“To get the competitor thin client solution working took five days and it was just two hours for the IGEL devices,” said Andrew. “We couldn’t get them out of the boxes quickly enough for the engineers.”
WDH has further complemented the IGEL devices with the Data Security solution DriveLock. Using the DriveLock Virtual Channel already included in the Linux-based IGEL Universal Desktop, access rights and security settings for external storage devices can be configured to whitelist approved devices, even down to the serial number of an individual USB stick.
Electricity savings enable faster roll-out
The organisation calculated that there would be significant electricity savings as a result of the deployment because the IGEL thin clients use so little power compared to traditional PCs. The electricity savings over the longer five-to-seven year lifecycle meant WDH would be able to afford to deploy the new desktops in one fast roll-out, rather than being forced to stagger it due to cost.
WDH rolled out 200 IGEL UD5 LX devices to 70 different locations in just two weeks. Today, all 775 PCs have been replaced with IGEL thin clients. The devices use Citrix XenApp application delivery to publish applications from the XenApp server and some over Microsoft App-V to avoid saturating the servers with applications.
The servers are virtualised on Dell hardware using VMware ESX Enterprise plus licensing and work with a standard Windows 2008 64-bit operating system. Applications are installed on start-up by group policy and MSI, which allows the IT team to remove or add applications quickly and efficiently and deploy a new XenApp server in less than 45 minutes.
“The feedback we have been getting from our users is that the IGEL devices are now ridiculously quick and easy to use,” said Andrew. “We still use our 1MB ADSL lines and users that previously reported log on times of up to 30 minutes can now start their IGEL, turn on the thin client, log on and launch an application in less than two minutes. The desktop infrastructure is also so easy to maintain.
Andrew finished by saying: “To reap the benefits of desktop virtualisation you need a strong thin client solution, and that solution is IGEL thin clients and its management suite.”
Eric Backhouse, WDH Infrastructure and Customer Services Manager, added: “The move to an end-to-end virtual desktop solution, utilising IGEL thin clients supported by Citrix Xen Desktop, has allowed us to provide a high quality, highly effective way of working for employees at remote sites.”
“The IGEL solution is the backbone of our flexibility and mobility project. It will cost less to own and operate, we will be able to work out how much will be used in terms of resources and the system can be expanded to meet the future needs of WDH.”
About IGEL Technology
A world leader in thin and zero client solutions, IGEL Technology helps organisations improve the agility, efficiency and security of their virtual desktop and application delivery systems. IGEL produces one of the industry's widest ranges of thin and zero clients, based on Linux and Microsoft Windows, allowing customers to access a broad spectrum of server-based infrastructures and applications. IGEL also offers powerful and intuitive management software for easy deployment and administration of thin clients throughout any size organisation. Partnerships with industry leaders like Red Hat, Citrix, VMware and Microsoft ensure that IGEL provides the most up-to-date technology and trustworthy security to clients in industries that include Healthcare, Education & Research, Public Sector, Financial, Insurance, Retail, Logistics and Manufacturing. IGEL has offices in the United Kingdom, Australia, France, the Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden, the United States, Germany, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing and Singapore and is represented by partners in over 50 countries worldwide. To learn more, visit www.igel.co.uk or follow us on Twitter: twitter.com/IGEL_Technology
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