Hammersmith and Fulham Council opts for Colt's VDI solution ahead of Citrix XenApp to reduce costs

By Sooraj Shah
03 Feb 2014 View Comments
Long-term incentive

Hammersmith and Fulham Council has selected Colt's virtual desktop (VDI) system ahead of Citrix XenApp, as it aims to reduce costs and improve productivity.

The council worked with IT and business services provider Agilisys to deploy the solution to replace its legacy Citrix Presentation Server, which it had installed 10 years ago, but was limited in the number of users and services that it could support, according to the council.

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Howell Huws, head of business technology at the council, told Computing that a VMWare View solution, built and managed by Agilisys and Hammersmith & Fulham Bridge Partnership (HFBP), and desktops and laptops were also looked at as an alternatives.

However, the strength of partnership with the council's ‘strategic partners' Cisco and VMware, was a key reason to opt for Colt's solution.

Huws said that Colt's "willingness to contract for an end-to-end service level that included provision of the wide area network", and a skillset in data centre operations, infrastructure management, network and telecoms also stood out.

According to Huws, the VDI solution has delivered what it was looking for - including service reliability, performance and reduced desktop incidents.

He said that hardware was swapped out overnight to minimise disruption, that users felt migration had went well, partly because preventive and corrective actions for issues worked well.

"Early adopter employees really like the new service because booting up, logging in and launching applications is much faster.

"Hearing this from colleagues rather than IT makes others ask if they can have it too. People want it as quickly as we can provide it to them. Colt responded in an exemplary way, investing time to reach the required level of compliance with government data security," he stated.

The solution has also enabled a "secure bring your own device (BYOD) offering, enabling access via iPad or Android tablet".

There were also some challenges on implementation; Huws said that there was initially user resistance to changing their endpoint device, licensing implications for applications and getting IL3 accreditation - at the moment the VDI roll-out complies with government IL2 regulation.

The solution is hosted across two of Colt's datacentres for disaster recovery, and is delivered on a price-per-user commercial basis.

Although Huws did not disclose the cost of the solution, he said that it has enabled the council to reduce costs by up to 25 per cent.

Partly because flexible working has enabled buildings to be closed, Huw believes the council will save an estimated £2m over four years from:

  • Reduced cost of end-point devices;
  • Reduced effort to manage or replace end points, reduced volume of incidents;
  • Removal of existing Citrix server hardware maintenance;
  • Reduced power requirements, reduction in software licenses, and less effort to manage servers.

Huws added that the effort to manager servers, the capital cost of new infrastructure and future upgrade implementation costs will also be reduced as a result.

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