Fabric Technologies needed to replace 30 back-office computers in order to deploy new business-critical applications. However, it was concerned about the carbon footprint associated with such a large purchase of hardware. The company chose a greener, more cost-effective solution by delivering Remote Desktop Services through Windows Server® 2008 R2 Enterprise, with Microsoft® operating system Windows® 7, extending the life of the computers and saving the company at least £30,000. In addition, employees can now log on to the system remotely and access the same desktops they use in the office. This significantly increases productivity and profitability, while improving their work/life balance.
Fabric Technologies, a Microsoft® Gold Certified Partner based in London, United Kingdom (U.K.), specialises in providing a fast and flexible range of services—from support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to project work and outsourcing for larger organisations. As a technology provider, Fabric is bound by European Union (EU) waste regulations for electronic equipment, requiring all computer hardware to be recycled. The process of recycling is expensive, and, after the components are broken down, many parts still go into landfills, increasing the company’s carbon footprint despite its recycling efforts.
Fabric would have had to replace 30 computers in order to run the latest version of applications that back-office employees used day-to-day. In addition to environmental impact, Joe Bailey, Technical Director of Fabric Technologies, had to consider the cost of replacing these computers. “We estimated our initial cost would be £30,000 in hardware alone, not including the cost of installing and the ongoing costs of maintaining and supporting the applications—as well as training employees to connect to resources from outside the office,” he says.
||“Previously, people might have struggled to run applications locally, but now we can deliver them over Windows Server 2008 R2 to the users’ desktops as if they’re actually installed on their machines, so the performance of the desktop is irrelevant.”
||Joe Bailey, Technical Director, Fabric Technologies
The ability to serve customers’ needs and produce results as soon as possible was also an important consideration. The company’s engineers spend much of their time at customer sites so they need a streamlined process to connect to the organisation’s systems to complete their work while out of the office.
While researching technology options, Bailey discovered that Remote Desktop Services delivered through Windows Server® 2008 R2 with the Microsoft® operating system Windows® 7 offered a greener, more cost-effective alternative to buying new hardware. Remote Desktop Services extends the life of the computers by streaming applications from a central server through individual terminals. This bypasses the need for up-to-date hardware and has saved the company at least £30,000.
“Remote Desktop Services, and, crucially, Windows 7, bring a new lease of life into some of our older desktop hardware while reducing IT management overheads,” says Bailey. “Previously, people might have struggled to run applications locally, but now we can deliver them over Windows Server 2008 R2 to the users’ desktops as if they’re actually installed on their machines, so the performance of the desktop is irrelevant. As long as it can run Windows 7, it can get the streamed applications.” This means that Fabric staff can now run the applications they need on machines that are up to five years old, with no lapse in performance.
Fabric took a phased approach to deployment, smoothly integrating it throughout the organisation. The engineering teams were early adopters, installing Windows 7 in the Beta stages when it was first available in January 2009. Deployment started for the rest of the organisation in September 2009. Within two months, Windows 7 was installed on every desktop and laptop computer. “It works on everything—even old hardware,” says Bailey.
Hyper-V™, the virtualisation tool for Windows Server 2008 R2 makes the system even more environmentally friendly. “We’ve noticed that Hyper-V in Windows Server 2008 R2 is much more efficient, allowing us to run a greater number of applications on less hardware so we don’t have to buy new servers,” says Bailey. “Also, the Live Migration feature of Hyper-V is a big improvement. We can now migrate virtual servers to other hosts, with no lapse in service.”
Staff at Fabric enjoy the unique position of selling and supporting a product that they use daily, so the benefits they see are often passed on directly to their customers, further improving productivity and profitability. Remote Desktop Services in Windows Server 2008 R2 makes it possible to manage applications centrally so they’re available to all users regardless of location. Windows Server 2008 R2 with Windows 7 offers a more consistent experience, so working from home is almost the same as working in the office, saving money on equipment, training, and IT staff resources while computers run faster.
Solution Reduces Carbon Emissions
Windows Server 2008 R2 supports green IT across the organisation. Servers automatically shut down hardware components if they’re not in use, and hardware takes less time to power up and shut down, saving money on electrical power consumption. “Two to three minutes per machine adds up to a tremendous saving, both in terms of cost and environmental impact,” says Bailey.
“Before implementing the solution, we considered replacing 30 of our desktops that weren’t performing to the level we would need in order to run the latest versions of our line-of-business applications. Windows Server 2008 R2 came along at just the right time for us,” says Bailey. “We can continue to use machines that we would have previously replaced, which cuts hardware costs. But, more importantly, it’s going to cut carbon emissions significantly. We won’t have to recycle old computers and buy new hardware for another few years.”
Lower Equipment and Power Costs Help the Organisation Grow
Bailey and his team were ready to replace the old hardware when news of the upcoming release of Windows Server 2008 R2 reached them. He immediately realised that the potential for savings was huge. “The management of the company was more than happy to wait while we launched a pilot programme for Windows Server 2008 R2, to make sure it would fit our needs,” says Bailey. Windows Server 2008 R2 increased performance throughout the company with immediate savings of £30,000 in hardware that does not need to be replaced. “Now we can keep the same hardware while it’s working, and if it does need to be replaced due to failure, applications are easily deployed to a replacement, low-cost desktop,” says Bailey.
Remote Desktop Services removes the need to install and upgrade applications on individual desktops, further cutting IT costs. Changes can be made once and are automatically streamed to all desktops. Additional savings were made on licensing. For example, the company doesn’t need to purchase licences for virtual private networks (VPNs) any more and the cost of recycling old equipment has almost been eliminated, while electricity usage has been cut significantly, saving up to 25 per cent in server power costs. “From an IT perspective, Remote Desktop Services makes sense,” says Bailey. “We could employ another first-class engineer with the money we’re saving in the first year of deployment.”
Streamlined Access Improves Remote Connections
||“If we can’t get a network connection and there’s no coffee shop nearby we can just put a 3G card in a laptop. As soon as we get a connection, we can start up Remote Desktop Services. The performance is perfect.”
||Joe Bailey, Technical Director, Fabric Technologies
Many of the staff at Fabric are skilled technicians and engineers who enjoy using technology and need little or no training. However, some employees don’t have a technical background. They competently use the technology needed to do their jobs while at their desks, but having to work from home presented a challenge. “Now we can point them to a Web browser and say: ‘Log on to this page with your user name and password and all your applications will be there for you.’ This saves money and time in training, support, maintenance, and deployment,” says Bailey. Now employees can work at home if they need to. “It’s an easy way to improve their work/life balance,” says Bailey.
“Remote Desktop Services is going to make big savings for Fabric and any other company that deploys it,” says Bailey. “So far, all the feedback I’ve received has been: ‘Wow, it’s just like working in the office. I notice no difference when I’m at home.’ You can shut down your laptop, go home, open it up again and the applications resume exactly as you left them.”
Faster Systems Save Time and Improve the Way Staff Work
With Remote Desktop Services, the average computer at Fabric wakes up one minute faster and starts up two minutes faster. This incremental time saving throughout the day increases productivity and improves the way staff work. “Our chairman is often running between meetings. He can now wake his laptop up within a minute to get the information he needs before running to his next meeting,” says Bailey.
Flexible Working Improves Productivity
Staff at Fabric who often work outside the office—such as executives, sales people, and engineers—can now access all the applications they need from any location. “Remote Desktop Services even works well over mobile broadband,” says Bailey. “If we can’t get a network connection and there’s no coffee shop nearby we can just put a 3G card in a laptop. As soon as we get a connection, we can start up Remote Desktop Services. The performance is perfect. This is a massive operational benefit for all of our engineers because they don’t have to go back to the office to process customer tickets. They can do it directly from the customer site.”
The ability to open any application from any Web browser will also be helpful in an emergency. Bailey says: “If our building is shut down for any reason it will have no impact on our customers. We’ll still be able to operate seamlessly.”
Windows Server 2008 R2
Windows Server 2008 R2 is the latest version of the Windows Server operating system from Microsoft. With Windows Server 2008 R2, you can create solutions that are easier to plan, deploy, and manage than with previous versions of Windows Server. Building on the features, security, reliability, and performance provided by Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2 extends connectivity and control to local and remote resources. This means that your organization can benefit from reduced costs and increased efficiencies gained through enhanced management and control over resources across the enterprise
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This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY. Document published October 2009