The Emirates Group is a travel and tourism company that has witnessed tremendous growth year on year. In an effort to maintain its image as an innovator and deliver the latest technology to employees, the company is upgrading its client computers to the Windows 7 Enterprise operating system. As a result, Emirates already is experiencing improved system performance, increased employee productivity, and enhanced IT security.
Based in Dubai, the Emirates Group is a global travel and tourism company with more than 50 business divisions employing more than 40,000 people. Included in the Emirates Group is Emirates airline, which has witnessed on average 20 percent growth each year since its founding and currently has 143 aircraft in its fleet.
To support its growing operations, the Emirates Group maintains an information technology network composed of more than 21,000 devices, including 16,500 desktop PCs and 2,800 portable computers. The company has been using the Windows XP operating system for its client computing environment, and the Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008 R2 operating systems for its server environment.
The Emirates Group has established a reputation as a leader in innovation—from its state-of-the-art aircraft fleet to its internal technology infrastructure. To maintain that image, the company wanted to upgrade its employees’ computers to a more modern operating system.
Specifically, the Emirates Group sought to improve system performance. With an ever-more-complex and extensive application portfolio, the company was seeing lags in system performance, including slower logon times and application response times. It also wanted to give its employees access to the latest technologies and implement solutions that would encourage employee productivity, a key priority for the company’s IT department. Furthermore, the company wanted to enhance its IT security. Solution
In April 2009, with the help of Microsoft Services, the Emirates Group began a companywide upgrade to the Windows 7 Enterprise operating system, and the Windows Internet Explorer 8 Internet browser. By December 2009, it had upgraded 200 PCs and it plans to upgrade the rest by March 2011.
Before beginning its deployment, the Emirates Group ran formal application compatibility tests on both its hardware and software. Though it found some
||With Windows 7, the logon and resume sequences are considerably faster, and application response time is noticeably faster—even without upgrading any hardware.
The Emirates Group
compatibility issues with legacy applications, Microsoft Services helped it resolve those issues quickly. The company did not experience any hardware compatibility issues and will continue to use its existing computers. “The keys to success are continued support from Microsoft, resolution of compatibility issues, and effective engagement with users,” says Fayyaz Alam, Vice President for IT Production Services at The Emirates Group.
The Emirates Group then used Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2010, which provides detailed guidance and tools for automation to facilitate the deployment process. “Despite the short time frame we were working with, we were able to keep our project on track with deployment tools from Microsoft and the help of Microsoft Services,” says Sean Kelly, Technical Manager at The Emirates Group.
The company is taking advantage of tighter system security in Windows 7 by implementing Windows BitLocker drive encryption on its hard disk drives, and BitLocker To Go on its removable storage devices. This precaution will help protect data in the event of a lost or stolen computer or device.
The Emirates Group is now evaluating the BranchCache feature in Windows 7 to improve application response time and reduce network bandwidth at branch offices. By downloading cached content from BranchCache instead of file and Web servers in the main office, branch employees will have faster access to corporate resources. The company also is evaluating Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V), part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack, to virtualize several of its applications to the desktop, particularly those that are built for Windows XP and Internet Explorer 6—helping to ensure legacy applications are compatible with its new operating system image. Benefits
Even with the upgrade to Windows 7 still underway, The Emirates Group already is seeing improved system performance, increased employee productivity, and enhanced IT security. Improved System Performance
Employees are seeing dramatic improvements in system performance. “With Windows 7, the logon and resume sequences are considerably faster, and application response time is noticeably faster—even without upgrading any hardware,” says Sri Shyamalangan, IT Consultant at The Emirates Group. Increased Employee Productivity
In addition to time saved due to improved system performance, employees are saving time on day-to-day tasks, thanks to several user features built into Windows 7. With Windows Search and Libraries, for instance, people can search for files on their computers or Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 sites right from their desktops and instantly view more relevant search results, instead of navigating through directories and folders. Also, the clear Aero interface and new features in the operating system offer employees simple, but impactful improvements for completing tasks, such as the abilities to “pin” recently used applications to the Windows Taskbar, and to quickly access recently used files with Jump Lists. “We strive to deliver the tools that help our employees do their jobs better, and Windows 7 delivers,” says Kelly.Enhanced IT Security
By encrypting data with BitLocker, Emirates is helping to protect its sensitive corporate data in the event of a lost or stolen computer; further, with BitLocker To Go, the company can extend its encryption solution to widely used removable media devices, such as USB thumb drives.
In addition, with Internet Explorer 8, Emirates can help keep its employees’ computers “clean,” as enhanced browser security helps to protect client PCs and the corporate network against cross-site scripting attacks, malware downloads, phishing attacks, and ActiveX exploits.