4-page Case Study
Posted: 3/9/2011
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Etisalat Lanka Telecom Firm Speeds Operating System Upgrade, Eases Management with Virtualization

To retain a competitive edge in the Sri Lanka telecommunications market, Etisalat Lanka empowers its employees with the latest IT resources. The company wanted to upgrade 750 computers to the Windows 7 Enterprise operating system but could not proceed because critical Windows XP–based applications could not run on Windows 7. Etisalat Lanka was also challenged by application management issues. By using Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V), the company found it could deliver older applications to Windows 7–based desktops in a virtual PC that runs Windows XP, enabling an enterprisewide upgrade completed in just two months. By combining the use of MED-V with Microsoft Application Virtualization and System Center Configuration Manager, Etisalat Lanka cut application deployment time by 95 percent, while gaining control over the IT environment, improving support, and saving money.

Founded in 1989, Etisalat Lanka (originally called Celltel) was Sri Lanka’s first cellular network provider. The Colombo-based company is now owned by Etisalat Telecommunications, one of the world’s largest telecommunications conglomerates with more than 100 million subscribers in 18 countries and 2009 revenues of U.S.$8.4 billion. To give it an advantage in the Sri Lankan market—where five mobile operators and four fixed-line operators serve more than 21 million people—Etisalat Lanka relies on advanced IT solutions to conduct its business as efficiently as possible.

* Thanks to MED-V, we could upgrade all computers to Windows 7 to take advantage of the latest technology. And with … App-V and System Center Configuration Manager, we were able to meet our two-month deployment deadline. *

Sanath Pilapitiya
Chief Technical Officer, Etisalat Lanka

“We’re committed to building a highly efficient enterprise to sustain our competitiveness,” says Sanath Pilapitiya, Chief Technical Officer at Etisalat Lanka. “This requires innovative thinking, a working environment that motivates and cultivates talented staff, and a pioneering spirit in adopting new technologies.”

Etisalat Lanka decided to upgrade from the Windows XP Enterprise operating system to Windows 7 Enterprise. “Windows 7 has great performance and security features, and we were eager to use it,” says Chandrakanth Jayasinghe, Head of IT Systems for Etisalat Lanka. “Our engineers could use the power-saving capabilities when working in the field, and employees would be able to quickly navigate their desktop computers by using Windows Search. And by using BitLocker drive encryption and BitLocker To Go, we could eliminate the need for a separate encryption product.”

Etisalat Lanka set a short time frame for implementing Windows 7 so that it could proceed with other upcoming IT projects: no more than two months to upgrade about 750 desktop and laptop computers located in three offices. But first Etisalat Lanka had to overcome a significant obstacle. Two of the company’s engineering applications and its billing application would not run on Windows 7. “This was a major problem. The billing software, in particular, is essential to our business and is used by 400 Etisalat Lanka employees,” says Jayasinghe.

According to Jayasinghe, keeping employees who required the billing and engineering applications on Windows XP while moving the remaining employees to Windows 7 was not an option. “The point of moving to Windows 7 was to improve efficiencies and savings. Supporting two operating systems would have negated those benefits. It would have been too time-consuming and costly. We were either going to deploy Windows 7 enterprisewide or—if we couldn’t resolve the compatibility issues—put it off altogether,” says Jayasinghe.

In addition to dealing with compatibility problems, Etisalat Lanka was grappling with challenges related to application management. The IT staff supports about 75 line-of-business applications. “Because we didn’t have centralized deployment or management tools, it typically took us about four hours to install a new computer,” says Jayasinghe. “And when employees experienced problems with an application, we would often have to do on-site visits or take possession of the employee’s computer to troubleshoot, which was a tedious and time-consuming process.”

IT staffers were also frustrated by a lack of control over who used applications. Because applications could be installed by almost any employee, it was difficult to maintain license compliance.

Etisalat Lanka needed a way to make Windows XP–based applications available to users of Windows 7–based computers, and streamline overall application deployment and management.

In May 2010, Etisalat Lanka met with its Microsoft account representatives to discuss the telecommunications company’s challenges surrounding Windows 7 and application management. “They suggested that we evaluate Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization to address our compatibility problems, and Microsoft Application Virtualization to help us simplify application deployment and support,” Jayasinghe says.

* We were either going to deploy Windows 7 enterprisewide or—if we couldn’t resolve the compatibility issues—put it off altogether. *

Chandrakanth Jayasinghe
Head of IT Systems, Etisalat Lanka

Businesses can use Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V) to run older applications in a virtual Windows XP environment on a Windows 7–based desktop computer. Application Virtualization (App-V) transforms traditional applications into virtualized, network-available services that can be streamed on demand, running in the local computer’s cache without actually being installed on the computer. MED-V and App-V are part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack, a suite of technologies available as a subscription for Software Assurance customers.

Implementation of Virtualization and Management Technologies
“We tested MED-V with our billing and engineering applications and got great results,” says Jayasinghe. “The applications could be accessed on Windows 7–based computers, which meant that we could proceed with the operating system rollout.”

Etisalat Lanka also conducted a successful proof of concept with App-V. “We decided to deploy App-V at the same time as MED-V and Windows 7 so that we could streamline the upgrade process. By using App-V, we could centrally deploy virtual applications to run on Windows 7,” says Jayasinghe. The company virtualized 72 applications.

For even greater efficiency and control, Etisalat Lanka implemented Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R2. “We were on a tight deadline and thought that by using System Center Configuration Manager we could speed delivery of Windows 7, the MED-V workspace, and the App-V client,” explains Jayasinghe.

In July 2010, Etisalat Lanka began rolling out the three Microsoft technologies. The company completed its deployment of Windows 7 Enterprise to all 750 computers by September 2010, meeting its two-month goal.

Upgrade to Newest Version
Although Etisalat Lanka was able to resolve its Windows 7–related compatibility problems by using MED-V, some employees were having issues with saving files. They also could not print documents from applications that ran in MED-V using printers that connected to their computers via a USB port. The IT staff created a workaround so that employees could move files on to the host machine and then save and print. However, this required more work by the users.

“In September 2010, we found out about a new upcoming version of MED-V and asked our Microsoft representative about its enhanced capabilities. The MED-V printing and document management improvements were exactly what we needed,” says Jayasinghe. “We joined the Technology Adoption Program for MED-V so that we could test the newer product and begin deploying it to employees faster.”

Etisalat Lanka delivered the latest MED-V to help-desk staff and then to the remaining IT department members before beginning to roll it out to employees who requested it. As of January 2011, Etisalat Lanka had upgraded to the newer MED-V on 115 computers. When it is publicly available, Etisalat Lanka will finish its rollout.

By using Microsoft virtualization and management technologies, Etisalat Lanka was able to proceed with a companywide upgrade to Windows 7 Enterprise and complete it on schedule. The company drastically cut application deployment times while gaining more control of application usage, improving employee support, and saving money.

“MED-V made it possible to move our environment to the next level with Windows 7, and App-V and System Center Configuration Manager give us the tools that we need to operate with much greater control and efficiencies,” says Jayasinghe.

Accelerated Enterprisewide Upgrade to Windows 7
By using MED-V to deliver older billing and engineering applications to computers running Windows 7, Etisalat Lanka was able to embark on a companywide deployment. “As much as we wanted to experience the benefits of Windows 7, we wouldn’t have upgraded if we couldn’t run our critical Windows XP–based applications,” notes Jayasinghe. “MED-V was the enabler for us to move to Windows 7.”

* MED-V printing and document management improvements were exactly what we needed. *

Chandrakanth Jayasinghe
Head of IT Systems, Etisalat Lanka

Etisalat Lanka used App-V and System Center Configuration Manager to streamline the Windows 7 upgrade process. “Using System Center Configuration Manager gave us a single solution for deploying Windows 7, App-V, and MED-V, making everything much simpler to manage. And using App-V to centrally deliver applications made it easy to give employees all the software that they required,” says Pilapitiya. “Thanks to MED-V, we could upgrade all computers to Windows 7 to take advantage of the latest technology. And with the help of App-V and System Center Configuration Manager, we were able to meet our two-month deployment deadline.”

Cut Application Deployment Time from 4 Hours to 12 Minutes
Because virtualized applications can be streamed on demand to employee computers, Etisalat Lanka no longer spends time on manual installations. “We deploy applications 95 percent faster by using App-V,” says Pilapitiya. “Instead of taking 4 hours to get an application installed, it takes just 12 minutes to set up access. Now we tell employees to just log on to their computers and the application is ready for them.”

A great case in point is the company’s November 2010 upgrade to Microsoft Office Professional 2010. “It took us just two weeks to deploy the virtualized Office Professional 2010 on 750 desktops. We could have completed it in one night but we wanted to meet with employee groups first, before each deployment, to educate them about the new capabilities and answer their questions,” says Pilapitiya. “It probably would have taken two months to uninstall the Office 2007 suite from all the machines and then install Office Professional 2010.”

Improved IT Control and Support, Reduced Downtime
Etisalat Lanka gained more control over its IT environment. “We didn’t have to wait for software vendors to make their applications ready for Windows 7,” says Jayasinghe. “By using MED-V, we were able to upgrade to Windows 7 on our own timetable.”

Managing applications is simpler. “By centralizing the delivery of virtualized applications, we have been able to standardize our corporate applications and make sure that employees have the current versions. We ensure that only people who are authorized for the applications through the Active Directory service can use them. This helps enhance license compliance,” explains Jayasinghe. “We can also quickly change access to applications by enabling or taking away the rights in Active Directory—there’s no need to uninstall applications since they are not installed in the first place. This capability helps us ensure optimal utilization of our volume licenses.”

Etisalat Lanka finds it easier to support employees. To address problematic applications, the IT staff just refreshes the applications on the local cache instead of having to uninstall and reinstall them. And rather than taking possession of computers to troubleshoot major issues, the IT team uses System Center Configuration Manager remote tools to access the devices and resolve the problems. “Instead of having to wait almost half a day for their computers to come back from the IT department, our employees can resume working in almost no time,” says Jayasinghe.

Saved Money on Support and Licensing
By doing an enterprisewide upgrade to Windows 7, instead of a partial upgrade, Etisalat Lanka avoided having to spend the money needed to support two operating systems. “We never seriously considered doing a partial operating system upgrade because it was just too costly. It would have required another $50,000 in IT staff time and resources,” says Jayasinghe. “Plus employee morale would have suffered if some people were left with an older operating system while their colleagues got to benefit from all the great features in Windows 7.”

The company notes that using virtualized Windows XP within MED-V does not add cost. “The majority of functions that users perform are on Windows 7, not on Windows XP. Windows XP is used only for three incompatible applications. Because of that, the amount of Windows XP–related calls that our help desk fields is negligible,” explains Jayasinghe.

Etisalat Lanka was able to save money by moving to Windows 7 and using its BitLocker drive encryption and BitLocker To Go features. “About 35 percent of our employees are mobile, so protecting the confidential data residing on notebooks and removable drives is critical. If we hadn’t been able to upgrade to Windows 7, we would have had to acquire a separate encryption product. That would have cost us about $60,000,” says Jayasinghe.

Pilapitiya concludes, “Thanks to Microsoft and its technologies, Etisalat Lanka is highly regarded as a forerunner in technology adoption. We regard Microsoft as a strategic technology partner and know that we can rely on its leading technologies to further sharpen our competitive advantage as we grow.”

Microsoft Desktop Optimization
Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) for Software Assurance makes it easy for an organization to administer its applications, offering tools for virtualizing and inventorying software installations, for managing Group Policy settings, and for system repair and data recovery.

For more information about MDOP, go to:

For More Information
For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers in the United States and Canada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:

For more information about Etisalat Lanka products and services, call (94) 07 22541541 or visit the website at:

Solution Overview

Organization Size: 600 employees

Organization Profile

Etisalat Lanka offers telecommunications services to business and residential customers in Sri Lanka. It has about 600 employees and 600 contract workers.

Business Situation

Etisalat Lanka wanted to upgrade to the Windows 7 Enterprise operating system but needed a way to run older applications that were not compatible. It also wanted to streamline application management.


Etisalat Lanka uses Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization to access incompatible applications on Windows 7–based computers, and Microsoft Application Virtualization and System Center Configuration Manager to ease deployment and management.


  • Accelerated upgrade to Windows 7
  • Cut application deployment time from 4 hours to 12 minutes
  • Improved control, reduced downtime
  • Saved money on support and licensing

Software and Services
  • Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack
  • Microsoft Application Virtualization
  • Windows 7 Enterprise
  • Microsoft Windows XP
  • Microsoft Office Professional 2010
  • Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R2
  • Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization
  • Windows BitLocker Drive Encryption
  • BitLocker To Go

Vertical Industries

Sri Lanka

Business Need
  • Cloud & Server Platform
  • Business Productivity

IT Issue