4-page Case Study
Posted: 9/14/2008
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City of Biel Swiss Municipality Realizes Concrete Benefits with Application Virtualization

The City Council of Biel, Switzerland uses approximately 650 client computers to help run the municipal government. Due to outdated technology for maintaining client software, the City’s IT staff were required to expend large amounts of time distributing applications and performing manual software inventories. In order to manage its client software more efficiently, the City adopted a new solution based on Microsoft® Application Virtualization, a component of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack for Software Assurance (MDOP). With its new technology in place, the City streams applications dynamically from a server to client computers, instead of having to install them locally. Faulty clients can now be restored within minutes, and the compilation of software inventories is automated, allowing IT staff to save hours of maintenance time each week while improving end-user productivity.

 

Situation

The City of Biel is the second largest municipality in the canton of Bern, Switzerland. With over 50,000 inhabitants, the city is located in the three-lake region at the foot of the central Jura massif. Biel is a hub for the precision-instruments industry, and home to many famous Swiss-watch companies. One unique aspect of Biel is that two languages are spoken there; approximately 60 percent of the population speaks German, and 40 percent speak French. All street and place names in Biel are written in two languages, and German and French are both official languages.

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* It used to take us up to 4 hours to restore a damaged client computer. With Microsoft Application Virtualization, the same process takes only a quarter of an hour. *
Claude Progin
Group Manager of Information Technology and Logistics, City of Biel
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The Biel City Council, which is divided into 4 departments and one directorate, has a modern IT infrastructure with approximately 650 client computers in 33 locations with 190 different applications. All client computers are running the Windows XP Professional operating system. The city’s IT infrastructure is supported centrally by the Information Technology and Logistics Department.

The biggest challenge for the City of Biel’s IT specialists is distributing software to client computers. Until recently, the department had been using a specialized software tool to distribute predefined software updates and packages to the city’s computers. However, this tool has been showing signs of age, and reliability has begun to decline; in 20 to 30 percent of cases, automated application distribution was not effective, and applications need to be manually installed. In addition, the software distribution solution did not allow automatic reviews of software inventories. All in all, the solution required too many resources and was too expensive.

Solution

In February 2007, the Information Technology and Logistics Department decided to evaluate a completely new solution for software distribution. During their research, the group became aware of Microsoft Application Virtualization (formerly SoftGrid Application Virtualization). Microsoft Application Virtualization is a component of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack for Software Assurance (MDOP), a collection of technologies for the cost-efficient and simple management of desktop infrastructures, and is available for Microsoft volume-licensing customers.

Microsoft Application Virtualization enables organizations to distribute software to client computers without local installation. Instead, upon request, applications are streamed from a server to the client, where they are executed in a protected area. This allows organizations to support and update applications centrally. In addition, faulty clients can be restored within minutes, compatibility problems are dramatically reduced, and security is enhanced.

In order to implement Microsoft Application Virtualization, the city needed to find a partner with experience in deploying and managing the technology. After a nationwide search, the city retained redtoo ag, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner with several years of experience using Microsoft Application Virtualization technology. After viewing a demonstration provided by another redtoo customer, the Department of Justice of the canton of Basel, Biel moved forward with its new software distribution implementation.

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* With the actual work itself, there is no difference at all between virtually executed and locally installed applications. *
Claude Progin
Group Manager of Information Technology and Logistics, City of Biel
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Following the concept phase, a test environment was installed in Biel in June 2007, and application virtualization packages were created for the city’s 190 applications. Testing was performed until January 2008, followed by a phased roll-out that lasted until July 2008.

Benefits

IT staff for the City of Biel are already seeing dramatic time savings from implementing the new technology. “It used to take us up to 4 hours to restore a damaged client computer. With Microsoft Application Virtualization, the same process takes only a quarter of an hour. If you take into consideration that we used to have to carry out manual interventions on almost 200 of our 650 PCs when updating, you can imagine how many man-hours we save on this process alone”, says Claude Progin, Group Manager of Information Technology and Logistics for the City of Biel.

Progin continues, “Because the virtual applications work independently of the operating system – only the Application Virtualization agent needs to be installed on the client computer – compatibility problems are reduced significantly. We can now make certain applications available for a limited period of time. After the defined time period has expired, the application is automatically uninstalled.”

Application virtualization offers a large organization like Biel a further important advantage: employees can now log in to any desktop or portable computer, so long as it is also configured with the application virtualization agent, and will immediately find their usual application environment. “We have desktop computers in our conference rooms”, explains Progin. “During conferences, our department managers can simply log in with their passwords and then have immediate access to all their programs and data.” The new solution significantly simplifies software management, as the virtual applications are captured automatically for every workspace and listed centrally in the Software Info Centre. When changes take place, the inventory is updated automatically.

“Changing to application virtualization has proved astoundingly problem-free. Wherever there were problems, such as with certain USB driver, we were able to solve them very quickly with the assistance of redtoo. One small disadvantage is the somewhat longer time it takes, after a client has been reinstalled, before the user can resume working. It only takes longer the first time however – after that, the computer is ready for use shortly after the login. With the actual work itself, there is no difference at all between virtually executed and locally installed applications. I can definitely recommend this technology to all organizations with a large desktop infrastructure” says Progin.

Microsoft Desktop Optimization
Microsoft offers solutions that optimize the desktop infrastructure and make it easier to deploy software. These solutions help to enhance application compatibility, reduce complexity, and improve security and compliance. By helping to boost end-user productivity and streamline application management, these solutions help lower total cost of ownership and increase agility for organizations of all sizes. For more information about Microsoft Desktop Optimization, go to:
www.windowsvista.com/optimizeddesktop

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 who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234 in the United States or (905) 568-9641 in Canada. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to: www.microsoft.com

For more information about redtoo ag products and services, call +41 (0)61 716 7070 or visit the Web site at: www.redtoo.com

For more information about the City of Biel, visit the Web site at: www.biel-bienne.ch

Solution Overview



Organization Size: 650 employees

Organization Profile

With 50,000 residents, the City of Biel is the second-largest municipality in the canton of Bern, Switzerland. The city government uses 650 computers, which are supported centrally by the Information Technology and Logistics Department.


Business Situation

With 190 applications in use, the City of Biel needed a more efficient way of distributing software to its client computers and maintaining software inventories across the organization.


Solution

The City of Biel implemented Microsoft Application Virtualization, a component of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP). Applications are now streamed dynamically from a server to the client computers, and software inventories are automated.


Benefits
  • Faster and more reliable software distribution
  • Improved compatibility
  • Reduced compatibility testing
  • Automated software inventories

Software and Services
  • Microsoft Application Virtualization
  • Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack for Software Assurance
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional

Vertical Industries
Government

Country/Region
Switzerland

Languages
English

Partner(s)
redtoo ag

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