IT services company Qbranch wanted to standardize its desktop management infrastructure and help customers access applications and manage user identities. It built a secure, automated solution based on Microsoft
technologies, including Windows Azure Service Bus. Now, customers gain access to applications almost instantly, and end users can make changes to applications or access rights in seconds.
Sweden-based Qbranch provides IT services to companies across the Nordic region. Launched in 1993, it employs 500 people and has offices and data centers across the country, including in Stockholm, Göteborg, and Malmö.
Many of its customers used a Qbranch desktop service, called Desktop Lifecycle Management, which provided employees with a secure desktop from a Qbranch-hosted platform. Each customer had a choice of hardware, processor type, operating system, and applications
for its infrastructure. There was also a helpdesk service to handle client requests for new applications or changes to access rights. However, it was a labor-intensive process to build each customer’s platform—which included designing the infrastructure and
installing hardware and applications—and the work could take up to 1,000 hours to complete depending on the size of the customer and project scope. Staffan Fredriksson, Product Manager at Qbranch, says: “Our goal was to create a hardware platform and deliver
desktop services for each customer in a fraction of the time.” The company also wanted to develop a self-service application portal to give customers more control. “With a self-service portal, adding or removing employee applications could be much more rapid,”
Qbranch decided to offer customers a platform built on leading enterprise-class hardware and processor technology, with Windows 7 as the core operating system and the Microsoft Office suite as the standard application package. The company then began assessing
technical solutions to enable self-service provisioning of desktops. Security was a paramount concern. Fredriksson says: “When we looked at opening firewall ports or using web services over HTTPS, we saw that security could be an issue. These solutions didn’t
give us confidence.” Next, the company studied a product from Symantec called Altiris. “Technically, it just didn’t meet our requirements,” says Fredriksson. The company needed a solution that delivered maximum security, integrated closely with its IT systems,
and offered a familiar environment to developers.
Qbranch chose to build the desktop service platform using Microsoft technologies. The company, which is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner in several fields, including desktop management, had experience in Microsoft software, plus the in-house skills
for developing applications using .NET. In addition, the Windows Azure Service Bus gave Qbranch the security it wanted and supported communication between networks with conflicting IP ranges. Fredriksson says: “It was an excellent way for our systems to communicate
safely with our customers’ domains.”
||Our Microsoft-based Qbranch Managed Client service gives customers access to new applications almost instantly.
Product Manager, Qbranch
The company built the self-service platform around a few core Microsoft solutions. It implemented Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 to create QNET, a portal that customers use to manage their desktops, and Microsoft BizTalk Server 2009 to integrate the portal
with the existing management systems at Qbranch. It also deployed Active Directory Federation Services so that customers had a convenient way to add identity data to QNET and create a single sign-on process to access QNET services. Finally, it chose Microsoft
System Center Configuration Manager 2007 to deploy the applications to the end-users’ computers.
With deployment work complete, Qbranch launched Qbranch Managed Client as a pilot project in March 2011. Today, customers in the pilot program are deploying applications through the self-service portal. Fredriksson says: “The Microsoft technologies provide
a reliable and secure platform to drive business growth, while giving customers a more cost-effective solution."
The process for deploying applications is simple. Personnel, for example, can choose the applications they want through the QNET portal. An email is sent automatically to their line managers asking them to approve the request. Once that approval is received,
a command is sent to Active Directory to give the employees access. Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007, which regularly scans the Active Directory for changes, then deploys the new applications to the employees’ computers.
Qbranch now offers customers a standardized hardware platform and a self-service solution for application deployment. A new customer platform can be up-and-running in much less time than before because Qbranch has standardized hardware, processor type
and software. Now requests for new applications or changes to access rights are completed almost instantly, whereas before it could take an entire working day.
Customers access new applications in seconds.
Customers can increase their productivity by gaining faster access to the software they need. Using the self-service portal, they can request applications, register users, and make changes to access
rights. “Our Microsoft-based Qbranch Managed Client service gives customers access to new applications almost instantly,” says Fredriksson.
Small businesses drive expansion.
Even small companies can give their employees the latest operating systems and business software thanks to the cost effectiveness of Qbranch Managed Client. Fredriksson says:
“It means that employees at companies with only limited resources can reliably access the best applications available to drive growth.”
Customers gain a responsive service with high performance
. New customers gain their own desktop platform and access to Qbranch Managed Client in much less time than before. In addition, the standardized platform’s high level of automation has
maximized performance, reducing any risk of human error.
Qbranch personnel boost productivity. Thanks to automation, Qbranch employees have increased productivity—focusing more time on strategic work and developing Qbranch Managed Client. “Employees spend less
of their day on basic support,” says Fredriksson. “And there’s greater opportunity for innovation and expanding our service.”
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