BMW Group is a global automobile manufacturer with 24 production sites in 13 countries. More than 1,000 applications are used to run the business. Deploying these applications was time-consuming and expensive, even though packaging and manual software installations were outsourced. Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V) made it possible to reduce application deployment time by 50 percent and compatibility testing by 90 percent—from six days to less than a day. By December 2010, more than 400 applications will be virtualized, enabling zero-touch deployment and saving nearly U.S.$200,000 that was spent annually on manual installations. The company’s rollout of the Windows 7 operating system is simplified by using App-V for future application strategy and Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization to run older applications.
Based in Munich, Germany, BMW Group has manufactured automobiles and motorcycles since 1916. The company realized revenues of €50.68 billion (U.S.$67.7 billion) in 2009 and is recognized as the world’s leading premium auto manufacturer.
Packaging and deploying more than 1,000 applications for BMW employees in 250 global locations was extremely time-consuming and costly. To help save money, most of the application packaging was outsourced to firms in India. Synchronizing the efforts of the BMW German IT team, which managed the process, and the outsourced team performing the packaging was not simple. Although it generally took about three days for the outsourced team to configure a package, communication delays due to time zone differences could easily add another two or three days to the process
||Our App-V experience has been very positive. … Packaging, testing, and delivering applications is so much faster, and by enabling zero-touch deployment, App-V helps us realize significant monetary savings.
||Dr. Martin Rudolph
Product Manager, Office Applications, BMW Group
Once an application was packaged, extensive testing was required to make sure that the application did not conflict with other applications that were installed on the desktop computers. Depending on the availability of IT staff, initial testing could take up to three days. Then if problems were identified, such as conflicts with previously installed software, the application went back to the offshore teams for repackaging. It wasn’t unusual to have to go through the packaging and compatibility testing process two or three times for a single application. When applications were ready for delivery, BMW used Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R2 to deploy them. The whole process, from application request through delivery, often took up to four weeks.
Because the process was lengthy and consumed many resources, applications had to meet a minimum-user threshold in order to qualify for packaging and testing. However, about 40 percent of the company’s applications did not meet the criteria. For these applications, there were two deployment options: pay a partner to send local support technicians to install the software on employees’ computers or have the employees apply for administrator rights so that they could install the applications themselves.
Installing just one application locally required about two and a half hours of a technician’s time, including travel to and from the site. The actual installation took about 30 minutes, and one visit cost more than €40 (U.S.$54). Considering that there was an average of about 3,000 technician visits every year for software installations, the costs added up quickly. In fact, the sum could easily reach €135,000 (U.S.$182,000) annually.
Providing employees with administrator rights was not without challenges, either. Employees who were granted administrator rights could inadvertently expose their computers to software vulnerabilities when downloading applications, or they might install software that conflicts with other applications. In both cases, the computer would have to be reinstalled—by BMW IT staff or by a partner that would have to be paid. This process would take about two hours, resulting in downtime for the employee and further increasing costs.
After analyzing the cost of installing and supporting software on each desktop, it became clear that a new approach was needed to eliminate all the desk-side visits and manual labor. The goal was to implement a zero-touch solution so that partners and IT staff wouldn’t have to be present at application installations.
To achieve this, the number of applications that were packaged needed to be significantly increased so that they could be centrally delivered. But BMW could not use its existing configuration and testing methodologies because of the time and expense involved. An approach that provided an easier, faster way to package applications and enabled internal IT staff to configure software, rather than paying an outside resource, was desirable and was a way to decrease the amount of compatibility testing required so that staff could handle the workload. In addition, because an upgrade from the Windows XP operating system to Windows 7 was planned, the solution had to include a way to run applications on the operating system.
It was believed that application virtualization technology could help solve the BMW Group packaging and application conflict problems and enable implementation of a zero-touch deployment solution. In December 2008, BMW evaluated Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V) and VMware ThinApp. After a three-month proof of concept with each product, it was determined that the company’s needs could be best met with App-V, which is part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack, an add-on subscription for Microsoft Software Assurance customers.
“Microsoft Application Virtualization integrates well with System Center Configuration Manager. The combination is great for a large company like ours. It offers the easiest, most cost-effective, reliable approach for managing and deploying virtual and physical applications to users in widely dispersed locations,” says Werner Schiekofer, Team Leader, Desktop Infrastructure, BMW Group. Although System Center Configuration Manager is being used to deliver virtualized applications without streaming, BMW now has the option to take advantage of App-V streaming functionality in the future. This would enable even faster deployment of applications with frequent release cycles and would simplify management of single-licensed applications by allowing users to be moved from one Active Directory group to another when they no longer require particular applications.
||Microsoft Application Virtualization integrates well with System Center Configuration Manager. … It offers the easiest, most cost-effective, reliable approach for managing and deploying virtual and physical applications to users in widely dispersed locations.
Team Leader, Desktop Infrastructure, BMW Group
In March 2009, the App-V pilot project began, which included sequencing applications, testing deployment of the App-V client, and training personnel on how to use the product. System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R2 was used to roll out the App-V client to 80,000 workstations. In September 2009, with the rollout completed, sequencing of applications for production use began. The App-V implementation went live in November 2009 with 20 applications, including Microsoft Office Visio 2007 and Microsoft Office Project Standard 2007. The initial deployment delivered virtual applications to 500 employees.
To date, about 60 applications have been virtualized, including many internally and partner-developed line-of-business applications. All new computer builds, including machines that are being upgraded to Windows 7, have the App-V client installed. In addition, the company’s application strategy has evolved and virtualization is at the forefront. All applications requested by employees are now targeted for virtualization as the primary packaging and delivery method. Another 340 applications are targeted to be sequenced by the end of 2010, with the remaining 600 applications virtualized by 2012. The plans also include virtualization of the Microsoft Office 2010 suites, which will run alongside a locally installed version of Microsoft Office 2007 for testing purposes. This will enable the new functionality to be evaluated before Office 2010 is deployed in production.
All applications—both virtual and physical—are available to BMW business users through an internally developed, self-service Web portal, which houses a repository that will eventually include all 1,000 applications. When an employee clicks an application, the portal automatically communicates with System Center Configuration Manager to assign and deliver the virtual application to the employee’s computer.
An upgrade to the App-V client is planned for the third quarter of 2010 to take advantage of its 64-bit support and facilitate further deployment of the Windows 7 operating system. Employees will be able to use capabilities in Windows 7, such as Federated Search to help find applications easily; improved memory and power management; and features such as BitLocker and DirectAccess, which will help ensure more reliable, secure computers and efficient remote access. Windows 7 has been rolled out to about 300 computers to date and will be deployed to 5,000 computers by the end of 2010. As part of the deployment, about 3,000 of the company’s client computers running the 64-bit version of Windows XP will be moved to the 64-bit version of Windows 7. App-V will enable virtualized 32-bit applications to run without in-depth validation on all of the 64-bit client computers.
In addition to using App-V to support the Windows 7 deployment, Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V)—which, like App-V, is part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack—will be used to run applications that are not compatible with Windows 7 in a virtual Windows XP environment on top of a Windows 7 desktop. MED-V will be deployed on up to 3,000 computers by the end of 2011, using System Center Configuration Manager. This will make it possible to run applications that are not compatible with Windows 7 until the software vendors release versions that are compatible with Windows 7.
By December 2010, Microsoft Application Virtualization for Terminal Services will be added to the BMW infrastructure to run applications that need to be deployed in unmanaged environments, such as those used by outsourced partners in India or China. By enabling an application to be packaged once and run in both desktop computer and terminal server infrastructures, Microsoft Application Virtualization will make it easy for BMW to support both environments, saving time in repackaging and testing. App-V for Terminal Services will run with the existing Citrix Terminal Server 2003 and the Windows Server 2003 R2 operating system.
Using Microsoft Application Virtualization helped BMW Group reduce the time required to package, test, and deploy applications by 50 percent. Now, 20 percent more applications can be packaged, enabling System Center Configuration Manger to be used to centrally deliver more software—without adding new infrastructure—and to save money that was previously spent on packaging and installations. Microsoft virtualization technologies also help simplify deployment of Windows 7.
||In order to deploy Windows 7 enterprisewide, all of our applications, including those designed for Windows XP, need to be able to run on the new operating system. Using App-V and MED-V makes this possible.
||Dr. Martin Rudolph
Product Manager, Office Applications, BMW Group
“Our App-V experience has been very positive. We found App-V streaming to be better than the comparable ThinApp capability. Packaging, testing, and delivering applications is so much faster, and by enabling zero-touch deployment, App-V helps us realize significant monetary savings,” says Rudolph. “Because packaging with App-V is easy, the process was moved from the outsourced provider to BMW application managers; this sped packaging time by 90 percent.”
Reduces Application Deployment Time by 50 Percent
The application deployment process has been simplified and accelerated—from four weeks to just 10 days, including everything from request and packaging through testing and delivery. It takes just half a day to sequence an application, compared to the full week that was required in the past to get a packaged application from BMW partners.
The amount of compatibility testing required has also been significantly reduced because the virtualized applications do not conflict with each other or with locally installed applications. It now takes less than a day to test, instead of three to six days.
Offers Zero-Touch Desktop with 20 Percent More Packaged Applications
Because application packaging and testing require much less time and fewer resources, applications that in the past did not meet the minimum 400-user threshold can now be packaged. By using App-V to package about 200 more applications now—and ultimately most of all 1,000 BMW applications—zero-touch deployment can be achieved.
When an application is packaged and tested, it is added to the application repository. An employee who clicks on the application in the self-service portal will receive the software within 30 minutes. There is no need for BMW IT staff or an external support technician to visit the site or to grant administrator rights that could compromise computer stability.
Reducing the need for outsourced packaging experts and support technicians saves BMW money. For instance, when zero-touch is fully enabled, there will no longer be a need for a third party to locally install software that previously could not be packaged or centrally distributed. This will save the company in excess of €135,000 (U.S.$182,000) annually.
Supports Application Compatibility
Using App-V and MED-V is helping BMW ease the rollout of Windows 7 and continue support of existing applications. With App-V, virtualized 64-bit applications can run on Windows 7. And using MED-V during the operating system migration phase addresses issues with older applications that are not compatible with Windows 7.
Older applications can be accessed from the Windows 7 Start menu in a way that is seamless and transparent. The applications will appear and operate as if they were running on Windows 7. “In order to deploy Windows 7 enterprisewide, all of our applications, including those designed for Windows XP, need to be able to run on the new operating system. Using App-V and MED-V makes this possible,” Rudolph says.
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:
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