Although it is steeped in antiquity, the City of Barcelona, Spain, maintains a modern technology infrastructure so that it can deliver quality services to citizens and to the millions of tourists who visit each year. The city decided to upgrade
to Windows Server 2012 to take advantage of the desktop virtualization enhancements included in the server platform. The City of Barcelona will be able to expand its use of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) from 200 to 1,000 employees and increase remote
workers’ work flexibility and productivity. The city will gain a VDI infrastructure that performs well and is easy to use and manage. By using Windows Server 2012 to run virtual desktops, the city will be able to upgrade to the Windows 8 operating system quickly
and cost effectively, saving US$122,000 in deployment costs. Upgrading to Windows 8 will also help improve employee productivity.
Barcelona, Spain, is one of the largest and most beautiful cities in Europe. Nestled against the sunny Mediterranean, Barcelona is home to 1.6 million people, with a metropolitan population of nearly 5 million. Barcelona is also the fourth most-visited
city in Europe and hosts several million tourists a year.
The city’s 8,000 information workers are located in 300 offices around the city and have a range of computing needs. Most use standard desktop or portable computers, but the city also implemented a remote desktop computing model to better meet the needs
of field workers. In a remote desktop computing model—broadly called desktop virtualization—the operating system and applications run on a remote central server and are delivered to client devices over the Internet or a company network. Users can access their
desktops from a desktop computer, portable computer, a thin client (devices with less powerful processors and less memory), tablet, or smartphone. Benefits of desktop virtualization include improved centralized control over desktop environments, anywhere access
to applications and data, and lower desktop management and client PC costs.
||We hope to use Windows Server 2012 to expand VDI from 200 users to about 1,000 users in the next few months …. This will enable more employees to work from home and give them more flexibility.
| Eduard Martin
Chief Technology Officer, City of Barcelona
The City of Barcelona specifically uses a desktop virtualization model called virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), which stores each user’s operating system image, applications, and data on a dedicated virtual machine. The city IT staff provided virtual desktops
to roughly 200 field workers and wanted to expand its use of VDI. But first it wanted to simplify and modernize its VDI infrastructure.
The city's older software presented security vulnerabilities and was sometimes frustrating to use; key graphics-intensive applications, such as a city mapping application called Vista, performed slowly on a virtualized desktop, and some applications were
difficult or impossible to deploy in a virtualized environment.
In parallel to simplifying its desktop virtualization model, the City of Barcelona decided to upgrade its 10,000 PCs to the Window 7 operating system but realized that it needed to increase random access memory (RAM) on most of those computers. The expense
of this requirement suddenly halted the upgrade.
The city already ran the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system on most of its servers, and in January 2012, it enrolled in the Microsoft Rapid Deployment Program (RDP) for the Windows Server 2012 operating system. Windows Server 2012 provides several
innovations that simplify VDI deployments, including a simpler wizard-based setup of virtual desktops and a unified management console for virtual desktops.
“Participating in the RDP would give us a good opportunity to enhance our VDI setup and also speed our upgrade to Windows 7,” says Eduard Martin, Chief Technology Officer for the City of Barcelona. IT teams can deploy operating systems and applications much
faster in a VDI environment because software is installed once, on a data center server, rather than locally on individual PCs. The City of Barcelona ultimately decided to skip Windows 7 and upgrade all of its desktops to the Windows 8 operating system, which
was due to be released soon.
The city worked with Microsoft Services to set up three large Cisco servers for its RDP proof of concept and installed Windows Server 2012 Datacenter, which provides liberal licensing rights for virtual machines on a two-processor server. By using the Hyper-V
virtualization technology in Windows Server 2012, the city created virtual machines to host VDI sessions. The city’s goal is to create 300 VDI sessions during its proof of concept and eventually expand these sessions to 2,500 employees. The city expects to
achieve a virtual-desktop density of 100 VDI sessions per server. It is using the latest Cisco blade servers and networking equipment and a NetApp storage area network to host its VDI environment.
Since deploying Windows Server 2012, the city has been pleased by the performance improvements in its VDI environments, especially for running Vista. Once it deploys Windows 8, the city will benefit from improvements to the Microsoft RemoteFX feature in
Windows Server 2012 to boost performance even further. RemoteFX enhances the VDI experience by improving the performance of media-rich applications that rely on a server-side graphics processing unit.
The IT staff is also pleased with the User Profile Disk feature in Windows Server 2012, which stores personalized user states and customizations and applies them every time the user logs on to the desktop. This provides a better and more consistent experience
and eliminates the need to store entire VDI sessions when not in use, preserving server storage space.
Additionally, Windows Server 2012 includes enhanced data security and compliance features that will help the city protect sensitive data in its VDI environments. It plans to evaluate Encrypted Hard Drive, an enhancement to BitLocker Drive Encryption, which
offloads data encryption to hardware and helps increase BitLocker performance and reduce CPU usage.
||With Windows Server 2012, we will have better managed desktops. We will be able to deploy operating systems, applications, and security updates much faster.
| Alex Serret
Engineer, Technology Innovation, IT Department, City of Barcelona
At the same time that it upgraded to Windows Server 2012, the city deployed Microsoft System Center 2012 Configuration Manager so that it can administer applications in both local desktop and VDI environments. By using Configuration Manager, the IT staff has
a single management console for provisioning, managing, and controlling user experiences for mobile, physical, and virtual environments.
“Deploying operating systems, applications, and security updates are much faster with Configuration Manager, as is establishing and enforcing security settings,” says Alex Serret, Engineer for Technology Innovation in the City of Barcelona IT Department.
“Using Configuration Manager not only simplifies IT administration but gives employees more freedom to use a range of computing devices so that they can work from anywhere.” The city has a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement, which provides cost-effective licensing
of Microsoft software in any deployment environment.
By upgrading to Windows Server 2012, the City of Barcelona can expand VDI to more employees, improve productivity, increase IT efficiency, speed its upgrade to Windows 8, save money, and enhance security.
Greater Employee Flexibility and Productivity
By using Windows Server 2012, the City of Barcelona can expand desktop virtualization to more employees and provide a better user experience. “We hope to use Windows Server 2012 to expand VDI from 200 users to about 1,000 users in the next few months—those
who move around a lot or are not connected to the wide area network,” Martin says. “This will enable more employees to work from home and give them more flexibility. With Windows Server 2012, employees have the same experience using virtual desktops as they
do with local desktops. Employees have the freedom to use either PC environment to do their jobs.”
City employees can quickly and easily create VDI sessions in the Windows Server 2012 environment. Graphics-intensive applications such as the city’s Vista mapping application perform better in a VDI environment than when running locally on desktop PCs. “On
desktop PCs, a drag or zoom action on a map takes about a half-second to process,” Serret says. “On the VDI desktops, drag and zoom actions are instantaneous. Faster application performance translates directly to higher employee productivity, and higher productivity
translates into better service to citizens.”
Increased IT Efficiency
By standardizing on Windows Server 2012, the city will be able to consolidate its VDI technology to one solution and work with one vendor for upgrades and support. “With Windows Server 2012, we will have better managed desktops,” Serret says. “We will
be able to deploy operating systems, applications, and security updates much faster.”
For example, it will take about an hour per desktop to upgrade the city’s 7,500 PCs to Windows 8, but deploying the operating system to 2,500 VDI images will happen instantaneously. “By using Windows Server 2012 for VDI, we expect to save six months of deployment
time as we upgrade 2,500 users to Windows 8,” Serret says. “And giving employees Windows 8 will deliver more productivity enhancements.”
Software Deployment Savings of $122,000
That six-month time savings equals roughly €100,000 (US$122,000)—€30-40 per employee that it costs to send a technician to remote desktop locations multiplied by the 2,500 users who will use Windows 8 through the VDI environment. “We’re just in the proof-of-concept
stage, but we hope there will also be cost savings from eliminating other VDI software licenses, reducing storage for VDI images, and lowering energy costs from running fewer high-end PCs,” Martin says. “However, we are making the migration to Windows Server
2012 for strategic rather than cost-saving reasons.”
The city has a more secure VDI environment now that it has deployed Windows Server 2012. “With the new security features in Windows Server 2012, contract programmers can more securely access servers behind our firewall,” says Martin. “We feel that we
can offer more services and better service to our employees and contractors with this latest operating system. We are eager to explore all the new features.”
Windows Server 2012
Windows Server drives many of the world’s largest data centers, empowers small businesses around the world, and delivers value to organizations of all sizes in between. Building on this legacy, Windows Server 2012 redefines the category, delivering hundreds
of new features and enhancements that span virtualization, networking, storage, user experience, cloud computing, automation, and more. Simply put, Windows Server 2012 helps you transform your IT operations to reduce costs and deliver a whole new level of
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