The IT staff at Ardentec, a semiconductor testing company, was experiencing software version and compatibility issues, as well as lengthy desktop setup times, system security concerns, and other management challenges. Microsoft® Application Virtualization 4.5 helped them resolve these issues by offering centralized application management and reducing IT workloads. Employees now enjoy more flexible application usage.
Ardentec is a semiconductor testing solution provider based in Hsinchu, Taiwan. With more than 250 PCs and portable computers to manage, the company’s IT employees were encountering software version management and compatibility problems. For example, the Teradyne IG-XL testing platform used by developers was compatible with Microsoft® Excel® 2000 spreadsheet software. “If Office were upgraded to a newer version, Microsoft Office 2003 or 2007, then problems would occur with the testing platform,” says Chou Ke-heng, Assistant Director of Information Management at Ardentec.
Since Office 2000, Office 2003, and the 2007 Microsoft Office system applications all use the same Registry resources during startup, the programs cannot be run smoothly on the same PC at the same time, making software management difficult. Additionally, documents created in Office 2007 applications cannot be opened on PCs running Office 2000, hindering business coordination. To address these issues, the company was providing two PCs per person (one running Office 2000 and another running either the 2003 or 2007 Office release). “This wasn’t a permanent solution due to considerations of cost and management,” Chou says.
Setting up the software configurations for an additional or new user often required between a half day and a day of IT staff time. “In the case of the human resources [HR] management system used by HR personnel, just the software installation alone would take three to four hours,” says Chou.
Finally, it is critical to Ardentec’s manufacturing customers that access to their proprietary information is limited. “Desktop programs with the potential to cause information security issues such as confidentiality leaks and virus attacks, like instant messaging, peer-to-peer, and FTP [File Transfer Protocol] software, are strictly prohibited,” Chou stresses. But ensuring that only the appropriate applications were installed on PCs and that they were used properly was difficult.
Ardentec decided it could address many of the IT department's concerns by changing its application management approach to a virtualization solution. This year, with the assistance of Microsoft Taiwan, Ardentec deployed Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V) version 4.5, a technology in the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) for Software Assurance.
||For us, App-V is definitely not just an OA [office automation] solution, but is a critical key to our IT manageability.
||Chou Ke-heng, Assistant Director of Information Management, Ardentec
App-V 4.5 allows applications to be deployed in real time to any client from a virtual application server. Client-hosted desktop virtualization creates a separate operating system environment on the desktop, allowing non-compatible applications to operate within their native environment on top of a more current desktop operating system, or enabling two IT environments to run concurrently on the same physical device. Each application brings its own set of configurations and runs on the client without any installation within a virtual run-time abstraction layer.
Ardentec executed an initial pilot on 50 systems used by development personnel for management information systems (MIS) and machine development. The company used the App-V Sequencer tool to safely package its software together before using App-V Server to issue it to client computers. In this case, they packaged together the company’s HR management system, the Teradyne IG-XL testing platform, and the Microsoft Visio® drawing and diagramming software.
Ardentec is planning to expand its virtualization deployment. According to Chou, the company is currently evaluating Microsoft Application Virtualization for Terminal Services. “For us, App-V is definitely not just an OA [office automation] solution, but is a critical key to our IT manageability,” he says.
The virtualization capabilities of App-V have greatly reduced desktop application management issues as well as the Ardentec IT staff’s workload. The company can better manage security threats, and employees have more flexibility using software applications.
Easier Provisioning Reduces Workload
With the centralized management offered through App-V, Ardentec's provisioning problems have been resolved. Applications are in effect transformed into centrally-managed virtual services that are never installed and don't conflict with other applications. App-V streams applications on-demand to desktops and portable computers, changing Ardentec's provisioning process from a series of tedious, manual tasks into an automated, streamlined process. "Since applications are sent from the App-V server to client machines, IT personnel save hours of installation time for each system," says Chou.
Better Management of Security Threats and Malicious Software
Because App-V centralizes management of applications, Ardentec personnel can only get the applications they have the rights to; application usage and license metering are managed centrally so that administrators can ensure compliance. The virtualized environment is effective in preventing harmful programs from being run either intentionally or unintentionally on Ardentec's client machines, and helps prevent threats to PC security and corporate intellectual property losses.
Greater Software Flexibility for Users
The App-V solution provides great ease and flexibility to Ardentec's employees. “When somebody new comes along, you just hand him a PC," says Chou. "He need only use his account number to log into the system, where he will see all of the applications he can use. No IT employee is needed to perform an installation first.”
“Now users need only click on what they want, Office 2003 or Office 2007,” says Chou. “They don’t need to know what’s happening inside at all.”
IT isn’t hearing many complaints anymore. “What sounds good is when you don’t hear anything from users,” Chou adds.