Microsoft Windows 7 brings many benefits and cost savings
Published: April 2010
Tayto Northern Ireland had grown very rapidly in the last five years mainly through acquisitions in the U.K. to become the third largest crisps and snacks manufacturer in the U.K. Its turnover had grown to £150 million for the year ended 2009 and approximately 1,400 are employed. The companyís IT environment consisted of a diverse collection of software and hardware that cried out for rationalisation and standardisation.
The diversity of IT systems including multiple versions of vertical software applications and support agreements, different server operating systems and seven different desktop operating systems had become a major IT management headache. The bulk of the desktop systems were based on Windows XP and a small number were Vista based.
The evolved policy was based on the premise that standardisation would enable many benefits. After a small scale successful short trial of Windows 7 a decision was taken to base the desktop operating systems on Windows 7 due to its stability and reliability. Other areas standardised included ERP systems with Microsoft Dynamics Navision, hardware platforms with HP, server platforms with Windows Server and licensing platform were standardised round Microsoft Software Assurance.
An evaluation at the end of 2008 of the implications of adopting a Windows Vista solution indicated that the hardware investment alone would have cost about £80,000 because a complete repurchase of desktops computers would be required. Apart from the need to standardise the desktop operating systems across the group the approaching end of life support for Windows XP SP2 was an important stimulus for action. Tayto were also re-evaluating their existing licensing agreements with Microsoft.
Belfast based Novosco Limited, a Microsoft partner, was a long standing Tayto partner and trusted advisor. The company was engaged to provide advice on Windows 7 deployment and initially rolled out a few computers in the IT department. Subsequently Novosco returned to install a deployment server allowing Tayto to build their desktop and laptops PCs from a network image in less than forty minutes. This image contained applications and network configuration for Tayto resulting in minimum touch by the IT support team. Novosco technical staff took part in Windows 7 and Server 2008 Deployment training to ensure that the implementation staff was deploying the new operating systems with the latest and most efficient tools.
“Through the course of reviewing our existing agreements with Microsoft, Windows 7 was discussed and after speaking with a specialist about the product, we decided to trail the new operating system. After four weeks I was convinced that Windows 7 was the perfect fit for Tayto and our operational needs.Ē”
Christopher Milligan, IT Systems and Infrastructure Manager at Tayto Group
“Users now have an interface with the business applications they need, which Iím sure over time will result in a much more efficient operation. Windows 7 is simple and easy to use; it is more intuitive, more secure and in my opinion it offers business the ability to innovate.”
Colin Rainey, Technical Manager with Novosco.
“Early adoption has proven successful and has provided benefits to the companies that trial the product, as well as our development teams. Tayto were given the opportunity to get a feel for Windows 7 and assess whether or not it was the right fit for them. The feedback they provided has helped us to improve the operating system not only for their operations but also for future users.”
Ronnie Dockery, Business Manager, Client, Microsoft, Ireland
Usability and productivity
Many organisations deploy applications that were written to run under older operating systems. The ability to run legacy applications in Windows 7 is provided by using XP mode or Virtual XP. Tayto had some applications such as the “van sales system” that predates any version of Windows. While these applications may eventually be updated the full functionality is still available without performance degradation under Windows 7.
User productivity was enhanced due to improvements in the Task Bar functionality that allows frequently used applications to be easily accessed. The ability to compare screens side by side and the Aero display have been found to be beneficial. The User Account Control has added a degree of comfort for users especially laptop users operating remotely as they are less likely to disrupt normal operations and effectively have a “get out of jail free card”. Users have commented that the improved appearance of the screen interface has enhanced their productivity.
Windows 7 comes with the advantage of being hardware agnostic. Essentially this meant that three year old hardware given a small RAM boost could still be deployed saving a capital investment in hardware of around £40,000. This is in marked contrast to Windows Vista that would have required a large capital investment in hardware.
Security features have been enhanced in Windows 7 with the ability to lock down the desktop which is especially important when most of the users are located considerable distances away from the centre of IT support operations. Potential additional support costs were avoided as the lock-down features that can be managed through Group Policy Controls prevented users from unwarranted actions necessitating calls to the help desk.
Tayto have already started taking advantage of the BitLocker features and will be enforcing these features and file encryption on a company wide basis. This again gives more comfort to users as well as protecting corporate data assets. In day to day operations BitLocker does not impose any time/productivity overhead although backing up large drives is more time consuming.
Chris Milligan, IT System and Infrastructure Manager, said that all the Microsoft management tools work well with Windows 7 especially when combined with Windows Server 2008. PowerShell, the powerful command line administrator’s tool, enables trouble shooting tasks and automation to be implemented through scripting. Control of USB devices works well and is critical from a security angle. The administration of remote PCs works much better than in previous versions of the operating system.
Problem Steps Recorder (PSR) has proved to be a boom for support purposes. Mr. Milligan said “We are starting to get the user to record the problems they are having and where possible upload the PSR file to an onsite server for us to review or to an FTP site if they are offsite; this allows us to see exactly what is occurring while the user gets the error on screen and hence saves on support time.”
Standardisation in itself can bring many benefits but these cannot be realised if the standardised platform is not robust, reliable and enables excellent levels of performance. Mr. Milligan said, “Windows 7 is much more cost effective. Helpdesk calls are down and users are benefiting from a more agile and dynamic system in their day-to-day jobs. The support provided by Microsoft and its Windows 7 installation partner in Northern Ireland, Novosco, was incredibly professional and meant that our Windows 7 deployment was seamless, painless and resulted in no infrastructural issues.” He added that Windows 7 is reliable, more responsive, more secure, customisable, supports legacy applications, runs on older hardware and enabled Tayto to reduce both capital and running costs.
Tayto Northern Ireland
Tayto NI is the third largest crisp confectionery manufacturer in the U.K. employing 1,400 with a turnover of £150 million.
The need to rationalize a heterogeneous IT environment to reduce costs and improve management through standardization.
After a trial period installed Windows 7 using a deployment server with existing desktop hardware to minimize cost of roll-out.
Improved user productivity and usability
Greatly improved security
Significant hardware savings
Greatly enhanced IT management
Microsoft Windows 7
For More Information
About Microsoft in Ireland:
The Irish Sales, Services and Marketing Operation of Microsoft was established in 1991. The full-time team market all Microsoft products and services in the island of Ireland, targeting customers both North and South. The team services customers across all segments including enterprise, small and medium sized businesses and home computer users. In addition to developing desktop products, Microsoft provides tailored consultancy services and solutions to suit enterprise businesses. Microsoft is continuing to concentrate on its relationship with the Irish enterprise market - the top 100 companies in the island of Ireland. Enterprise customers of Microsoft include the Department of Education in Northern Ireland and the Civil Service Commission, Dublin.
For more information on Microsoft’s products and solutions, please visit www.microsoft.com/ireland
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
© 2010 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY. Microsoft and Windows are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.