When Zurich Airport decided to explore a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) to give employees a flexible work environment and to save energy, it ran three proof-of-concept projects to test solutions on VMware, Citrix, and Windows Server 2012
with Hyper-V. Based on its results, the airport plans to deploy Windows Server 2012 for its VDI and expects to improve employee productivity, simplify IT management, and save US$160,000 in power costs.
Zurich Airport in Switzerland is a bustling airport where 85 commercial and charter airlines operate more than 279,000 international and domestic flights each year. In 2011, the airport had more than 24 million passengers travel through its terminals,
arriving from and departing to destinations across the globe.
A critical component to coordinating the complex operations of keeping flights on time and helping passengers get to their final destination is the IT department at Zurich Airport. The department manages a local area network (LAN) with 500 servers running
the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating systems, 30 Unix servers, and 3,000 client computers running the Windows 7 operating system.
To keep the airport running efficiently, it is imperative that employees have the tools they need to remain productive. So, the IT department at Zurich Airport wanted employees to be able to access computing resources from any hardware device—even their
personal devices—and from any location. "We have to approach IT with flexibility," explains Thomas Reichmuth, Senior Systems Engineer at Zurich Airport. "Employees want to be as mobile as possible, and they want to be able to use the same modern gadgets at
work that they use at home."
In addition to finding new ways to support the technology needs of airport employees, the IT department at Zurich Airport continuously seeks out solutions that will help it reduce energy consumption as part of the airport's "green IT" initiative. "Reducing
energy consumption is a part of the Swiss culture," says Martin Hossli, Client Engineer at Zurich Airport, "and Zurich Airport has made a specific commitment to increase energy efficiency. If there is a way that the IT department can reduce how much energy
we use—and the costs that go along with energy use—we need to take advantage of it."
Zurich Airport decided to test a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), which would provide employees with virtual desktops where applications and client desktop environments run on a remote server and are delivered to client devices locally and over
||By using Windows Server 2012 and implementing VDI, we will save $40,000 in energy costs the first year and $160,000 by the time we've moved 1,600 employees to virtual desktops.
| Martin Hossli
Client Engineer, Zurich Airport
The airport wanted to run multiple proofs of concept to test a variety of VDI technologies in its environment. It ran one proof of concept with VMware View and another proof of concept to test Citrix. Then, Zurich Airport heard about the Windows Server 2012
Rapid Deployment Program (RDP) and decided to complete a proof of concept with Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V technology.
Zurich Airport turned to its technology partner Netree, a member of the Microsoft Partner Network, to help with its Windows Server 2012 proof of concept. Netree designed the testing environment, with the help of Microsoft Services Consulting, and also created
the master client image that was built on the Windows 7 operating system.
The testing environment included four servers running Windows Server 2012 with Hyper-V for various server roles, including storage, high-fidelity graphics capabilities, and to host 50 VDI sessions. The 50 employees who participated in the proof of concept
accessed their virtual desktops on thin client hardware—lower specification portable computers without hard drives that require less energy to power.
Zurich Airport tested several features in Windows Server 2012 with Hyper-V as part of its proof of concept. It tested Hyper-V over SMB, which provides high-performance remote file storage for VDI solutions by using the server message block (SMB) protocol.
In addition, it used the centralized management console for easily configuring and managing multiple virtual desktops and sessions in one central console.
It also tested RemoteFX, a feature in Windows Server 2012 that enhances the visual experience for virtual desktops. "Our employees access multimedia applications, and on a virtual desktop over a WAN, application performance can be slow," says Reichmuth.
"But RemoteFX for WAN delivered a fluid, high-fidelity experience and employees loved the performance in Windows Server 2012—especially compared to using multimedia and graphics-intensive applications with VMware."
In the future, the airport will deploy a comprehensive VDI solution across its environment based on Windows Server 2012 with Hyper-V, and will include Citrix XenDesktop.
When Zurich Airport is finished with its broader deployment, the company expects to:
Increase employee productivity. By implementing VDI, the IT department can enable employees to work from anywhere and on any Internet-connected device. "Employees will be more mobile and can connect to a virtual, standardized desktop and
be productive anywhere, anytime," says Hossli.
Simplifies IT management. By using Windows Server 2012, Zurich Airport will simplify IT management. "We can manage virtual desktops from the data center, without dispatching IT personnel into the field. Plus, the centralized management console
in Windows Server 2012 makes it easy to install a VDI environment," explains Reichmuth. "It is just a couple of clicks and everything is installed—that's really great."
Reduces energy consumption. Zurich Airport can rely on thin client hardware, rather than traditional desktops and laptops that require more power. "Our desktops use a 260-watt power supply, but the thin clients we can use with a VDI solution
only require 10 watts of power," explains Reichmuth.
Saves energy costs. As a result of reducing its energy consumption, Zurich Airport will be able to save US$100 each year in power costs for each desktop it replaces with a thin client. "We expect to replace 400 computers with thin clients
each year for the next four years," says Hossli. "By using Windows Server 2012 and implementing VDI, we will save $40,000 in energy costs the first year and $160,000 by the time we've moved 1,600 employees to virtual desktops."
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