According to, the Cooperative Group has essentially abandoned their VMware virtualization infrastructure to standardize on Citrix and Microsoft for an aggressive desktop virtualization rollout.

  • World’s largest consumer-owned business with 123,000 employees

  • Initial rollout of 3,000 XenDesktop users

  • Joint Citrix/Microsoft solution displaced incumbent VMware ESX infrastructure

The Cooperative Group, based in Manchester, UK, is a United Kingdom consumers’ co-operative, and, after the acquisition of Somerfield supermarkets, is the world’s largest consumer-owned business, with over 4.5 million members and 123,000 employees across all its businesses.

According to the report, Co-operative will begin its rollout in its new Manchester headquarters, deploying 3,000 thin clients and laptops that will run virtual desktops based on Citrix XenDesktop. This approach was proved in with a successful 250 user pilot on HP thin clients. The Co-operative also made a strategic decision to switch from all-ESX infrastructure to a combination of Citrix XenServer and Microsoft Hyper-V in Windows Server 2008.

“We started off with VMware but it (VMware) started playing games on discount levels which we were not happy with,” said Dave Murrell, head of servers, storage and desktops at The Co-operative Group. “XenServer became a no-brainer for financial reasons as well as support, and we have a big datacentre licence for (Windows 2008) Hyper-V going forward anyway, so we will move away from VMware.”

By deploying the joint Citrix/Microsoft solution across the company, the Co-operative expects to drive significant savings on desktop support and “up to £1.53m per year on desktop PC upgrade costs, plus £459,000 a year on lower server, storage and desktop PC energy bills,” according to the computing, report.

Make sure you read the full article here. We are seeing more and more reports like this one, from companies both large and small. The Co-operative Group deployment is significant, in my opinion, for one, coming from a cost-conscious consumer-owned company competing in a tough retail market and, secondly, given the huge number of endpoints involved long-term.