The London Borough of Tower Hamlets (LBTH), one of the host boroughs for the 2012 Olympics, provides local government and community services to the residents and businesses in East London. Like many organisations today, LBTH wanted to introduce a more mobile workstyle and give employees the option to work securely away from the office. Driven by the necessity to reduce costs whilse minimising service impact, LBTH decided to close one of its office buildings during the Olympics, and instead provide a flexible working approach for its staff.
Called Smarter Working, the plan sought to provide 4,700 staff with secure delivery of data, applications and desktops from the LBTH systems to their alternate work locations, rather than endure the anticipated disruption of travel to and from work during the Olympics.
A requirement for implementing the Smarter Working programme was to upgrade the existing outdated Microsoft Windows XP platform to enable staff to access applications securely from any Internet-enabled location. LBTH decided to adopt a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) approach as it recognised that this would offer the most cost-effective, efficient and straightforward route to meeting its flexible working objectives. To achieve this, LBTH planned an initial migration to Microsoft Windows 7, followed by migration to a Citrix XenDesktop and Microsoft App-V VDI solution.
LBTH had more than 500 unique applications, many of which had been tailored to provide specific capabilities. LBTH wanted to ensure continuity of systems and operations following each migration, yet they knew the amount of work required to manually test and modify each application would take too long. It was critical that they meet the immovable summer 2012 deadline, or there would be disastrous consequences with huge cost implications.
“The council estimated that more than 1000 man-days would have been required for the application testing and modification process, which was well beyond the scope of the two full-time staff members. Employing additional staff was not an option, due to budget constraints. We considered involving our users with application testing, but this would not have guaranteed a sufficiently thorough approach, and would have impacted overall productivity,” explained Mark Ferreday, technical design architect for the Smarter Working programme at LBTH.
LBTH sought advice from Microsoft, who recommended investing in a specialised application compatibility solution to test and remediate the applications in an automated way. This would ensure application readiness and pave the way for smooth Windows 7 and Citrix migrations, as well as meet the deadline.
LBTH researched the market and decided that Citrix AppDNA was the most comprehensive solution available to handle application compatibility and migration. AppDNA automates pre-migration application testing and intelligently remediates compatibility issues to save time, reduce costs and minimise disruption to users and businesses.
LBTH preferred the approach offered by AppDNA, primarily because it uses the concept of intelligent remediation. The solution provides a holistic approach to pinpointing defects within the applications and in the relationships between applications and operating systems (OS), enabling a wide spectrum of fixes including OS modifications and application tweaks.
“Blanket automatic fixes were not the right approach for us. Resolving a core issue in this way could have a detrimental effect, and may be more effectively addressed by an OS service pack, for instance. We knew that we would rather understand each individual issue and control how each fix was made, to ensure any modifications would be supported in the future,” noted Ferreday. Other winning features of AppDNA were its intuitive interface and standard pre-built reports, which would save valuable time during the migration projects.
A proof of concept was undertaken which sealed the decision to select AppDNA. “The decision to purchase AppDNA felt right – the product, the people and the expertise each ticked the right boxes,” summarised Ferreday.
With assistance from the AppDNA team, LBTH has implemented the application migration solution and started to import its applications, rationalising them along the way. “AppDNA is providing us with the insight and knowledge to start migrating our applications, delivering a clear path forward. This ensures that all our applications will continue to be fully available to our users at every stage of the move to our new VDI environment,” continued Ferreday. “Our new, secure flexible working environment is now up and running successfully with AppDNA, and has helped us avoid the costs associated with employing additional staff,” said Ferreday.
The London Borough of Tower Hamlets is one of the London boroughs which will be hosting the 2012 Olympic Games. For more information, visit www.towerhamlets.gov.uk
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