• District Council implements Virtual Desktop Infrastructure


Large District Council providing hundreds of services from multiple sites with a network of 80 servers supporting over 250 end users.

The Challenge - 75% reduction in IT support staff

With a 75% reduction in IT support staff, a move to new office accommodation and broader rationalisation for IT Services to become a shared department across several sites, the IT team had its work cut out. Coupled with this, the Council’s PC desktop refresh programme had been suspended for two years and most of its desktops were past their lifecycle.

However, the team still had to meet its objectives of supporting the Council in delivering better quality services with less budget. Probrands’ brief focussed on:

  • Reducing desktop IT support man hours and costs

  • Improving desktop management and scaleability

  • Radically optimising desktop deployment, auditing and control of software assets

  • Delivery of a desktop failover environment and rapid Disaster Recovery

The Solution - Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

Probrand firstly undertook a landmark VDi trial to test the option of virtual machines across the desktop. Probrand worked with Council’s team to prove the concept and deliver a compelling business case for the organisation to invest in this approach. 

To facilitate better capacity and resource to support a VDi infrastructure, Probrand upscaled the Council’s storage by deploying and configuring a NetApp FAS3210 Storage Area Network (SAN). Probrand then migrated all data from the existing NetAPP FAS2050 to the upgraded appliance in a ‘Live’ environment without downtime.

The original FAS2050 has been co-located to a separate site and configured for multi-site replication to fulfil fail-over and Disaster Recovery needs.

For easy desktop replenishment, Probrand recommended a terminal based approach to reduce further system administration and provide a tamper-proof client environment. A full VDi solution has been delivered using VMWare View to enable over 100+ concurrent PC sessions all configured for automated backup and recovery. Probrand integrated the virtual desktop environment into the council’s Active Directory. As all data is still maintained within the corporate firewall, View Manager has helped to minimise the risk of data loss as well as offer built in SSL encryption for secure tunnelled access to virtual machines from unmanaged devices.

To support the Council’s reduced internal IT support team in optimising the network, Probrand is providing a fully managed service to maintain the VDi environment’s integrity, availability and efficiency.

The Benefits - costs have been cut by up to 45%

The Council’s IT Services Manager, said: “Probrand’s technical expertise has fundamentally given us a rich, consistent and high performance desktop user experience without the cost. As a team we are now able to exceed our objectives and better support the Council’s delivery of service.

“With VDi our desktop computing costs have been cut by up to 45% thanks to centralised management, better administration and resources.

“Deploying new software couldn’t be any quicker or easier, upload once and it’s concurrent across an estate of over 100 virtual desktop sessions. Automated desktop backup and recovery have also saved us significant man hours, energy and money.

“Our new infrastructure has future proofed our desktop needs. Adding new desktop users or groups is simple and quick whilst every desktop experience is consistent from any network point be it wired or wireless.

“We intend to roll-out the desktop virtualisation programme to our remaining 150 desktops shortly. 

“With the new storage configuration, we have unlocked improved DR capability by recycling existing infrastructure and using support staff at each site. This has concreted our business continuity plans and saved us long term capital expenditure. We are better protected for the foreseeable future.”

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