Desktop virtualization is an increasingly important technology for many organizations. As businesses face restrictive budgets, uncertain funding, demands for BYOD strategies and pressures to collaborate over a dispersed workforce, desktop virtualization allows their employees to provide a simple, cost-effective and secure way to access applications and resources needed to perform their job function from any device, and any location.
PI Industries, an agro chemicals firm in India that exports to over 35 countries, was looking to consolidate and take the virtualization path on all fronts – servers, desktops and applications. In the process, the company not only increased productivity, but also reduced end-user device cost by 50 percent.
Growing Sprawl Presents Challenges
With an employee strength of 1,400, specializing in agri-input, the Gurgaon-based company specializes in custom synthesis and manufacturing of chemicals. It currently operates three formulation and two manufacturing facilities as well as five multi-product plants at its three manufacturing locations across Jammu and Gujarat.
However, as the workforce size increased in tandem with business expansion, adding more desktops involved additional hardware cost, supporting its growing business and research activities was becoming an increasingly difficult task. The growing complexity of managing, provisioning and delivering applications over them was becoming a huge task, as the infrastructure sprawl was bringing in manageability and cost issues.
Laying the framework
For PI Industries, desktops have been an integral part of the company’s overall virtualization strategy right from the start. “For us, desktop virtualization was always on the radar together with the servers, and a ‘server virtualization alone’ strategy was never thought of. This is because VDI is critical and extremely useful in a manufacturing setup as it helps in reducing the cost as well as the complications of delivering applications to the end users,” explains Vineet Kumar Chawla, Head IT, PI Industries.
Having decided to leverage the refresh cycle opportunity, the next key aspect was deciding on the right solution. The fact that PI Industries was looking at virtualization with a holistic approach instead of one specific component of the IT infrastructure alone, was key in determining the vendor of choice. After evaluating other technologies, the company chose Citrix as a technology partner to virtualize its datacenter, desktops and applications.
Over a period of 4 months POCs were conducted, and then the company shortlisted Citrix, mainly owing to its strength across the entire virtualization gamut, especially desktops. “Citrix gave us many advantages to consider. It offered VDI desktops which personalized the user experience and provided this personal desktop experience even over low bandwidth,” explained Chawla. Further, it allowed Mac users to run Windows desktops, enabling them to access the various applications published on XenServer.
What eventually clinched the deal for Citrix XenDesktop and XenServer was the long standing relationship that PI Industries had with Citrix. In fact, the company’s journey with Citrix started way back in 2003 when it had implemented ERP and chose its solution to publish applications with minimum possible.
Having decided on XenDesktop for its desktop virtualization requirement, PI Industries went for a ‘big bang’ implementation approach with its desktop virtualization initiative. In 2013, it successfully completed the roll-out of XenDesktop to 800 users within 5-6 days. The implementation was carried out by Umbrella Technologies.
The company had been using Citrix application publishing solution over the last 10 years. It made it easier for the end-users to adapt to the new VDI environment, thus reducing the change management complexities.
Increase in RoI, productivity
Today, PI Industries delivers most of its 24 applications to these 800 users over XenDesktop. With the introduction of Thin Clients the cost of end user devices has reduced by 50%. Meanwhile, it has also enabled better collaboration and mobility as employees can now access their data from anywhere.
Chawla said that XenDesktop has surely changed the day-to-day life of the users within the organization, as he points out an example, wherein while implementing a green field plant, IT was able to deliver all the applications to more than 123 users within 1 hour. Thus, leading to significant time and cost savings while improving productivity many folds through effective resource utilization.
“Post the XenDesktop implementation, the application issues faced by users can be resolved by corporate team within five minutes and any local hardware issue is managed by replacing the Thin Client instead of diagnosing, resolving and re-building as would be done in desktop environment,” he explained.
Together XenDesktop and XenServer implementation have helped reduce the company’s carbon footprint while also bringing down the costs and complexity of application and desktop management. From security perspective the company is now able to protect sensitive information by consolidating the data on central storage. The IT manpower for infrastructure management has remained constant for the last 10 years though the organization has grown from Rs. 200 crores to Rs. 2000 crores revenues in that timeframe.
PI Industries said it is adding another 175 users and upgrading the Citrix platform to the new releases. It is further evaluating Citrix MDM for managing the growing movement towards BYOD, said Chawla.
Driving business value
The virtualization market in India has been growing steadily over the past few years and being readily adopted by businesses of all sizes. As per IDC data it is estimated that the VDI market in India will grow at a CAGR of 37.8 percent to $32.14 million by 2017.
“An agile, scalable, and cost-effective client virtualization infrastructure helps CIOs achieve this metamorphosis and provides a measurable ROI,” stated Robert Young, Research Director, IT Service Management and Client Virtualization Software, IDC and co-author of a research reporttitled: “Driving Business Value with Desktop Virtualization” (April 2015) sponsored by HP.
The report noted that IT organizations can experience significant value when deploying the technology appropriately. Furthermore, as desktop virtualization leverages the benefits associated with a flexible foundation, made possible through hypervisors, it becomes much simpler to manage users and desktop use cases that typically were difficult to control before the advent of desktop virtualization.
IDC expects that client virtualization will experience continuous growth through 2018. As the solution matures, it will become increasingly applicable to greater portions of organizations and a greater breadth of industry verticals.