“We expect a gradual growth as well as new usage scenarios like flexible desktops and for example tablets for medical staff. Citrix XenDesktop and the Citrix Receiver enable this functionality without further modifications in the infrastructure.”
René Jacobs, Team manager I&A, Adelante
Adelante is a healthcare group for adult rehabilitation, job reintegration, pediatric rehabilitation, special education and housing, and audiology & communication as main services. The organization supports adults and children in restoring their health. The organization also helps clients to obtain maximum participation in the society after the effects of a disease, disorder or accident. Adelante invests in the development and dissemination of knowledge through scientific research, education, training and innovation. In addition, Adelante is active in outpatient clinics of hospitals and for example ambulant guidance of schools. Adelante has branches in Hoensbroek and seven other cities in the region of Limburg. The healthcare group employs over 1,000 employees.
The challenge – a secure solution for telecommuting
About five years ago the organization started with a cloud-based remote control service to enable a few employees to access central workstations on the network from remote locations. Use of this service grew rapidly and therefore the IT management became more intensive and expensive, especially because the costs were calculated per year and per individual employee.
“We got requests from the organization to implement an internal telecommuting solution to enable employees to work from home, but that would also be flexible enough for ambulant staff and workstations at subsidiaries without a fast connection,” said Rene Jacobs, I&A team manager at Adelante. As IT staff, we had all freedom to select the technology we needed, from a traditional VPN solution to a modern VDI environment. We started looking for a solution that matched our demands and was able to replace the cloud-based service.”
Implementing Citrix XenDesktop, Enterprise Edition
The organization found the perfect solution in the hosted virtual desktop. After an internal evaluation and comparison was performed, Adelante selected Citrix® XenDesktop®, Enterprise Edition. Insign.it, a Gold Citrix Solution Provider, supported the organization with the architecture and implementation. Last year, Adelante completed the first renewal phase of the infrastructure in the data center. This included the replacement of all servers by HP blades with virtualized workloads and rolling out an EMC SAN. The blueprint for desktop virtualization was now there and could easily be extended. The organization now has 60 virtualized Windows® XP workloads running on Citrix XenDesktop, all on one blade server. These virtualized desktops are used by 150 people, ranging from ad hoc and regular home users as well as ambulant employees to 40 employees at locations with slower connections that use the virtual desktop full-time.
The failure-free versatile virtual desktop
Each time a virtual workstation is started at Adelante, the employee receives a fresh new Windows XP PC. Citrix provisioning services, a component of XenDesktop, ensures the provision of the standard image. The organization uses about 200 applications, including Office 2003 Professional, the electronic patient record Ecaris of VIR e-Care solutions, the audiology patient registration OpenAC Fenac and for example IBM SPSS. Jacobs: “Standard applications are included in the image, but many of the smaller rehabilitation-related applications are added when needed by the software distribution process. Employees can make changes on the PC, but after the next reboot, all changes including added applications have disappeared. This way we created a fast and failure-free virtual workspace that can be used for many more roles than just teleworkers. In the future, we expect even more benefits after we start using application streaming.”
One desktop, both virtual and physical
At Adelante and the special school for the disabled that is run by Adelante, over 750 fat client workstations are used. At locations where dark fiber connections are too expensive, for example at rented venues, the virtual desktop is delivered through a secured Internet connection and xDSL. Every day, approximately 40 employees use the centralized virtualized desktop full time from their fat client. The main reason for not using thin clients at these locations, is that there are applications that require a DVD-ROM drive or have a license technically tied to a workstation. “A major advantage of the solution is that the virtual workstations can be managed the same way as the physical desktops. Identical tools and for example the same policies for security upgrades apply to both environments. Although it is impossible to quantify in hours, we save a lot of time for system administration compared to the old situation,” Jacobs said. “The virtual workplace is stable and runs thanks to Citrix HDX™ technology smoothly for multimedia, YouTube and even works even for health care applications that need sound.”
The blueprint provides a stable basis for growth
The deployment of desktop virtualization at Adelante will grow in the coming years, this trend is already visible. The blade server hosting the Windows XP workload reaches its limits. “Expanding this IT environment is very simple. Adding a blade server to increase capacity and double the available number of Windows XP workloads is easy. The disk space on the SAN already has been sized for 120 Windows XP sessions and does not need to be expanded, “continued Jacobs “We expect a gradual growth as well as new usage scenarios for the concept. We probably will move to thin clients to be used as flexible desktop. We also want to introduce the Apple iPad or other tablets so the medical staff has access to patient records at the bedside of the clients. With Citrix XenDesktop and Citrix Receiver for the iPad this is very simple without further modifications in the infrastructure.”
Neutral replacement cost with high value
The organization was particularly impressed by the concurrent use licenses of XenDesktop. With 150 users, 25 to 40 concurrent licenses are sufficient. If Adelante had not opted for XenDesktop but for a different solution, IT costs would have been definitely higher. “Thanks to concurrent use licenses, we funded the new environment from the annual costs of the previous cloud-based solution,” concluded Jacobs. “We have not only addressed telecommuting, but also enabled secure access over the Internet from several locations and prepared for possible future expansions, all with the same solution. One investment solves our challenge for working from home, extends the usage scenarios and prepares us for future developments.”