Legal Services Leader Foley & Lardner LLP Achieves Cost Savings and Increased Efficiency with Virtual Desktops
Legal Services Leader Foley & Lardner LLP Achieves CostSavings and Increased Efficiency with Virtual DesktopsTranscript of a BrieﬁngsDirect podcast on how a major law ﬁrm has adopted desktopvirtualization and BYOD to give employees more choices and ﬂexibility.Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod. Sponsor: VMwareDana Gardner: Hi. This is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and yourelistening to BrieﬁngsDirect.Today, we present a sponsored podcast discussion on how global legal services leader Foley & Lardner LLP has adopted virtual desktops and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) innovation to enhance end-user productivity across their far-ﬂung operations. [Disclosure: VMware is a sponsor of BrieﬁngsDirect podcasts.] Well see how Foley has delivered applications, data, and services better and with improved control, even as employees have gained more choices and ﬂexibility over the client devices, user experiences, and applications usage.Stay with us now to learn more about adapting to the new realities of client computing and userexpectations. Were joined by Linda Sanders, the CIO at Foley & Lardner LLP. Welcome toBrieﬁngsDirect, Linda.Linda Sanders: Thank you for having me.Gardner: Were also here with Rick Varju. He is the Director of Engineering & Operations atFoley. Welcome, Rick.Rick Varju: Thank you.Gardner: My ﬁrst question to you, Linda. When you look back on how youve come to this newand innovative perspective on client computing, what was the elephant in the room, when itcame to the old way of doing client-side computing? Was there something major that you neededto overcome?Sanders: Yes, we had to have a reduction in our technology stafﬁng, and because of that, we justdidnt have the same number of technicians in the local ofﬁces to deal with PCs, laptops, re-imaging, and lease returns, the standard things that we had done in the past. We needed to look atnew ways of doing things, where we could reduce the tech touches, as we call it, and ﬁnd adifferent way to provide a desktop to people in a fast, new way.Gardner: Rick, same question. What was it from more of a technical perspective that youneeded to overcome or that you wanted to at least do differently?
Varju: From a technical perspective, we were looking for ways to manage the desktop side of our business better, more efﬁciently, and more effectively. Being able to do that out of our centralized data center made a lot of sense for us. Other beneﬁts have come along with the centralized data centerthat werent necessarily on our radar initially, and that has really helped to improve efﬁcienciesand productivity in several ways.Gardner: Well certainly want to get into that in a few moments, but just for the context for ourlisteners and readers, tell us a bit about your organization at Foley. Linda, how big are you,where do you do business?Virtualized desktopsSanders: Foley has approximately 900 attorneys and another 1,200 support personnel. Were in18 U.S. ofﬁces, where we support virtualized desktops. We have another three internationalofﬁces. At this time, were not doing virtualized desktops there, but it is in our future.Gardner: So you obviously have a very large set of requirements across all those different usersand types of users and youre dealing, of course, with very sensitive information, so control andcompliance and security are all very top of mind for you.Sanders: Absolutely.Gardner: Okay. Lets move to what youve done. As I understand it, desktop virtualization hasplayed an enabling role with the notion of BYOD or allowing your end users to pick and choosetheir own technology and even perhaps own that technology.Going to you now, Rick, how has virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) been an enabler for thiswider choice?Varju: The real underlying beneﬁt is being able to securely deliver the desktop as a service (DaaS). We are no longer tied to a physical desktop and that means you can now connect to that same desktop experience, wherever you are, anytime, from any device, not just to have that easy access, but to make it secure by delivering the desktop from within the secure conﬁnes of our data center. Thats whats behind deploying VDI and embracing BYOD at the same time. You get that additional security that wouldnt otherwise be there, if you had to have all your applications and all data reside on that endpoint device that you no longer have control over.
With VMware View and delivering the DaaS from the data center, very little information has togo back to the endpoint device now, and thats a great model for our BYOD initiatives.Gardner: Just to be clear, of your 2,000 users, how many of them are taking advantage of theBYOD policy?Varju: Well, there are two answers to that question. One is our more formal TechnologyAllowance Program, which I think Linda will cover in a little more detail, that really focuses onattorneys and getting out of the laptop and mobility device business.Then there are other administrative staff within the ﬁrm who may have personal devices thataren’t part of our Technology Allowance Program, but are still leveraging some of the beneﬁts ofusing their personal equipment.Mobile devicesIn terms of raw numbers, every attorney in the ﬁrm has a mobile device. The ﬁrm provides aBlackBerry as part of our standard practice and then we have users who now are bringing in theirown equipment. So at least 900 attorneys are taking advantage of mobility connectivity, and mostof those attorneys have laptops, whether they are ﬁrm issued or BYOD.So the short answer to the question is easily 1,500 personnel taking advantage of some sort ofconnectivity to the ﬁrm through their mobile devices.Gardner: Thats impressive, a vast majority of the attorneys and a signiﬁcant portion, if not amajority, of the rest. This seems to be a win-win. As IT and management, you get a better controland a sense of security, and the users get choice and ﬂexibility. You dont always get a win-winwhen it comes to IT, isnt that right, Linda?Sanders: Thats correct. Before, we were selecting the equipment, providing that equipment to people, and over and over again, we started to hear that thats not what they wanted. They wanted to select the machine, whether it be a PC, a Mac, an iPad, or smartphone. And even if we were providing standard equipment, we knew that people were bringing in their own. So formulating a formal BYOD program worked out well for us. In our ﬁrst year, we had 300 people take advantage of that formal program. This year, to date, we have another 200 who have joined, and we are expectingto add another 100 to that.As Rick mentioned, we did also open this up to some of our senior level administrativemanagement this year and we now have some of those individuals on the program. So that too ishelping us, because we dont have to provision and lease that equipment and have our localtechnology folks get that out to people and be swapping machines.
Now, when were taking away a laptop, for example, we can put a hosted desktop in and havepeople using VMware View. Theyre seeing that same desktop, whether theyre sitting in theofﬁce or using their BYOD device.Gardner: Of course, with ofﬁces around the United States, this must be a signiﬁcant saver interms of supporting these devices. Youre able to do it for the most part remotely, and with thatsingle DaaS provision, control that much more centrally, is that correct?Sanders: Yes.Gardner: Do you have any metrics in terms of how much that saved you? Maybe just start at thesupport and operations level, which over time, is perhaps the largest cost for IT?Sanders: Over three years, well probably be able to reduce our spend by about 22 percent.Gardner: That’s signiﬁcant. Id love to hear more, Linda, about your policy. How did you craft aBYOD policy? Where do you start with that? What does it really amount to?Realistic numberSanders: Of course, theres math involved. We did have our business manager withintechnology calculate for us what we were spending year after year on equipment, factoring inhow much tech time is involved in that, and coming up with a realistic number, where peoplecould go out and purchase equipment over a three-year time frame.That was the start of it, looking at that breakdown of the internal time, selecting a dollar amount,and then putting together a policy, so that individuals who decided to participate in it wouldknow what the guidelines were.Our regional technology managers met one on one or in small groups with attorneys who wantedto go on the program, went through the program with them, and answered any questions upfront,which I think really served us well. It wasn’t that we just put something out on paper, and peopledidn’t understand what they were signing up for.Those meetings covered all the high points, let them know that this was personal equipment andthat, in the end, theyre responsible for it should something happen. That was how we put theprogram together and how we decided to communicate the information to our attorneys.Gardner: Youve been ranked very high for client services by outside organizations in the pastfew years. You have a strong focus on delivering exceptional client services. Has somethingabout the DaaS allowed you to extend these beneﬁts beyond just your employees? Is there someaspect of this that helps on that client services equation? Ill throw that to you, Rick.
Varju: The ease of mobility and some of the productivity gains make a big difference. Thequicker we can get access to people and information for our attorneys, no matter where they areand no matter what the device theyre using, is really important today. That does provide someadditional beneﬁt for our attorneys, when it comes to delivering the best possible service we canto our clients.Gardner: I know this might be a little bit in the future, but is there any possibility, of being ableto extend the desktop experience to your actual clients. That is, to deliver applications data,views of content and documents, and so forth through some sort of a device-neutral manner totheir endpoint device?Varju: One of the things that were looking at now is uniﬁed communications, and trying to pulleverything to the desktop, all the experiences together, and one of those important components iscollaboration.If we can deliver a tool that will allow attorneys and clients to collaborate on the same document,from within the same desktop view, that would provide tremendous value. There are certainlyproducts out there that will allow you to federate with other organizations. That’s the line ofthinking were looking at now and well look to deploy something like that in the near future.Gardner: Before we get into how youve been able to do this, Id like to learn a little bit moreabout the client satisfaction, that being your internal clients, your employees. Have you done anysurveying or conducted any research into how folks adapt to this? Is this something that theylike, and why? How about to you, Linda?The biggest plusSanders: The biggest plus is, as Rick mentioned, for people who are mobile, is that they havethe same desktop, no matter where they are. As I talked about before, whether theyre in theofﬁce or out of the ofﬁce, they have the same experience.If we have a building shut down, we are not trapped into not being able to deliver a desktop,because they can’t get into the building and they can’t work inside. Theyre working from outsideand it’s just like they are sitting here. That’s one of the biggest pluses that weve seen and that wehear from people -- just that availability of the desktopGardner: So ﬂexibility in terms of location. I suppose also ﬂexibility in terms of choosing whatform factor suits their particular needs at a particular time. Perhaps a smartphone access at onepoint, a tablet at another time, or another type of engagement, and of course the full PC or laptop,when that’s required.Sanders: Correct.
Varju: Before deploying VDI and VMware View, we delivered a more generic desktop forremote access. So to Linda’s point, being able to have your actual desktop follow you around onwhatever device you are using is big. Then its the mobility, even from within the ofﬁce.When an attorney signs up for the Technology Allowance Program, we provide them a thin clienton their desk, which they use when theyre sitting in their ofﬁce. Then, as part of the TechnologyAllowance Program and Freedom of Choice, they purchase whatever mobility technology suitsthem and they can use that technology when working out of conference rooms with clients, etc.So remote access and having their own personal desktop follow them around, the ability to moveand work within the ofﬁce, whether in a conference room, in a lobby, you name it, those arepowerful features for the attorneys.Gardner: I have to believe that this is the wave of the future, but Im impressed that youve donethis to the extent you have done it and across so much of your user base. It seems to me thatyoure really on the forefront of this. Do you have any inkling to whether youre unique, not onlyin legal circles, but perhaps even in business in general?Varju: Were deﬁnitely ahead of the curve within the legal vertical. Other verticals have venturedinto this. Two in particular have avoided it longer than most, the healthcare and ﬁnancialindustries. But without a doubt, were ahead of the curve amongst our peers, and there are somereal beneﬁts that go along with being early adopters.Gardner: That provides us an opportunity to get a little bit more information about how youvedone this. My understanding is that you were largely virtualized at your server level already. Tellme if that helped, and when you decided to go about this, without getting into too much of theweeds on the technology, how did you architect or map out what your requirements were goingto be from that back end?A lot of times people ﬁnd that VDI comes with some strings attached that they weren’tanticipating, that there were some issues around storage, network capacity, and so forth. Explainfor me, Rick, how you went about architecting and perhaps a little bit about the journey, and bothgood and bad experiences there?Process and strategyVarju: Your comment was correct about how server virtualization played into our decisionprocess and strategy. Weve been virtualizing servers for quite some time now. Our serverenvironment is just over 75 percent virtualized. Because of the success we have had there, andthe great support from VMware, we felt that it was a natural ﬁt for us to take a close look atVMware View as a virtual desktop solution.We started our deployment in October of 2009. So we started pretty early, and as is often the casewith being an early adopter, youre going to go through some pain being among the ﬁrst to dowhat you are doing.
In working with our vendor partners, VMware, as well as our storage integrators, what welearned early on is that there wasn’t a lot of real-world experience for us to draw from whendesigning or laying out the design for the underlying infrastructure. So we did a lot of crawlingbefore we walked, walking before we ran, and a lot of learning as we went.But to VMware’s credit, they have been with us every step of the way and have really taken jointownership and joint responsibility of this project with Foley. Whenever we have had issues, theyhave been very quick to address those issues and to work with us. I cant say enough about howimportant that business relationship is in a project of this magnitude.While there was certainly some pain in the early stages of this project and trying to identify whatinfrastructure components and capacities needed to be there, VMware as a partner truly did helpus get through those, and quite effectively.Gardner: Rick, as we discussed, youre extending these desktops across hundreds and eventhousands of users and many of them at different locations -- homes, remote ofﬁces, and so forth.How have you been able to manage your performance across all of those different endpoints, andhow critical has the PC-over-IP technology been in helping with that?Varju: PC-over-IP Protocol is critical to the overall VDI solution and delivering the DaaS,whether its inside the Foley organization and the WAN links that we have between our ofﬁces,or an attorney who is working from home, a Starbucks or you name it. PC-over-IP as a protocolis optimized to work over even the lowest of bandwidth connections.The fact that youre just sending changes to screens really does optimize that communication. Sothe end result is that you get a better user experience with less bandwidth consumption.Gardner: Id like to hear more too, Rick, about what you mentioned earlier, in that there aresome adjacencies in terms of beneﬁts. When you get to that higher level of server virtualization,when you start to identify your requirements and meet them to bring a full DaaS experience outto your end users, what were some of those unintended consequences that seemed to be positivefor you?Varju: I don’t know if they were unintended, but certainly it was the centralized management ofthe desktop environment, and being able to deploy patches and software updates from thecentralized data center to the VDI infrastructure.Finding different waysIts a different way of doing things. Going back to Linda’s comments earlier, given the economicsituation back in 2009 and 2010, we had to ﬁnd different ways to do things. VDI just reallyhelped us get there.
So for the centralized management, the secure beneﬁts of delivering a virtual desktop from thedata center, being able to deliver desktops faster, the provisioning side of what we do, we justsaw great efﬁciencies and improvements there.We had a separate production facility at Foley, where physical desktops and laptops were allshipped, set up, burned in, conﬁgured, and then shipped out to the ofﬁces that needed them. Withvirtualizing the desktop, were now able to ship zero client or thin client hardware directly to theofﬁce from the manufacturer and eliminate the need for a separate production facility.That was a beneﬁt that we didn’t think about early on, but certainly something we enjoyed oncewe really got into our deployment.Gardner: And how about the applications themselves, on an application lifecycle management(ALM) level? Have you been able to get a better handle on your lifecycle of applications --which ones to keep, which ones to update or upgrade, which ones to sunset? Have you been ableto allow your users to request applications and then deliver them at least faster? Whats been thebaseline impact on the application process?Varju: I don’t think we have seen a lot of impact on the application delivery side yet, but we willgain more beneﬁt in that area as we move forward and virtualize more of our applications. We dohave a number of our core apps virtualized today. That makes it easier for us to deliverapplication, but we haven’t done that in any large scale yet.Gardner: Anything on business continuity or disaster recovery thats easier or better now thatyou have gone to a more of a DaaS approach?Varju: Absolutely. All you need is an Internet connection and the View client. Its that simple.Like many organizations, weve have had our share of natural disasters impacting business. Wehad a ﬂood in our D.C. ofﬁce, wildﬁres in California, and a snowstorm in the Midwest, and ineach of those instances it resulted in shutting down an ofﬁce for a period of time.Today, delivering DaaS, our attorneys can connect using whatever device they have via theInternet to their personal Foley desktop, and thats powerful. You don’t have to be in the ofﬁce tostill be productive and serve our clients. You can do that anywhere.Gardner: Linda, how would you characterize the overall success of this program, and thenwhere do you take it next? Are there some other areas that you can apply this to? You mentioneduniﬁed communication and collaboration. What might be in the pipeline for leveraging thisapproach in the future?Freedom of choiceSanders: The success that weve had, as we have spoken about throughout this call, has been theability to deliver that desktop and to have attorneys speak to their peers and let them know. Many
times, we have attorneys stop us in the hallway to ﬁnd out how they too can get on a hosteddesktop.Leveraging with the BYOD program helped us, giving people that freedom of choice, and thenproviding them with a work desktop that they can access from wherever.Were really looking at uniﬁed communications. One of the things that Im very interested in isvideo at the desktop. Its something that I am going to be looking at, because we use videoconferencing extensively here, and people really like that video connection.They want to be able to do video conferencing from wherever they are, whether its in aconference room, outside the ofﬁce, on their laptop, on a smartphone. Bringing in that uniﬁedcommunication is going to be one of the next things were going to focus on.Gardner: Rick, we hear so much these days about cloud computing. If you decide to exploitsome of the cloud models or hybrid cloud, where you can pick and choose among differentsources and ways of serving up workloads, might your approach be a stepping stone to that?Have you considered what the impact of cloud computing might be, given what you have alreadybeen able to attain with BYOD and VDI?Varju: Cloud computing is certainly an interesting topic and one that you can spend a day on, inand of itself. At Foley, any time we look at a change in technology, especially the underlyinginfrastructure, we always take a look at what cloud services are available and have to offer,because its important for us to keep our eye on that.There is another area where Foley is doing things differently than a lot of our peers, and thats inthe area of document management. Were using a cloud-based service for document managementnow. Where VMware View and VMware, as an organization, will beneﬁt Foley as we moveforward is probably more along the lines of the Horizon product, where we can pull our SaaS-based applications or on-premise based applications all together in a single portal.It all looks the same to our users, it all opens and functions just as easily, while also being able todeliver single sign-on and two-factor authentication. Just pulling the whole desktop together thatway is going to be real beneﬁcial. Virtualizing the desktop, virtualizing our servers, those are keypoints in getting us to that destination.Gardner: Im afraid well have to leave it there. Weve been talking about how global legalservices leader Foley & Lardner LLP has adopted virtual desktops and BYOD innovations, andwe have heard about how using a VMware centric VDI and BYOD approach has helpedenhanced end user productivity, cut total cost, and extended their ability to leverage the future ofIT perhaps much sooner than their competitors, and this all of course across many -- up to 20remote ofﬁces.Id like to thank our guests for sharing their story. Its been very interesting. Weve been here withLinda Sanders. She is the CIO at Foley. Thanks so much, Linda.
Sanders: Thank you.Gardner: And also Rick Varju. He is the Director of Engineering & Operations there at Foley.Thank you so much, Rick.Varju: Thank you.Gardner: This is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions. Thanks again to youalso, our audience, for listening, and don’t forget to come back next time.Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod. Sponsor: VMwareTranscript of a BrieﬁngsDirect podcast on how a major law ﬁrm has adopted desktopvirtualization and BYOD to give employees more choices and ﬂexibility. Copyright InterarborSolutions, LLC, 2005-2012. All rights reserved.You may also be interested in: • Case Study: Strategic Approach to Disaster Recovery and Data Lifecycle Management Pays Off for Australias SAI Global • Case Study: Strategic Approach to Disaster Recovery and Data Lifecycle Management Pays Off for Australias SAI Global • Virtualization Simpliﬁes Disaster Recovery for Insurance Broker Myron Steves While Delivering Efﬁciency and Agility Gains Too • SAP Runs VMware to Provision Virtual Machines to Support Complex Training Courses • Case Study: How SEGA Europe Uses VMware to Standardize Cloud Environment for Globally Distributed Game Development • Germanys Largest Travel Agency Starts a Virtual Journey to Get Branch Ofﬁce IT Under Control