Germany's Largest Travel Agency Starts a Virtual Journey to Get Branch Office IT Under Control


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Transcript of a sponsored podcast discussion from VMworld 2011 in Copenhagen on how DER Deutsches Reisebüro virtualized 2,300 desktops to centralize administration.

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Germany's Largest Travel Agency Starts a Virtual Journey to Get Branch Office IT Under Control

  1. 1. Germanys Largest Travel Agency Starts a Virtual Journey toGet Branch Office IT Under ControlTranscript of a sponsored podcast discussion from VMworld 2011 in Copenhagen on how DERDeutsches Reisebüro virtualized 2,300 desktops to centralize administration.Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod. Sponsor: VMwareDana Gardner: Hello, and welcome to a special BriefingsDirect podcast series coming to youfrom the VMworld 2011 Conference in Copenhagen. Were here in the week of October 17 to explore the latest in cloud computing and virtualization infrastructure developments. Im Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and I’ll be your host throughout this series of VMware-sponsored BriefingsDirect discussions. [Disclosure: VMware is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.] Our next case study focuses on how Germany’s largest travel agency hasremade their PC landscape across 580 branch offices using virtual desktops. We’ll learn howGermany’s DER Deutsches Reisebüro redefined the desktops delivery vision and successfullyimplemented 2,300 Windows XP desktops as a service.Here to tell us what this major VDI deployment did in terms of business, technical, and financialpayoffs is Sascha Karbginski. He is a Systems Engineer at DER Deutsches Reisebüro, based inFrankfurt. Welcome to the show, Sascha.Sascha Karbginski: Hi Dana.Gardner: Why were virtual desktops such an important direction for you? Why did it makesense for your organization?Karbginski: In our organization, we’re talking about 580 travel agencies all over the country, allover Germany, with 2,300 physical desktops, which were not in our control. We had life cycles out there of about 4 or 5 years. We had old PCs with no client backups. The biggest reason is that recovery times at our workplace were 24 hours between hardware change and bringing back all the software configuration, etc. Desktop virtualization was a chance to get the desktops into our data center, to get the security, and to get the controls. Gardner: So this seemed to be a solution that’s solved many problems for you at once.Karbginski: Yes. That’s right.
  2. 2. Gardner: All right. Tell me a little bit about DER, the organization. I believe you’re a part of theREWE Group and you’re the number one travel business in Germany. Tell us a little bit aboutyour organization before we go further into why desktop virtualization is good for you.Karbginski: DER in Germany is the number one in travel agencies. As I said, were talkingabout 580 branches. We’re operating as a leisure travel agency with our branches, Atlasreisenand DER, and also, in the business travel sector with FCm Travel Solutions.IT-intensive businessGardner: This is a very IT-intensive business now. Everything in travel is done thoughnetworked applications and cloud and software-as-a-service (SaaS) services. So a very intensive IT activity in each of these branches. Karbginski: That’s right. Without the reservation systems, we can’t do any flight bookings or reservations or check hotel availability. So without IT, we can do nothing.Gardner: And tell me about the problem you needed to solve in a bit more detail. You had fourgenerations of PCs. You couldn’t control them. It took a lot of time to recover if there was afailure, and there was a lot of different software that you had to support.Karbginski: Yes. We had no domain integration no control and we had those crashes, forexample. All the data would be gone. We had no backups out there. And we changed thedesktops about every four or five years. For example, when the reservation system needed morememory, we had to buy the memory, service providers were going out there, and everything wasdone during business hours.Gardner: Okay. So this would have been a big toll on your helpdesk and for your support. Withall of these people in these travel bureau locations calling you, it sounds like it was a very bigproblem.Gardner: To what degree have you fully virtualized all of these desktops? Do you have a 100-percent deployment or you face deployment across these different organizations and thesedifferent agencies?Karbginski: We have nearly about 100 percent virtualization now. We have only two or threeoffices, which are coming up next. We have some problem with the service provider for the VPNconnection. So its about 99 percent virtualization.Gardner: Thats pretty impressive. What were some of the issues that you encountered in orderto enable this? Were there network infrastructure or bandwidth issues? What were some of thethings that you had to do in order to enable this to work properly?
  3. 3. Karbginski: There were some challenges during the rollout. The bandwidth was a big thing. Ourservice provider had to work very hard for us, because we needed more bandwidth out there. Thepath we had our offices was 1 or 2-Mbit links to the headquarters data center. With desktopvirtualization, we need a little bit more, depending on the number of the workplaces and weneeded better quality of the lines.So bandwidth was one thing. We also had the network infrastructure. We found some 10-Mbithalf-duplex switches. So we had to change it. And we also had some hardware problems. We hada special multi-card board for payment to read out passports or to read out credit cardinformation. They were very old and connected with PS/2.A lot of problemsSo there were a lot of problems, and we fixed them all. We changed the switches. Our serviceprovider for Internet VPN connection brought us more quality. And we changed the keyboards.We don’t need this old stuff anymore.Gardner: And so, a bit of a hurdle overcome, but what have been some of the payoffs? How hasthis worked out in terms of productivity, energy savings, lowering costs, and even businessbenefits?Karbginski: Saving was our big thing in planning this project. The desktops have been runningout there now about one year, and we know that we have up to 80 percent energy saving, justfrom changing the hardware out there. We’re running the Wyse P20 Zero Client instead ofphysical PC hardware.Gardner: How about on the server side; is there energy benefits there?Karbginski: We needed more energy for the server side in the data center, but if you look at it,we have 60 up to 70 percent energy savings overall. I think it’s really great.Gardner: That’s very good. So what else comes in terms of productivity? Is there a storage or asecurity benefit by having that central control?Karbginski: As far as security, weve blocked the USB sticks now out there. So the data is underour control in the data center, and important company information is not left in an office outthere. Security is a big thing.Gardner: And how about revisiting your helpdesk and support? Because you have a morestandardized desktop infrastructure now, you can do your upgrades much more easily andcentrally and you can support people based on an access right directly to the serverinfrastructure. What’s been the story in terms of productivity and support in helpdesk?
  4. 4. Karbginski: In the past, the updates came during the business hours. Now, we can do allsoftware updates at nights or at the weekends or if the office is closed. So helpdesk cost isreduced about 50 percent.Gardner: Wow. That adds up.Karbginski: Yeah, that’s really great.Gardner: How big a team did it take to implement the virtualized desktop infrastructure activityfor you? Was this a big expenditure in terms of people and time to get this going?Few personnelKarbginski: We built up the whole infrastructure -- I think it was in 9 or 10 months without theplanning -- with a team of three persons, three administrators.Gardner: Wow.Karbginski: And now were managing, planning, deploying, and updating it. I really think itsnot a good idea to do with just three people, but it works.Gardner: And you’ve been the first travel organization in Germany to do this, but I understandthat others are following into your footsteps.Karbginski: Ive heard from some other companies that are interested in a solution like this. Wewere the first one in Germany, and many people told us that it wouldnt work, but we showed itworks.Gardner: And youre a finalist for the TechTarget VMware Best Award because of the way inwhich you’ve done this, how fast you’ve done it, and to the complete degree that you’ve done it.So I hope that you do well and win that.Karbginski: I received an email that we are one of the finalists, and it would be a great thing.Gardner: Tell me now that we understand the scope and breadth of what you’ve done, a littleabout some of the hurdles that you’ve had to overcome. The fact that youre doing this with threepeople is very impressive. What does the implementation consist of? What is it you’ve got inplace in terms of product that has become your de-facto industry stack for VDI?Karbginski: I can also talk about some problems we had with this, because with the networkcomponent, for example, we have another team for it.Gardner: I was actually wondering what products are in place? What actual technology haveyou chosen that then enabled you to move in this direction so well? Software, hardware, thewhole stack, what is the data center stack or set of components that enables your VDI?
  5. 5. Karbginski: Were using Dell servers with two sockets, quad-core, 144-gigabyte RAM. Werealso using EMC Clariion SAN with 25 terabytes. Network infrastructure is Cisco, based on 10GB Nexus data center switches. At the beginning the project, we had View 4.0 and we upgradedit last month to 4.6The people sideGardner: What were some of the challenges in terms of working this through the people side ofthe process? Weve talked about process, weve talked technology, but was there a learning curveor an education process for getting other people in your IT department as well as the users toadjust to this?Karbginski: There were some unknown challenges or some new challenges we had during therollout. For example, the network team. The most important thing was understanding ofvirtualization. Its an enterprise environment now, and if someone, for example, restarts thefirewall in the data center, the desktops in our offices were disconnected.Its really important to inform the other departments and also your own help desk.Gardner: So there are a lot of different implications across the more traditional or physicalenvironment. How about users? Have they been more satisfied? Is there something about avirtual desktop, perhaps the speed at which it boots up, or the ability to get new updates andsecurity issues resolved? How have the end users themselves reacted?Karbginski: The first thing that the end users told us was that the selling platform fromAmadeus, the reservation system, runs much faster now. This was the first thing most of the endusers told us, and that’s a good thing.The next is that the desktop follows the user. If the user works in one office now and next weekin another office, he gets the same desktop. If the user is at the headquarters, he can use the samedesktop, same outlook, and same configuration. So desktop follows the user now. This worksreally great.Gardner: Looking to the future, are you going to be doing this following-the-user capability tomore devices, perhaps mobile devices or at home PCs? Is there the ability to take advantage ofother endpoints, perhaps those even owned by the end users themselves and still deliver securelythe applications and data that you need?Karbginski: We plan to implement the security gateway with PCoIP support for home officeusers or mobile users who can access their same company desktop with all their data on it fromnearly every computer in the world to bring the user more flexibility.
  6. 6. Gardner: So I should think that would be yet another payoff on the investments that you’vemade is that you will now be able to take the full experience out to more people and more places,but for relatively very little money to do that.Karbginski: The number of desktops is still the same, because the user gets the same desktop.We don’t need for one user two or three desktops.Gardner: Right, but theyre able to get the information on more devices, more screens as theysay, but without you having to buy and manage each of those screens. How about advice forothers? If you were advising someone on what to learn from your experience as they now movetowards desktop virtualization, any thoughts about what you would recommend for them?Inform other departmentsKarbginski: The most important thing is to get in touch with the other departments and informthem about the thing youre doing. Also, inform the user help desk directly at the beginning ofthe project. So take time to inform them what desktop virtualization means and which processeswill change, because we know most of our colleagues had a wrong understanding ofvirtualization.Gardner: How was it wrong? What was their misunderstanding do you think?Karbginski: They think that with virtualization, everything will change and well need othersupport servers, and its just a new thing and nobody needs it. If you inform them what youredoing that nothing will be changed for them, because all support processes are the same asbefore, they will accept it and understand the benefits for the company and for the user.Gardner: We’ve been talking about how DER Deutsches Reisebüro has been remaking their PClandscape across 500 in 80 branch officers. Theyre part of Germany’s largest travel agency andthey’ve been deploying desktop virtualization successfully, but very broadly up to 100 percentacross their environment. So its very impressive. I’d like to thank our guest. Weve been herewith Sascha Karbginski and he is the Systems Engineer there at DER Deutsches Reisebüro.Thank you so much, Sascha.Karbginski: Thank you, Dana.Gardner: And thanks to our audience for joining this special podcast coming to you from theVMworld 2011 Conference in Copenhagen. Im Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at InterarborSolutions, your host throughout this series of VMware-sponsored BriefingsDirect discussion.Thanks again for listening, and come back next time.Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod. Sponsor: VMware
  7. 7. Transcript of a sponsored podcast discussion from VMworld 2011 in Copenhagen on how DERDeutsches Reisebüro virtualized 2,300 desktops to centralize administration. CopyrightInterarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2011. All rights reserved.You may also be interested in: • Virtualized Desktops Spur Use of Bring You Own Device in Schools, Allowing Always- On Access to Education Resources • From VMworld, Cosmetics Giant Revlon Harnesses the Power of Private Cloud to Produce Impressive Savings and Cost Avoidance • From VMworld, NYSE Euronext on Hybrid Cloud Vision and Strategy Behind the Capital Markets Community Platform Vertical Cloud • VMwares vSphere 5 Hits the Streets • VMware Launches a Developer Edition for Cloud Service • Priming the Private Cloud Pump, HP Releases VirtualSystem for VMware at VMworld