Thames Water uses refresh cycle to pilot virtual desktops

Thames Water is piloting desktop virtualisation with 500 users following a successful initial 40-user pilot.

Thames Water is piloting desktop virtualisation with 500 users following a smaller initial pilot.

The utility company needed to refresh its IT infrastructure and saw this as an opportunity to try out desktop virtualisation.

After completing a pilot of 40 users, made up of a mix of business and IT workers, the company is moving to the next phase of the project by testing it out with 500 users.

If successful, Thames Water plans to put 3,500 users on virtual desktops, using software from Desktone.

Aiden Heke, CIO at Thames Water, said the company is ready to refresh hardware and software, so he took the opportunity to have a look at virtual desktops. “We have a very old legacy estate using Windows XP which goes out of support next year. We also use antiquated Office products and are ready to refresh our hardware estate.”

Heke said the company compared the cost of upgrading in the traditional manner with moving to virtual desktops and found moving to virtual desktops cost-effective.

Using virtual desktops means the company does not have to refresh all user devices because the computing power is in the datacentre.

He said the virtual desktops are also a reaction to users wanting to update the technology they use to provide greater flexibility. “Workers want a home-like experience with the technology at work.” They will also have the same experience whether in the office or working remotely.

As part of the move to virtual desktops, Thames Water will upgrade to the latest versions of Windows and Microsoft Office.

The pilot is intended to test out the security and robustness of the technology, as well as the ability of its incumbent service provider to work with Molten Technologies, which is supporting the desktop virtualisation.

The pilot of 500 users is expected to be complete by February next year and Heke expects to move 3,500 users to virtual desktops by the end of 2012.

Heke said the pilot was instigated as part of a wider project known as Smart IT, which is also seeing Thames Water introduce IP telephony and enterprise content management.

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