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Busy Bees nursery virtualises desktops and servers to improve users' IT experience

UK nursery chain Busy Bees has made its IT scalable, mobile-friendly and easy to use by deploying Citrix products

UK nursery chain Busy Bees has made its IT infrastructure scalable, mobile-friendly and easy for the nursery staff to access and retrieve documents and provide improved childcare facilities.

Busy Bees has virtualised its IT servers, desktops and applications using Citrix products to create an agile, mobile workspace environment across its 226 daycare branches in the UK.

This combined virtualisation is allowing nursery staff to spend less time on IT and more time on its core business – childcare, the IT staff said.

Busy Bees began the IT project by collaborating with Citrix advisory and consultancy company Total Computer Networks and by planning the new IT infrastructure that combined server virtualisation with a virtual desktop for users.

The childcare provider selected Citrix XenServer for server virtualisation and Citrix XenApp 6.5 to deliver Windows apps and desktops as a secure mobile service.

XenApp is a Citrix product that allows IT to deliver Windows desktop and applications remotely so users can access them from anywhere and also from non-Windows clients. Version 6.5 of the service includes features such as built-in Windows themes, a Windows 7-like start menu and taskbar that gives users the look and feel of a Windows 7 desktop

The virtualisation project has helped the IT staff to provide a richer and more flexible IT experience to the nursery staff directly interacting with the children.

“Users prefer a familiar desktop,” said Paul Creaser, IT manager at Busy Bees. “Using XenApp to provide a Windows desktop has been greatly advantageous for us.”

With the XenApp tool, the IT team provides Windows apps and desktops as a mobile service, allowing staff to access data and applications remotely. It helps the team deliver consistent experience from anywhere on any device, the IT team said.

“Everyday tasks like searching for a document become much easier, especially for occasional users like many of our nursery staff. As a result, the IT team handles far fewer support issues.”

Busy Bees’ virtual desktop also enables flexible working. “People across the business can now log on wherever they are, at whatever time suits them, and enjoy the full familiar desktop experience,” Creaser said.

The ability to centralise data and apps and deliver them securely as a service to the 200+ nurseries has created a more efficient, scalable and cost-effective environment.

But that is not all. The virtualisation project has also helped Busy Bees to reduce the number of physical servers it requires from 35 to just six, resulting in substantial savings on space and running costs, its IT staff said. 

Busy Bees also deployed Citrix NetScaler as a remote access gateway to provide employees seamless, secure access to the internal IT system from anywhere. 

“Adopting a mobile workspace environment has allowed Busy Bees to spend less time on IT,” said Jason Tooley, country manager, UK, at Citrix. “Centralising data and apps has created a more cost-efficient IT infrastructure which supports Busy Bees’ ethos of being a flexible organisation.”

The nursery chain is now working with IT partner Total Computer Networks to make greater use of the functionality provided by Citrix NetScaler for security, load balancing and disaster recovery.

IT is also looking to deploy Citrix XenDesktop for those users who require a more personalised desktop. The team is also evaluating the benefits of extending flexible working to include a bring your own device (BYOD) scheme as well as the use of thin client hardware as a potential replacement for its ageing PC estate.

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