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The winners of the Best of VMworld 2018 Europe User Awards have been announced at VMware’s annual European user conference in Barcelona, with the top prize going to Europe-wide passenger and freight airline, ASL Airlines.
The awards, organised by Computer Weekly and SearchServerVirtualization.com, are held each year to highlight some of the continent’s most innovative cloud-, mobility- and virtualisation-related IT projects.
As is the case every year, the entries were judged by a panel of independent cloud and datacentre experts, who chose the winners based on the business benefits, levels of innovation and best practice their projects demonstrated.
This led to 12 projects making this year’s shortlist across three categories: Best Cloud Project, Best Desktop Virtualisation or Mobility project, and Best Data Security and Data Protection Project.
As well as scooping the Best in Show prize, ASL Airlines also came out top in the Best Data Security and Data Protection Project category, after impressing the judges with its entry, which detailed the lengths it has gone to protect itself from ransomware attacks.
All of the celebrated projects will receive a certificate, while the winners will also have their projects profiled in-depth by Computer Weekly in the weeks that follow.
Best Data Security and Data Protection Project, and Best of Show: ASL Airlines (nominated by Rubrik)
A ransomware attack has the potential to wreak huge amounts of havoc on an airline, preventing planes from taking off, cargo being processed and – as a consequence – put operators at huge risk of being fined by aviation regulators.
With the airline’s systems being subjected to at least one ransomware attack a month, Fabrice De Biasio, chief group information officer at ASL Airlines, decided earlier this year to step up its cyber defences with the help of IT supplier Rubrik and its threat protection and data backup technology, Radar.
“Ransomware can quickly cripple an airline and prevent its ability to fly,” said De Biasio. “We experience a minimum of one ransomware attack per month. Before Radar, the team spent 15 hours to recover from a minor ransomware attack. If we had been hit with a major attack, I fear recovery could have taken weeks.”
Radar is designed to enable enterprises to minimise downtime and the cost of recovering from cyber attacks, with ASL Airlines claiming its deployment in IT admin teams at least 40 or more hours a month in IT security checks.
“Our team used to spend up to two hours per day monitoring our applications for ransomware,” he said. “Now, we only need to spend a few minutes per day checking Radar, so our team can spend more time on initiatives that deliver value back to the business.”
“Before Radar, we managed to recover from attacks with several scripts and by identifying and erasing bad files manually. That was an incredibly painful experience. Our IT Admin loves Radar because it does all that work automatically.”
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The Radar deployment came hot on the heels of an earlier engagement between ASL Airlines and Rubrik in 2017, which saw the firm switch-out its existing Veeam-based data backup system for Rubrik’s Cloud Data Management (CDM) offering.
As a result, the firm can restore its data three times faster than it could before, but – in combination – De Biasio said the technologies are saving the company untold amounts of money, time and reputational damage that could occur if it were to fall victim to a downtime event.
“Rubrik and Radar are the most critical data protection and business continuity tools in my arsenal against cyber threats. Radar will help us protect our bottom line and potentially save us millions of euros in case of an attack,” he added.
Best Desktop Virtualisation and Mobility Project: Delmenhorst City Government (nominated by ThinPrint)
The Delmenhorst City Government is a keen user of VMware’s Horizon desktop virtualisation technology, using it to deliver applications and desktop experiences to employee workstations across a number of the organisation’s branch office locations.
While the setup has allowed the organisation to boost the productivity of its workforce, printing documents has emerged as a time-consuming and onerous task for its employees, resulting in complaints being raised.
To combat this issue, the organisation enlisted the help of print management company ThinPrint, whose technologies have helped the organisation improve the performance of its central print server, which – in turn – has paved the way for a more reliable print experience in its branch offices.
Central to these improvements is the way ThinPrint’s technologies compress and stream the data that requires printing, speeding up transfer speeds and performance, regardless of the amount of bandwidth available.
“Printing without ThinPrint simply wasn’t possible,” said Ingo Gmyr, IT system administrator for the municipal administration of Delmenhorst. “Everything now works very well with ThinPrint’s optimisation of print jobs. We forget how nerve-racking it can be without ThinPrint when setting up a new branch office. The ThinPrint Hub is simply a great solution.”
Best Cloud Project: Liberty Global (nominated by Computacenter)
When multi-national telecommunications giant Liberty Global realised its existing datacentre infrastructure was hindering its ability to keep up with the growing customer demand for its quad-play services, it kick-started a sizeable digital transformation effort at the firm.
With the help of IT support partner Computacenter, the company – which owns Virgin Media in the UK – decided on retooling its IT infrastructure, paving the way for the construction of a private cloud environment, based on VMware’s vRealize Suite of technologies.
These include the vRealize Automation Portal, which provides support for multi-region private clouds, giving Liberty Global the freedom of movement to host services as close to its customer as possible, while ramping up the disaster recovery capabilities of its infrastructure.
It is also making use of vRealize Operations and vRealize Log Insight parts of the product suite to aid in its IT capacity planning activities.
The environment hosts around 1,000 virtual servers, which underpin Liberty Global’s business-critical systems, including the company’s backend television platform and user identity solution, which is relied upon by millions of the firm’s European customers.
All new services rolled out by the company will be hosted on the environment, with hybrid cloud capabilities set to be introduced at a later date.
According to Liberty Global, the setup has rapidly sped up its traditional 12-month product development cycles to the point where the firm can now bring to market new services and offerings to market each month, and – in the past 18 months – has generated cost savings for the firm in excess of £2m.