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Standard Life Assurance uses IGEL to support home workers

Insurance company repurposed office-based PCs with IGEL OS to provide 4,500 users with remote desktop access

Standard Life Assurance has completed a desktop virtualisation project, dubbed Office in a Box, providing access to applications for 4,500 staff in Scotland.

Standard Life is part of the Phoenix Group and has an operational headquarters in Edinburgh. Most of its customer-facing operations teams are office-based and use desktop PCs with dual monitors to deal with pension and investment and account administration. In response to the pandemic, the company needed to get its Edinburgh teams set up quickly to work from home effectively.

Kevin McVitie, technician, IT service operations at Phoenix Group, said: “When we started looking at how to deliver WFH [work from home], we considered purchasing more laptops. The business had about 1,200, but to cater for 4,500 employees we struggled to buy more, given the increased demand for laptops from organisations globally. And as many staff didn’t have appropriate endpoints at home, this drove us to look at how we could repurpose our existing estate of PCs that were now sitting idle in the office.”

Rather than buying new laptop or PC hardware to provide PCs to support staff working from home, Standard Life Assurance decided to deploy IGEL’s suite of end-user  computing technology to convert desktops in the company’s head office to devices for home workers. This has enabled it to repurpose existing office PCs quickly. 

IGEL OS effectively converted the office PCs into “locked down” endpoints which then connect to Citrix Workspace. The head office staff were provided with an IGEL OS-powered desktop, two monitors, keyboard, mouse, Ethernet cable and headset. IGEL multimedia UD3 endpoints with built-in Wi-Fi have also been sent to some employees. 

John Kerr, senior delivery manager, IT service operations at Phoenix Group, said: “With normal large-scale IT projects, we may take several months to agree requirements, review the market, build a solution and undertake operational and end-user testing. Responding to coronavirus, we knew we had just weeks to be ready to go live, which is why we came up with the Office in a Box idea.”

To facilitate the WFH deployment, said Kerr, IGEL Cloud Gateway was used to connect and manage all the home-based devices not connected directly to the corporate network. McVitie added: “We’ve used Cloud Gateway before, so we knew the platform worked well and, in conjunction with IGEL OS, that’s why we were confident we could implement Office in a Box so fast and reliably for the business.”

Standard Life Assurance used IGEL Universal Management Suite to manage and provide visibility on which users are logged in and to make system changes. The company has also been able to deliver video collaboration to the remote team, thanks to IGEL OS’s support of the Citrix HDX protocol, which enables streaming HD quality video to remote desktops.

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