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Best of VMworld Europe User Awards 2015: The winners

Find out who won what, including the best of show prize, at the 2015 VMworld Europe User Awards in Barcelona

The recipients of the 2015 VMworld Europe User Awards have been announced at VMware’s annual European user conference in Barcelona, with the top prize going to a Milton Keynes-based smart city project.

The awards, hosted by Computer Weekly and, are held each year to shine a light on some of the continent’s most innovative virtualisation- and cloud-related IT projects.

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 14 projects being shortlisted across four categories: Best desktop virtualisation; best private/hybrid cloud implementation; best virtualisation and server consolidation; best virtualisation and disaster recovery.

The winners are listed below.

Best desktop virtualisation project: St. Claraspital Hospital, nominated by RES Software

St. Claraspital in Switzerland is a privately run acute-care hospital with two specialised care centres, focused on the treatment of abdominal and tumour-related health conditions, as well as acting as a reference facility for patients suffering with heart, lung and orthopaedic problems.

To ensure its clinicians were properly equipped to respond quickly to patient problems, the hospital’s IT team decided to embark on a major desktop transformation project that allows its caregivers to safely and securely use mobile devices to access patient data.

It also wanted to upgrade the 1,000 or so PC workstations its medical staff rely on during the day-to-day care of their patients, deciding to invest in a mix of VMware and RES Software products to support its bid to create a “follow me” style desktop for them to use.

As part of this, it chose to deploy the VMware Horizon View zero-client virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) to provide clinicians with the ability to log in to their personal workspace regardless of what physical device they were using. 

To better support the roaming profiles of its clinicians and to ensure a consistent and personalised user experience regardless of the device used, the organisation also chose to deploy the RES ONE Workspace technology.

Lastly, St Claraspital opted to implement the Imprivata Single-Sign On healthcare tool, which paved the way for its staff to shun traditional username and password authentication systems in favour of a new tap-in/tap-out mechanism using their badges.

As a result of this trio of technology deployments, St. Claraspital claims its staff spend less time logging in or waiting to use the finite desktop resources at their disposal, and more time treating patients, resulting in a subsequent rise in the level of care delivered.

Best hybrid/private cloud implementation project – Skipton Building Society, nominated by ANS Group

After agreeing to help Skipton Building Society in Yorkshire overhaul its business process, IT infrastructure provider ANS embarked on designing a private cloud platform that would meet its needs.

The resulting platform featured a mix of Cisco UCS technology and VMware’s vCloud Suite of tools to help lay the foundation for the organisation to embrace a hybrid IT strategy later down the line.

In the immediate term, this provided the organisation with access to a secure, multi-tenant, highly resilient platform that would allow the organisation to deploy new and existing workloads with ease.

Skipton’s partnership with ANS has reportedly resulted in it becoming one of the first financial services brands to be “hybrid ready”, which means Skipton can make use of IT resources outside of its datacentre.

Best virtualisation and server consolidation project – Shared Services Center Zwolle, nominated by Atlantis Computing

The Shared Service Center (SSC) Zwolle is a joint-initiative by the Netherlands province of Overijssel and the cities of Zwolle and Kampen to share and lower the costs of providing datacentre resources to local municipalities in the region.

SCC Zwolle designed a software-defined datacentre that would provide the ability to move data, virtual machines and application workloads between sites using hyper-converged storage architecture to cut costs, reduce datacentre space and increase resiliency.

After working with VMware and Atlantis Computing, SCC Zwolle opted to deploy VMware vSphere to provide the virtualisation infrastructure, along with Atlantis USX, which met its requirements for a hyper-converged storage system.

Thanks to this set-up, SCC Zwolle was able to reduce its required storage capacity from 425TB of raw physical storage to 180TB and eliminate the need for proprietary replication hardware.

Moreover, the remaining 180TB of storage was built into the blade server with Atlantis USX pooling and tiering a combination of local solid-state drives (SSD) and SAS drives together, while providing high availability across two metro cluster sites.

SCC Zwolle uses the datacentre for a variety of virtualised servers, including databases, government applications, infrastructure, active directory, Microsoft Exchange and extended data output (EDO) document management systems.

VMworld 2015 Europe User Awards

The Best of VMworld Europe judges agreed with SCC Zwolle’s assertion that this project is a great example of how the software-defined datacentre approach can help governments become more efficient and productive, while delivering better services to local citizens.

David Cumberworth, vice-president of Europe, the Middle-East and Africa at Atlantis Computing, said the firm was delighted to win the award.

“Winning the Best of VMworld award with our partner TenICT and customer Zwolle reflects how Atlantis is transforming the economics of the datacentre and making business continuity affordable,” he said.

“This recognition validates Zwolle as one of most innovative users of best-of-breed hyper-convergence and x86 hardware in the industry.”

Best virtualisation and disaster recovery project and best of show – MK:Smart project, nominated by Arcserve

The MK Data Hub was created by The Open University and BT to process the vast amounts of information generated by Milton Keynes’ smart city systems, as part of its wider MK:Smart project

It provides an infrastructure for acquiring, managing and sharing multiple terabytes of data regarding the town’s energy and water consumption, transport, weather and pollution, which is – in turn – sourced from satellite technology, sensor networks and social and economic datasets.

This data is accessible to third-party developers and small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that want to create apps using it, which can then be made available to local residents to help optimise their use of the town’s resources.

 “We need to ensure the data is constantly available for any project using the information feeds in their own application and for the people running those applications,” said Robbie Bays, systems and network administrator for the MK:Smart project.

“Our team needs historical data to be available so we can analyse trends,” he said.

With the initiative evolving and uncovering sources to draw data from, MK:Smart needed a heterogeneous and scalable recovery management system, opting for the Arcserve Unified Data Protection (UDP) system.

“Arcserve UDP was the only system able to recover data over a SAN [storage area network]. It also offered the support for a heterogeneous environment we needed,” said Bays.

A successful proof of concept demonstrated deduplication rates of 30%, meaning the project can retain data backups for longer as space is less of an issue.

MK:Smart’s technical operations team implemented the core Arcserve UDP in fewer than three days, before some fine-tuning to optimise its backup and recovery capabilities.

The system safeguards data across 12 virtual servers and six physical servers, protecting data sourced from the city’s systems, as well as Microsoft Exchange mailboxes and Active Directory accounts.

The Arcserve system is helping to maximise the availability of the MK Data Hub, safeguarding the reputation – and ultimately the success – of the MK:Smart initiative, the Best of VMworld Europe judges agreed.

In addition, with the smart city initiative gaining momentum worldwide, projects such as this are important to highlight for best practice purposes for other towns and cities looking to do something similar, the judges said, which is why this project also took home the best of show award.

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