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Best of VMworld Europe User Awards 2016: The winners

Find out who won what, including the best of show prize, at the 2016 VMworld Europe User Awards in Barcelona

Winners of the 2016 VMworld Europe User Awards have been announced at VMware’s annual European user conference in Barcelona, with the top prize going to a Midlands-based newspaper publishing group.

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 that their projects demonstrated.

This led to 11 projects being shortlisted across four categories: Best virtualisation and cloud infrastructure project, Best desktop virtualisation or mobility project, Best agility and automation (DevOps) project and Best security or data protection project.

The winners all received a certificate, and in the weeks that follow VMworld 2016, will have their project profiled by Computer Weekly.

Best virtualisation and cloud infrastructure project and best of show: Midland News Association, nominated by PCS Publishing

When faced with a potential bill of nearly £300,000 to upgrade its ageing IT infrastructure, Midland News Association (MNA) decided not to replace like-for-like because that would have been at odds with the organisation’s wider push to reduce its running costs and cut its overheads.

MNA, which publishes a number of regional daily newspapers in the UK, decided instead to seek assistance from PCS Publishing, a software development house owned by its parent company, the Claverley Group.

At the time, PCS was already responsible for providing the company with the software used to run its daily newspaper workflow, and MNA decided to expand the firm’s responsibilities to include hosting its entire IT infrastructure within a virtual environment.

This meant PCS would manage the servers, storage and hardware infrastructure for MNA, reducing the overall upfront equipment investment and running costs for both organisations, in an environment shared by the firms’ other customers.

“When the concept of a virtual server workflow was introduced, I have to say I was sceptical as to whether we could share our requirements with those of PCS and its clients,” said Simon Welch, IT manager at MNA. “However, it really works and is significantly faster than the set-up we had before.

“So often with equipment, you make the investment and it is out of date as soon as you switch it on. This solution allows us to be fully on top of all technology and upgrades, without the same level of cost or time commitment.”

The set-up has saved the organisation money from a power, cooling and staffing perspective, while driving up the resilience of its overall infrastructure.

Best desktop virtualisation or mobility project: Gelita, nominated by Cortado Mobile Solutions GMbh

With branch offices and production facilities all over the world, the senior management team at collagen protein manufacturer Gelita decided to roll out a mobile device strategy to boost the productivity of its increasingly global workforce.

At the time, mobile devices were handed out to staff on an ad hoc basis, and their use controlled via a group policy. But the firm’s IT department knew that if it wanted more users to embrace mobile working, it needed a more sustainable approach.

This resulted in the company trialling four different mobile device management (MDM) offerings before settling on the Cortado Corporate Server, after a two-month trial at its company headquarters.

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The feedback from staff who used the system praised the fact that it allowed them to access and print documents located on company storage systems via their mobile devices 24 hours a day.

It also has a self-service portal, which allows Gelita’s employees to large manage how they use the devices themselves, reducing some of the burden on the firm’s internal IT team.

Initially, about 150 staff at Gelita headquarters were connected to Cortado Corporate Server before it was rolled out globally to North and South America, Mexico, Asia- Pacific and Sweden.

Best agility and automation (DevOps) project: Swisslife France

Several years ago, international insurance company Swisslife France embarked on a digital transformation project as part of its wider goal to expand the range of services it could offer clients.

The company set about automating its infrastructure resources to ensure its IT department could access the computer capacity it needed as quickly as possible to deliver on this aim.

The company made strategic use of VMware and CA’s automation tools during this process to ensure the business could keep pace with the internal demand for infrastructure resources.

By using vCloud Automation Center, the organisation has cut the time taken to deploy new server resources from hours to minutes. The process has also made it easier to decommission servers, enabling Swisslife to respond more quickly to peaks and troughs in demand for infrastructure resources.

The result is an underlying infrastructure that is more agile and better equipped to cope with the changing demands of Swisslife’s customers.

Best security or data protection project: Totaljobs, nominated by Rubrik

Having outgrown its previous data backup platform, online recruitment firm Totaljobs embarked on a search for a robust replacement system, equipped to cope with the information demands of a rapidly growing business.

The company had already decided to adopt a converged infrastructure approach as part of its bid to downsize its datacentre footprint, and needed a backup system that could operate within that kind of environment.

Totaljobs settled on Rubrik’s data backup platform, paving the way for the company to ditch its more traditional tape-based archiving system in favour of the public cloud, resulting in faster recovery times and lower costs.

“We used to deal with failed backups and very poor customer service when we needed to recover any data,” said Holger Sell, corporate IT services manager at Totaljobs Group. “In addition, having tape as an archive method meant recovery was extra slow and painful.

“I looked at several known products, including those known as market leaders for virtual machine backups, and came across Rubrik. 

“The overall support and feature set, combined with a clearly defined roadmap, made the decision easy for us.”

Since then, the company has expanded its use of Rubrik’s technology to its remote and branch offices, and claims to have benefited from better-performing backups and much lower costs, particularly on the data storage side.

According to Sell, deploying Rubrik has simplified the way Totaljobs operates by allowing it to streamline its costly and multi-tiered approach to infrastructure through the deployment of a single software fabric that knits its datacentres to the public cloud.

“I see Totaljobs Group as a company making a difference, a place that helps 60,000 people find a job every month and a centre of excellence for innovation and product development,” said Sell. “Rubrik’s innovative solution fits right in.”

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