Weaver Vale implements Citrix

Cheshire's largest housing trust is looking to reduce IT and management overheads.

Weaver Vale Housing Trust is just about to go live with new security management systems as part of a phased project to improve application infrastructure delivery and management.

Cheshire's largest social landlord has been implementing Citrix technology to deliver core applications to its 350 office-based and remote staff for about nine months now. And the changes made have already facilitated a 20 per cent reduction in man hours needed to perform software and hardware maintenance, improved system performance and extended PC lifecycles.

Ian Lee, Weaver Vale Housing Trust IT manager, spoke to IT PRO about the need to reduce the time spent maintaining ageing networks and PC hardware at its 14 sites across the county.

"There were massive logistical and cost-associated overheads with physically updating each site's PCs. And, with most of them being fat clients, there was also application performance and bandwidth issues," he said.

The trust took the opportunity to update its application delivery systems at the same time as making network infrastructure upgrades as part of a move to an Alcatel-supplied voice over internet protocol (VoIP) system. "It would've been cheaper to improve the situation via terminal services but, by taking the longer term view, we saw that Citrix would be more configurable," he said.

The organisation already used a housing management application delivered with an old Citrix Metaframe 1.8 client from Orchard Information Systems and worked with the specialist provider to implement Citrix XenApp 4.5 (formerly known as Presentation Server 4.5) and Access Gateway 4.5.

"The new systems are making administration of our IT estate much easier, using remote management. We only need to install new software once on the data centre, and its then delivered it out to all the employees, wherever they are," said Lee. "This has reduced our hardware costs, as old machines can run new applications using thin-client principles."

Lee added that the trust is using IGEL's PCI cards to extend the lifecycle of its existing PC estate: "It's made huge savings on hardware. You just plug the hard drive cable into the PCI card to connect to the Citrix systems, replacing them with thin-client machines only when they absolutely need to."

The trust is about to go live with the last phase of the project with the introduction of Citrix Password Manager 4.5 and Secure Computing's Safeword for Citrix tokens for two-factor authentication.

And Lee said this extra layer of security and streamlined management is enabling the company to extend its remote working facilities into the mobile sphere, with trials of Samsung tablet PCs with 3G networking cards for those staff members who need to access trust data on the move.

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