Insurance firm drives IT efficiencies with VDI

Traditional desktop PC replacement project slashes costs, admin and carbon footprint.

Company profile
Groupama Insurances is a specialist general insurer distributing its personal and commercial insurance products exclusively through UK insurance brokers. With 700 employees in five UK centres, it is also a wholly owned subsidiary of the global insurance and banking Groupama Group, which has a presence in 14 European and Asian countries and revenues exceeding 17 billion (14 billion).
The VDI environment is also easier for us to manage from a security perspective because we can patch and update servers, operating systems and applications from one central location.
Situation
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Groupama Insurances had an ageing desktop PC environment that it began to look to overhaul nearly four years ago. While it examined the costs and options associated with a like-for-like replacement, Groupama's IT department were aware that other technology developments may be able to deliver additional cost and efficiency benefits to desktop PC estate refresh beyond just the latest spec hardware.
Paul Marshman, IT production services customer support manager at Groupama Insurances, explained to IT Pro how the company also wanted to build on the benefits already realised from consolidation work to virtualise its server and so looked at extending these out to the desktop environment through a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). "Groupama achieved a good ratio of server consolidation using VMware," he said. "And, although the initial investment in VDI was more than buying new desktop PCs, we believed there were longer term benefits to be had."
From a business perspective, there were five main areas where VDI emerged ahead of traditional desktop PCs. These included decreased total cost of ownership (TCO), increased IT service availability, quicker and more efficient application deployment, enhanced user experience, increased security and sizable savings in power usage through the replacement of inefficient, power-hungry PCs with small-footprint thin terminals. 
Marshman added that, from an IT management point of view, desktop virtualisation was also expected to reduce the administration burden of patching, securing and updating traditional PCs. It was also anticipated to eliminate the need for third-party software to prevent unauthorised data access or leakage, by blocking access to USBs and other removable media, which is a regulatory requirement Groupama as a financial services provider must comply with.
Solution
The company's executive approved budget in September 2009 for a VDI deployment to its call centres in Portsmouth and Manchester. These were identified as the logical first places for roll out due to the redeployment of staff internally and organic growth at its Portsmouth office. Marshman also said the majority of users at these sites had similar, non-complex application requirements and needed reliable IT access without disruption. 
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