Akzo Nobel UK (International Paint)

Marine & Protective Coatings Manufacturer Has VDI Well Covered
with Liquidware Labs Solutions

The IT staff of AkzoNobel’s Marine & Protective Coatings (M&PC) Business Unit provides support to 5,000 users around the world; providing support to such a widespread Windows XP desktop infrastructure produced many challenges. The IT staff saw great potential for a virtual desktop infrastructure to improve performance and reduce support requirements. However, one of the strongest challenges the IT staff anticipated was users’ resistance to change.

M&PC’s IT staff was quite experienced with VMware server virtualization – about 95 percent of its servers are virtualized in the VMware environment – but the team moved cautiously into desktop virtualization. The first step was an extended proof-of-concept (PoC) trial with approximately 40 users on Windows XP virtual machines to ensure that problems from virtual desktops remained separate from OS conversion issues. The PoC showed VDI’s potential to improve the unit’s desktop operations – as well as the obstacles to deploying it. The leading challenges the team foresaw for implementing a virtual desktop infrastructure were:

  • Winning user acceptance
  • Providing a virtual desktop experience at least as good as the physical experience
  • Managing the physical-to-virtual migration

Based on its awareness that VMware provided limited persona management tools, the team added Liquidware Labs ProfileUnity to its PoC trial. ProfileUnity manages user profiles, so all screen and font settings, application preferences, bookmarks, file locations, printer preferences, and other configurations are automatically preserved and delivered as part of their virtual desktop. There is no user downtime during the migration – ProfileUnity does all the work in the background. After migrations, ProfileUnity offers complete user management by providing flexible, ongoing profile management and configuration.

When the environment matured beyond proof of concept, the company upgraded its ability to monitor and support virtual desktops by implementing Liquidware Labs Stratusphere UX, a desktop monitoring tool for virtual and physical PCs. Stratusphere UX complements VMware vCenter Performance Manager by providing detailed utilization and performance information for the virtual machine (VM), application host, storage and network levels.

Desktop virtualization enabled the M&PC unit’s IT team to improve its desktop-user experience and reduce the support burden. ProfileUnity and Stratusphere UX gave the team the ability to build, manage and grow its VDI. As to the goal of winning user acceptance, satisfaction ratings, which averaged 2.5 before virtual desktops were deployed, ranged between 3.5 and 3.75 afterward.