Co-Op Gets Dividends From Virtual Desktops

CloudCloud ManagementGreen-ITInnovationLegalRegulationVirtualisationWorkspace

The Co-Op is extending its virtual desktops, saving millions on software licensing costs, and cutting carbon output

The Co-Operative Group, the UK’s fifth largest food retailer (and leading funeral services provider)is using desktop virtualisation to cut licence costs and CO2 emissions.

As part of an overhaul of its core IT systems, the Co-Op is using desktop virtualisation to save millions on software licensing costs and reduce its output – an important factor when firms face carbon cap and trade rules. The strategy is part of the group’s move to achieve a greener status and allow staff members to work more flexibly.

Cost Savings

The Group is moving its Manchester headquarters into an environmentally aware, state-of-the-art building by 2012, and the Co-Op believes it can save £1.5 million on unused software licences and unnecessary software, and reduce its power cost by £500,000 per year.

The Co-Op already uses Citrix XenApp to deliver virtualised applications to staff members in branch offices and distribution centres. But now it has decided to expand on this with plans to migrate to Citrix XenDesktop. The Co-Op’s infrastructure includes 18,000 desktops, 3,500 laptops and an expected 3,000 people who will work from home, at the end of 2010, so the move could well prove to highly lucrative for Citrix.

Back in March it was revealed that Microsoft had partnered Citrix, to promote both companies’ end-to-end virtualisation packages for businesses.

Desktop Virtualisation

The Co-Op trial at the Manchester HQ is starting slowly with XenDesktop initally deployed on just 250 virtual desktops. However, this rollout will be extended to 1,200 virtual desktops by December 2010, and then 3,000 by December 2011.

There is no word on how soon the rest of the Co-Op IT infrastructure will be migrated across to Citrix, and the society was unable to field a spokesman at the time of writing.

“Our colleagues’ needs are becoming more sophisticated, and our IT delivery and management increasingly needs more flexibility to tweak and personalise the desktop experience,” said David Murrell, head of servers, storage and desktops at The Co-operative Group, in a statement. “We needed a reliable method to deliver this functionality, in a secure and efficient way, wherever they may be.”

For its part, Citrix stated that every organisation has different needs for different workers, and to support this its FlexCast technology delivers a virtual desktop specifically tailored to meet the requirements of individual users.

Sweating Assets

The idea of reducing a company’s reliance on technology and power-hungry hardware as a way to improve its green credentials has been around for a while now. This can include the idea of “sweating” your old IT assets, a policy most businesses have had to consider over the past couple of years thanks to tight IT budgets due to the impact of the financial crisis.

Another option is to provide staff with more energy efficient thin clients as opposed to PCs, or use some kind of thin client software on the users’ own Pc. In February for example the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) awarded Japanese IT services specialist Fujitsu one of the biggest desktop services contracts in the UK to provide energy efficient thin clients.

Read also :
Author: Tom Jowitt
Click to read the authors bio  Click to hide the authors bio