Trent and Dove Housing is an ambitious housing sector provider with 6000 homes, in order to improve their services they've recently grown their IT services with significant investments
in areas such as Dynamics 365, Microsoft Azure and Office 365.
Trent & Dove housing needed to urgently move their end user compute environment from an unsupported Microsoft Windows Server 2008 operating system hosting Citrix XenApp 6.5.
Microsoft Windows Server 2008 was rapidly ending its end of support date and the client wished to consolidate and modernise their desktop and application deployment technology.
An urgent need to undertake a mass shift to home working was also needed by the client due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The client needed to enable a safe move to Microsoft Office 365 products such as Excel, Word, PowerPoint and Outlook 365 however would decide to defer moves to OneDrive and SharePoint Online to a later project.
It was decided to take a balanced approach in relation to operating system version to maintain application supportability, A4S would design and implement Microsoft Remote Desktop Services and would augment with thin application delivery, this environment would also enable remote application delivery for later Windows 10 laptop builds and would also deliver applications from the client's remaining legacy Citrix environment.
Thin Client Estate
The client's Igel Thin clients would be re-utilised to deliver remote desktop services to users based in the office environment, this meant equipment would not be wasted, as part of this re-utilisation A4S built a new Igel thin client management solution to ensure the devices could be managed, updated and supported.
Client applications were virtualised, this meant each deployment would be the same, and that the same software could be issued to Windows 10 laptop builds without change. Application virtualisation means operational costs are reduced and that speed of deployment of increased significantly.
The Remote Desktop Service environment is also used for remote application delivery, this approach is needed to deliver applications that are intolerant to excessive latency into laptops, the necessary scripting and configuration is put in place to ensure automated delivery into the laptop start menu as well as single sign on.
In order to maintain and improve security the client needed multi-factor authentication, we refer to this within another case study soon to be linked here! The Azure MFA software client was used to provide end users with a seamless experience for a secure sign in.
Microsoft Office 365
Office 365 is the latest productivity suite from Microsoft, whilst Office 365 is supported in Server 2008; Microsoft also do not warrant against any functionality or performance issues, hence this was another driver to migrate to a later supported server operating system.
Email and Email Archive Migration
A4S partnered with Transvault to automate the migration of Microsoft Exchange 2003 user and shared mailboxes to Exchange Online, as well as migrating their E-Vault email archive into the Exchange Online email archive facility, this activity is referenced in another case study soon to be linked here!
Hybrid Joined With Azure Hosted RDS
In order to seamlessly deliver legacy style applications from the client's Azure environment the on-premise RDS environment was closely integrated with the Azure instance, thus applications delivered from the client's cloud environment seamlessly appear in the users RDS start menu.
Every project has learning opportunities and this was no different, challenges probably faced around the world in relation to companies needing to suddenly change office based staff to remote worker in larger numbers, this mean the client's internet circuit was under immense pressure to deliver the necessary services for end users, this mainly impacted the experience of Microsoft Teams where audio and video channels would struggle to perform forcing users to use Teams outside of the RDS environment, this would lead to end user frustrations that were difficult to avoid.
The TDH IT teams have been extremely supportive and engaged in the process of moving its end users to Microsoft RDS, the process has involved many strands including application packaging, MFA, Office 365, mail migrations, mail archive migrations, IT teams re-skilling and much more.
Sophie Geehan TDH IT Systems Leader made the following statement:
"A4S and TDH IT worked closely together to deliver a complex project under extreme pressures such as completing before Windows Server 2008 support ended and meeting the sudden demand for mass home working.
The move to Exchange Online and Exchange Online Archive has simplified our support and has improved mobile working, our staff also have benefited from be able to use the latest Microsoft Office toolset.
Our end users now use a much more modern desktop environment that will enable later moves to OneDrive and SharePoint Online."
Sophie Geehan TDH IT Systems Leader
Would you like to know more about our approach to end user compute and this delivery?
Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or meet up to grab a coffee ☕.