Sor-Fron Kommune

Sor-Fron Kommune: Unidesk and Trusted Norwegian Partner Provide Streamlined Application Management Solution

Having a simple way to manage, update, and deliver applications in this municipality's Citrix environment was paramount. Unidesk, with expertise and services provided by trusted IT solution provider IT Avdelingen AS, was the solution.

Sor-Fron Kommune

"We have been able to package all of our applications as Unidesk layers. We’ve layered our standard commercial apps and even our specialized applications for governmental and finance use. It always just works. We estimate we’ve reduced application packaging times by about 80%, and Windows image management by about the same."

Knut Myromslien
IT Advisor, Sor-Fron Kommune

About 3 hours north of Oslo, Norway, lies Sor-Fron Kommune, a municipality known for its panoramic valley and mountain views. Like many organizations in the public sector, the township provides critical services to its residents, including healthcare, housing and properties, agriculture, administration, and schooling. The Kommune employs 400 people to deliver these services, all of whom need access to Windows desktop applications to carry out their jobs.


The picturesque hills and valleys of Sor-Fron, Norway.

However, giving 400 people access to a wide range of commercial and custom-built applications across multiple domains and multiple devices was no small task. Knut Myromslien and Jo Kristian Bartnes had their hands full as the sole IT advisors at the Kommune. For them, having a simple, efficient way to manage, update, and deliver applications was paramount. The combination of Citrix XenDesktop and Unidesk, with expertise and services provided by trusted IT solution provider IT Avdelingen AS, has been the solution.

Citrix for Desktop Delivery

Sor-Fron Kommune has relied on Citrix to deliver centrally managed desktops for many years. The township started with Citrix XenApp, which gave the Kommune the ability to stream applications to multiple devices. However, the effort required to deliver and update the many departmental and one-off applications that were needed by only a small number of users was high.

The IT team’s next move was to deploy Citrix VDI-in-a-Box. This solution offered greater simplicity, but image management became an enormous challenge, again due to the many different application combinations required by the municipality’s users.

When VDI-in-a-Box was discontinued, Sor-Fron Kommune decided to deploy Citrix XenDesktop to continue leveraging the Citrix Receiver universal client for access from any device, Citrix HDX technology for the high-performance user experience, and the flexibility of virtual desktops to give every user their own personal workspace. One challenge remained, however: How to achieve efficient application packaging and image management given the Kommune’s diverse desktop configurations and varied application needs.

Unidesk for Application and Image Management

Citrix Ready partner Unidesk was the solution to Sor-Fron Kommune’s application packaging and image management challenges. With Unidesk, Knut and Jo Kristian package every application as its own virtual disk “layer” with an ordinary installation. They can then assign layers in any combination to any desktop for error-free, install-free delivery. With apps completely separated from Windows, the same base Windows desktop OS layer is used for all users, completely eliminating image management cost and complexity. Unidesk provided the application lifecycle management flexibility and simplicity that the Kommune’s IT team had been seeking.

Explains Knut, “We have been able to package all of our applications as Unidesk layers. We’ve layered our standard commercial apps and even our specialized applications for governmental and finance use. It always just works. We estimate we’ve reduced application packaging times by about 80%, and Windows image management by about the same.”

Applications packaged and delivered with Unidesk included standard office productivity tools such as Adobe Acrobat, Gimp, Google Chrome, Filemail, Firebird database, Microsoft Office, Mozilla Firefox, and OmniPage. Infrastructure applications such as Citrix Receiver, Java, printer drivers, RES Workspace Manager, Silverlight, and VMware tools and public sector and Nordic region specialty applications such as ACOS forms and case management, Mikromarc integrated library system, and Visma accounting software.

Even with the schools in different Windows domains, the IT team is still only managing the operating system and apps once. Says Jo Kristian, “With Unidesk, we often forget that schools are in one domain, healthcare in another, property in another. It’s still one base Windows OS and the same stack of app layers that we can apply to any virtual machine.”

No Service Interruptions

There is one particular feature of Unidesk that Knut now believes he can’t live without: The ability to roll back layers to previous versions to avoid downtime on bad patches.

He elaborates, “In the past when we had our apps built-in to our Windows images, we had big problems if we sent out a bad patch. We’d have to figure out which app caused the problem, which can be very difficult when you have to analyze the entire image. With Unidesk layers, it’s a much more controlled process. We can pinpoint problems and roll back individual apps or updates just by re-assigning a previous layer version. We now get the best of both worlds. I can update 200 peoples’ machines the same day they ask for a new version of an application. If there is a problem, I can roll the update back out in minutes. Even in the public sector, there’s a lot of money lost from one day of 200 people not being able to work. Unidesk helps our users stay on track.”

Assembling a Complete VDI Solution

When you think of VDI in Norway, IT Avdelingen AS often comes to mind. They are considered the go-to experts for desktop virtualization, and are a strong partner of both Citrix and Unidesk. IT Avdelingen AS and senior consultant Glenn H. Eriksen were instrumental in the success of the VDI project for Sor-Fron Kommune. Glenn was able to create a flexible and easy-to-manage solution utilizing Dell Wyse and IGEL thin clients, Citrix XenDesktop and NetScaler, RES Workspace for personalization, and Unidesk for application and image management.

Says Glenn, “My role in the project was IT architect and implementation of the whole solution. Now after having trained Knut and Jo Kristian regarding the solution, I will come in if there is a Level 2 or 3 problem or if something is stuck, but this is rarely needed. Knut and Jo Kristian manage most everything quite well on their own and handle all system updates themselves. I have quite a lot of interaction with Citrix and Unidesk, so it’s easy for me to provide back-end support and initiate support cases with the vendors if needed.”

Glenn began the deployment process for Sor-Fron Kommune by installing and configuring Unidesk and XenDesktop in a POC test environment for a specific group of users. Once he, Knut, and Jo Kristian were satisfied with the result, the environment was simply scaled out further.

Today, Sor-Fron Kommune has more than 200 virtual desktops in production for administration, healthcare, and schools supporting nearly 400 users. All 200 students in grades 8-10 within Sor-Fron Kommune use their own iPads provided by the school or thin clients located in classrooms to access their virtual desktops through Citrix Receiver. They even take their exams online using VDI.

A Bright Future

Sor-Fron Kommune’s VDI project has been a success in everyone’s eyes. Kommune leadership and budget-approvers are delighted with the cost savings. The Dell Wyse and IGEL thin clients were not only less expensive than the PCs they replaced, but they consume less energy and have much longer lifespans. As for Knut and Jo Kristian, the time-savings Unidesk has provided are making their days a little less hectic, and the users of the Kommune’s devices are thrilled with the increased flexibility that the combination of Citrix XenDesktop and Unidesk allows.

Deployment Details

  • Application Management
    Unidesk
  • EUC Platform
    Citrix XenDesktop
  • Users
    400
  • More Info
  • Adobe Acrobat, Gimp, Google Chrome, Filemail, Firebird database, Microsoft Office, Mozilla Firefox, OmniPage, Citrix Receiver, Java, printer drivers, Res workspace Manager, Silverlight, Mikromarc, Visma, ACOS

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