Belfast Health and Social Care Trust

Belfast Health and Social Care Trust: Unidesk Helps Scale Desktop and App Delivery in the Cloud

One of the UK's largest trusts has implemented more than 2,500 desktops in its private cloud using integrated solutions from Citrix and Unidesk and services from cloud services provider Novosco.

Belfast Health and Social Care Trust

"The project has been so successful that the next phase is to roll out desktops to a further 3,500 users. We have built out a new environment for this expansion based on Citrix XenDesktop 7.x. Unidesk is at the heart of this delivery. We wouldn’t have been able to achieve this large scale rollout without the benefits that Unidesk offers."

Philip Leighton
Availability and Release Manager, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust

Scaling Desktop and App Delivery While Improving Service

With an annual budget of approximately £1bn and a staff of 20,000, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust (BHSCT) is one of the largest Trusts in the United Kingdom. The Trust delivers integrated health and social care to 340,000 people in Belfast and part of the Borough of Castlereagh. It also provides specialist services to all of Northern Ireland.

As part of an effort to improve the healthcare experience, maximize employee productivity, and reduce costs, BHSCT embarked upon a comprehensive program that has resulted in the virtualization of its servers and desktops in its own private cloud.

BHSCT's journey to the cloud began in 2010 when it partnered with Novosco, one of the UK's leading providers of virtual and cloud IT infrastructure and services and one of Unidesk's first certified solution partners. Today, the flexibility of private cloud computing within BHSCT affords IT greater manageability and scale, with the potential for new and improved services delivered within existing resource commitments and budgets.

When IT analyst Gartner blogged about "The Secret Bottleneck of VDI" and asked customers what application delivery approach they are using with virtual desktops, Philip Leighton, Availability and Release Manager at BHSCT, was one of many Unidesk customers to comment.

In Their Words - Philip Leighton, BHSCT

We have implemented Citrix XenDesktop 5.6 with VMware vSphere 5.0 Update 2 on Cisco UCS with  EMC VNX5300 arrays utilising flash for FastCache and FastVP alongside traditional spinning disk (FC and SATA). This solution has been in place since mid-2012 serving over 3,500 users with a mixture of 1,500 persistent and non-persistent desktops.

We wouldn’t have been able to achieve this large scale rollout without the benefits that Unidesk offers; simple image management combined with its layering functionality and personalisation capabilities. Using a single gold base image we present a number of Unidesk layered core applications including Microsoft App-V and a user personalisation layer.

Our delivery model is then built on application requirements/limitations:

  • Core applications such as Microsoft Office, Microsoft Lync, and others are delivered via Unidesk layers.
  • Line Of Business applications are delivered via Microsoft App-V or Citrix XenApp.
  • Users can self-install applications in their own Unidesk personalisation layer.

We also have the ability to use Unidesk layering for those misbehaving applications ("crapapps" as we call them) that present issues for App-V or XenApp.

The project has been so successful that the next phase of our project is to roll out desktops to a further 3,500 users. We have built out a new environment for this expansion based on Citrix XenDesktop 7.x and VMware vSphere 5.5 with Cisco UCS for compute and EMC XtremIO arrays providing the storage component.

We are offloading antivirus activities at a host level utilising VMware vShield with Sophos appliances. Unidesk is at the heart of this delivery, which offers user desktops with sub-millisecond response times.

Migration of our existing user-base is already underway with the aim to be fully loaded by December this year. Virtual desktops are now seen as the first class citizen in our organisation's delivery of desktop and application services, allowing clinicians true mobility throughout our 100+ facilities.

I’m very excited about the innovation Unidesk has on their roadmap – it’s a company that doesn’t stand still and has been delivering working solutions to us with excellent support for almost 3 years now.

For my organisation 2012 was the year of VDI – 2014 has been the year for better VDI.

Deployment Details

  • Application Management
    Unidesk
  • Server
    Cisco
  • EUC Platform
    Citrix XenDesktop
  • Storage
    EMC
  • Users
    3000
  • Application Layers
    31
  • More Info
  • 1 Windows 7 OS layer - no images
  • Many one-off user-installed applications installed in personalisation layers

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