Port Authority of Allegheny County Creates Custom Virtual Desktops and Delivers Diverse Applications with Unidesk VDI Management Software

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Unidesk, Dell Infrastructure, and VMware View Keys to VDI Success

Unidesk desktop layering software simplifies Windows management and VDI

Unidesk has been the key to us getting out of desktop firefighting mode and leveraging VDI to become more proactive as an IT organization.

Unidesk Corporation, the leader in desktop provisioning, application delivery, and image management software for VMware View™ and Citrix XenDesktop®, today announced that its flagship Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) management solution has been implemented by Port Authority of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. 540 users are now in production on desktops created by Unidesk®, accessed by VMware View, and hosted on Dell PowerEdge servers and Dell Compellent storage arrays. The provider of public transportation for Pittsburgh and its surrounding areas credits Unidesk with enabling VDI to finally deliver its wide variety of applications and provide the improvements in operational efficiency that were expected at project outset.

“Unidesk has been the key to us getting out of desktop firefighting mode and leveraging VDI to become more proactive as an IT organization,” said John Samuels, Senior Network Administrator, Port Authority of Allegheny County. “We started with Citrix XenDesktop, and so many of our apps were not virtualization-friendly, we had to put them in the image itself. We ended up with over 25 images, which was a real pain to manage. We moved to VMware View and had the same challenges. It wasn’t until we implemented Unidesk that we were able to create all of our desktops on one gold image of Microsoft Windows, and layer all of our different one-off apps as needed.”

Port Authority took advantage of the free trial of Unidesk and its deep integration with VMware View to run a comprehensive proof of concept. The first applications the IT staff tried to layer with Unidesk were the ones they were not able to successfully package with traditional application virtualization tools.

Added Samuels, “We put Unidesk to the test right away to see it could solve our application delivery problems. Layering worked great for the mainstream Microsoft products such as Office, Visio, and Publisher, as well as Acrobat Reader and Acrobat Pro. But it was also just as fast and easy for the smaller, lesser-known apps such as Bargaining Power labor negotiation software. In a matter of a few weeks with Unidesk, we were able to create 68 unique app layers using only our internal IT staff resources.”

Desktop Layering – A Simpler, More Powerful Approach to VDI Management

Many organizations experience the same challenges when trying to implement virtual desktops using only the management features of the two leading VDI brokering solutions:
-- Full-sized persistent virtual desktops require too much costly SAN storage;
-- Non-persistent desktops are more storage-efficient, but too many applications cannot be easily virtualized;
-- Building applications into the base image of Microsoft Windows adds licensing costs, or results in different VDI images for every department and subgroup, making patches and updates costly and time-consuming;
-- Profile management and user virtualization tools for VDI cannot capture all user customizations, or provide fast, easy fixes to common desktop break/fix problems.

Unidesk desktop layering technology is the simpler, more powerful way to create desktops, package applications, manage images, keep user changes, and optimize storage for Citrix XenDesktop and VMware View:
-- Unidesk persistent and non-persistent virtual desktops use 70-90% less storage capacity than standard full-sized virtual desktops;
-- Applications can be packaged in minutes as independent "layers" separate from the Windows operating system, and assigned to one or more desktops as needed. Application licensing and scripting challenges vanish, and patches can be made once to update all desktops. Removing application layers is just as easy.
-- One gold image of Windows can be used for all desktops, making operating system patches and updates highly efficient.
-- Profile management and user virtualization tools are no longer needed, since Unidesk persistent desktops keep all user customizations, including user-installed applications. Unidesk also enables service desk staff to quickly resolve common desktop break/fix problems by undoing IT and end user changes.

Port Authority of Allegheny County plays an increasingly significant role in economic development efforts and community vitality within Pittsburgh and throughout Allegheny County's communities. Its aim is to make transit smarter and more efficient, and deliver the best possible transportation service at lowest possible cost. The move to VDI with Unidesk has helped Port Authority realize real efficiency gains.

“We’re a pretty short staff, and Unidesk has made it easier on all of us because we’re just not getting as many desktop support calls anymore,” said Samuels. “The ones we do get we resolve in a lot less time. We’re able to be proactive, get more IT work done, and focus on ways to improve service for the people in our county.”

More details and lessons learned from Port Authority’s VDI project will be provided in an upcoming webinar on Thursday, January 31 at 2:00 PM ET. Register here: http://www.unidesk.com/port-authority

Tweet This: @UnideskCorp #VDI management, @vmwareview, and @DellEnterprise help make Port Authority of Allegheny County IT more efficient

About Unidesk

Designed specifically for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), Unidesk® desktop layering software is the simpler, more powerful way for IT organizations to package and deliver applications, patch and manage images, sustain user customizations, and optimize storage for Microsoft Windows® desktops hosted on VMware® virtual infrastructure. By using Unidesk to provision, manage, and repair desktops for Citrix XenDesktop®, VMware View™ and other brokering solutions, customers can accelerate VDI projects, reduce desktop operations costs up to 30%, cut VDI storage costs up to 90%, and foster a more productive, agile workforce. Unidesk is available through an expanding network of solution partners and strategic partner Dell. Unidesk Corporation is a privately-held company with headquarters in Marlborough, Mass, USA.

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VMware and VMware View are registered trademarks and/or trademarks of VMware, Inc., Citrix and XenDesktop are registered trademarks of Citrix, and Unidesk is a registered trademark of Unidesk Corporation in the United States and/or other jurisdictions. All other trademarks and registered trademarks are property of their respective owners.

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Andrew Nadeau
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