By deploying Application Virtualization, the Regional Council of Burgundy has transformed the speed and efficiency of application deployment.
“The Novell (now a part of Micro Focus) solution gave us the functionality we needed at a lower price than the other solutions we considered.”
Manager, IT Maintenance and Technology for Education
The Regional Council of Burgundy is one of the 22 elected local government bodies that govern the regions of mainland France. The Council is directly responsible for secondary education and vocational training. Together with the central government, the Council also helps to manage economic development, infrastructure and transport.
The Regional Council of Burgundy relies on a team of 26 technicians to manage workstations across 64 secondary schools—each of which may have between 200 and 1,200 machines. To automate and accelerate the deployment of software, the team was using an open-source imaging tool. While this tool continues to work well for the standard software landscape, it was not powerful enough to support the implementation of large and complex applications such as AutoCAD and the Council’s ERP package. As a result, technicians had to visit the schools to install or update these applications.
The Council wanted to be able to install and maintain all applications remotely to save time, effort and cost, and to improve service to end-users. Equally, it wanted to address compatibility issues caused by different applications requiring different versions of Java.
After deciding to virtualize its applications and deliver them as packaged executables, the Council compared three possible solutions: VMware ThinApp, Microsoft App-V and Application Virtualization.
“The Novell solution gave us the functionality we needed at a lower price than the other solutions we considered,” said Pascal Dupont, manager of IT maintenance and technology for education at the Regional Council of Burgundy. “The local Novell team provided a very effective demonstration of the technology, and it was both fast and easy-to-deploy.”
The Council used Application Virtualization to package dozens of applications into easy-to-deploy Windows executables. The process of virtualization encapsulates each piece of software and all the supporting components it requires, allowing it to run in isolation from other applications on the same workstation. This not only eliminates the requirement to run through the installation process on each workstation, but also eliminates the potential for conflicts between software versions.
“We use the solution to virtualize large and complex applications used by students and staff,” said Dupont. “These include 3D modeling tools such as AutoCAD and SketchUp, productivity tools such as LibreOffice, audiovisual tools such as Audacity and VLC, and mathematical tools such AlgoBox and GeoGebra.”
The Council also used Application Virtualization to package multiple versions of EBP, the ERP software used by school administrators. Currently, the Council deploys executable files that reside either on the hard disks of workstations, or in thin-client images for its NComputing environment. In the future, it may use the predictive streaming feature of the solution to eliminate local installation altogether.
“The ability to stream applications is something that would provide great benefits in our learning portal,” said Dupont. “This would enable students and teachers to work from home at any time without any need to have their own licenses for the software.”
The adoption of Application Virtualization at the Regional Council of Burgundy ensures greater consistency across the workstations in the secondary schools. This simplifies support and troubleshooting for the technical team, as well as largely eliminating compatibility issues.
“With the solution, the same packaged application is deployed in the same way across all our sites,” said Dupont. “Equally, we were able to resolve a potential Java conflict for one particular application by packaging it with the older version of Java that it needs. Meanwhile, other software on the same machine can use the latest version of Java.”
The solution also saves time and effort for the technical support team, enabling them to focus on other priorities.
“We still need to spend time on packaging and testing the applications—particularly the larger and more complicated ones—but we have eliminated most of the local installation effort,” said Dupont. “We have also achieved a very significant decrease in the time taken to deploy the EBP package. It’s three or four times faster to deploy with Application Virtualization.”