Case Study: Creation of Standardised Desktop Environment for Emendo

 

Background

Emendo specialises in delivering software solutions for the healthcare industry to solve demand and capacity planning issues. Emendo has around thirty staff working across sales, management, operations, and software development and testing.

Requirement

Develop and deploy standardised computer configurations for all staff with all necessary business applications and functionality enabled. Ensure that new staff and their systems can be quickly deployed and that time consuming troubleshooting of functionality issues with any existing computer can be resolved by reapplying the original computer configuration. Ensure that computers can be reassigned to new staff with a “clean” configuration to minimise functionality issues.

Solution

The hardware environment at Emendo had been standardised over time into laptops and desktops of very similar specifications. A new laptop and desktop were set up with Windows 7 x64, and the standard business applications in use, such as Microsoft Office, Visio, Project, amongst others, were installed. The computers were then in a state ready to be deployed for sales, operations, and management staff. At this point, a process to wipe all unique identifiers off a computer was run and an image taken of the resulting software on the computer’s hard drive. The image is simply a large file, which can be deployed onto any other computer to configure it with operating systems and applications, and it will also prompt for unique identifiers, such as computer name, on first start up. Additional applications were then installed that were specific to the requirements of software development and testing team, such as SQL Server, Visual Studio, and images were taken of the machine again after stripping unique identifiers.

Images had been created of individual to laptop or desktop hardware, and to a standard business user or development user. These images could then be deployed singularly or simultaneously to many existing computers in order to convert them to Windows 7 64 systems with all necessary applications. The manual build time of a computer with all necessary applications was cut from up to six hours to less than an hour. Computer configuration was more uniform and reliable having come from a master standardised image. The images could be used on new hardware, or to re-image a computer for reuse by a replacement staff member, or to quickly solve time-consuming troubleshooting problems where a machine had been tinkered with, one time too many, and was no longer in a usable state.

We also created standardised images that are run as virtual machines on development and operations staff computers, which were clean minimalistic systems, used only for secure virtual private network connectivity to support their client environments. In addition, we had standardised the Emendo computing environment on Windows XP prior to this project.

Referral

“As a growing company Emendo reviewed its ability to solely service our IT strategy and support internally.  Our decision was that we need to concentrate our efforts on our core services and as such we went to the market to look for a suitable business partner. “….read more

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