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MCMs high performance virtual desktop environment for a post-pandemic world.pdf

  • Azure
  • Azure Virtual Desktop
  • Microsoft 365

MCM are a creative consultancy comprised of architects, workplace strategists, and behavioural experts. They work with a range of businesses from SMEs to blue chip multinationals helping them to redesign their physical office workspaces.

The challenge

MCM were on the brink of replacing their old, onsite server and moving to a new premise. Then, just as the project was nearing completion, the pandemic hit, and they had to make an abrupt change to their IT. The MCM team needed to work 100% remotely meaning they needed access to their data from any device and from any location.

This also needed to happen quickly as the current IT was posing a huge drain on productivity. Designers were using their 3D imaging software via a VPN to log into their office desktops which was unreliable and created extra work from an IT support perspective.

The process

Firstly, MCM needed to decide if they wanted an onsite server and network refresh, or a cloud Windows Virtual Desktop solution with some key factors requiring careful consideration:

• MCM work on complex designs with large files and applications that require high performance technology
• MCM had a second subset of users that needed a more basic setup; everyday Microsoft 365 applications like Outlook and Excel

After considering the above, BCN suggested a migration to a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure environment. This would allow multiple desktop profiles to be created and assigned depending on what individual users need.

Risks and reservations

Firstly, there was the question of whether these heavy-duty 3D design applications would integrate properly into the new virtual environment and perform as fast as normal. Also, it was hard to know how different user’s internet connections would impact their performance and interaction with the new environment.

 

Solution

BCN provided MCM with a Microsoft Windows 10 virtual desktop. This was available 24×7 and accessible from any device, whilst being protected with full backup and disaster recovery service level targets.

A full proof of concept was carried out over 3 weeks to ensure that the risks mentioned above were checked, highlighted, and addressed. BCN made sure they tested that a virtual desktop infrastructure was performing as expected, particularly for the graphical demands of the CAD applications. Power and standard users each working with an appropriately sized virtual desktop profile took part in the testing, becoming MCM champions for the wider project.

The proof of concept ended up being successful and exceeding the expectations of MCM, so the decision was made to deploy the solution to the entire business. This helped to manage the increased demand of home working and enable greater flexibility from virtual desktop solutions.

The full solution was provisioned over a period of 6 weeks. Timeline was important as the project needed to happen before MCM left their existing office space and moved to a smaller office space nearby.

The results of this solution included:

• Fast and reliable performance for both Power users and Basic users

• The ability to access and work on resource heavy applications remotely without the need for powerful and costly hardware

• CMI can instantly deliver or upgrade application environments in seconds and at scale if required

• The desktop looks and feels the same regardless of the device being used

 

Result

First and foremost, the team was able to continue working remotely during the pandemic with little to no disruption to the business. There were also a number of further business benefits that the
solution provided.

• Now system updates are quicker than ever. Plus, if there are errors during the update process, rolling back to a previous state is equally quick. This all results in less downtime for users

• MCM managed to save a great deal by avoiding any expenditure on hardware. The new cloud environment also means that the designers no longer have to purchase expensive, resource heavy laptops as the processing is now all done within the WVD environment

• With a remote team, MCM was able to decrease the size of their office and reduce their overheads. They also found that being able to work from any location helped employees to perform better

Testimonial

MCM’s move to a virtual desktop environment was extremely well supported by CMI from start to finish. They initially helped us to identify the best supplier, both from a technical and cost point of view, and then managed the proof of concept phase. Once this had been successfully completed, they project managed the migration to the virtual environment. This was a hugely important and challenging project for MCM, both in terms of IT infrastructure, and in terms of changes to working practices for our staff. CMI kept us informed and supported at all stages, and the migration took place seamlessly as programmed. The results have been transformational in terms of how we have run our business in the light of the changed environment post Covid.

Kevin Britchfield

Operations Director

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