Case study: Robinson Fans

Overview

Challenge

Inconsistent software builds reduced the productivity of Robinson Fans IT staff, while inconsistent access to data slowed down employees.

Solution

Robinson Fans chose VMWare Virtual Desktop Infrastructure to have employees run their desktops from head office and facilitate data sharing.

Results

Quick adoption by users and IT staff alike led to productivity gains for both, as well as new capabilities that were not possible using their previous system.

““Sharing data between companies is a lot faster now. We’re more unified.” – Ben Rose, IT Manager, Robinson Fans

Full study

Robinson Fans

Robinson Industries Inc manufactures custom-built industrial fans, blowers and exhausters for a variety of industries. Robinson employs more than 300 people at five locations dispersed across the continental United States.

Challenge

Over time, inconsistencies crept into the builds of the company’s computers. Some of these inconsistencies made computer problems more challenging and costly to rectify.

Only head office, located in Zelienople, Pennsylvania, maintains a full-time information technology support department. When computer problems occurred at another office, IT support staff guided non-technical employees over the telephone in a slow process that diminished the productivity of all involved. For extreme cases, IT specialists flew to the location to deal with problems hands-on.

But the most acute inconsistency Robinson faced was ensuring that all employees have real-time access to the data they need to efficiently perform their roles.

“We wanted to make sure everybody had all the same programs and information available to them,” Ben Rose, Robinson’s IT Manager, explained. “We wanted to have all of their information here so we could see it, and they could access all our data.”

“We do a lot of intercompany business, so that was our number one goal.”

And Robinson plans to implement new applications. In the past, Robinson deployed servers to each office, incurring attendant purchase and maintenance costs.

How could the company centralize its data without continuing to deploy servers to every location?

Solution

Robinson IT managers concluded that they could solve these problems by virtualizing the computer desktops of employees across the country. The first option they considered was industry giant Citrix.

However, a ProServeIT representative suggested that management consider the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) product from VMWare, a market leader in virtualization technology.

VDI enables organizations to centralize desktop management. Each local desktop is actually a thin client – servers at head office handle each VDI session.

ProServeIT had already won Robinson’s trust, having successfully deployed Robinson’s VMWare server solution six months before. Encouraged by both ProServeIT’s track record and Robinson’s familiarity with VMWare products, Robinson IT managers chose to more closely examine VDI.

Results

“We are five independent companies, and it was difficult to share data without doing this (VDI implementation),” Rose said. “Sharing data between companies is a lot faster now. We’re more unified.”

The IT department had no learning curve to scale, thanks to its previous VMWare server deployment. End users also adapted quickly. The only difference they noticed: the box where users enter their passwords says ‘VMWare login’ instead of ‘Windows login.’

Robinson employees also gained a newfound flexibility that conventional desktop installations could never grant. They can access their desktops from their desks, their home PCs via VPN, or using a web interface powered by a Java web application.

VDI enables local USB devices such as printers, so end users can take advantage of both centrally managed software and the equipment sitting right beside them.

The IT department shut down four domain servers and now runs the company’s WLAN on just one, thus reducing infrastructure costs. IT staff creates new clients more quickly and easily than before, which increases their productivity. And VDI streamlines queries, updates and patches reducing bandwidth usage to a fraction of what it was.

Future application deployment will cost less thanks to VDI, since Robinson can scale back licensing costs per server as well as the cost and complexity of synchronizing data between five locations – to say nothing of the headaches involved in running an application over a distributed environment instead of using a single server.

“The lives of my IT staff just got a lot easier,” Rose said.

Leave a Reply