The University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) is one of the largest hospitals in the Netherlands and the largest employer in the Northern Netherlands. More than 10,000 employees work together to deliver quality patient care and conduct cutting-edge scientific research that focuses on healthy and active aging. In the framework of scientific research and education, UMCG collaborates closely with the University of Groningen. Some 3,400 students are trained at the university as physicians, dentists, and movement scientists, while more than 340 physicians are trained as medical specialists.
In recent years, UMCG launched major initiatives to migrate from Microsoft® Windows® XP to Windows 7 and provide users with high-productivity virtual workspaces for desktop computers. These initiatives have increased complexity for application packagers by requiring them to make applications available for deployment not only to XP, but also to Windows 7 and Microsoft App-V™. The packaging tool that UMCG had been using supported XP. However, it could not accommodate the increasingly complex IT environments UMCG and other organizations are being confronted with. For example, it did not offer Windows 7 compatibility testing and remediation, nor did it support the creation of application packages for delivery in virtual formats such as App-V.
UMCG selected Flexera® Software AdminStudio® Suite and Flexera Software Workflow Manager to address the more extensive application readiness needs that Windows 7 and desktop virtualization presented. With AdminStudio Suite, IT has been able to replace disparate, tactical point tools and manual processes with a single, comprehensive, strategic solution capable of accommodating all the application readiness best practice processes for compatibility testing, virtualization suitability testing, remediation, and conversion as well as routine packaging for MSI, legacy, and virtual formats.
Within the first three months, UMCG has already seen a significant savings in actual packaging time with AdminStudio Suite. The staff expects additional efficiency gains once Workflow Manager is in place. Users will benefit from the ability to submit and track their own requests as well as faster fulfillment of requests. IT will benefit from the streamlining and automation of application delivery from the request stage through to handoff of a package to the deployment system.
UMCG prides itself on delivering superior patient care from top-notch medical professionals. Its size alone makes UMCG a “city within a city.” More than 18,000 staff, students, patients, and visitors engage in a broad range of activities each day. Whether they are delivering patient care, conducting research, or furthering educational goals, members of the UMCG community rely on technology to achieve their goals.
Meeting the technology needs of the large and diverse community of computer users at UMCG is complex and demanding. The ICT department manages the IT infrastructure and provides access to a broad range of applications, from administrative and financial software to specialized research, statistical, and analytical solutions. The packaging staff supports nearly 800 desktop applications for the approximately 10,000 UMCG employees.
This new approach with AdminStudio is faster than our previous method. We’ve been using it for about three months and we have already seen a significant savings in actual packaging time. We expect savings to increase as we expand our use of AdminStudio.
Harko Hamminga, Application Manager, University Medical Center Groningen
Keeping the infrastructure up to date is a top priority for ICT. With Microsoft planning to end support for Windows XP in July 2014, the ICT staff has begun a major migration to Windows 7. At the same time, the department launched an initiative to implement virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) workplaces.
“The Windows 7 and VDI projects will enhance our user computing environment,” said Harko Hamminga, application manager. “People are especially enthusiastic about virtual workspaces because the start-up time is much faster than what they experience with traditional desktops. Also, they can switch from one workspace to another without having to reboot or reconnect.”
For application packagers, however, Windows 7 and VDI introduce complexity. The staff must now maintain applications in a state of readiness for deployment not only to Windows XP, but also to Windows 7 and Microsoft App-V.
For many years, the staff used Symantec’s Wise Package Studio to create packages in MSI format for end-user computers running Microsoft Windows XP.
However, to address these new challenges, the packaging staff has implemented Flexera Software AdminStudio Suite. This market-leading solution provides advanced software packaging tools, automated compatibility testing and remediation for Windows 7, and automatic creation of packages in virtual formats.
UMCG is in the process of implementing Flexera Software Workflow Manager, which will allow the staff to implement end-to-end application readiness processes that will accelerate the delivery of applications to users and greatly enhance the productivity of packagers and other IT staff members.
Adopting a Unified Application Readiness Strategy
UMCG’s desire to keep the IT environment up to date meant the staff would need more robust and more comprehensive functionality. That combined with Symantec’s announcement that it was discontinuing development and enhancements for Wise Package Studio, made it clear that the staff would need to implement a new solution.
UMCG selected Flexera Software AdminStudio Suite for several key reasons. Symantec had chosen and endorsed AdminStudio as its replacement for Wise Package Studio to ensure a path forward for its customer base. Additionally, AdminStudio Suite is the only solution that includes a single tool and process for MSI packaging, application compatibility and virtualization. Moreover, AdminStudio Suite offered UMCG comprehensive, robust functionality and tight integration across application readiness functions. In particular, the packaging staff was interested in:
- Automated Windows 7 compatibility testing and remediation
- Automated compatibility testing and conversion of applications to Microsoft App-V
- The ability to assess compatibility and repackage not only 32-bit but also 64-bit applications
- Compatibility testing for Internet Explorer 8, 9, and 10
Partnering with Professionals
UMCG sought the assistance of Professional Development Systems b.v. (PDS) to identify requirements and implement the new solution. A Flexera Software partner that markets solutions in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg, PDS is highly respected for the quality of its consulting, training, and support services.
Because PDS consultants are well versed in helping customers move from Wise Package Studio to AdminStudio Suite, they were able to provide rich insight into the differences between the two solutions and offer prescriptive guidance and hands-on implementation services to ensure a reliable and smooth transition. The result was a rapid ramp-up time with AdminStudio.
As part of the services engagement, PDS also conducted a three-day Wise Migration to AdminStudio course onsite for the packaging staff. Developed by PDS, this course focuses on the differences between Wise Package Studio and AdminStudio, enabling the staff to quickly acquire the knowledge needed for a successful migration.
Automating Packaging Efforts Drives Early Efficiency Gain
Prior to implementing AdminStudio, the staff relied heavily on manual efforts to address Windows 7 and virtualization. Typically, packagers would install an application on Windows 7, test it manually to see if it worked properly, and fix any compatibility issues that the testing uncovered. The staff would use the App-V Sequencer to create a package in App-V format. This was also a manual effort.
With AdminStudio in place, the effort is automated. For new applications, packagers use AdminStudio to create an MSI. Next they use AdminStudio to determine whether the MSI is compatible with the App-V format, and the Automatic Application Converter (AAC) to convert the application to App-V. This fast, automated migration process allows them to run the App-V version on Windows 7, having confidence that it will work.
“This new approach with AdminStudio is faster than our previous method,” Hamminga said. “We’ve been using it for about three months and we have already seen a significant savings in terms of actual packaging time. We expect savings to increase as we expand our use of AdminStudio and implement an increasingly automated process with Flexera Software Workflow Manager.”
The staff is now better positioned to stay ahead of demand for application delivery because they have a single solution for preparing and deploying applications to all leading formats, regardless of platform. Packagers have already prepared approximately 100 of the 800 desktop applications for delivery on XP, Windows 7, and App-V.
The staff is looking forward to having Workflow Manager fully deployed. This Web-based process management solution will give UMCG the ability to automate tasks across the application readiness lifecycle. “Right now, what we’re seeing is a reduction in packaging time,” Hamminga said. “With Workflow Manager, I see an entire streamlined process from the time the user asks for an application through testing, fixing, and putting the application into production. We are convinced that this will save even more time.”
According to Hamminga, the Flexera Software solutions also position UMCG to support technology changes in the future. For example, App-V is currently the virtualization format of choice. Because AdminStudio creates packages for all the leading virtual formats, UMCG is free to switch to VMware® ThinApp™ or Citrix® XenApp™, or to support multiple formats in the environment. UMCG is also confident that Flexera Software is committed to addressing new formats as they emerge in the future.
Customer’s Final Words
Hamminga concluded that the switch from Wise Package Studio to AdminStudio has been highly beneficial. “AdminStudio uses more of a Windows approach to working than Wise Package Studio,” he said. “For me and my colleagues, that means it’s easier to work with. The Automatic Application Converter saves us a lot of time. It converts the applications into App-V format quickly and with minimal staff intervention. In addition, the advanced customization and editing features improve the efficiency of any required customization and conflict resolution with the MSI package.”
About Professional Development Systems b.v.
Since 1989, PDS has distributed complementary software tools for the professional system administrator and developer in the C, C++, Visual Basic, Delphi, C#, .Net and Internet environment. For most aspects of the software development cycle, PDS continuously investigates the market and selects the best solutions for the job. The company employs highly trained individuals who not only are well versed in the solutions the company sells, but also understand the challenges faced by programmers and system administrators every day. As a result, PDS offerings cover only the best products in the industry. PDS delivers solutions and services directly to customers in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg in combination with professional consulting, training, certification and support. PDS is the organizer of the annual industry platform event in EMEA “www.packagingevent.com”. First held in 2006, this event provides an opportunity for industry-leading vendors to present their application readiness solutions to the technical system administrator audience.
About Flexera Software
Flexera Software is the leading provider of strategic solutions for Application Usage Management; solutions delivering continuous compliance, optimized usage and maximized value to application producers and their customers. Flexera Software is trusted by more than 80,000 customers that depend on our comprehensive solutions — from installation and licensing, entitlement and compliance management to application readiness and software license optimization — to strategically manage application usage and achieve breakthrough results realized only through the systems-level approach we provide. For more information, please go to: www.flexerasoftware.com.
For more information, visit www.flexerasoftware.com/adminstudio or contact a Flexera Software representative.
A full AdminStudio Suite free evaluation is available at www.flexerasoftware.com/adminstudio/eval or contact a Flexera Software representative.