AAPT to roll out virtual Windows 7 desktops

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AAPT to roll out virtual Windows 7 desktops

Weans staff off BlackBerry in favour of Android.

AAPT has revealed plans to migrate staff  to a "deskless" IT environment, using virtualised desktop instances running on laptops and thin-client devices. 

The business telco will roll out a virtual Windows 7 desktop environment next month that staff will be able to access either on laptops or on Samsung 'thin client' LCD devices located around the telco's offices.

Chief operations officer David Yuile told iTnews the telco had invested about $8 million in Sun Microsystems server kit at the backend, including hardware to support VMware's virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI).

The telco has also invested in NetApp storage arrays.

The plan was to pool processing power and storage centrally and make it available to end users dynamically, depending on their individual compute needs, Yuile said.

AAPT planned to start the virtual desktop project by giving users one of either 200 Toshiba laptops or 200 Samsung SyncMaster LCD displays - essentially 'thin client' devices that staff could log into and use as their desktop.

About 20 of the Samsung devices had already been rolled out to a limited number of users.

Once a user logged in, their desktop instance was retrieved from central servers and processing power was allocated based on an individual user profile set up in the system.

If the user had a meeting, they could simply log out of one terminal, go to a meeting room and log back in using a different terminal - and keep working.

"People won't have a desk anymore," Yuile said.

AAPT's reworked corporate IT environment was, in part, the product of the Australian telco moving out of an outsourcing deal supplied to parent Telecom NZ group by EDS (now HP Enterprise Services).

The telco now runs its own IT.


Yuile said that AAPT's IT transformation started with the company's move from Exchange to Gmail in July.

"The best thing we ever did was roll out Gmail," Yuile said. "I think Gmail was the start and the laptop/VDI project is going to be the next step."

In keeping with the telco's Gmail push, AAPT has also shifted about 150 staff off BlackBerry devices and onto "sub-$500 HTC Android smartphones".

"We've migrated just about everybody off BlackBerry because we didn't want a complex environment and because Gmail can be accessed on a desktop, laptop or phone," Yuile said.

"We're backing Android in a big way."

Corporate Android smartphones would be shut out from accessing Google's Android marketplace to prevent apps that presented security and privacy risks from being downloaded.

And users with privately-owned Android handsets they wanted to connect to the corporate network would also have to adhere to a security policy around Android apps.

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