Aquafin, located in Aartselaar, Belgium, was founded in 1990 to clean up waste water, in response to new European directives. The company has introduced advanced processing technology that digests sludge and
produces biogas for green energy generation. Aquafin employs a total of 650 people.
The small Aquafin IT department was struggling to manage the desktop environments of more than 600 users. At more than one hour per PC, a planned upgrade to Windows* XP would have taken around 120 man-days to complete, and the subsequent management of user identities and access rights threatened to hinder other essential IT development.
In addition to upgrading its operating system, different users required a variety of applications, depending on their roles. Relying on manual installation for each application would take too long and require too many resources, so Aquafin looked for a faster, more reliable way to implement these changes.
One option was to write a series of scripts and management tools using in-house resources. However, this would absorb a great deal of programmer time, which could be better spent supporting line-of-business activities.
Aquafin's objective was to implement a standard operating environment throughout its business, which would form the foundation of a longer-term strategy to reduce IT management and application licensing costs.
A proof-of-concept conducted by 4All networks, a Novell partner, demonstrated that Aquafin could accelerate its desktop upgrade programme by using ENGL Imaging Toolkit for Novell ZENworks. The ENGL software, created by Expert Networking Group Limited, works with
Novell ZENworks and eDirectory to simplify and automate the installation of operating systems and applications. The combination of the Novell and ENGL technologies enabled Aquafin to complete more than 600 full desktop upgrades in 25 days.
The ENGL approach makes the build process as modular as possible, which enables Aquafin to update individual components rather than one large image, reducing the total upgrade and maintenance time. Tools
within ENGL allow Aquafin to automate and simplify the management of workstations from bare-metal to fully operational. This includes deploying and tailoring the Standard Operating Environment and other post imaging tasks such as provisioning applications based on user identity.
"With Novell ZENworks and the ENGL Imaging Toolkit, the complete upgrade and install process took less than 30 minutes per desktop," said Benni Dillen, ICT Coordinator at Aquafin. "Our engineers handled all the work from the central server, so we were able to upgrade multiple remote systems simultaneously and without additional
Aquafin used Novell ZENworks to install application packages on each desktop, depending on the user's profile stored in eDirectory. Having completed the upgrade of its desktop environment, Aquafin is now working to reduce its total software licensing costs.
"The big advantage of the ZENworks suite is its integration with Novell eDirectory, which gives us robust identity and access management for the entire estate of user systems," said Benni Dillen. "The next steps
are to use ZENworks and eDirectory to cut support costs by providing a full asset inventory, so that we know precisely which software is being installed by which users."
Knowing the exact number of licences required for each application will put Aquafin in a far stronger position when negotiating with vendors, and will reduce the risk of running unlicensed software.
By automating the upgrade of its desktop environment with Novell ZENworks and the ENGL Imaging Toolkit, Aquafin successfully cut a 120 man-day project down to 25 mandays, and made significant savings in travel costs into the bargain.
"The ENGL tool gave us a simple, menudriven interface that collects the relevant components from the ZENworks imaging server and delivers them remotely to the PCs," said Benni Dillen. "We saved the time and effort of creating our own proprietary tool, and have installed a standard office environment for more than 600 users in one-fifth of the expected timeframe."
With ZENworks and eDirectory, Aquafin has gained full control over its desktop environment. The company can easily deploy updates and security patches from a central point of control, improving functionality and security for users while cutting the workload for IT staff.
"The Novell technologies enable us to offer a better service to our users, by automating many routine tasks and allowing the IT team
to focus on more important tasks," said Benni Dillen. "The tight integration between ZENworks and eDirectory contributes to significant
cost savings and enhanced user service throughout the business."
Aquafin at a glance: Water treatment services
- Upgraded 600 desktop PCs within the expected rollout timeframe
- Remote desktop management has improved service and reduced
maintenance and travel costs
- Full software asset inventory will reduce licensing costs