Places for People: Saved Thousands by Moving to a VDI - BrightCloud Technologies
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Places for People: Saved Thousands by Moving to a VDI

Executive Summary

BrightCloud deployed a Citrix virtual desktop environment resulting in savings of over £730,000, with a further £100,000 reduction in recurring costs. Places for People’s carbon footprint was also slashed by nearly 400 CO2 tonnes, whilst increased employee efficiency has boosted customer service excellence.

The Citrix VDI platform has been well received across the organisation and the entire project with BrightCloud has been an outstanding success.

Jon Thomson, Head of IM&T

Places for People Logo

The Places for People Group is one of the largest property management, development and regeneration companies in the UK.


Since 2000, Places for People had grown rapidly through a combination of acquisition and organic growth. This rapid expansion introduced significant challenges for the IT department, which was supporting over 3,000 employees across four distinct mobile workforces, each with different IT provision and support needs.

With a 100% desktop-based IT infrastructure, staff had no option but to travel to a Places for People office each time they needed to access data or update information. This need to travel impacted staff productivity and efficiency and led to potential delays in service.

It was imperative that we had an IT system that would support our mobile workforce. With over a quarter of a million customers and nearly 143,000 properties to support around the country, they don’t have the time, nor, with the advent of virtual desktops, should they have the need to travel to use technology.

When the decision was made to rationalise 35 offices to 21, it was seen as the natural time to replace the ageing IT infrastructure which required a lot of time, resource and money to monitor, manage and maintain.

The new IT infrastructure would need to comply with stringent industry regulations and ensure that everyone within Places for People could meet the number one business objective – the delivery of outstanding customer service.

The Solution

With these criteria in mind, Places for People recognised that a virtual desktop environment would best meet business, operational and employee needs. As Places for People’s long terms IT partner we were asked to help draw up a Proof of Concept.

A Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp infrastructure, based on Citrix XenDesktop 4.0, was designed and a pilot scheme proved its feasibility. Following a successful deployment the environment was upgraded to XenDesktop 5.6 with XenApp 6.5.

Citrix XenDesktop allows the IT team to manage the desktop provision to its employees in a very controlled, quick and efficient manner, whilst Citrix XenApp 6.5 enables the provision of additional virtual desktops and applications for its employees quickly, flexibly and securely across the organisation’s 200 sites.

Recognising the different needs of each business unit, BrightCloud ensured that the virtual desktops were tailored to each.

We worked with our IT partner to establish the best virtual environment for us and the initial Citrix XenDesktop pilot delivered a clear business case for us to implement a virtual desktop strategy. It demonstrated the benefits that mobile technology can deliver to customer-facing employees.

Results, Return on Investment and Future Plans

Cost Saving

The delivered environment was made up of 3,000 seats and saw the physical estate of 1,200 PCs replaced with 1,200 Thin Clients, with 70% of staff accessing a Virtual Desktop. This resulted in an initial saving of over £550,000 alongside an annual reduction in power and cooling costs of over £123,000.

Annual support costs have been slashed by nearly £55,000 a year and there is also likely to be significant tax relief based on an annual carbon reduction of 370 tonnes.

Increased Productivity

Operations and service staff can now access the servers through a netbook device, which lets them log issues, enquiries and their working hours on-the-go. This increases the number of visits they can make and the speed at which follow-up actions can be completed, delivering the best possible service to tenants and customers.

Data Security

Places for People operate in a very tightly regulated industry as they hold highly confidential information about each tenant, which needs to be kept secure under the stipulations of the Data Protection Act. The mobile devices carried by the operational teams use Citrix XenDesktop technology, so that data remains secure when on the device and as it is transferred to the server.

Disaster Recovery

Citrix XenDesktop technologies have also improved business continuity and disaster recovery capabilities. In the event of an outage the IT team can quickly redirect virtual machines to a back-up, ensuring almost seamless disaster recovery.

The feedback from the field makes it clear that technology was now aiding, and not hindering employee’s ability to work efficiently. In the two years since introducing the initial virtual IT infrastructure, customer satisfaction levels have never been higher.

Jon Thomson, Places for PeopleThe Citrix Virtual Desktop environment has dramatically reduced the amount of energy needed to host, manage and maintain our IT infrastructure. This time and money can now be ploughed into the development of the services we deliver and the quality of service that supports these.

The Citrix VDI platform has been well received across the organisation and the entire project with BrightCloud has been an outstanding success.

Jon Thomson, Head of IM&T

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