Three Leading Law Firms Virtualize Desktops - The IT Perspective

Posted by Tom Rose on Jul 25, 2013

Yesterday, I talked about how Unidesk and VDI are helping the attorneys and staff at three leading law firms be more productive. And, how the IT teams at Bernstein Shur, Miller Johnson, and Procopio are visionaries for recognizing the end user benefits of virtual desktops compared to physical PCs.

But it isn’t just the end users who are benefiting from the move to VDI. IT is gaining some great advantages, too.

  • Patch Management – Law firms are usually pretty quick to install Microsoft Windows hot fixes and updates. They don’t want to leave themselves open to security breaches that could compromise themselves or their clients. This can be very time-consuming on PCs, where patches don’t always install correctly. With Unidesk-managed VDI, patch management is simple and fail-proof. Each firm has only 1 gold OS layer for all of their desktops. IT can install hot fixes and patches on the OS layer once, and all desktops firm-wide can be brought up to the latest patch level at the same time. Every desktop is constructed from the exact same Windows layer, so the patches are guaranteed to take. If a hot fix causes a problem, they can simply revert back to the previous OS layer until the issue is fixed.
  • Application Delivery – VDI was supposed to make application delivery easier. That hasn't been the case. Law firms implementing VDI have found that the many different applications and plug-ins required for document review, document preparation, e-discovery, property research, and other legal work cannot be delivered with traditional application virtualization technology, which isolates apps to prevent conflict. Because isolated apps run inside their own protective “bubbles,” they cannot work with each other unless they are packaged together. Unidesk delivers on the promise of simple app delivery in VDI. Desktop layering provides the same modular application packaging and delivery benefits as app virtualization, but without the isolation side effects. Unidesk layered applications look to each other, and to Windows, as if they are natively installed.

    Matt Kramer, Director of IT at Bernstein Shur, explains it this way. “We initially looked at implementing non-persistent desktops and virtualizing our applications, but it just wasn’t feasible. We have 10-15 different plug-ins for Microsoft Outlook alone, and each one has different release cycles. It would have been far too complicated getting them to interoperate, and to juggle the different versions and one-offs that are needed by different groups. With Unidesk, we can give everyone persistent desktops, and layer in any application or plug-in that is needed.

    Isidore Okoro, Director of IT at Miller Johnson, offers a similar perspective. “We have 53 application layers in use across our 225 Unidesk desktops. We package each plug-in or application once as a unique layer, then assign the layer to multiple desktops with a few clicks. This allowed us to carefully build, test, and deploy new desktops for our big Windows 7 rollout. Our attorneys and staff can now get the latest legal application, plug-in, or software update in less time, and in a controlled manner. Everything works together seamlessly without us ever having to touch the base application. Unidesk has made the lives of our IT staff a lot easier, and is a big part of our success in managing our new Windows 7 VDI environment.
  • Desktop Break/Fix - Repairing desktops is a huge IT time sink in the world of physical PCs. The easiest way for IT to fix problems caused by software conflicts is to re-image the desktop. It's fast, but it blows away all user customizations. In a law firm, this isn't an option. Attorneys would waste too much valuable time trying to restore their settings and app preferences. So, IT has to figure out what went wrong. This could mean hours, or days, of combing through Windows regedit and Add/Remove Programs. With Unidesk, the IT staffs at the law firms simply rebuild the virtual desktop with an earlier User layer snapshot. In a few minutes, malware, viruses, DLL conflicts, and bad apps are gone. It's like they never existed. And the attorneys' settings and app preferences are all preserved.

    Craig Crosby, Director of Information Services at Procopio, puts it this way.. “Having the ability to use persistent desktops with a small storage footprint, one image of Windows to update, easy application layering, and quick desktop repair enables our IT team to work more efficiently, and in turn makes our users more effective.

If you want to learn more about VDI in law firms, or how to succeed with VDI when your users have diverse app requirements, then register for our upcoming webinar featuring Matt Kramer of Bernstein Shur. Matt will also discuss IOPS, security, best practices, and other VDI success factors, and take live Q&A.

Topics: Citrix XenDesktop, Customers, VMware Horizon View, Legal

Posted by Tom Rose on Jul 25, 2013

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