Aberdeen Standard Investments is standardising thousands of its Windows virtual desktops around the world via IGEL’s next-gen edge OS for cloud workspaces to simplify deployment, security and maintenance whilst improving desktop performance.
Standard Life Aberdeen plc is one of the world’s largest investment companies, created in 2017 from the merger of Standard Life plc and Aberdeen Asset Management PLC. Operating under the brand Aberdeen Standard Investments, the investment arm manages £505.1bn, (€562.7bn, $643.3bn) of assets, making it the largest active manager in the UK and one of the largest in Europe.
Virtualisation began four years ago
Aberdeen Asset Management began the move to a virtual desktop environment four years ago to simplify deployment and management of its end user computing environment by creating a single gold standard image for its virtual desktops. After the initial project, the next step was to change the Windows endpoint devices, which were still having to be patched and maintained extensively.
Exploring the options, the infrastructure team realised that by using IGEL’s Universal Desktop Converter (UDC) solution they could convert their existing Windows PC’s to IGEL OS endpoints, standardising all the devices and bringing them under granular, centralised control whilst further sweating existing hardware for another 2-3 years.
IGEL OS is purpose-built for enterprise access to virtual environments of all types. Built on a highly secure Linux distribution with an extremely small attack surface to fortify the enterprise against malware, it can run on any compatible 64-bit device to extend the life of hardware investments.
IGEL put the global infrastructure team in touch with its partner Intelligere, who has a 20-year history of delivering successful end user computing solutions. Following a successful pilot, it saw a range of benefits, including savings on security, a reduced requirement for patching and maintenance, and significantly improved start-up and log-in times for users.
Simplified merger technology infrastructure
The IGEL deployment also made bringing together the technology infrastructures of Aberdeen Asset Management and Standard Life much easier after the merger. “When we merged with Standard Life, they were also looking at IGEL solutions and already had some virtual desktops,” said Nicholas Chase, Global Infrastructure Project Manager at Aberdeen Standard Investments. “Following the merger, we were able to have two icons on the device at start-up; one pointing to Aberdeen Standard Investments and one to Standard Life’s technology infrastructure. This has been a huge benefit for our migration teams. They can deploy one IGEL managed device and not worry about which users will be using it and which technology infrastructure they need to connect through to.”
Deployment expanding globally
This year the business is looking to continue the IGEL endpoint deployment in the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, with the project completing in 2020. Following some innovative work from Aberdeen Standard Investments’ technology team, the company has automated the deployment process and can roll-out and configure a new IGEL device in just 15 minutes.
The business is also trialing IGEL UD3 and IGEL UD7 hardware to replace the existing converted PCs when they reach end of life. The IGEL UD7 will be used by specialist business users that require more than two screens.
Nicholas commented on the positive relationship with IGEL and Intelligere. “Our relationship with both partners is fantastic. Intelligere is great to work with. They have excelled in understanding our challenges and working with us.”
Intelligere now has an ongoing technical solutions agreement with Aberdeen Standard Investments for upgrade support.
“The IGEL account management team is also second to none,” added Nicholas. “When issues have arisen, nothing is too small to resolve quickly. There was one recent licensing issue that was quickly escalated to the senior IGEL management. It became apparent at the end of the day on Friday and by Monday morning the problem was resolved. Their recovery was second to none.”
Positive impact recognised
And the positive impact of the IGEL desktop deployment is being recognised at the highest levels of the organisation. Tom McCormick, Head of Infrastructure Technology at Standard Life Aberdeen, recently reported to his team: “I have had a number of the Leadership Team pull me aside to just say how great their new IGEL solution is. Faster and easier to use than their previous desktop. It was also mentioned how great it was to see something that they had approved at the Change Board being delivered in front of their eyes and to their benefit in a matter of weeks. As one person said that’s real delivery.”