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Offering a variety of academic programs in the arts and sciences and professional fields, the University of Pittsburgh has 12,000 faculty and staff members serving more than 34,000 students. The university’s Computing Services and Systems Development (CSSD) department has just five IT staffers who support 1,000 computers and more than 100 applications for student computing labs. It needed to streamline and accelerate application deployment, and be more responsive to faculty needs. Using Microsoft® Application Virtualization, CSSD cut the time needed to deploy each application from 40 or 50 hours to just 5 hours, reduced the time required to deliver software updates and upgrades, and enabled multiple versions of an application to run on a single computer. The IT staff now can respond to faculty requests for new applications without having to wait until the summer to implement them.

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									                                           Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack
                                           Customer Solution Case Study

                                           University Speeds Application Delivery,
                                           Enhances Responsiveness with Virtualization

Overview                                   “Microsoft Application Virtualization … solves so many
Country or Region: United States
Industry: Higher education                 of the deployment problems that we grappled with in
                                           the past and streamlines the entire application
Customer Profile
The University of Pittsburgh is an         management process.”
internationally recognized center of
                                                                       Jinx Walton, Director, CSSD, University of Pittsburgh
learning and research, with more than
34,000 students and 12,000 faculty and     Offering a variety of academic programs in the arts and sciences
staff members.
                                           and professional fields, the University of Pittsburgh has 12,000
Business Situation                         faculty and staff members serving more than 34,000 students.
The university wanted to reduce the
time required to deploy new
                                           The university’s Computing Services and Systems Development
applications, upgrades, and updates to     (CSSD) department has just five IT staffers who support 1,000
its student computing labs, and enable
IT to be much more responsive to
                                           computers and more than 100 applications for student com-
faculty needs.                             puting labs. It needed to streamline and accelerate application
                                           deployment, and be more responsive to faculty needs. Using
With help from Virtera, the University     Microsoft® Application Virtualization, CSSD cut the time needed
of Pittsburgh switched from physical
application installation to virtual
                                           to deploy each application from 40 or 50 hours to just 5 hours,
applications that are never installed      reduced the time required to deliver software updates and
but readily accessible, using Microsoft®
Application Virtualization 4.5.
                                           upgrades, and enabled multiple versions of an application to run
                                           on a single computer. The IT staff now can respond to faculty
 Accelerated application and update
                                           requests for new applications without having to wait until the
  deployments                              summer to implement them.
 Enhanced IT responsiveness
 Ability to run multiple application
  versions on one machine
                                              Situation                                    Systems Development for the University
                                              The University of Pittsburgh was founded     of Pittsburgh. “When faculty members
                                              in 1787 as a small, private school. Today,   requested new applications during the
                                              it has evolved into an internationally       year, we would tell them they would
                                              recognized center of learning and            have to wait another term so that we
                                              research, with more than 34,000 students     could test against all of the existing
                                              and 12,000 faculty and staff members. Its    packages to ensure there wouldn’t be
                                              Computing Services and Systems               conflicts and unforeseen problems that
                                              Development (CSSD) department is             could cause the software to stop
                                              responsible for providing innovative,        responding.”
                                              reliable, and low-cost IT services—
                                              including supporting the university’s        Often, the IT staff would encounter prob-
                                              computing labs on its main campus and        lems late in the summer as the last of the
                                              four regional campuses. However, with        applications were being tested. “It was a
                                              just five CSSD staffers dedicated to         major ordeal because, as new conflicts
“We couldn’t respond to                       supporting the labs’ more than 1,000         arose, we would have to go back to
                                              computers, it was often challenging to       square one in terms of testing all the
last-minute requests or                       efficiently deploy and maintain the more     applications all over again,” Walton adds.
changes because it was                        than 100 applications needed by              “This put a lot of stress on our employ-
                                              students.                                    ees, because they knew the deadline was
just too risky…. That was                                                                  fast approaching.”
                                              CSSD staff tested images thoroughly
understandably                                before delivering them to the labs to        Deploying software updates was also a
frustrating for faculty                       ensure that students would not have          major ordeal, because of the extensive
                                              problems related to application com-         time required. As the labs used more
who couldn’t get what                         patibility conflicts. The process involved   applications and images grew larger,
                                              installing the operating system on a         doing more frequent updates became
they wanted for their                         development computer and then                increasingly important but also increas-
students when they                            installing applications one at a time. As    ingly cumbersome. According to Walton,
                                              each new application was installed, it and   CSSD typically postponed these updates
needed it.”                                   all previously installed applications had    until the department had ample time—
Jinx Walton, Director, Computing Services     to be tested to ensure that there were no    something that was in short supply until
               and Systems Development,       conflicts introduced. This iterative proc-   the summer.
                   University of Pittsburgh   ess of installing and testing applications
                                              continued until all necessary applications   “We had limited flexibility,” Walton says.
                                              were successfully installed, all problems    “We couldn’t respond to last-minute
                                              resolved, and the final image released for   requests or changes because it was just
                                              distribution.                                too risky to add or modify applications
                                                                                           during an academic term. As a result, we
                                              “Because applications took so long to        never added new applications or updates
                                              test and deploy—typically 40 to 50 hours     during the school year. And if faculty
                                              per application—we couldn’t add new          didn’t send in requests for new applica-
                                              software packages to the labs during the     tions by our deadline, which was the end
                                              main school year. Instead, we would          of the spring semester, they would have
                                              spend the summer getting applications        to wait for an entire additional term to
                                              ready for the labs,” says Jinx Walton,       get their software. That was understand-
                                              Director of Computing Services and           ably frustrating for faculty who couldn’t
                                              get what they wanted for their students       has been deployed to 70 computers and
                                              when they needed it, and we felt we           will be rolled out to all 1,000 computers in
                                              were doing them a disservice.”                seven campus labs during the next six to
                                                                                            eight months. To date, the Computing
                                              CSSD tried a number of ways to stream-        Services and Systems Development staff
                                              line the deployment process, focusing         has virtualized approximately half of its
                                              primarily on the delivery of the image        100 applications, including Autodesk
                                              once it was prepared. However, none of        AutoCAD, Microsoft Office Word,
                                              those methods sped up the overall             Microsoft Office Excel® spreadsheet
                                              process significantly. In 2007, several       software, and the Microsoft Office
                                              CSSD system architects who had been           PowerPoint® presentation graphics
                                              working with Microsoft learned about          program.
                                              Microsoft® Application Virtualization and
                                              realized that it could eliminate the need     “Automatic application caching and
                                              for much of the lengthy imaging process.      enhanced sequencing are two partic-
“Because each                                                                               ularly useful new features in Microsoft
                                              “In theory, it looked like Microsoft          Application Virtualization version 4.5,”
application is isolated,                      Application Virtualization could solve        Walton notes. In version 4.1, a user
we no longer worry                            our problems, cutting down on the time        would start an application and then have
                                              required to deploy applications and giv-      to wait for it to be downloaded from the
about conflicts or spend                      ing us the flexibility that we needed to      Application Virtualization server. With
                                              be more responsive,” Walton says.             autocaching, applications can be stream-
time regression testing.                                                                    ing in the background while the user is
We’re much more                               Solution                                      connected to the network without dis-
                                              In 2008, the University of Pittsburgh         rupting his or her productivity.
efficient and can deploy                      began evaluating Microsoft Application
                                              Virtualization in a test environment with     By using enhanced sequencing—
software in a fraction of                     a limited number of applications. The         optimization done to simplify and speed
the time that it used to                      university uses the product to transform      up the virtualization of applications—
                                              applications into virtualized, network-       CSSD staffers can deliver applications to
take.”                                        available services, resulting in dynamic      the student computing labs more quickly
Jinx Walton, Director, Computing Services     delivery of software that is not installed,   and effectively than before. “This is par-
               and Systems Development,       minimizes application conflicts, and          ticularly important considering the num-
                   University of Pittsburgh   reduces costly application compatibility      ber of applications supported in the
                                              testing. “We had great results and were       computing labs,” notes Walton.
                                              confident that Microsoft could provide
                                              the support that we needed to make the        The university is also evaluating
                                              full-scale implementation a success,”         Microsoft Application Virtualization
                                              Walton says.                                  for Terminal Services to streamline the
                                                                                            process of delivering applications to off-
                                              With the help of Virtera, a Microsoft Gold    campus faculty.
                                              Certified Partner, the university began
                                              deploying Microsoft Application               Benefits
                                              Virtualization 4.1, part of the Microsoft     Using application virtualization, the
                                              Desktop Optimization Pack for Software        University of Pittsburgh has significantly
                                              Assurance. It upgraded to version 4.5 in      reduced the time and effort needed to
                                              April 2009. As of June 2009, the software     deploy applications to student comput-
                                              ing lab machines, and enabled the              upgrades as they’re needed, rather than
                                              Computing Services and Systems                 having to wait until the summer. “We
                                              Development staff to be much more              can finally be flexible enough to deploy
                                              flexible and responsive to faculty needs.      applications when professors request
                                              “Microsoft Application Virtualization          them, and updates when they become
                                              accomplishes everything that it promises.      available, without having to postpone
                                              It solves so many of the deployment            them until we have a big window of
                                              problems that we grappled with in the          time,” Walton notes.
                                              past and streamlines the entire applica-
                                              tion management process,” Walton says.         Not only is this critical to providing
                                                                                             responsive service, but it also “makes
                                              Accelerated Application and Update             life much easier and less stressful for
                                              Deployments                                    the IT staff, who won’t have to struggle
                                              Using the application virtualization           against end-of-summer application
                                              solution, it now takes CSSD an average         delivery deadlines,” says Walton. Addi-
“We can finally be                            of five hours to sequence an application       tionally, it allows staffers to spend more
                                              for delivery, including the time to test the   time consulting with students in the
flexible enough to                            sequenced application in the computing         computing labs instead of preparing
deploy applications                           labs. This is a 90 percent time savings        applications for delivery, so that they can
                                              over previous methods, which required          continue to provide the highest level of
when professors request                       40 to 50 hours, or more if conflicts with      direct student support.
                                              other applications arose.
them, and updates when                                                                       Ability to Run Multiple Application
they become available,                        “This time savings becomes even more           Versions on One Machine
                                              significant when you take into account         With Microsoft Application Virtualization,
without having to                             the effort that was previously required to     the university can simultaneously run
                                              install and distribute updates, address        multiple versions of the same application
postpone them until we                        last-minute changes to an image, and           on the same computer. “This is critical
have a big window of                          other post-delivery tasks,” Walton says.       because we support the needs of a
                                              Now, the CSSD staff can apply updates          diverse user population—from
time.”                                        and upgrades to individual applications        undergrad to grad students and even
Jinx Walton, Director, Computing Services     instead of to whole images.                    faculty—and a variety of courses that
               and Systems Development,                                                      require different versions of the same
                   University of Pittsburgh   “Because each application is isolated, we      software,” explains Walton. “In the past,
                                              no longer worry about conflicts or spend       we had to standardize on the most pop-
                                              time regression testing. We’re much more       ular and frequently used versions. The
                                              efficient and can deploy software in a         other versions that faculty requested just
                                              fraction of the time that it used to take,”    couldn’t be made available.”
                                              says Walton. “We also have a much greater
                                              sense of security, knowing that we’re not      Walton sums up, “The computing labs
                                              going to break applications when we add a      are an extremely important aspect of
                                              new package and won’t run into unfore-         the university’s education system
                                              seen conflicts down the road.”                 because they’re convenient and enable
                                                                                             students to easily access a wide variety of
                                              Enhanced IT Responsiveness                     applications. The more efficiently and
                                              The university now can respond to              effectively we can offer this critical
                                              requests for new applications and              service to students, the better it is for
For More Information                                  everyone. Microsoft Application Virtual-          Microsoft Desktop Optimization
For more information about Microsoft                  ization enables us to accomplish this.”           Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack
products and services, call the                                                                         (MDOP) for Software Assurance makes
Microsoft Sales Information Center at                                                                   it easy for an organization to administer
(800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the                                                                     its applications, offering tools for
Microsoft Canada Information Centre                                                                     virtualizing and inventorying software
at (877) 568-2495. Customers who are                                                                    installations, for managing Group Policy
deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach                                                                       settings, and for system repair and data
Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD)                                                                      recovery.
services at (800) 892-5234 in the
United States or (905) 568-9641 in                                                                      For more information about MDOP, go
Canada. Outside the 50 United States                                                                    to:
and Canada, please contact your local                                                         
Microsoft subsidiary. To access
information using the World Wide
Web, go to:

For more information about Virtera
products and services, call (800) 848-
7185 or visit the Web site at:

For more information about University
of Pittsburgh services, call (412) 624-
4141 or visit the Web site at:

                                                       Software and Services                        Hardware
                                                          Technologies                                Dell desktop computers
                                                           − Microsoft Application Virtualization      Gateway desktop computers
                                                                                                       Virtera

This case study is for informational purposes only.

Document published July 2009

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