Bitter Struggle For A Sweet Taste

By Radhika Nallayam Nov 16th 2010

Some extra effort around setting up a faultless PoC paid off well for Delhi-based PC Solutions

Summary:

Delhi-based PC Solutions implemented one of the most talked-about technologies of today — desktop virtualization. They did this through a faultless proof of concept (PoC) that not only demonstrated that the technology works in real life, but also showed the advantages of the solution that the SI proposed. For PC Solutions, it was an opportunity to learn and build its capabilities around one of the most promising technologies in the industry.

Seeing is believing can many times be an arguable perception. But, it was an important determinant for Delhi-based PC Solutions in winning a Rs 15 Lakh deal in one of the most talked-about technologies of today — desktop virtualization. The SI took hold of the deal from Perfetti Van Melle (PVM), the Indian arm of Italian confectionary company, with the help of a faultless proof of concept (PoC) that not only demonstrated that the technology works in real life, but also showed the advantages of the solution that the SI proposed.

Cutting Complexities

Perfetti Van Melle had consolidated its applications like SAP, email and SharePoint using Citrix’s application virtualization product, XenApp, in 2007 itself. PVM had different types of users, including people who do not sit in the company’s premises. There were users who were working in shifts and C&F agents (carrier and forwarding agent), who have access to SAP and other few applications. As employees began to access their application environment at the central location, the system needed more bandwidth and speed to ensure instantaneous connectivity and high performance that users had come to expect from local installation of applications. The company also wanted to have a centralized system through which all the data and users can be secured and monitored.

Besides, there were users who did not require access to multimedia tools and only required to access simple applications. So, they basically did not require a full-fledged desktop with higher memory and processing power and only needed low computing requirements. “We basically wanted to optimize the usage of our IT infrastructure. We wanted to give access to applications based on the requirement of various users. In addition, some of our machines were very old and we did not want to go for an upgrade immediately,” says Basant Kumar Chaturvedi, Head- IT, Perfetti Van Melle India.

Interestingly, PVM was an existing customer for not just Citrix, but for VMware as well. The company uses Vmware technology for server virtualization. As a result, both VMware and Citrix were naturally keen on bagging this deal. While PC Solutions represented Citrix, the customer was approached by the partners of VMware as well as Microsoft. It was thus not very easy for PC Solutions to win the deal though PVM was an existing customer for the SI.

Prove It and Then do It

Desktop virtualization was under consideration right from the day one. Though it was a relatively new concept, Chaturvedi was not reluctant or opposed to the idea. “I had heard about desktop virtualization in one of the forums and wanted to evaluate it,” he says. But that did not mean that anybody could walk up to him and sell desktop virtualization.

He clearly wanted to be sure whether it was the right solution for all of PVM’s technical and business problems. Chaturvedi wanted to see the ‘proof of concept’ for each of the proposed solutions. He, however, was sure that he would not go for the solution proposed by Microsoft’s partner.

“Their solution was somewhat immature as Microsoft’s desktop virtualization product was not implemented by many companies in the country. So, I didn’t want to take a risk,” adds Chaturvedi. The ball was, thus, in the courts of PC Solutions and the VMware partner. It was clear that the customer would not sign the deal before seeing the PoC. “I didn’t want to take a call before seeing the PoC and how the solution would actually work,” explains Chaturvedi.

Setting up a PoC was thus a critical at the same time extremely challenging task for PC Solutions. Firstly, the SI had not done any implementations on the desktop virtualization front till then. Secondly, it could not have gone for a generic PoC as PVM had many non-standard and user-driven applications running on its systems. “The client asked us to do a PoC for VDI and show them that all applications would run seamlessly in a virtualized environment. It was thus a very complex demonstration,” recalls Devendra Taneja, Director, PC Solutions.

He, however, knew that it would not be like any other PoCs that he had done so far. Though Citrix supported it to set up the demo, it was eventually the SIs responsibility to ensure success. “As we were doing the PoC on this technology for the first time, we did not know how and where it would end. We had to spend extra time and resources to make sure that the PoC was flawless. We allocated dedicated resources for almost two weeks to work on the PoC and also made some investments,” adds Taneja.

The trouble, however, was worth taking. PC Solutions’ PoC was far more convincing than that of its competitor. “Both partners showed us a PoC and demonstrated how the solution would work in our environment. However, when we tested the VMware solution, we found that the performance was not as we expected for remote sites. However, Citrix solution was working well on remote connections as well. VMware’s solution had its own advantages, but was not matching our requirement. Though the Citrix solutions also had some loopholes, it could have been sorted out by adding a few tools. Thus we decided to go for the solution proposed by PC Solutions,” explains Chaturvedi.

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