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Desktop Virtualization Eases Disaster Recovery Challenges

The state government of Indiana launched an effort in 2005 under incoming Gov. Mitch Daniels to centralize the state's IT infrastructure, an initiative that has reduced the state's spending on IT and increased manageability, security, and the ability to respond to disaster.

One of the challenges of running the state's IT infrastructure, with more than a dozen separate departments and more than 100 agencies, is that each unit is essentially a different line of business. "These agencies run on very specialized applications that often don't have a market beyond state government, or even a specific sub-bureau within an agency," says Gerry Weaver, chief information officer for the Indiana Office of Technology.

The sprawl of such a diverse set of applications across more than 25,000 desktops and 1,200 servers was growing more difficult to manage, support cost effectively, and secure. For instance, Weaver says aged and often specialized applications would create compatibility issues with newer desktop applications. And the state's office of technology didn't have an easy and effective way to send out security patches and other software updates, resulting in a lot of downtime and virus infections.

In an effort to reduce application support costs and improve uptime and security, the state turned to Microsoft's SoftGrid Application Virtualization to deploy virtual instances of the specialized applications. The aim was to encapsulate troublesome applications in secure "sandboxed" virtualized instances to eliminate compatibility issues and to make it easier to troubleshoot configuration and application issues that did arise.

The state also installed Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 for application distribution, asset management, and remote system support. To manage the systems distributed throughout the state, half of the desktops are managed by one of two primary management centers, in addition to 15 additional satellite support sites.

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