Germany's Largest Travel Agency Starts a Virtual Journey to
Get Branch Office IT Under Control
Transcript of a sponsored podcast discussion from VMworld 2011 in Copenhagen on how DER
Deutsches Reisebüro virtualized 2,300 desktops to centralize administration.
. Find it on
Hello, and welcome to a special
podcast series coming to you
VMworld 2011 Conference
in Copenhagen. We're here in the week of October 17 to
explore the latest in
, Principal Analyst at
, and I’ll be your
host throughout this series of
discussions. [Disclosure: VMware is a sponsor of
Our next case study focuses on how Germany’s largest travel agency has
remade their PC landscape across 580 branch ofﬁces using
. We’ll learn how
DER Deutsches Reisebüro
redeﬁned the desktops delivery vision and successfully
desktops as a service.
Here to tell us what this major VDI deployment did in terms of business, technical, and ﬁnancial
payoffs is Sascha Karbginski. He is a Systems Engineer at DER Deutsches Reisebüro, based in
Frankfurt. Welcome to the show, Sascha.
Why were virtual desktops such an important direction for you? Why did it make
sense for your organization?
In our organization, we’re talking about 580 travel agencies all over the country, all
over Germany, with 2,300 physical desktops, which were not in our control. We had life cycles
out there of about 4 or 5 years. We had old PCs with no
The biggest reason is that recovery times at our workplace were 24 hours
between hardware change and bringing back all the software conﬁguration,
etc. Desktop virtualization was a chance to get the desktops into our
, to get the security, and to get the controls.
So this seemed to be a solution that’s solved many problems for
you at once.
Yes. That’s right.
All right. Tell me a little bit about DER, the organization. I believe you’re a part of the
and you’re the number one travel business in Germany. Tell us a little bit about
your organization before we go further into why desktop virtualization is good for you.
DER in Germany is the number one in travel agencies. As I said, we're talking
about 580 branches. We’re operating as a leisure travel agency with our branches,
and DER, and also, in the business travel sector with
FCm Travel Solutions
This is a very IT-intensive business now. Everything in travel is done though
networked applications and cloud and
services. So a very intensive
IT activity in each of these branches.
That’s right. Without the reservation systems, we can’t
do any ﬂight bookings or reservations or check hotel availability. So
without IT, we can do nothing.
And tell me about the problem you needed to solve in a bit more detail. You had four
generations of PCs. You couldn’t control them. It took a lot of time to recover if there was a
failure, and there was a lot of different software that you had to support.
Yes. We had no domain integration no control and we had those crashes, for
example. All the data would be gone. We had no backups out there. And we changed the
desktops about every four or ﬁve years. For example, when the reservation system needed more
memory, we had to buy the memory, service providers were going out there, and everything was
done during business hours.
Okay. So this would have been a big toll on your
and for your support. With
all of these people in these travel bureau locations calling you, it sounds like it was a very big
To what degree have you fully virtualized all of these desktops? Do you have a 100-
percent deployment or you face deployment across these different organizations and these
We have nearly about 100 percent virtualization now. We have only two or three
ofﬁces, which are coming up next. We have some problem with the service provider for the
connection. So it's about 99 percent virtualization.
That's pretty impressive. What were some of the issues that you encountered in order
to enable this? Were there network infrastructure or bandwidth issues? What were some of the
things that you had to do in order to enable this to work properly?
There were some challenges during the rollout. The bandwidth was a big thing. Our
service provider had to work very hard for us, because we needed more bandwidth out there. The
path we had our ofﬁces was 1 or 2-Mbit links to the headquarters data center. With desktop
virtualization, we need a little bit more, depending on the number of the workplaces and we
needed better quality of the lines.
So bandwidth was one thing. We also had the network infrastructure. We found some 10-Mbit
switches. So we had to change it. And we also had some hardware problems. We had
a special multi-card board for payment to read out passports or to read out credit card
information. They were very old and connected with
A lot of problems
o there were a lot of problems, and we ﬁxed them all. We changed the switches. Our service
provider for Internet VPN connection brought us more quality. And we changed the keyboards.
We don’t need this old stuff anymore.
And so, a bit of a hurdle overcome, but what have been some of the payoffs? How has
this worked out in terms of productivity, energy savings, lowering costs, and even business
Saving was our big thing in planning this project. The desktops have been running
out there now about one year, and we know that we have up to 80 percent energy saving, just
from changing the hardware out there. We’re running the
Wyse P20 Zero Client
physical PC hardware.
How about on the server side; is there energy beneﬁts there?
We needed more energy for the server side in the data center, but if you look at it,
we have 60 up to 70 percent energy savings overall. I think it’s really great.
That’s very good. So what else comes in terms of productivity? Is there a storage or a
security beneﬁt by having that central control?
As far as security, we've blocked the
sticks now out there. So the data is under
our control in the data center, and important company information is not left in an ofﬁce out
there. Security is a big thing.
And how about revisiting your helpdesk and support? Because you have a more
standardized desktop infrastructure now, you can do your upgrades much more easily and
centrally and you can support people based on an access right directly to the server
infrastructure. What’s been the story in terms of productivity and support in helpdesk?
In the past, the updates came during the business hours. Now, we can do all
software updates at nights or at the weekends or if the ofﬁce is closed. So helpdesk cost is
reduced about 50 percent.
Wow. That adds up.
Yeah, that’s really great.
How big a team did it take to implement the virtualized desktop infrastructure activity
for you? Was this a big expenditure in terms of people and time to get this going?
We built up the whole infrastructure -- I think it was in 9 or 10 months without the
planning -- with a team of three persons, three administrators.
And now we're managing, planning, deploying, and updating it. I really think it's
not a good idea to do with just three people, but it works.
And you’ve been the ﬁrst travel organization in Germany to do this, but I understand
that others are following into your footsteps.
I've heard from some other companies that are interested in a solution like this. We
were the ﬁrst one in Germany, and many people told us that it wouldn't work, but we showed it
And you're a ﬁnalist for the
VMware Best Award because of the way in
which you’ve done this, how fast you’ve done it, and to the complete degree that you’ve done it.
So I hope that you do well and win that.
I received an email that we are one of the ﬁnalists, and it would be a great thing.
Tell me now that we understand the scope and breadth of what you’ve done, a little
about some of the hurdles that you’ve had to overcome. The fact that you're doing this with three
people is very impressive. What does the implementation consist of? What is it you’ve got in
place in terms of product that has become your de-facto industry stack for VDI?
I can also talk about some problems we had with this, because with the network
component, for example, we have another team for it.
I was actually wondering what products are in place? What actual technology have
you chosen that then enabled you to move in this direction so well? Software, hardware, the
whole stack, what is the data center stack or set of components that enables your VDI?
servers with two sockets, quad-core, 144-gigabyte RAM. We're
. Network infrastructure is
, based on 10
Nexus data center switches
. At the beginning the project, we had
and we upgraded
it last month to 4.6
The people side
What were some of the challenges in terms of working this through the people side of
the process? We've talked about process, we've talked technology, but was there a learning curve
or an education process for getting other people in your IT department as well as the users to
adjust to this?
There were some unknown challenges or some new challenges we had during the
rollout. For example, the network team. The most important thing was understanding of
virtualization. It's an enterprise environment now, and if someone, for example, restarts the
in the data center, the desktops in our ofﬁces were disconnected.
It's really important to inform the other departments and also your own help desk.
So there are a lot of different implications across the more traditional or physical
environment. How about users? Have they been more satisﬁed? Is there something about a
virtual desktop, perhaps the speed at which it boots up, or the ability to get new updates and
security issues resolved? How have the end users themselves reacted?
The ﬁrst thing that the end users told us was that the selling platform from
Amadeus, the reservation system, runs much faster now. This was the ﬁrst thing most of the end
users told us, and that’s a good thing.
The next is that the desktop follows the user. If the user works in one ofﬁce now and next week
in another ofﬁce, he gets the same desktop. If the user is at the headquarters, he can use the same
desktop, same outlook, and same conﬁguration. So desktop follows the user now. This works
Looking to the future, are you going to be doing this following-the-user capability to
more devices, perhaps
or at home PCs? Is there the ability to take advantage of
other endpoints, perhaps those even owned by the end users themselves and still deliver securely
the applications and data that you need?
We plan to implement the security gateway with PCoIP support for home ofﬁce
users or mobile users who can access their same company desktop with all their data on it from
nearly every computer in the world to bring the user more ﬂexibility.
So I should think that would be yet another payoff on the investments that you’ve
made is that you will now be able to take the full experience out to more people and more places,
but for relatively very little money to do that.
The number of desktops is still the same, because the user gets the same desktop.
We don’t need for one user two or three desktops.
Right, but they're able to get the information on more devices, more screens as they
say, but without you having to buy and manage each of those screens. How about advice for
others? If you were advising someone on what to learn from your experience as they now move
towards desktop virtualization, any thoughts about what you would recommend for them?
Inform other departments
The most important thing is to get in touch with the other departments and inform
them about the thing you're doing. Also, inform the user help desk directly at the beginning of
the project. So take time to inform them what desktop virtualization means and which processes
will change, because we know most of our colleagues had a wrong understanding of
How was it wrong? What was their misunderstanding do you think?
They think that with virtualization, everything will change and we'll need other
support servers, and it's just a new thing and nobody needs it. If you inform them what you're
doing that nothing will be changed for them, because all support processes are the same as
before, they will accept it and understand the beneﬁts for the company and for the user.
We’ve been talking about how DER Deutsches Reisebüro has been remaking their PC
landscape across 500 in 80 branch ofﬁcers. They're part of Germany’s largest travel agency and
they’ve been deploying desktop virtualization successfully, but very broadly up to 100 percent
across their environment. So it's very impressive. I’d like to thank our guest. We've been here
with Sascha Karbginski and he is the Systems Engineer there at DER Deutsches Reisebüro.
Thank you so much, Sascha.
Thank you, Dana.
And thanks to our audience for joining this special podcast coming to you from the
VMworld 2011 Conference in Copenhagen. I'm Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor
Solutions, your host throughout this series of VMware-sponsored BrieﬁngsDirect discussion.
Thanks again for listening, and come back next time.
. Find it on
Transcript of a sponsored podcast discussion from VMworld 2011 in Copenhagen on how DER
Deutsches Reisebüro virtualized 2,300 desktops to centralize administration. Copyright
Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2011. All rights reserved.
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