Brunel’s Bold Virtual Leap: Enabling a Modern Workplace with SaaSplaza
Labor market and employee recruitment expert, Brunel International, has been working with SaaSplaza since 2011. So when it came to helping them fulfill their mission of creating one global workplace for their employees, SaaSplaza were top of mind.
"SaaSplaza has been with us for many years and we trust them as a strategic cloud partner. The way of working throughout past projects has been second to none, and as we do not have in-house Azure expertise, SaaSplaza is the only choice to help us migrate over to Windows Virtual Desktop".
“The value and experience SaaSplaza brings to the table amazes me. SaaSplaza knows us and our processes, and we know them, so it's a very fluid relationship."
- Stefan De Boer, Global Head of IT, Brunel
But, despite the long-standing relationship, the task at hand was no mean feat considering Brunel has 108 offices and 13,000 staff members (11,000 independent contractors and 2,000 internal employees). While remote working was already a reality, data security, accessibility, and business continuity were concerns too.
Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) is a fully cloud-based desktop and app virtualization service provided by Microsoft and deployed on the Azure backbone. With built-in security and compliance features, WVD delivers a secure virtual desktop infrastructure to an organization's end-users.
From simplified update and release management, to support for remote desktop services, WVD offers employees the opportunity to work from whatever device they're most comfortable using, securely whenever, and wherever they are in the world.
After seeing Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) in action in late 2019, Brunel was keen to roll this solution out across its business – with help from SaaSplaza. But little did anyone know, COVID-19 was on the horizon.
Just how far would they get?
The Business Challenges
A helpful precedent had already been set 12 months previously. Due to its complex network, vast infrastructure environment, and sheer size, in January 2019 Brunel migrated its applications and IT infrastructure to four Microsoft Azure datacenters across the globe.
This move paved the way for WVD. While Brunel were determined to implement WVD quickly, there was no way around Brunel’s complexity, scale, and size.
Though the project began in earnest, it was still underway in March 2020 when COVID–19 forced the world into lockdown – prompting many businesses to make a sudden shift to fully remote working.
With its 108 offices around the world shut, it looked as though Brunel’s transition to Windows Virtual Desktop may need to be put on hold.
The Way Forward
Despite COVID’s impact, Brunel was well-prepared. Many of the company’s internal systems and data were in the Microsoft cloud.
Plus, employees were already up and running with Microsoft Teams and SharePoint. This allowed the WVD rollout to continue as planned during 2020.
Brunel developed a program called Condor - Modern Workplace Roadmap 2020, which helped bring WVD, Azure joint devices, Azure Virtual WAN and other internal IT security projects together to create the modern workplace of the future.
The program’s key milestones included:
- September 2019: Start Internal IT pilot of WVD
- January 2020: Defining of the WVD project.
- February 2020: Start of Project Condor - Modern Workplace Roadmap 2020
- March 2020: Assessment and Design Modern Workplace and Infrastructure
- April 2020: WVD end-user pilots within the 4 Microsoft Azure Datacenter
- June - December 2020: Go-live of the modern workplace for Middle-East, Netherlands, Belgium, the rest of Europe and Africa, Americas, Germany, Australia, and finally Asia Pacific and India.
With employees able to use their own devices from home, the transition went ahead very smoothly – without any major hitches or compromising business continuity.
This was largely due to the processes Brunel and SaaSplaza put in place. Beginning with a thorough assessment of Brunel's technical, functional, and non- functional requirements; soon after the teams established working pilot environments for Windows Virtual Desktop testing in four Azure regions across the globe.
The pilot environments have been running since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Brunel employees across the various regions have shared positive results and experienced an increased joy in working with Microsoft Windows Virtual Desktop. When embarking on this program, Brunel’s aim was to develop a scalable, cloud-based Modern Workplace that could be part of a global ecosystem.
Early June 2020, the go-live rolled out to all four Azure global regions. It started in the Netherlands, but later WVD Production Environments were released across Australia, the Middle East, Europe, The Americas and Asia. And by the end of Q4 2020 all 2,000 internal global employees of Brunel were working with their Modern Workplace.
With help from SaaSplaza, and the introduction of Windows Virtual Desktop, Brunel is now a step closer to achieving their ambition; to ensure that talented specialists along with industry leading clients gravitate towards Brunel and to enable pairing talent with projects so both parties can reach their full potential in this ever-changing marketplace.
“When choosing a cloud partner, you need to ensure they understand your environment and have solid project management processes in place. We feel SaaSplaza have this, whilst keeping things simple and logical. One step forward at a time towards success."
- Stefan De Boer, Global Head of IT, Brunel
Microsoft also published a reference case on Brunel supporting employees across the world with a virtual desktop solution.
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