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Community Gateway Association installs 220 multi-media IGEL Universal Desktop 3 thin client terminals at its new head office

Reading UK. Jan 18, 2017 – IGEL, a world leader in the delivery of powerful workspace management software, IGEL™ Linux-powered thin clients, zero clients and all-in-one thin client solutions, today announced that one of the UK’s only tenant-led housing associations, Community Gateway Association (CGA) in Preston, has upgraded its entire desktop infrastructure installing 220 multi media-ready IGEL Universal Desktop 3 terminals for staff at its new head office.

The desktop refresh project is part of wider IT investment programme which has been completed to support CGA’s purchasing and refurbishing of a brand new headquarters – Harbour House – in the Preston docks area.

Founded in 2005, CGA is a not-for-profit housing association managing over 6,000 properties in the North West of England. It took over Preston City Council’s housing stock adopting an innovative model of community engagement in the subsequent running of the association. This means almost half of CGA’s board is made up of tenants along with council staff and independent members.

Mark Pearson, CGA’s IT systems & development specialist, explains, “Our organisation had shifted to using thin client technology some years ago – equipment which was becoming end of life as the original supplier had gone into liquidation which meant no more firmware updates. With the office move, it was time to review alternatives and upgrade our desktop estate.”

CGA assessed products from mainstream thin client vendors and selected IGEL Universal Desk 3 terminals because of their reliability, positive customer references and management simplicity. IGEL’s UMS[1] is included for free and is easy to use compared to competitors who have cumbersome and costly alternatives. This was key criteria as CGA has a small internal IT team of three to support the whole organisation.

In addition, IGEL devices also offer operating system flexibility. Pearson says, “We wanted our desktop terminal hardware to be agnostic irrespective of the backend server software used. IGEL offers this kind of ‘future proofing’ which is a big positive. It means we can run either Microsoft – as we do today – or simply change to Citrix at a later stage if we so wish.”

A new building needs new IT
The new office move has driven a whole raft of IT projects in addition to the IGEL rollout, including selecting new partners and solutions for:

  • the new building infrastructure and migration of services to it;
  • a new MPLS WAN solution;
  • a new printing solution;
  • a hosted cloud-based telephony solution;
  • on-going technical support and consultancy services;
  • full desktop refresh including the IGEL units, dual monitors and telephone handsets;

Pearson says, “It has been a massive undertaking with so many projects going on in parallel which were dependent on each other. But ultimately it has all worked well.”

CGA has standardised on Microsoft and is using Office 2010 for Outlook, Excel and Word. The IGEL UD3 devices display what is run on its Windows Servers via a RDP session and are totally optimized for this. They also offer plug and play capability so staff can import data from USB drives and so on.

Virtualization and thin clients maximize IT investment and make management easier
CGA shifted to a virtualized environment in 2009 deploying VMware. Today, it has about 43 virtualized servers running on seven physical machines. Around 95% of its desktops are thin clients.

When the organisation was established in 2005, brand new PCs and laptops – in other words ‘fat clients’ were originally purchased. Pearson says, “They were difficult to manage when you have close to 300 staff and a software update needs to be installed in various departments. In our business plan, we refresh equipment every 3 to 5 years so they’ve been changed for thin clients progressively since warranties have ended or machines have come to the end of their useful life.”

Simon Richards, Managing Director for IGEL South & Western Europe, says, “IGEL thin clients are designed to be flexible as possible as we want to make it really easy for our customers to maximize their use of our technology today yet expand and augment it in the future. Our architecture and engineering ethos supports this.”

[1]Universal Management Suite

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