Cancer Research is moving its 1,200 staff across to virtual desktops based on Windows 7 this month, as it streamlines its seven-location property portfolio into one Headquarters in Islington London.

Speaking to CIO, Cancer Research IS director Paul Feldman explained that he used the opportunity of the staff move to migrate from XP to Windows 7.

He said the move was driven by an increased demand by users for more flexibility in access to the organisation's data centre, both in terms of location and access device. The implementation will allow users to log on to the corporate network through their own devices, or through hot desks at the HQ.

Cancer research invests around £330m a year in research into beating the disease and Feldman maintains the organisation has been involved in some way in the development of two thirds of the top 30 cancer drugs over the last decade.

The organisation holds a great deal of intellectual property, together with records of its 10 million donating supporters. Consequently the organisation is vulnerable to data breaches if staff choose to access corporate data through non-corporate devices. Rather than limit access to HQ desktops, Feldman chose to migrate to Windows 7, which provides encryption needed to secure the corporate data and allows him to run thin-client desktops.

"The data never leaves my datacentre," he said. "I'm able to better protect the organisation while giving users a better experience at work."

Feldman expects to move all staff over to the new network by 6 December.

Windows 7 has passed the twelve-month mark and although critics note take-up may not be as strong as expected, Microsoft insists it has already sold 240 million licences world-wide and adopters can expect to save an average £85 per desktop, per year.

Some high profile customers have already migrated to Windows 7, including General Motors, Hilton Hotels and 3M.

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