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City University in London has overhauled its IT infrastructure, installing a new VMware system for the improved virtualised deployment of applications to students and staff that is also cutting costs.

City tapped IT services firm Phoenix to help it migrate from a Microsoft to VMware system to deliver applications across its campus and other locations.

Phoenix was tasked with packaging 200-plus applications using VMware ThinApp technology, while also delivering reduced support costs, greater flexibility and easier application management, including the future migration to Windows 7.

"We have open access labs with around 1,600 PCs for students to drop-in any time that suits them," said Eric McIntosh, technical architect at City University. "Previously, we used Microsoft App-V for applications deployment but weren’t happy with the performance, and we were having a really hard time with some applications."

Phoenix was asked to deliver the application virtualisation part of an IT overhaul after in-house staff moves depleted City's IT team, with Phoenix promising it could complete the work in a month.

McIntosh said outsourcing the job made him realise how little City knew about its applications environment. "For instance, knowledge about installing and maintaining certain applications could be in one individual’s head and not documented."

"Phoenix brought all this into the open and quickly ensured we were on the right track, making rapid improvements in terms of governance and control," said McIntosh.