BMW fires up application virtualisation strategy

Car manufacturer BMW has 24 production sites in 13 countries, and a high share of important business applications; 1,000 applications to be more precise. Managing and deploying these applications for employees in 250 global locations had become an expensive, time-consuming process.

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Going virtual at BMW

In March 2009 App-V pilot testing began, which entailed sequencing applications, testing deployment of the App-V client, and training staff on how to use it.

BMW used System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R2 to roll out the App-V client to 80,000 PCs. The rollout was finished in September 2009 and then sequencing of applications for production use began. The App-V implementation went live in November 2009 with 20 applications, including Microsoft Office Visio 2007 and Microsoft Office Project 2007 Standard. The initial deployment provided virtual applications to 500 employees.

Currently, 60 of BMW's applications have been virtualized, most of which are internal business apps. All new computers have the App-V client installed, including machines that are being upgraded to Windows 7. All applications — both virtual and physical — are available to BMW employees through an internal Web portal.

Virtualization will now be the main packaging and delivery method for all applications requested by BMW employees. The car maker also plans to virtualize Office 2010 and run it alongside locally installed versions of Office 2007 to evaluate Office 2010 features before it is deployed in production.

BMW is upgrading to Windows 7 from Windows XP and has rolled out to about 300 computers and plans to be deployed to 5,000 PCs by the end of 2010.

To simplify Windows 7 upgrades, BMW is using App-V for future application strategy and MED-V (Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization) — also part of MDOP — to run older applications.

Approximately 3,000 of the company's 64-bit Windows XP computers will be moved to the 64-bit version of Windows 7. BMW plans an upgrade to the App-V client in the third quarter of 2010 for its 64-bit support. App-V will then further support Windows 7 upgrades by enabling virtualized 32-bit applications to run on all of the 64-bit client computers.

In addition to using App-V in its Windows 7 adoption, BMW is also using MED-V, which allows applications that are not compatible with Windows 7 to run in a virtual Windows XP environment on top of a Windows 7 desktop. BMW will deploy MED-V on up to 3,000 computers by the end of 2011, using System Center Configuration Manager.

In the end, Microsoft's App-V has helped BMW reduce application deployment time by 50 per cent and compatibility testing by 90 per cent — from six days to less than a day. By December 2010, more than 400 BMW applications will be virtualized, saving $200,000 that the car maker spent each year on manual installations.

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