New IT keeps them flying around the world

11 April 2017

With a fleet of 500 helicopters, Bristow Group is headquartered in Houston and has 3,500 staff.

It is organised into four regions, Europe, Africa, Americas and Asia Pacific, and has operations around the world, including servicing North Sea rigs and search and rescue for HM Coastguard.

The company needed a cost-effective way to standardise application delivery to its devices and to ensure that each was fully up-to-date with security and compliance patches. Bristow’s technical lead, client computing, Darren Linsdell, says: “Traditionally when it came to application deployment we used scripts, which was a very manual, time consuming process.

To create and test a new script and then push it out to all our clients could easily take up to four weeks, with only a 75-80 per cent success rate.

“In many of our global locations, network speeds are very slow due to their remote situation, and one site still relies on a satellite connection. There was a need to limit and control the amount of data we send at one time”.

Bristow’s client computing team selected Microsoft’s System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) as the solution. It was implemented by Huntingdon-based EACS.

In the design phase EACS and Bristow’s team gathered details, including client devices, network capability and locations. EACS says the task was complicated by the remote location and communications infrastructure at many Bristow sites.

As a result, it recommended HEAT Software (previously Lumension) to work in conjunction with SCCM to patch non-Microsoft applications.

The main implementation took place over five weeks, while the remaining servers were installed over subsequent weeks due to the location of some of the sites.

In total, Bristow installed 50 servers, which look after 2,500 clients. EACS says they were all configured and prepared in the UK prior to shipping.

Once each server arrived on site, staff just needed to plug in the power and switch on. It was decided to use scheduling and data rate facilities within SCCM to control and limit the amount of data sent at one time to a location.

EACS says Bristow has standardised the client configuration and can deploy new software globally within days. And it is also using SCCM to improve security with updated security patches. In addition, if a user requests a new application, the IT team can deliver it in hours.