Hillcrest standardises on thin clients for groupwide desktop solution

12 July 2017

IGEL's thin clients will be used by 800 staff across Hillcrest Group's 50 sites in Scotland. 

IGEL's thin clients will be used by 800 staff across the Hillcrest Group's 50 sites in Scotland. 

The Hillcrest Group of Companies is updating its desktop infrastructure with IGEL’s thin client system. 

The deployment aims to provide an easy to manage, affordable, reliable and multimedia-ready solution for 800 staff working across the group’s 50 sites in Scotland. 

The project will see the replacement of existing Axel thin client devices as they reach end-of-life with IGEL’s IZ series zero clients. It is already more than 70 per cent complete with over 200 Intel Atom-powered IGEL terminals now installed.

The new IGELs connect to a centralised Citrix server and desktop environment which underpins the whole organisation. Hillcrest has created a ‘Citrix farm’, hosted at its own data centre, which is based on a XenServer virtual server platform along with XenApp for VDI. 

The IZ series clients support dual screens without a specialist adaptor having to be purchased as well as multimedia applications over a distributed MPLS network which connects Hillcrest’s 50 sites. This is said to be key as the company runs many online training sessions for its disperse workforce via E-den, an in-house developed intranet that features multimedia content.

Ewan Sutherland, Hillcrest Group’s IT operations engineer, says: “It saves staff having to come from all over Scotland to Dundee HQ for training purposes, some of which is compulsory. They can now complete [the training] online and courses are automatically ticked off once completed.”

IGEL’s clients enable stuff to plug in external storage devices like USB flash drives and mobile phones so that files and folders can be copied easily. 

In addition, Sutherland praises the company's Universal Management Suite (UMS) as a tool that makes things easier. 

“The beauty is you can make configuration changes which can be rolled out to all devices in minutes not hours. For example, a firmware update can be carried out remotely or a scheduled task can be set up to automatically update the firmware on devices out of office hours.

“In addition, we can resolve 80-90 per cent of day-to-day questions and issues remotely with the shadowing function. That’s a huge time benefit for the IT team and everyone in the business.”

The Hillcrest Group includes companies involved in social housing, care, skills, training and employment. 

Established in 1967, Hillcrest Housing Association is said to be one of Scotland’s largest providers of social housing with more than 6,000 properties in Dundee, Edinburgh, Angus, Perthshire and Fife.

It is the parent company of four trading subsidiaries which make up the group: Gowrie Care, Hillcrest Enterprises, Hillcrest Maintenance Services and Northern Housing Company.