Paddy Power Betfair (PPB) plc is an international sports betting and gaming operator, with a market-leading presence in the UK, Ireland, Australia and the USA. Operating five sports betting and gaming brands (Paddy Power, Betfair, Sportsbet, FanDuel and TVG), PPB is a FTSE 100 enterprise with five million customers and employing some 7000 people in sixteen locations across the globe.
From an IT operational perspective, Paddy Power Betfair (PPB) has traders based in Dublin, Melbourne and California using its core line of business applications. The systems that they are currently using for analytics and trading, are hosted on a centralised ageing, on-prem VDI solution.
What PPB’s requirements were
Essentially, Paddy Power Betfair was struggling with both the performance and reliability of its existing VDI platform, notably with general speed of access and the ability to scale it in and out. Such was its need to have an efficient platform upon which it could depend on moving forward, PPB decided to look at alternative solutions.
HTG’s engagement with PPB arose from one of Microsoft’s exclusive, targeted, early adopter initiatives set up to enable large enterprises onboard quickly and more easily to new technologies; in this instance, Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD). Through Microsoft’s funding, this initiative is free for the duration of the trial period, so effectively, Microsoft is helping HTG to help its customers and prospects on their journey to deploying a WVD environment, at scale. HTG is therefore an active participant in and advocate of, this initiative.
WVD is a comprehensive desktop and application virtualisation service running on the cloud, in this instance Azure. Encompassing built-in security and compliance, it enables enterprises to rapidly deploy and scale Windows desktops and applications at any location, globally. Enterprises using WVD can not only give their employees access to those virtualised applications and remote desktops, but have the benefit of and ability to, provide multi-session, Windows 10 experiences.
Despite having a mature Azure services presence, previous attempts to build a cloud based VDI solution was complex and therefore did not meet the requirements of a dynamic and fast-paced enterprise such as PPB.
What HTG delivered
To demonstrate the capability and power of WVD, HTG used its knowledge of and expertise in Azure and WVD to quickly deploy a Proof of Concept (PoC) environment for PPB. All their core applications were installed within the environment to enable its traders to test and compare against their existing platform. The proof of concept was a resounding success with all traders reporting that WVD was far quicker and easier to use than that its incumbent solution. PPB is now operating successfully in its live production environment.
At a high level, HTG deployed for PPB two different host pools (a WVD term for collection of Virtual Machines); one set for its task workers (those that typically use MS Office apps), and the other set for its traders (essentially who have very unique requirements, namely the ability to span 6x 4K screens in order to run all of their apps at once). Using its experience in Desktop as a Service (DaaS) and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), HTG effectively scaled the WVD instances to ensure PPB would receive best value.
As part of the Proof of Concept, HTG deployed FSLogix profile containers using its industry leading knowledge of the product, hosting profiles on Azure NetApp Files with the option to migrate to Azure Files with AD Integration, in the future.
To ensure the smooth running of this modern workspace solution, HTG provided training on WVD to PPB’s internal support teams and showed how best to manage it going forward. This was combined with the provision of supporting design documentation.
Commenting on HTG’s involvement, Graham Wight, CEO at HTG said: “We are delighted to be associated with a FTSE 100 enterprise in helping them move to a modern workspace incorporating Windows Virtual Desktop. This is testament to the credibility and professionalism of HTG as a leading IT consultancy.”
Dean Lawrence, HTG’s Principal Consultant continued, “It’s been really satisfying for HTG to work with PPB in deploying a live Windows Virtual Desktop production environment. PPB adds to our growing list of WVD customers and by HTG working shoulder to shoulder with Microsoft’s Global Black Belts on such projects, is ensuring they’re scoped correctly to achieve an efficient solution.”
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