Aintree University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has opted to use desktop management software provided by RES to reduce log-on times for users and to aid its upcoming Windows 7 migration in the summer.

Aintree is critically dependent on its IT systems, as the Trust has almost completed scanning 50 million pages to ensure that it can get rid of all of its paper records and have a fully operational electronic patient record system.

The Trust has two large datacentres on site, made up of HP and Dell servers, both highly virtualised using VMware hypervisors. It also has over 3,500 devices, which includes desktops, laptops, iPads, wall mounted computers and Windows slates.

Director of IT services, Ward Priestman, needed to drastically improve the log on times for users from minutes to seconds due to the critical nature of the Trust's technology infrastructure.

"If we were without our IT systems we would have to declare a major incident and pretty much stop seeing patients. We are that dependent on IT," Priestman told Computerworld UK.

"We currently have 3,500 devices and 4,000 staff. The clinicians move around the organisation treating patients, and the big issue we were facing is that it took so long to log onto a device. It could be anything from a minute to over five minutes if they had large profiles," he added.

"I wanted to ensure that any clinician could log onto any device and there be a maximum log on time of seconds".

Priestman described how Microsoft's roaming profiles software stores all of a user's personalisation settings on the system being used, so when a user logs onto a device it reads all that data down from a central database. This causes longer log in times, due to the large amount of data moving around, and is a process Priestman described as "torturous and unreliable".

"Microsoft's roaming profiles were also a risk for us because if you got any documents on your profile it then copies them down onto the computer. This was a problem because if there was patient data in there, a copy would be left on that device," he explained.

However, using RES' Dynamic Desktop Solution, which uses zero profile technology, Aintree was able to reduce log-on times for users to fewer than fifteen seconds.

"Our software uses a process called just in time personalisation, which configures the application when the user requires that application. For example, if I was to open Outlook, it's at that point that Outlook is configured, rather than all of the applications being configured during log-on," explained Grant Tiller, senior product manager at RES.

"We tie all the processing power to the application itself, rather than at a single point of log on, which saves the user time," he added.

"We install an agent on each device, which sits between the user and the resources that the user requires, so when you click on an application the agent stalls it, carries out the personalisation, and then lets the application run once the configuration has taken place".

The rollout of the RES Software completed this week and took Aintree three months, with 70 users carrying out tests across a variety of applications.

The Trust is also now planning to use the RES software in its migration to Windows 7 in the summer, which should be completed by September, and will see all 3,500 devices upgraded to the newer operating system.

"The biggest challenge with migrating to Windows 7 is the incompatibility between a Windows XP profile and a Windows 7 profile," explained RES' Tiller.

"With Microsoft software, if you want to roam a user's settings from XP to Windows 7, it doesn't work. They aren't compatible. An IT department would have to create users a v2 profile for Windows 7, which will be a watered down version of their XP profile," he added.

"With our software the application configuration is tied to the application itself and not the operating system. This means we can roam settings on a per user, per application basis, independent of the platform it is being invoked from".