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December 10, 2008

PPG Industries continues IT success with Windows Vista

After some positive feedback from our customers about last month’s customer interview with City of Miami, we wanted to provide IT Pros with another dose of real-world, Windows Vista customer insight. Additionally, recognizing the interest in Windows 7 over the past few months, we know IT professionals are wondering whether to upgrade to Windows Vista today or wait for Windows 7. I could give you a whole bunch of reasons for investing in Windows Vista today (security, data protection, etc.), but I thought you’d like to hear from an IT professional like you who has made the move to Windows Vista and is glad he did.

I talked with Mike Calabrese, Senior IT Architect – Global Desktop Services of PPG Industries, one of the world’s leading coatings and specialty materials companies, about what keeps him up at night, and how Windows Vista helps address some of his biggest challenges. Here’s an overview of our conversation:

The Windows Blog: Hi, Mike – thanks for chatting with me. What are the biggest challenges in managing your IT environment?

Mike Calabrese: We are like any other business. We keep a close eye on our key resources: time, money and people. As an internal IT department, my biggest challenge is to be able to provide continuous value to PPG’s large and diverse set of end-users. My focus is global desktop services, so PPG employees are my customers and my work directly impacts their day-to-day productivity and ability to collaborate. I have to find the right balance between delivering the flexibility that my customers need, while doing it in a way that is secure and properly supported … and doing it all in a cost-effective way.

The Windows Blog: Finding a cost-effective way to manage all that sounds like it could be a challenge – how are you controlling it?

Mike Calabrese: Right now, we are in the process of upgrading 26,000 desktops and laptops to Windows Vista. As a global company, servicing 25 different languages in more than 60 countries, one key benefit we’ve seen upfront is the ability to create and deploy one global desktop image, rather than creating a separate built-from-scratch, localized image for each supported language or country. This alone is a huge cost and resource saver.

The Windows Blog: Are there any other benefits you’re seeing from Windows Vista?

Mike Calabrese: Management is another area where Windows Vista adds value. The vast number of group policies provides the ability to customize desktop configurations globally with just a few clicks. One example of this is the configuration of wireless profiles that define our access points globally. Any PPG Vista user can connect to our highly secured access points effortlessly.

And I would say that security is the other key reason why we moved to Windows Vista. From an end-user perspective, security is not the most exciting feature, but it is one of those critical issues for IT. We were looking at third-party products to provide additional security, but after a thorough evaluation, we’ve decided to deploy BitLocker on every machine to take advantage of this added layer of security protection available with Windows Vista, without enduring the additional cost or complexity a third-party security product would introduce into our environment.

The Windows Blog: With features that may not be immediately visible to the end-user, did you find it difficult to get your employees on board? How did you sell the value to your colleagues?

Mike Calabrese: Like you, I’ve heard and read all the criticisms of Windows Vista. In my experience, Windows Vista delivers amazing value and addresses the things I care about the most – reducing costs, empowering our users to be productive, and improving manageability and security. Microsoft has been a good partner throughout our deployment process and we expect to continue to see the business benefits with our move to Windows Vista.

The great news for PPG is that its investment in Windows Vista is paying off now and they will have a much easier upgrade path to Windows 7 when they make the decision to deploy. I’ll be sure to keep you updated as I continue to talk with Windows customers – it’s their experiences and opinions that truly tell the stories of our products.