Nationwide makes SSDs standard on PCs, to employee applause

Company moves from XP to Windows 7 and with systems that run 8 GB to 16 GB RAM

LAS VEGAS -- Nationwide Insurance is moving off Windows XP and the misery of an eight-minute boot-up time for some 40,000 users.

[STORAGE SMACKDOWN: SSDs vs. hard drives]

It is building systems that use 256 GB SSDs and that have anywhere from 8 GB to 16 GB of RAM, depending on employee need.

In measuring boot-up time, Nationwide also considers the time it takes for email to load and be ready to open. The new configurations complete boot-ups in one minute.

Employees "love the performance," said Jim Gay, Nationwide's vice president of infrastructure delivery, who said the performance of XP systems has been a pain point.

In presentations about these new systems to employees, when the performance of the new systems are demonstrated, "our users will applaud," Gay said.

Gay discussed the deployment at Hewlett-Packard's big user conference here. The new systems include HP's Ultra-Light business notebook PCs. Desktop systems are using SSDs as well.

One advantage of SSDs is decreased maintenance costs, Gay said. The company has deployed 9,000 systems so far and has seen a decrease in maintenance issues. With no moving parts, the systems are more durable, which is important since many of their employees, such as claims adjusters, work in the field.

Nationwide compared the start-up times of the SSD against HDDs, which took about three to four minutes to boot up. "The solid state drive was really the best influencer of the solution," Gay said.

The insurance company is moving to Windows 7 because of application compatibility, but Gay expects to move to Windows 8 in 2014.

Nationwide IT staff is upgrading about 3,500 employees a month and expects to complete the work early next year.

Microsoft's pending end of support next year for XP "was an accelerator" in the upgrade decision, but Gay said an upgrade was due nonetheless.

HP expects Microsoft's upcoming end of support for XP will bring a major boost in PC sales.

Gay said it's important to deliver good IT to users. "At Nationwide, we believe that building solutions that users love will translate into very engaged associates," he said.

This article, Nationwide makes SSDs standard on PCs, to employee applause, was originally published at Computerworld.com.

Patrick Thibodeau covers cloud computing and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed. His e-mail address is pthibodeau@computerworld.com.

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This story, "Nationwide makes SSDs standard on PCs, to employee applause" was originally published by Computerworld.

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