Award-Winning Design Firm Creates Easier, Safer Work Environment with Windows Vista

“I was first in line to buy Windows Vista. Its improved access to files, safer data and graphics capabilities are totally in the right direction. I can’t wait to roll it out to the rest of the company.”

-Ken Mok, Director of Information Technology, Rockwell Group, LLC

Rockwell Group creates award-winning architecture and design for high-profile clients in the hospitality and entertainment segments. With direction from Microsoft Corp. industry partner eMazzanti Technologies, Rockwell Group began deploying Windows Vista Business in January 2008. The Windows Vista features of Instant Search and Shadow Copy improved productivity, enhancing the security of graphics files and making them easier to retrieve.

Business Needs

Rockwell Group’s internationally acclaimed design projects include Pittsburgh Steelers Stadium, the theater for Cirque du Soleil at Walt Disney World, Jet Blue Terminal at Kennedy Airport and set design for the Broadway musicals “Hairspray” and “Legally Blonde.” Rockwell’s team of 260 talented designers and architects creates, archives and accesses millions of architectural drawings, photos and graphic designs.

“Our servers hold over 10 terabytes of graphics data,” said Kenneth Mok, director of IT. “Keeping that data accessible to our users is a real challenge. The most frequent complaint I heard was, ‘I just saved something. Where did it go?’”

Mok is routinely asked to retrieve files for company executives and important clients. “When David Rockwell, Rockwell Group’s founder, needed an important design, document or speech, it took some time to search for it,” said Mok.

Mok’s IT staff supports 260 employees at three sites. Losing data after a desktop crash was a common problem.

“Our graphic designers didn’t like to work off the servers,” said Afrim Kacaj, systems manager. “To save time they would save their work on their desktops, which were not backed up. A desktop crash meant hours or days of work was lost.”

Rockwell Group’s designers work with high-resolution images. They need a stable platform to work on and are sensitive to the way things look. Stability was a concern with Rockwell’s graphics applications on Microsoft Windows XP. They also found that icons and some bitmap graphics didn’t scale properly on their high-definition monitors.

“We’re graphics people with high-definition 24-inch monitors,” said Kacaj. “It’s all got to work right and look right.”

Solution

Rockwell Group initially deployed Windows Vista Business to 60 administrative staff and power users. “I had total confidence that the Rockwell Group deployment would go smoothly,” said Carl Mazzanti, CEO of eMazzanti Technologies. “We had two years’ experience with prelaunch versions of Windows Vista. We knew the solutions to their problems before they encountered them.”

Powerful new search and organization features in Windows Vista make extensive use of file properties, or metadata, to provide more dynamic ways to interact with information. Instant Search, together with improved metadata, enabled instant access to files in Rockwell’s large graphics database with just a few keystrokes. Mok and Kacaj also use Instant Search to quickly find programs such as those in the Windows Vista Control Panel.

“Instant Search is a shortcut to everything on our system,” said Mok. ”I no longer hear, ‘Where did it go?’ It’s a huge timesaver.”

Shadow Copy automatically creates point-in-time copies of designers’ files as they work. Files are always backed up, even if designers don’t save them properly.

“Shadow Copy is one of the most exciting features of Windows Vista. It’s one more lifeline for our busy designers and staff,” said Mok.

Windows Aero supports high-resolution monitors. Windows Vista can scale up its interface and certain programs to a stunning 144 dpi, a boon for people who rely on high-demand, graphics-intensive programs.

Kacaj found that an updated feature of Windows Vista, User Account Control, improves safety and security by helping prevent potentially dangerous software from making changes without the user’s explicit consent.

“When I first came to Rockwell Group I found the network crawling with spyware. I now rely on User Account Control in Windows Vista to help reduce the threat of spyware to our network,” said Kacaj.

Benefits

Files Found Faster

Instant Search has improved the productivity of Rockwell’s designers and business staff as well as Mok’s IT staff.

“Using Instant Search saves everyone at least 15 minutes per day,” said Mok. “I can respond more quickly to problems and provide better service to our users.”

Rockwell Group’s graphics data is now much more accessible. With improved metadata, according to Mok, “Graphics files have more meaning.”

“Finding the right combination of design elements is critical to the success of our projects,” said Mok. “With Windows Vista, searching for the right image in our large graphics database is quick and easy.”

Security-Enhanced Work Files

Shadow Copy has nearly eliminated Rockwell’s loss of work that results from desktop crashes. “We save at least $1,000 per week because of Shadow Copy,” said Mok.

High-Resolution Graphics Aids Design

“The vector graphics in Windows Vista make a big difference,” said Kacaj. “Everything looks right on our high-definition monitors.”

Improved Control of Spyware

Employing User Account Control to help defend against spyware and malware saves Mok and his staff more than two hours per week in time previously spent removing the unwanted software. User Account Control has also improved performance by helping to keep spyware and malware out of the system.

Windows Vista — The Right Combination

Ken Mok is enthusiastic about Windows Vista.

“I was first in line to buy Windows Vista. Its improved access to files, safer data and graphics capabilities are totally in the right direction. I can’t wait to roll it out to the rest of the company,” said Mok.

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