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Case Study: ApexSparx Web Developers, Bay Area, SFO

Background:

ApexSparx is a web development solutions and services company operating out of Bay Area, SFO and caters to SMB clients. The 25-seat company offers end-to-end services that include planning, analysis, development, testing, release and maintenance of software and custom applications. They needed to stay ahead by being highly scalable, productive, and cost-effective. Their team consists of around 20 in-house, full-time staff, freelancers by the hour, and a large pool of “work from home” designers and programmers from different parts of the world.

The setup of the web development company was as below:

  • Software – Visual Studio, MS Access, PHP, Java, Scala, PaintShop Pro, Dreamweaver, MS Office Suite; CSS tools, animation libraries, JSON queries, grids etc. Windows exes for Apache-PHP-MySQL and desktop software such as XAMPP, WAMP and MAMP.
  • Hardware – 2 PCs with the latest Core i7 processors for the lead developers/program managers 18 PCs with Core i5 processors for the development team members 4 PCs with Core 2 Duo processors for general support and regular office staff 1 in-house server used by the administrator for hosting software, file sharing, email

As a unified team, all the programmers needed to be working in an identical development environment – irrespective of whether they were working from within the office or remotely.

Challenges Faced by ApexSparx:

  • The staging environment needed to mimic the production environment to maximum
  • The entire team had to be using the same exact OS/software with identical versions/updates
  • Needing to very often run up or down simulated new production environments
  • Having to spend several hours in tweaking their local setup to match the final servers
  • Monitor, spot, and resolve conflicts with the existing set up for those accessing remotely
  • Needed a “live” version of the site being developed to test SEO without Google blacklisting
  • Give selective access to different developers based on expertise and development stage

How Apps4Rent Made the Difference

Apps4Rent analyzed the requirements and challenges and recommended them to initially sign up for a few virtual desktops to be used for developmental environment for a test project. The team experienced a totally seamless and no-lag interaction with the desktops while using most of their regular development software like Visual Studio, Java, MS Access, PHP, PaintShop Pro, Dreamweaver, CSS tools, and more. They could also install FTP clients of their choice like CuteFTP, WS_FTP Pro, and others so as to enable every team member to upload and synchronize files quickly and easily within the virtual desktop environment – by just using a browser.

Benefits of Virtual Desktops for Web Development

  • Being hosted on the cloud, the virtual desktops perfectly simulated the access and working conditions of web-accessed environments
  • All virtual desktops were exactly identical in terms of software updates, down to the browser versions thereby reducing the bug instances
  • Commissioning and de-commissioning of virtual desktops to reflect new production setups were done in a matter of minutes
  • Provisioning and custom-configuring to match the final servers were easily done, without affecting the existing local setup within the office
  • Remote users could easily access and work on the virtual desktops from anywhere, using any OS or device in an synchronized manner
  • Not being visible to Google means all SEO tactics could be safely tried out without inviting any penalties or blacklisting of domain IPs
  • Granular levels of access controls and policies facilitated giving different developers different levels of access and installation/usage rights

Taking the development work to virtual desktops also resulted in a few other advantages: once implemented, it did not matter if the developers were accessing them from Windows, Mac, or Linux. The development environment offered by the virtual desktops remained same throughout, which allowed the team to spend much less time for debugging. The company could closely match the development environment to the production environment and it meant that they were no longer changing their local configurations as they pushed their development projects up the line. Unlike the earlier times, they did not require to have a Linux setup and different in-house PCs to test various Windows versions etc. – they could now cover everything from a single device of their choice. Besides, the virtual desktops also came with US-based IPs that helped track and analyze geo-specific site traffic using Google tools.

Apps4Rent is a Tier-1 Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider as well as a Microsoft Partner with Gold certification. We have been supporting 10,000+ businesses from over 50 countries – from Fortune 500 corporations to SMBs – with hosted technologies for more than a decade.

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