Neal Shaw by NTTCom.TV

H&R Block has a rather interesting business, with the majority of the company’s annual revenue coming in just a few days right around tax time. On top of that, it has lots of temporary employees, as headcount jumps more than 10-fold to handle the tax crunch every year.

That kind of fluctuating workload keeps things interesting for Neal Shaw, who is vice president and chief architect for the company. To help deal with it, Shaw recently embarked on a massive deployment of desktop virtualization technology, with plans to eventually roll it out to some 80,000 seats. The company is using predominantly a streaming technology, where operating system and application code streams to a local server and gets distributed from there to users in the office.

For their efforts, H&R Block was recently named a 2011 CIO 100 Award winner. We talked with Shaw to learn more about the award-winning deployment, including the business rationale for desktop virtualization, the most important architectural considerations he faced and the surprises he ran into along the way. We also asked him for words of advice for others who are embarking on similar projects.

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