The Challenge – the holes were appearing
“Before we started this project we already understood the benefits of Citrix but it was starting to limit us with some of the things that we were able to deliver for our users.”
D&H Steel has a history of utilising Citrix technologies, and had previously been running a version with Windows 2003. As demand grew and technology impacted more areas of the business, they really started to see holes in their ability to work cohesively.
“The key thing for us was that in construction everyone is dealing with 3D models and a lot of virtualisation which we just didn’t have the capability for on our old servers. For example, virtual buildings – large 3D models you can shade, spin, and really get a feel for how the real thing will look – quite powerful tools for the guys building things. We just didn’t have the capability.”
Flexibility for staff that worked remotely was also becoming a challenge and one that needed to be rectified with one staff member operating as far away as Chile. Functionality limitations with Windows and the versions of Internet Explorer they could run became problematic.
“As everything moves into the Cloud and every man and his dog has some sort of web portal, with the server capability we had we were starting to get shut out of various websites, even IRD and the banks – there was a risk to us being able to do our online banking.”
With staff numbers up to the 200 mark, this meant time for change.
With workplace flexibility being even more of a talk point now than ever, great technology and out of the box solutions help enable the retention of great talent, increasing output and productivity, defining the changing face of how the world does business.
Solution & Benefits – More stable. Less issues.
“From where I sit, I still have a direct relationship with the people doing the work. That’s one of the upsides. I can ring Mark Skinner, Operations Manager, or any one of the technicians and get a straight answer.”
July 2014 dates the inception of this project. BTG’s scope entailed; hardware design, upgrade SAN storage capability from 5Tb to 19Tb, upgrade Citrix to the new version, migrate all old applications from the old server to the new server (Windows 2008), then migrate all users across to the farm.
“I think they are approachable. Steve Harris, for example, is a technologist. He’s not just there to run the business and make money, he’s there because he gets it and likes to be involved.”
Benefits include a better desktop performance, a more user-friendly environment, and better workflows.
“The biggie was things like 3D technology. It’s a lot more stable now. The number of issues around applications locking up or people’s Citrix sessions just hanging have dropped away to virtually nothing”
Results – BAU for D&H
The ease with which people can operate from Auckland, Christchurch, Chile, or any one of the building sites has meant this technology has done its job. It’s Business As Usual.
“For our guy in Chile it’s completely seamless. He just takes his laptop with him and away he goes. There is no difference with being in the building or outside of it.”
Stability, better continuity, and greater productivity have resulted from the shift. The compression technology within Citrix means that the size of the internet connection can be small. Remote staff can run off 3G via a basic VDSL or ADSL plan and have little or no disruption to their experience.
“There is no need for fibre and at a minimal cost I can run say 5 guys out of a shed somewhere and get it set up in a week.”
Desktop maintenance is almost zero, with centralised management of all applications, user policies, and profiles.
“Since we’ve got involved with BTG they have been on a continuous growth trajectory, they have continued to improve and adapt in what they are doing, and they are always looking for the next best thing. They don’t stand still.”
Citrix has also allowed BYOD; once the Citrix Receiver client is installed on a user’s laptop or home PC they can access their full desktop, without any reduction in performance, or the risks associated with storing files on personal computers.
“I’ve spoken to other contractors that have a one-shop-stop approach. They price a job and want you to work within their framework. BTG make it work the way we want, not generically or systemised. It makes BTG’s business more complex, but they’ve drilled into the fundamentals on what makes IT systems work and focused on that.”
With large scale clients like Fletcher Construction and Hawkins, D&H Steel have to be at the top of their game… and they are.