Over the 40 years of its existence Odgers Berndtson has grown into the UK’s pre-eminent executive search firm. They specialise in finding the highest calibre people for permanent and interim management appointments in the UK and internationally. Fueled by an expanding portfolio of prestigious blue chip clients the group is increasing its activity in international markets. ‘We take a Martini approach to data’ explains Adam Gibson, IT Director, ‘it has to be available Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere’. With new offices opening in the US and Asia-Pacific, supporting high levels of data availability globally is a challenge that has to be met.
The group has other commercial pressures. Responses to global corporations’ tenders have to comply with exacting Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity requirements. Putting in place local physical machines with associated management and DR to support the new offices would have involved significant capital investment.
Any solution had to meet current business demands and flexible enough to support the business as it grew. Adam had worked with CWL Systems in the past. ‘I needed to rely on a trusted business partner’ recalls Adam, ‘CWL Systems are small enough to be responsive but large enough to have an experienced pool of engineers I could call upon’.
The challenges faced by Odgers are not unique. Organisations with global operations are examining how they provide support for remote locations. ‘There is a trend towards delivering services from centralised datacentres’ explains CWL Account Director Andrew Belcher, ‘many of our clients are in the process of rolling out virtual desktop infrastructures’. In common with many similar projects, Odgers knew what they wanted: the ability to deliver desktops from a centralised database in the UK or mainland Europe. Odgers were able to leverage CWL Systems engineering experience. ‘We are licensed partners with all the major thin client and desktop virtualisation providers’ explains Andrew, ‘We are vendor agnostic and recommend solutions based on business need rather than adapt the business need to fit one particular solution.’ CWL look at all aspects of the business before recommending a solution: existing infrastructure, systems and training, immediate and potential business needs, maintenance and license costs.
A global solution, delivered locally
The consultants at CWL Systems recommended Citrix XenDesktop. The solution enables customised desktops to be delivered to individual employees anywhere in the world. This provides Odgers with the flexibility they require to support operations in satellite offices regardless of geography. Both data and applications are hosted at a UK datacentre. Consolidating in one location has several benefits. Not only does it provide the flexibility required by Odgers it also solved Adam’s DR problems. ‘We were confident in the technology and initially rolled out the solution in the UK to provide business continuity’ recalls Adam, ‘Phase 2 involved a more complete solution deploying applications and databases to the Asia Pacific region’. Offices in the USA were to follow soon after. ‘It was vital that we could deliver Odgers core enterprise applications’ said Adam.
Business continuity has been the major benefit. In the event of system outage, Odgers are able to provide users with an alternative desktop. Users simply log into a virtual session on an alternative machine. Citrix XenApp allows IT to flexibly deliver applications locally from a centrally managed datacentre. Line of business applications are hosted on central servers whilst office productivity apps are streamed to the desktop to execute locally. The system allows users to self provision on demand, from any device (even smartphones).
Operational success: financial gains
Although primarily used for business continuity, choosing Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp has enabled Odgers to provide enterprise applications and office productivity globally. By concentrating applications and data into one location, the company has simplified support. ‘Not only has it reduced the number of physical machines required’ explains Adam Gibson, ‘it has also helped us in our hiring and support strategy abroad’. The solution has also reduced the company’s Disaster Recovery costs. A simpler infrastructure means that failover and failback are far easier to implement. In the event of failure, users can access their desktops from alternative machines and business continues, uninterrupted.
Working with CWL
Having a professional and knowledgeable partner is a pre-requisite for any important corporate project and CWL’s experience rolling out similar solutions with different technologies brought a depth of understanding that ensured Adam’s project was a success. However, what sets CWL apart is their attention to detail and responsiveness. As the IT Director, Adam Gibson points out: ‘CWL have an experienced team of engineers, committed to delivering projects on time’