Empowering global collaboration and productivity
As AWL started expanding globally, we experienced serveral growing pains. Global collaboration was a challenge. It was difficult to keep our data in synch: an engineer in Netherlands might update a drawing but forget to tell his colleagues in China. Typically, we would send view-only files of the design to the Chinese plants. We couldn’t share a central repository of files, let alone collaborate on a live design. Distance was also a challenge. We were using MPLS lines between the locations, but still had problems, and costs of the MPLS lines were high.
Citrix was the answer. We centralized all of our virtual desktops into a single, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) deployment with Citrix XenDesktop, hosted on Citrix XenServer, and using NVIDIA graphics cards. We leveraged NetScaler SD-WAN to virtualize our network and, consequently, to give staff a consistent, high-performance experience, wherever they are working.
With SD-WAN, we can prioritise the virtualized CAD applications to ensure a smooth experience, while scaling down other traffic such as large file transfers or backups. We were able to prevent the actions of one user from impacting the user experience of others in that same location, further optimizing the user experience. We also leverage SD-WAN to optimize our Skype for Business audio and video traffic, enabling us to use Skype in a virtualized environment.
Citrix graphics-accelerated workspaces, together with NVIDIA virtual GPUs, means that engineers and mechanics around the world can view the same 3D CAD files, collaborating on design issues, wherever they’re based. We’ve proved that 3D graphics over 9,000km of long-haul WAN can be done – delivering graphic-accelerated desktops, centralized in the Netherlands, to as far as Mexico and China.
But that’s not all. Our shop floor is now 90 percent digital. You won’t see any paper. We use low-cost, thin-client 3D viewers, and we don’t even need manuals.
In fact, we have hardly any IT infrastructure at our remote locations, so there are almost no maintenance or support costs.
Lower IT and bandwidth costs, too
Aside from reducing onsite support costs, we save in other areas, too.
We make better use of existing MPLS lines, running them in Active-Active configuration, and we offload traffic to local internet connections reducing overall bandwidth.
XenServer also saves us money. When we first started, XenServer was the only server product that could manage virtual GPUs (vGPUs), and it’s also cheaper to deploy.
XenServer software comes free with XenDesktop whereas other virtualization software can cost €10,000 per license. So, if I buy two servers, I can afford to buy a third, all including NVIDIA licenses, with the €20,000 I’ve saved on server licences. That gives us greater capacity for the money.
And greater business agility
Our Citrix infrastructure means we can quickly expand globally to new locations. You just go to Amazon and buy a Citrix Ready workspace hub. When you connect to the network, it’s configured automatically by our server. You order it, plug it in, it blinks twice, and you’re up and running. In 10 seconds.
So, overall, with Citrix graphics-accelerated workspaces, our staff can work from anywhere, anytime, on any device they choose and have consistent performance. They’re more productive and can collaborate better, all across the globe. And at lower cost. That’s made me an even bigger fan of Citrix.
Rody Kossen, Senior Systems Engineer at AWL, gives us an overview of how the global robotics firm deploys graphic-accelerated desktops from the Netherlands to as far as Mexico and China
AWL provides robotics and automated welding solutions to the automotive and general manufacturing industry. Design is based in the Netherlands, but we have recently built manufacturing plants in China, USA and Mexico to be closer to our global customers.
To read more about Rody’s experience with Citrix, read the full customer story.