Last July, I interviewed Hal Lange, Sr. Systems Engineer at T-Mobile, about their Citrix Workspace Environment Management (WEM) deployment. The recording of the Citrix Customer Expert Open Discussion is available on demand.
Hal has worked with Citrix solutions for more than 20 years. Before joining T-Mobile over a year ago, he was an independent consultant and one of the top WEM experts, deploying nearly 100,000 seats of WEM. His background with WEM predates Citrix’s acquisition of Norskale, and Hal was an early proponent of Norskale’s solution. He specializes mainly in user experience and profile management, as well as what he calls CRAP — Computer Residue of Applications and Personalization.
T-Mobile currently has multiple Citrix deployments. They are in the process of consolidating these deployments into a Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops deployment to deliver virtual desktops to tens of thousands of retail users and published applications to tens of thousands of call center users.
T-Mobile has two data center locations in a hot-hot configuration. They leverage GSLB from Citrix ADC to run 50 percent of users out of one data center and 50 percent out of the other. Call center users who leverage Citrix for their business critical applications are spread across Asia, Europe, South America, and North America.
Citrix delivers the business agility to T-Mobile with the ability to easily expand regionally or globally. We enable them to seamlessly bring new stores and call centers online with just an internet connection and low-cost devices. Like many organizations, T-Mobile benefits from Citrix’s “any device” flexibility. They leverage thin clients, PCs, MACs, and other devices and can accommodate third-party contractors who bring their own devices.
“If you name the device, we probably have it coming into our environment,” Hal says.
T-Mobile’s infrastructure platform of choice is Nutanix.
“Our biggest hardware usage is Nutanix,” Hal says. “We like the Nutanix solution because it is all inclusive, with the storage and networking all integrated. This means we don’t have to worry about dealing with other [internal IT] groups, so it makes it simpler for us to manage the whole platform, rather than having other organizations manage certain components, and then work with us to have everything configured properly.”
Hal and team are currently leveraging GPUs from NVIDIA for a few applications that are graphic-intensive. However they are planning to expand their GPU usage.
“Going forward we are starting to put GPUs in everything for better performance and for better overall user experience,” he says.
When Hal joined T-Mobile, he immediately identified the need to implement Citrix Workspace Environment Management to improve the user experience and increase server scalability.
“One of the first things I did [after joining T-Mobile] was implement the WEM resources optimization, and we immediately realized an increase in server scalability,” he says. “Within the first month, we measured that our hardware utilization went down significantly, and we noticed an immediate 10 percent increase in hardware capacity. Also, our average login times went down 56 percent. We went from 143 seconds down to 69 seconds, and that was just by implementing the resource optimization from WEM.”
Hal and team were able to quantify the cost savings from implementing WEM. As T-Mobile grows and brings new stores and call centers online, they need to continuously monitor their hardware capacity.
“With 200 Nutanix nodes, a 10 percent increase in capacity essentially gives us 20 more boxes, so there is significant actual hardware cost avoidance when growing the business,” he says. “Additionally, there is the soft cost of average login per user. We have stringent timeout settings, so the average user is logging in 7-8 times per day. By cutting login times in half and saving over 1 minute per login, with those 7-8 logins per user per day across 15,000 users, that’s an ungodly amount of soft costs that we are saving as well.”
The increase in capacity gives T-Mobile a quantifiable hardware cost avoidance of more than $1 million dollars to fund other important IT initiatives.
Check out the on-demand webinar recording of my interview with Hal, where he answers audience questions and talks about best practices when implementing Citrix Workspace Environment Management.