Based in Melbourne, Big Red Group is an IT solutions provider offering a range of high-quality products and professional services to small and medium businesses throughout Australia. The company works closely with clients to design custom solutions for overcoming unique IT challenges. Since its founding in 2009, Big Red Group has expanded its offerings from traditional IT solutions to a broad range of cloud-based services, including customer relationship management (CRM) and mobile device management (MDM) in the cloud.
When Big Red Group began offering cloud-based services to customers across Australia, the company still relied on manual processes to configure, administer and manage customers’ environments. Due to the sheer scale of the cloud, however, these processes proved difficult to implement and costly to support. The leadership team at Big Red Group recognized the need for an automated, self-service platform that would enable customers to manage their own cloud environments.
“Our success depends on minimizing time to market,” says Jamie Williams, chief executive at Big Red Group. “Before deploying Citrix CloudPlatform, we relied on procedures that were simply too slow, complicated and error-prone to meet our high standards. For example, let’s say a customer ordered a virtual machine. Once in our system, the order would become a ticket, and an engineer would perform manual configurations according to the customer’s specifications. Next we would do a quality check before spinning up the machine and handing it off to the customer for another quality check. Even after all that, a small mistake could still slip through and cause a major delay.”
Prior to implementing Citrix CloudPlatform, Big Red Group had been using Citrix XenServer to virtualize internal workloads for years. A well-established relationship with Citrix team members, combined with confidence in Citrix technology, made CloudPlatform a natural choice for accelerating Big Red Group’s journey to the cloud.
In addition to reviewing a number of vendors before making a final decision, Big Red Group considered developing its own platform based on Apache CloudStack open source software. However, due to complexity, that option would require weeks or even months of internal development time—an unacceptable delay in a fiercely competitive market. An established solution from Citrix was a more practical choice for supporting cloud-based services across Big Red Group’s growing client base.
Citrix consultants helped Big Red determine the right combination of technologies for its needs. “We took a good look at similar installations around the world,” Williams says. “The Citrix team helped us identify companies that had faced similar challenges, and we were able to learn from their successes and mistakes.”
Today, Citrix CloudPortal Business Manager plays a key role in simplifying management tasks across Big Red Group’s CloudPlatform environment. “CloudPortal Business Manager is obviously great for our customers because the self-service interface enables them to configure a virtual machine in minutes rather than hours or days,” says Williams. “And for us, the tool offers the advantage of faster, easier billing. We can invoice our customers quickly and accurately at the end of each month, automatically providing them with a clear record of their usage.”
To further distinguish its cloud offering from competitors, Big Red Group also deployed Citrix NetScaler Application Delivery Controller to help ensure optimal load balancing, even during major spikes in user demand. “Citrix is the market leader in load-balancing technology,” says Williams. “The NetScaler hardware appliance provides an extra level of protection so that our customers can rest a little easier. Together, with CloudPlatform and CloudPortal Business Manager, it all adds up to a premium cloud offering.”
By deploying Citrix solutions to support a broad range of cloud services, Big Red Group saves significant amounts of time. System administrators spend fewer hours performing back-end management, relying instead on automated processes to monitor system capacity, hardware lifespan and equipment licensing. “With CloudPlatform, we no longer need to worry about shifting workloads in response to customer demand,” says Williams. “That’s a major burden lifted. And now that customers can manage their own environments with greater independence, we’ve seen a 25 percent reduction in the volume of calls to our support team using Citrix cloud solutions.”
Automation plays a significant role in keeping errors to a minimum. Just as important, however, the user-friendly interface in CloudPortal Business Manager makes it easy for customers to take greater ownership of their quality assurance and remediation processes. “Before we deployed CloudPlatform, simple mistakes could undo hours of work,” says Williams. “For example, if an admin forgot to change a setting at the end of a configuration, the task might need to be performed all over again. Automation eliminates many of those errors, of course. But mistakes still happen, and customers now have far more control over how and when they address those problems.”
Thanks in part to Citrix solutions, Big Red Group is emerging as a leader among cloud service providers in Australia. “Our basic philosophy is to work smarter, not harder,” says Williams. “We want to keep head count low, always ensuring that we’re approaching every task in the most efficient way possible. With CloudPlatform as the foundation for our cloud service offerings, we can stay one step ahead—and help our customers stay one step ahead, too.”
According to Williams, Big Red Group could go in any number of directions with Citrix. “Cloud Platform and CloudPortal Business Manager are built on open APIs, and we want to make the most of that,” he says. “Ultimately, we want customers to manage all of our service offerings from a single login and within a single pane of glass. The open APIs will give us the flexibility to pursue that vision, and we’re keen to see what Citrix will bring to the table next.”
Citrix (NASDAQ:CTXS) is a leader in mobile workspaces, providing virtualization, mobility management, networking and cloud services to enable new ways to work better. Citrix solutions power business mobility through secure, personal workspaces that provide people with instant access to apps, desktops, data and communications on any device, over any network and cloud. This year Citrix is celebrating 25 years of innovation, making IT simpler and people more productive. With annual revenue in 2013 of $2.9 billion, Citrix solutions are in use at more than 330,000 organizations and by over 100 million users globally. Learn more at www.citrix.com.
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