Cancer Research UK is a major charity whose mission is to cure cancer. Forty years ago, only one in four patients survived the disease. Today, that figure is two survivors in four patients. Cancer Research UK has a goal to improve that rate to three in four within the next 20 years.
The Charity has 3,750 employees and funds more than 4,000 scientists. Over the past five years, it has invested £1.6 billion in research. In a recent strategic review, Cancer Research UK identified technology as one of nine accelerators that would help reach its goal.
Mick Briggs, head of IT, explains, “We want to use technology to make Cancer Research UK as effective as possible. We want people to work wherever and whenever they need or want to.”
At the end of 2010, Cancer Research UK consolidated its eight London locations into a single office in the Angel Building, Islington, in north London. The new office was designed as a wholly hot-desking environment providing 1,200 seats for the Charity’s staff. Having recently standardised and virtualised its datacentre, Cancer Research UK’s IT team used the office move as an opportunity to deploy a virtual desktop as well. At the time, many of the Charity’s PCs were five to six years old. Replacing the PCs with thin-client hardware running Citrix® XenDesktop®, the Charity was able reduce the capital cost of replacement, extend the lifecycle of its hardware and simplify ongoing support requirements.
Like many in IT, Mick and his team had seen the growing demand for mobile IT solutions. As he explains, “The turning point was probably the launch of the original iPhone, when people began to see what was possible and then to demand it on their corporate devices. That was the game-changer, but security was always the concern. We have to protect data we hold on our supporters and, of course, we have a lot of sensitive information. The Cancer Research UK brand and our integrity are vitally important to our ability to raise funds and finance our work. We cannot risk that through poor data security.”
Deploying desktop virtualisation technology in the office created a natural springboard for Mick’s team to explore options for a software-defined workplace. Cancer Research UK had a number of requirements. Committee members, who often work for different organisations across the scientific community and who decide on the allocation of funding to different projects, needed to collaborate on lengthy and confidential grant requests at different times and places. Science and research teams needed to collaborate effectively and securely across different locations, sharing highly sensitive research data. Fund-raisers meeting with potential benefactors needed access to information on the Charity’s activities, wherever they were asked.
Principle Consultant Anthony Nixon has a deep understanding of users’ requirements and developed a mobility strategy, before then finding a technology solution that met the Charity’s needs. “The launch of Citrix XenMobile brought everything together for us,” he explains. “The combination of Citrix NetScaler and XenMobile answered all the questions we had.”
Cancer Research UK found that XenMobile Enterprise, which includes Citrix ShareFile® for file sync and sharing and Citrix Worx mobile productivity apps, integrated easily with the organisation’s existing NetScaler and XenDesktop infrastructure. “We selected Citrix because it already had a proven ability in this area. Citrix has always concentrated on what it’s good at,” stated Anthony.
When the XenMobile rollout is complete, all workers will have access to their virtual desktop via personal mobile devices as well as from a thin-client device at a hot desk. “Five hundred users were recently deployed in just 30 minutes, with no calls to the service desk,” commented Anthony.
The XenMobile EMM solution, coupled with Cancer Research UK’s XenDesktop deployment, has provided Mick and his team with easy management of devices, apps and data, including stringent security.
“I don’t want to care about what device people bring to work,” explains Mick. “Whether it’s a corporate device or their own personal device, XenMobile gives us that policy-driven granularity of control. We now have a true model for ‘follow-me data.’ It’s what people understand from using things like Facebook, but with enterprise-level security. And it’s great for the IT department. We get to be the department that says ‘Yes.’ We’ve become the enablers that let people work where and when they want to work, on whatever device they choose. That makes people more effective and it makes Cancer Research UK more effective as a whole.”
Previously, committee members used a mix of secure, removable media and paper-based systems when deciding how and where to allocate grants fundamental to the Charity’s research programme. This process slowed decision making and carried a risk of compromising confidential information. Now, the confidential information pertaining to grants is shared via ShareFile, allowing members to collaborate far more securely and effectively. They can access committee papers on demand, annotate them and upload them in a secure manner. ShareFile has increased productivity and accelerated decision making regarding project funding – a core aspect of the Charity’s mission to cure cancer.
Cancer Research UK’s fund-raisers previously carried bulky and potentially outdated paper printouts when visiting benefactors, and could only log donations when they returned to the office. Now, they can securely access and input data anywhere using tablets and other mobile devices. Mobility has made the team more productive.
XenMobile has enabled Mick’s team to deliver true enterprise mobility to the organisation. The ability to work anytime, anywhere and on any device ensures that technology is truly one of Cancer Research UK’s accelerators towards its goal to bring forward the day when more people can survive cancer.
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