SECURE DIGITAL WORKSPACE
Founded in 1990, CPC Project Services is a project management and business consulting firm specializing in the transportation, real estate, local government, health and education sectors. The London-based company employs 100 people in offices throughout the United Kingdom and generates more than £9 million ($14.4 million) in annual revenue.
CPC is one of the fastest-growing consultancies in the United Kingdom. Much of the company’s growth can be attributed to two factors: 80 percent of its client work is repeat business; and the company has significantly expanded its reach with a series of strategic acquisitions.
That kind of growth is never without challenges—especially in the realm of information technology. Before migrating to a cloud-based environment, the CPC business applications lived on a few physical severs located in its main office. However, these servers were often unable to maintain tight version control over key applications across a rapidly growing environment. As a result, an employee might be using different versions of Microsoft Excel from one device to the next, exposing CPC to the potential loss of critical data in key financial documents.
Then came a near brush with disaster. When CPC experienced a power outage on the same day it was bidding for a major piece of new business, no one could retrieve the necessary files from the onsite servers. “We had to unplug our servers, carry them down 12 flights of stairs, hop in a cab, and take them to another office just to retrieve the files,” says Brandon Stringer, CFO at CPC. “It was a bit of a nightmare. At that point, we were already planning to move to a larger headquarters, and many of our servers were reaching the end of their lifecycle. So we began rethinking our whole approach. Why would we put old servers in a new location when we can just move everything to the cloud?”
To find the best way forward, CPC turned to London Cloud, a white-label hosting reseller of Citrix Service Provider partner ChannelCloud U.K./Ireland cloud platform solutions. CPC and London Cloud had already worked together on a number of outsourced IT projects, including the successful deployment of Citrix technology in the CPC aging server environment. The teams knew and trusted each other. They trusted Citrix, too. So when it came time to discuss the possibility of migrating from the CPC legacy infrastructure, the London Cloud team suggested using Citrix solutions to enable Desktops-as-a-Service (DaaS). DaaS environments rely on Citrix XenDesktop technology to deliver and manage virtual desktops to every end user, enabling employees to access business apps on demand, no matter what platform or device they happen to be using.
The migration to a cloud-based environment was painless, and it delivered real value from the very start. When CPC moved to a larger headquarters, the company actually needed to move twice—first to a temporary location then to its new office. Unlike previous moves, however, the company didn’t need to switch physical servers for each new location because employees could continue doing business as usual with the cloud-based systems.
Furthermore, each app is delivered in just one version for everyone, giving all end users anytime, anywhere access to a single version of critical business apps such as Microsoft Excel. “It used to be difficult to show PowerPoint presentations to clients when I was on the road,” says Stringer. “Now I can do it on my iPad, no problem. That alone makes a big impression because most people don’t expect to see a full-featured Microsoft Office application on an iOS device.”
In addition to XenDesktop, London Cloud and ChannelCloud U.K./Ireland rely on the Citrix NetScaler application delivery controller to optimize, secure and control the delivery of all applications to users’ virtual desktops. And with remote access to Citrix CloudPortal Services Manager, CPC can manage users’ accounts without hiring a dedicated system administrator or other IT expert. “The CloudPortal Services Manager management console is extremely intuitive,” says Stringer. “In fact, we handed it off to an administrative assistant. She’s now in charge of managing accounts for end users across the company, and she had no problem figuring it out—even with no formal IT training.”
With its cloud-based DaaS environment, CPC no longer needs to worry about hauling servers down 12 flights of stairs to complete a new bid on time. “If our power went out today, there would be no need for panic,” says Stringer. “We would just head to the nearest Starbucks and send the file from there. And no matter what, we’re now keeping all of our files backed up in a separate location, so there’s automatic redundancy in the event of a disaster.”
With help from Citrix technology, CPC is more competitive and agile than ever. “We often work with government organizations, and the bidding process always requires us to prove how compliant and resilient we are,” says Stringer. “When we tell them that our cloud-based environment is powered by Citrix technology and managed by London Cloud, they never question our preparedness. Just as important, we’re hearing great things from end users. For example, in the work we’ve done with Oxford University, several professors have told us how impressed they were with the sophistication of our technology. And that’s just huge.”
In addition to hiring new employees, CPC is actively acquiring other consulting firms to extend its reach. Citrix technology makes that easier than ever. “We acquired a smaller firm about two years ago,” says Stringer. “Their IT systems were completely different from ours. That would’ve been such a headache with our old systems. But we were able to integrate their technology more quickly and easily than I would’ve thought possible. The Citrix platform is giving us the flexibility to grow faster, and with a lot less pain.”
Now more than ever, CPC has no interest in maintaining an in-house IT environment. There’s simply no need when the company has achieved so much success with the DaaS deployment model. “I told you about the administrative assistant who’s responsible for managing users through the CloudPortal Services Manager console,” says Stringer. “Well, she’s preparing to go on vacation, so she’s delegated that task to our receptionist. I love that. As far as I’m concerned, we shouldn’t be in the IT business. We’re in the consulting business, and we want to put all of our energies toward moving our business forward.”
Going forward, the Citrix environment will enable CPC to keep growing and moving with no substantial changes to the company’s infrastructure because nearly all components are managed remotely by the London Cloud team. And as London Cloud prepares to introduce a hosted Citrix XenMobile offering to clients in the United Kingdom, the team at CPC is eager to deploy a solution for centralizing, managing and securing sensitive data on mobile devices. “We’re in the services business, so we’re not just responsible for our own data,” says Stringer. “The security of our clients’ information is every bit as important to us. We already have a lot of flexibility in how, when and where we engage with clients, and our security efforts are top of the line. But if XenMobile can help us push that even further, we’re all for it.”
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