BY USE CASE
Secure Distributed Work
The Citrix service provider, OEDIV, supports mid-market enterprises like the Horn & Co. Group on their journey to the digital workplace
Today, more than 400 midsize customers obtain managed IT services from Oetker Daten- und Informationsverarbeitung KG (OEDIV). One of these organizations is the Horn & Co. Group. The industrial services provider has outsourced its entire operation of IT workspaces to OEDIV. The workplace service based on Citrix technology has not only enabled Horn & Co. to achieve cost savings of approximately 30% but also accelerate its business processes.
OEDIV has operated as an IT services provider for over 25 years. Founded as an offshoot of Oetker Group’s IT department, the company continues to be a 100% subsidiary of the large German family business. However, customers outside the Oetker Group account for 90% of the company’s revenue. The majority of these are mid-market enterprises.
Today, OEDIV offers a broad range of IT services, such as SAP hosting, various managed services including Azure and Microsoft 365, as well as business process outsourcing. OEDIV Workplace Services, providing integrated solutions for the user IT workspace, is currently enjoying significant growth. There has been a considerable increase in demand for managed digital workspaces, particularly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Many mid-market companies no longer have the specialists capable of implementing and administrating modern workplace solutions,” says OEDIV Managing Director, Martin Stratmann. “In addition, it is often difficult for them to scale solutions rapidly to respond to rising demand.”
The Horn & Co. Group is a case in point. The successful international corporate group, headquartered in Siegen, specializes in industrial raw materials processing. “For many years, our entire IT operations were in-house, and all the servers, desktops, and networks were run by our own staff,” says Hossein Tahmaz, Manager of Horn & Co. Industrial IT GmbH. “We were investing a lot of time in user support and operational processes such as patching and data storage but were ultimately not wholly satisfied with the outcomes.”
The provisioning of new applications for the company’s national and international sites was often a lengthy process, branch users had performance issues to contend with, and the IT team was left with very little time for innovative projects due to high administrative and support workloads. “We came to the realization that we needed to outsource routine tasks in order to make progress with the digitization of our business processes,” says Hossein Tahmaz.
Following market research and discussions with a range of different providers, Horn & Co. decided to outsource the operation of its IT workspaces to OEDIV. “From the very start, we were able to collaborate with OEDIV as partners because they have a genuine understanding of the challenges faced by mid-market companies,” says Hossein Tahmaz. “We were particularly impressed by the comprehensive package of solutions covering all aspects of a modern, digital workplace, from application management to user support.”
OEDIV’s Managed Workplace Service is based largely on Citrix DaaS technologies. This enables the IT service provider to provide virtual applications and desktops securely and efficiently at any site and on any device. There is no longer a need to install and update applications locally on desktops, because all applications run on the central servers located in the OEDIV cloud. In addition, Citrix management and monitoring tools simplify the management of digital workspaces and ensure the high availability of all resources.
OEDIV operates the desktops and applications for Horn & Co. in two redundantly designed data centers certified to ISO 27001. Therefore, not only is the private cloud infrastructure reliably available 24/7, but it also meets the highest data security and protection standards.
“To transform our IT strategy successfully, it was crucial to meet the needs of all our departments,” emphasizes Hossein Tahmaz. “Our production, administration, and laboratory staff all use very different applications and services in their work. Thanks to the expert support of OEDIV and the Citrix technologies deployed, we were able to integrate all these special applications into the new workplace concept.”
In total, OEDIV runs more than 50 business applications for Horn & Co. and makes these available virtually for users across the different business sites. Alongside standard applications, there are also latency-sensitive applications for production and laboratory environments. All access is via encrypted connections. Outside the corporate network, access is additionally secured using multi-factor authentication.
“The huge advantage of Citrix technology is its outstanding performance in terms of application access – even in difficult network conditions,” explains Delia Wulle, Managing Director at OEDIV. “Some of the Horn & Co. Group’s sites are connected via relatively narrow bandwidths. Despite this, users enjoy very good response times thanks to Citrix, and are able to work productively with their applications at all times.” If the connection to OEDIV ever fails, users are automatically rerouted via an LTE connection, allowing them to continue their work without interruption.
The new workplace strategy enables the staff at Horn & Co. to access all necessary data and applications remotely. “We often process industrial raw materials onsite at our customers’ production facilities throughout Germany, such as steel works,” says Adriatik Kameraj, Manager at Horn & Co. “The OEDIV solution gives us access to our central systems from any operating facility, allowing us to instantly pull data on production planning, material management, and maintenance. This really helps us provide the best customer service in any situation.”
The new workplace strategy also enabled Horn & Co. to respond rapidly to changing circumstances at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Within a few short days, all employees who were able to do so began working remotely. They logged into their digital workstation from home using their company laptop or their own computer, keeping them accessible to both internal and external contacts.
“We really reaped the rewards of having already implemented a secure remote access solution,” says Hossein Tahmaz. “The integrated Citrix technologies ensure that access from each device is fully protected, and that no sensitive customer data leaves the OEDIV cloud.”
By switching to the new IT model, Horn & Co. was able to significantly reduce the costs of operating and supporting its digital workspaces. “We estimate that we will make savings of around 30% over a three-year period, thanks to Workplace Service,” says Hossein Tahmaz. “Over the coming years, upgrading our data center would have required considerable investment, which will now no longer be necessary.”
OEDIV’s Workplace Service has relieved Horn & Co.’s IT organization of almost all the operational tasks relating to the company’s IT workstations. Administrators no longer have to deal with application and desktop provision and updates, while data is automatically stored in accordance with jointly defined guidelines. The devices themselves hardly require any maintenance.
Many of the desktop computers have been replaced with IGEL thin clients. These slim, robust machines are suitable for any environment – from the office to the factory floor – and can also be connected and replaced by users themselves as required. Once connected to the network, the thin clients automatically get the required settings for secure access to the OEDIV cloud.
Horn & Co.’s workforce values the high stability and efficient performance of the new digital workplace. Long waiting times caused by slow network connectivity and problems with desktop computers are now consigned to the past. This has significantly reduced the support workload. And if any issues do arise, the OEDIV helpdesk is available 24/7: “There is always someone available to quickly deal with our problems,” says Letizia Tahmaz, IT Specialist at Horn & Co.
As part of the workplace transformation, Horn & Co.’s IT organization has undergone a complete restructure, evolving to become a digital solutions provider. Horn & Co. Industrial IT GmbH now not only provides services to internal users but also to customers of the corporate group. These days, value creation, rather than operational tasks, takes center stage. “Our focus now is the development of new digital services for our core business,” says Letizia Tahmaz. “Smart tracking and visualization tools, for instance, allow us to generate additional value for our customers.”
These new services, alongside consultancy and solutions for Industry 4.0 projects, have been received favorably by the corporate group’s customers. Horn & Co.’s IT subsidiary now generates around 50% of its revenue from external users and has been able to double its workforce within a two-year period.
Ultimately, Hossein Tahmaz also attributes this success to the shift to a managed workplace service. “OEDIV provides our staff with a modern workplace and gives us the scope to focus on new projects. As an IT organization, we have become much more agile and are able to make an even greater contribution to value creation. We now spend just 20% of our time on administrative tasks and can therefore implement digital innovations far more rapidly – for us and for our customers.”
“We estimate that we will achieve savings of around 30% over a three-year period, thanks to Workplace Service. Over the coming years, upgrading our data center would have required considerable investment, which will now no longer be necessary.”
“OEDIV provides our staff with a modern workplace and gives us the scope to focus on new projects. As an IT organization, we have become much more agile and are able to make an even greater contribution to value creation. We now spend just 20% of our time on administrative tasks and can therefore implement digital innovations far more rapidly – for us and for our customers.”