In its more than 15-year year history, U.K.-based Aston Martin Red Bull Racing (AMRBR) has achieved more accolades than many of the oldest teams on the grid. The team’s mantra is a tall order: “to maximize human performance by delivering the right data and applications at the right time, in the right format and in the right locations.” That’s one of the reasons why Citrix, a software company that markets digital technology that transforms the way people work, became an Innovation Partner in 2017.
Using Citrix at the track has given AMRBR a powerful means to drive competitive advantage at races around the globe. Having a digital infrastructure has ensured that workers of all kinds can have a great employee experience from anywhere.
AMRBR itself is comprised of more than 800 employees -- more than 500 of whom use Citrix. The comprehensive Citrix technology suite comprised of Citrix Virtual Apps & Desktops deployed with Citrix Hypervisor, Citrix ADC, Citrix Gateway, and Citrix Content Collaboration, now touches every part of the racing team’s operations.
Think of Citrix as “road warrior” technology that drives innovation
AMRBR is proud of the collaboration between the engineers at the factory and the trackside road warriors who routinely travel annually to racetracks in over twenty different countries around the world. Citrix has provided the technology to enable these engineers to collaborate and implement new designs and affect turnkey decisions trackside in real-time, taking “fast-paced” creativity to a whole new level.
“It is key for us to have innovation partners. We have a lot of experience in-house, but as a race team, we have to be efficient,” notes Matt Cadieux, CIO. “We must focus on the car and improve the business, so we need key technology partners that have game-changing products and expertise. Working together, we can make a big difference.”
Great security that does not impact the employee experience is crucial
Given the nature of the race business, security is top-of-mind. While it can’t get in the way of delivering a great employee experience, access control must be stringent and the security of remote sessions must be zero trust. This means it is based on contextual awareness that adaptively grants access to authorized personnel based on patterns such as identity, time, and device posture. Access security is strong, yet it gives users their choice of devices and apps.
“We need to get the data maps to people when they need them, and we need to do that in a secure way,” Cadieux says. “We have confidence that Citrix technology allows us to do that.”
For AMRBR, coronavirus caused less short-term disruption than for many other companies around the world
AMRBR had been using Citrix for over a decade as the team travelled to approximately 20 races per year. Then coronavirus entered the global stage. For the majority of the world’s companies, the virus rapidly caused a business disruption of epic proportions. Because of the nature of its business, however, and the fact that AMRBR’s technology infrastructure has supported remote engineers for years, the shift to remote work for those who typically work in an office was relatively easy -- both before and after the factory shutdown implemented by the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA). For AMRBR colleagues at the headquarters location who were sent home to work due to the coronavirus, the “new normal” was to have a great employee experience remotely using Citrix.
Paul Monaghan, chief engineer, Car Engineering, and his team work on CAD files and access key applications through Citrix. He notes, “Many members of the team, including me, use Citrix day-to-day in the Technical Offices. When we started to migrate some staff to working from home at the start of the pandemic, it was a pretty smooth transition.”
Christian Horner, team principal, adds: “Due to the escalation of the global pandemic, we had to move many of our staff to work from home before the official F1 shut down was implemented. Citrix provided the crucial secure technology infrastructure and applications necessary to help us stay connected to each other, our partners, and suppliers.”
Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops is the solution that seamlessly delivers 3D graphics and CAD to engineers wherever they are
Under normal circumstances – when there isn’t a global pandemic causing business interruptions -- the combination of Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops and Citrix Hypervisor enables AMRBR engineers to view and manipulate graphically intensive engineering files and data from anywhere. With 3D and CAD data being hosted from the U.K. headquarters, track-side engineers securely and quickly manage workflow. A component of Citrix Hypervisor allows intensive graphics files and workloads to flow between servers without downtime. Alleviating complexity and delays ensures that engineers have a better employee experience and as a result, are more productive and engaged.
In addition, having track-side computers process data saves time and compresses workflow. This is invaluable for troubleshooting and strategizing during on-track sessions. Crucial decisions can be made on Friday and Saturday, for example, as the team prepares for a Sunday race.
Citrix ADC and Citrix Gateway contribute to a better overall user experience
The AMRBR race team securely runs some of its most critical workloads on Citrix ADC, because it provides load balancing and enables direct connections that allow secure access for third parties in the supply chain. This means that neither network reliability nor performance is sacrificed.
Citrix Gateway provides the easy access remote employees need to get to their everyday apps and data no matter where they are; it makes remote access simple—all while providing stringent security that does not interfere with the user experience.
Citrix technology drives many AMRBR use cases
Regardless of which team members you poll at Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, you’ll likely find a use case facilitated by Citrix. Here are a few examples:
Use case: F1 race weekend car setup
Engineers at the racetrack set up F1 cars with new components they have received from the UK factory.
Use case: Accessing aerodynamics information
Aerodynamicists can remotely monitor telemetry data from race cars. They can access numerically and graphically intensive workloads through the Citrix Workspace App.
Use case: Driver simulation
In the AMRBR Operations Room in the UK headquarters (HQ), the solution provides simulator content.
Use case: Race Operations Room
The Race Operations Room in the UK HQ is a control center that is very active during race weekends. Citrix Workspace app provides the main link between HQ and the track.
“In order to support a business like this with IT infrastructure, agility and flexibility are key,” notes Cadieux. “We always work in a very fast-paced and travel-centric environment, which certainly has helped us — as has the support of key Innovation Partners like Citrix — to react quickly in the current situation.”
The race to the future
AMRBR has a number of laps to go in its quest to build a technology infrastructure that will position the company both for today’s needs and the rigors of tomorrow. Adding Citrix Workspace to its arsenal is the next big step. There are a number of benefits that AMRBR sees Citrix Workspace providing, such as improving collaboration with vendors and improving the productivity of the supply chain; simplifying cumbersome workflows that make efficiency and productivity suffer; and helping users alleviate clutter and zero in on the tasks that are most crucial in their roles.
Today, Workspace has been deployed to only a handful of team members. Zoe Chilton, head of technical partnerships, describes how users interact with it: “What Citrix really enables us to do is deliver data and applications and tools in a really agile way. So, whether your engineers are in different locations on different days around the factory, they can be working one day in a test rig and the next day in an office. They still open the same Citrix Workspace; they can still open the same applications and tools and data.”
In the race for consistency and less technical complexity, rolling out Workspace to more users is next on the schedule for AMRBR. As with everything else, that stage promises to be filled with excitement and innovation.