Oncology Venture is a unique drug development company that provides precision therapies for cancer patients. The business has just raised SEK100 million to expand its operations.
Principal Infrastructure Engineer Ulrik Christensen explains that the business currently has a relatively small core of employees located in five offices and labs in Denmark and the US. However, “We work with all kinds of partners. Our drug manufacturing is in India and we are working with labs, clinicians and contract research organisations (CROs) all around the world.”
With a small team, the ability to provide a reliable, easy-to-support desktop on any hardware platform was essential. It was also important to secure the sharing of files and data with other organisations. As the business prepares to expand its services, Christensen also needed to be sure that security and cost-effectiveness could be maintained.
After reviewing several factors such as cost structure, performance reliability and other key metrices, Oncology Venture chose to implement Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops within the organization because, as Christensen says, “We needed a standard desktop that would work on any endpoint: Apple, Windows, Google Chromebook or mobile phone. The alternative was spending three or four hours a day on basic support issues. We chose Citrix because we know it works. Citrix just makes things easier.”
Secure file-sharing protects intellectual property and patient data
Oncology Venture handles sensitive information on several levels. First of all the privacy of the individual patient cannot be compromised, and secondly the company’s propitiatory Drug Response Prediction technology, called DRP®, needs to be handled in an environment where access and usage can be controlled and monitored by the Oncology Venture team. In addition, the company needs to handle a lot of information from third party organizations, such as drug manufacturers and researchers in a speedy and yet highly secure manner
Deploying Citrix with a standard set of office productivity tools enabled Oncology Venture to achieve an easy-of-use solution and at the same time harvest the productivity gains of using a simple, stable desktop from any device, anywhere. From there, users began to request he add specialist medical and research apps for users.
“We want to make people more efficient in their daily work,” Christensen explains, “and with Citrix we have a single point of access to everything. That helps both efficiency and security.”
Oncology Venture now uses Citrix Files to securely share information with clients and partner firms. “It’s our primary system,” says Christensen. “We don’t have files on USB drives. Everything is kept securely in our data center.”
Christensen’s preferred choice for user devices is the Google Chromebook. “They are so simple, and they are one of the most secure endpoint devices offered at Oncology Venture. There’s very little software on the device and no data, so it can’t be compromised. Using a Chromebook and a Citrix login, we have secure access to our data and valuable IP.”
Currently, Oncology Venture processes patient’s cancer tissue samples in its own labs, analyzing each sample’s messenger-RNA to recommend each patient a precise treatment to meet the individual patient’s needs. Obviously, security of confidential patient data is of the highest priority. As the business gets set to expand access to its Drug Response Predictor (DRP), Christensen is working with Citrix to help protect its data at scale.
“We need to make DRP secure for outside users and we are exploring Citrix ADC [formerly NetScaler ADC] to sit in front of Kubernetes and enable us to scale DRP securely.”
“We save about 10 hours a month on updates”
Oncology Venture runs on Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and the company was one of the first users of Citrix Machine Creation Services (MCS) for GCP.
“Before we had we prepared all the image updates manually. It would easily take one day a month,” Christensen says.
“With MCS, we save about 10 hours per month. But more than that, the workflow is better so I can respond more quickly to staff requests. We can add new apps or functionality within a few hours and it only needs a system reboot. Often, users don’t even notice.”
As a result, Christensen now spends less time on either desktop support or system maintenance and can focus on creating greater value for the fast-growing business.
Autoscale saves money by managing peaks and troughs
Oncology Venture has staff in Denmark and the United States. System usage hits a peak in the Danish afternoon, as US users come online. As Denmark goes home for the evening, overall usage drops.
“We use Autoscale, which comes with Citrix Apps and Desktops service, to automatically manage these system peaks and troughs,” Christensen explains. “When resources are not required, it automatically shuts down the unneeded workloads, booting them up again when both countries come online. Autoscale saves us a lot of money on our cloud costs.”
Partnering for future growth
Oncology Venture and its pioneering development of cancer drugs is set for major growth and Citrix will be alongside to support as the business expands.
“We are being asked to deliver more and more on Citrix, because people know it works,” he says. “And, we’re ready to work other partner companies very quickly because of Citrix. On IT, we used to lag behind other organisations. With Citrix, we can do things faster and easier. We’re now leading the way and offering better service to our partners, as well.”