“Cloud first” international energy company uses Citrix to fast-track new desktops from design to deployment in just five months
Centrica plc is an international energy services and solutions company serving 26 million customers in the UK, Ireland and North America. The business has 30,000 employees in locations all around the world, ranging from customer contact centres to energy traders working in the financial markets.
The business used a virtual desktop solution running on physical servers in its data centers. The solution functioned well though was difficult to scale at speed or cost-effectively.
“The need for flexibility and scalability was a big driver for change. Whenever we had to expand the platform, it took four months to go through the paperwork, purchase and deploy the hardware. It was costly and not very agile,” explains Patrick Babic, Service Owner for Centrica’s End User Computing (EUC) team. This made it impossible to flex capacity in line with business seasonality, such as the greater demand on contact centres during the UK’s winter period.
As the server hardware was approaching end of life, Babic and Centrica’s EUC service partner Fujitsu, saw an opportunity for a new approach. Centrica has a cloud-first strategy and moving the virtual desktop to cloud would allow the business to simplify and standardize its desktop whilst also bringing greater flexibility and cost savings.
Centrica worked with Fujitsu (Citrix Worldwide Partner of the Year 2020) and Citrix to develop a new solution on Citrix Cloud services.
From design to deployment in just five months
Babic and the team rejected a simple “lift and shift” approach to creating a cloud-based desktop. Instead, the team developed a completely new, standardized desktop, dramatically simplifying the older desktop solution. In fact, the agile, cross-functional team of Centrica, Fujitsu and Citrix designed two desktop solutions – in weeks, not months – that could ultimately be rolled out to 18,000 users around the world. For standard users, the team built a single desktop, collating and simplifying 1,200 different applications.
For energy traders, where their trading software did not support a move to cloud, the team designed an on-premise desktop located in the private datacenter used by traders.
“We started at the end of November 2018 and both platforms were fully ready, end to end, by the end of April 2019,” Babic says, “In just five months, we delivered two separate Citrix platforms, both connected to the Citrix Cloud services.”
With the solution fully rolled-out in Europe and supporting contact centres, Centrica will shortly deploy it to its North American locations as well.
“We plan to deploy North America and its contact centres within three months,” Babic says, “Then we’ll have a single, global platform with a standardized build and user experience.”
A global cloud approach brings flexibility and cost savings
The project is already cost-neutral and Babic forecasts that Centrica will see cost savings in the first full year of operation due, in part, to the new model being consumption-based.
“With our desktop on Citrix Cloud services and Microsoft Azure, we can spin up and down per region to meet seasonal demand. We’ll also have the economies of scale that come from a global platform. Overall, we’ll be constantly flexing between 15,000 and 18,000 users,” explains Babic.
Centrica is already seeing efficiency savings in IT management.
“Citrix simplifies IT management,” says Babic. “And, moving to Citrix Cloud services was the right step. Before, we had 44 management servers. Now, it’s a simple, single URL.”
Robotics on Citrix, too
“We have a huge RPA [robotic process automation] platform running on Citrix,” adds Babic. “We have 350 bots running constantly and last year the platform processed over two million transactions which was 100% growth from a year before. That’s something which wouldn’t be possible without a scalable solution. It’s activity that was previously done by humans, many of whom are now doing higher value work. The benefits in productivity and cost are huge.”
Citrix supports cutting-edge approach to Innovation
“We want to be at the cutting edge of innovation,” Babic says of Centrica’s approach to IT. “There are huge advantages to being at the front. We work very closely with Citrix, Microsoft and Fujitsu so our employees get the benefits of new functionality as soon as it’s available.”
“With this project,” he continues, “we took a bold decision to simplify and standardize the desktop so that our employees and the business can continue to benefit from greater productivity and functionality into the future. Citrix and Fujitsu have helped us deliver a project very much aligned to Centrica’s core values: to be agile, collaborative and courageous.”
Summarizing the project, Steven Anderson, Fujitsu’s Global Client Executive for Centrica says, “Centrica, partnering with Fujitsu and Citrix, have designed, deployed and migrated thousands of users to a global desktop at pace and, critically, with no disruption to the business. It has been achieved collaboratively in just a few months, something that usually takes large organisations years to complete, meaning Centrica are quickly benefiting from a single, consistent user experience and cost savings.”