Challenge: a reliable, secure workspace for mobile employees, regardless of the situation
Dr Krzysztof Wiater has been building an innovative Polish advisory group with regional ambitions for almost two years. At its center is NGL Legal, a modern law firm providing legal and tax services. The services on offer also include consulting and training services provided by separate entities, as well as business process support. The Group also supports clients on the global market, operating through a network of alliances with large foreign law firms, whose representatives often reinforce hybrid project teams created by NGL.
"We work in a dynamic, evolving environment characterized by very high mobility. Quality is very important for us, we do not take shortcuts, which is why we needed a modern, but proven and secure IT solution to support the productivity of our employees. The priority was also to provide flexibility that would allow a quick change in the number of users, while maintaining strict control over costs" - explains Dr Krzysztof Wiater, founder and managing partner of NGL Legal.
The firm approaches each project individually. A hybrid network of experts allows NGL to build optimal teams of advisers that are appropriate for a given task. This is where many challenges arise: how to provide a dynamically emerging mobile project team with a secure workspace. How to control access to information and how to cancel access rights to specific data after the project is completed? Ensuring uninterrupted, efficient work, even without access to the office, was also a challenge.
The work of a lawyer and tax adviser involves daily operations in a sensitive data environment. Appropriate protection of confidential client information, especially in sectors such as defense or energy, is absolutely crucial for any law firm.
While providing adequate protection and maintaining full control, you also need to think about providing all members of the team working with the client free access to all necessary applications and documents. It is important that the data can be stored on well-protected centralized systems, not allowing employees to transfer it to laptops, smartphones or pendrives that may break or be lost or stolen. There is a significant risk of information leakage in case of such events.
Solution: Citrix digital workspace - on-premise and in the cloud
NGL Legal, drawing on the experience of international law firms, made a strategic decision to choose Citrix technology. Each team member can access the digital workspace from anywhere and on any device. All you need is a single login to get secure access, within a defined authorization, to all applications and data provided from the company's infrastructure, without using VPN connections.
The main tool used for processing documents in NGL Legal is called LUCY. To send, share or collaborate on files, employees also use ShareFile technology, which ensures secure document sharing and full monitoring - you know who had access to what document, when and what they did with it. At any time, you can generate a report with a list of users who have had access to a given file.
Employees mainly use company laptops, that are properly secured. However, they can also log in to the virtual desktop at any time, using any device that will act as a terminal. In that case Citrix technology is responsible for security and there is no company data stored locally.
The devices are managed and secured using Citrix Endpoint Management software. On smartphones, there is a secure, encrypted space, enabling file sharing and using email with Micro VPN technology. Virtual desktops, applications and data are served by the local VDI infrastructure, created with a cluster of three hyper-converged Nutanix dedicated devices, perfectly integrating with Citrix technology.
"The biggest problem of classic VDI architecture are bottlenecks arising at the interface between servers, storage systems and network devices. When many users simultaneously use their virtual desktops, performance issues may occur. Moreover, traditional VDI infrastructure is difficult to expand. An increase in the number of users usually means that purchasing a new, larger and more efficient disk array is needed" - explains Jarosław Jaworski, CEO of Vayana, a Citrix partner responsible for the IT project at NGL Legal.
Nutanix's hyper-converged infrastructure is not only efficient, but also relatively easily scalable. Connecting new users only requires the addition of a next node and the workload is balanced automatically. The Nutanix solution is integrated with Citrix Cloud services, which further simplifies the management of virtual desktops. Citrix Cloud offers all the elements necessary for a quick and easy delivery of virtual desktops, applications and data, providing full control and management functions for the entire environment
Citrix technology met all the expectations of NGL Legal: it provided users with a familiar experience similar to using a traditional PC environment, without compromising on security or performance - both office applications and communication tools for audio and video connections work without any problems.
NGL Legal uses the full version of Citrix Workspace, which integrates many different products into one comprehensive service. User experience is the same or better than in the case of classic desktop applications. Even in critical situations, for example, when all experts must work from home, the company is able to operate as usual, thanks to the native support for remote work model.
The great benefit of this platform is the ability to quickly connect new users and provide them with complete virtual desktops equipped with all the necessary applications. "When a new project appears and you need to create a complete workspace for new users, it can happen in a very short timeframe. Furthermore, while giving access to company resources, our sensitive data is properly secured" – says Paulina Bednarczyk, COO NGL Services.
Security as standard
In addition to high operational flexibility, Citrix Workspace guarantees an increased level of protection for users, applications and data. NGL Legal has full control over who gets access to documents and how the document flow works. The digital workspace, supported by Nutanix technology, is not only secure but also features increased reliability. Since its implementation more than a year ago, there have been no major breaks in service. The servers are restarted for upgrade only during scheduled service windows.
Scalability and full cost control
NGL Legal expects further dynamic growth. Thanks to the Citrix Cloud solution and the Nutanix hyper-converged infrastructure, it is easy to scale the IT environment. The company does not have to plan changes far ahead as it is known in advance that one additional hyper-converged device will be needed to support 30 new users.
Making a workspace available to a new employee is simple and takes very little time. You do not have to wait for the order and delivery of new hardware infrastructure. The company can immediately rent the required computing power in the cloud. From the end user's point of view, switching between the local infrastructure and the cloud is seamless. Thanks to this, equipping a new employee with a complete set of applications, data and a virtual desktop is really fast.
NGL Legal pays - on a monthly basis - only for the licenses actually used. The IT cost for one user is known in advance, which makes it easy to keep the budget under control.
Time is money - IT standardization
An important aspect of choosing Citrix technology was the ability to standardize the workplace, which reduces expenditure on both IT maintenance and onboarding. Each new employee receives the same set of centrally distributed applications, in the same versions. This means, amongst other things, easy updates. After just one click, updated versions of the selected software or some new applications will appear on the employees' desktops. If the update causes any problems, you only need a few minutes to undo the change on a company-wide scale and return to the last correct configuration.
NGL Legal wants to be an innovative company not only in terms of their services, but also from a technology perspective. The law firm is consistently modernizing its IT environment and there are plans to implement a multi-factor authentication. As part of Citrix Cloud services, Citrix Access Control, a Single Sign On service, is now available as standard. Employees of NGL Legal, in addition to providing their login and password, would have to additionally authenticate themselves by accepting a notification on their mobile phone with Citrix software installed. This is an additional layer of security, which has recently become available under the existing license.