Hybrid work strategy creates new scope for users and it relieves stress on IT
Premium motorhomes from Carthago take their owners to every destination in comfort. This successful company is now also committed to great flexibility and mobility in its IT strategy: With Citrix DaaS, Carthago can very rapidly provide digital workspaces for its employees anywhere, at all times, from any device – all with minimum overhead. This leaves the IT department more time to drive forward the digital transformation of the company.
The Carthago Group is headquartered in the Southern German town of Aulendorf and is a manufacturer of motorhomes in the premium segment. For over 40 years, this family-owned business has been producing innovative vehicle concepts, high-quality exterior and interior design and optimum travel comfort. Every year, its workforce of 1500 employees produce more than 5000 vehicles at its sites in Aulendorf and Odranci in Slovenia – using the very latest production methods and investing a great deal of love in every detail. This explains why Carthago motorhomes regularly receive great ratings from customer surveys and comparison tests.
Carthago sells its vehicles across Europe through a network of 250 dealerships. Every eleventh premium RV registered in Europe now comes from Carthago, as do one in six integrated motorhomes in this category.
This huge growth in business can only be achieved through great flexibility and responsiveness. “We need to be able to respond rapidly to new requirements, and we are therefore increasingly committed to the digitalization of our business operations – from development and production to sales and customer service”, states Fabian Fischer, the IT Infrastructure Manager at Carthago. “However, we also need to have maximum flexibility in relation to our workplaces. Our employees need to be able to access data and applications at any time and from any location”.
Modernization of the digital world of work with Citrix and Axians
Carthago began providing desktops and applications centrally via a Citrix environment in its own data center several years ago. This reduced the administration effort for IT workstations and allowed new applications to be rolled out quickly across the company. As the company’s footprint and requirements grew, their infrastructure needed to do the same.
“We were faced with a complete redesign of the Citrix environment and we started thinking about what a future-facing architectural solution might look like”, explains Fabian Fischer. “The most important objectives here were to improve performance for our users, to simplify management and to achieve highly flexible scalability. In future, we want to be able to adapt our digital working environment very quickly to meet changing needs”, continues Fischer.
On a joint basis with IT partner Axians, an architectural solution was devised that was able to satisfy these requirements. The specialists from Axians recommended a hybrid Citrix DaaS architecture to Carthago that combines the strengths of cloud and on-prem infrastructure. With Citrix DaaS, the company can provide digital workspaces on demand for any user group and any end device - while also freeing it up from many administrative tasks.
All management and monitoring components for the digital workspaces are deployed and updated automatically since migrating to Citrix DaaS in the cloud. Citrix applies the necessary updates and security patches and keeps components such as the delivery controller, databases and cloud connectors up to date. The Citrix Gateway service for secure remote access to digital workspaces also runs in the Citrix cloud console.
However, moving the entire Citrix environment to a cloud provider was out of the question for Carthago. The RV manufacturer relies on low latency times when running industrial applications and prefers to have full control of product data on-premises. “As far as possible, our production operations should be able to continue running even if the Internet connection is lost briefly”, states Fabian Fischer
This prompted Carthago to continue running the Citrix virtual desktops and applications in its own data center - on a hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) from Nutanix. This HCI platform is a turnkey solution that combines all components for the operation of virtualized applications - server, storage, hypervisor and management. “Nutanix offers us a cloud-like architecture for our data center, which we can expand quite flexibly as our requirements increase”, says Fabian Fischer. “In addition, Nutanix technology operates perfectly with Citrix, delivering excellent performance for our virtual desktops and applications”.
Dependable operation of digital workspaces for production and administration
Carthago was able to significantly improve the stability and user experience of its digital working environment through modernization of the Citrix infrastructure. Especially at production workstations, employees depend on having continuous access to their applications. For example, if data from the ERP system, Infor LN, ceases to be available, the production of new motorhomes very quickly comes to a complete stop.
Since the switch to the new platform, there have been virtually no outages or malfunctions at Carthago's IT workstations. The Citrix DaaS environment runs extremely reliably and accelerates virtual application response times with new HDX technologies. Logging on to user desktops is also much faster today than it used to be. Meanwhile, the IT department implemented robust Thin Clients from IGEL at many workstations. These support the stable operation of the new workspace infrastructure and, at the same time, assure high endpoint security with the read-only edge operating system IGEL OS.
With support from Axians. Carthago expanded the new Citrix environment on a step-by-step basis, and it now provides digital workspaces centrally for a wide range of user groups. In addition to production employees, most administrative and sales staff now also work with Citrix DaaS. “We were able to map the requirements of all employees with the new infrastructure and enable access to all important business applications via a central platform”, says Fabian Fischer.
Flexible and secure work at any location
This new working environment also helped Carthago to function effectively during the COVID-19 crisis. After the outbreak of the pandemic, about one-third of employees switched to working from home. To keep the business running, these users needed fast and reliable access to their digital workspaces, also when working from home. “With Citrix DaaS, we really were able to get on top of this situation”, reports Fabian Fischer. “This infrastructure was really able to expand to include additional users – and thanks to the integrated security technologies of Citrix, remote access was well protected right from day one.”
The Gateway service in the Citrix cloud console ensures secure connections and encrypts all communication between the home office and the data center. At the same time, IT can monitor all access in a granular manner, and can prevent sensitive data - such as design data - from being stored on potentially insecure terminal devices. Remote access to internal resources is also protected by multi-factor authentication.
In addition to comprehensive security, Citrix DaaS also offers a high level of user comfort for the new hybrid working world at Carthago - for example, when using Microsoft Teams. The company introduced Teams during the pandemic to facilitate virtual collaboration among employees. “Microsoft Teams became one of our most important communication tools in a very short time”, says Fabian Fischer. “With Citrix's optimization capabilities, we ensure our employees can work efficiently with Teams from any location at all times”.
Citrix HDX optimization for Microsoft Teams moves audio, video and screen-sharing processing from the server to the endpoint. When users start a Teams session on their virtual desktop, communication does not have to be routed via the data center but can instead be transferred directly between the participants involved. This means that employees benefit from perfect image and sound quality during video calls and online meetings, even when working on the move.
This relieves the burden on IT and it can speed up the process of digital transformation
For Carthago's IT organization, the changeover to this new infrastructure made life a great deal easier. “We save a lot of time in our day-to-day operations with Citrix DaaS because we no longer have to worry about administering and updating core components ourselves”, says Fabian Fischer. “This has reduced the operational management overhead for our digital workspaces very significantly”.
Furthermore, the IT department no longer needs to schedule maintenance windows for extensions or updates to the basic infrastructure. Today, software updates or hardware upgrades of the Nutanix platform can easily be performed during operation.
Relieving the burden of administrative tasks in this way frees up resources for future digital projects. Among other things, Carthago's specialists are currently working on the smart networking of production and innovative customer services. “More than ever before, we view the future role of IT as an enabler for digital transformation”, concludes Fabian Fischer. “The less time we spend on routine tasks, the faster we can implement new projects. This is why solutions like Citrix DaaS are so valuable to us”.
With Citrix DaaS, we have created a future-proof basis for the hybrid digital working world at Carthago. Today, our employees can securely access all the applications they need from anywhere. At the same time, the platform helps us minimize operational overhead and flexibly implement new workplace requirements.