Formula 1 is an incredibly fast, technologically advanced sport that is more exciting than anything you can imagine. Streaks of color whiz by so fast that your head spins and your heart threatens to beat right out of your chest. Being there truly is a wild ride.
In its more than 15-year year history, U.K.-based Aston Martin Red Bull Racing 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 Aston Martin Red Bull Racing 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.
Aston Martin Red Bull Racing 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
Aston Martin Red Bull Racing 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 Aston Martin Red Bull Racing coronavirus caused less short-term disruption than for many other companies around the world
The Team had been using Citrix for over a decade as they 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 the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing technology infrastructure has supported remote engineers for years, the shift to remote work for those who typically go to an office was relatively easy -- both before and after the factory shutdown implemented by the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA). For Aston Martin Red Bull Racing 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 Aston Martin Red Bull Racing 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 access and view files. A component of Citrix Hypervisor allows intensive graphics files and workloads to flow between servers without downtime. Engineering resource trackside is limited by the regulated headcount, and also by the tight timelines of the race schedule. This enables access to the right data and applications as efficiently and simply as possible, which is crucial to performance.
In addition, Citrix is used by several members of the Ops Room team (R&D and Aerodynamics) to give insight into the live sensor data from the cars.
Citrix ADC and Citrix Gateway contribute to a better overall user experience
Aston Martin Red Bull Racing 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 Aston Martin Red Bull Racing 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 Team’s highly advanced driver simulators, crucial graphics outputs are run on virtual machines to enable agile specification changes and workload shifts.
Use case: Race Operations Room
The Race Operations Room in the UK HQ is a control center that is very active during race weekends. In the AT&T Operations Room, aerodynamicists use Citrix to access CFD results and assess them against live track data.
“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
As the team has grown, efficiency has always been a key objective: how can they extract more on track performance from the resources available? Now as they look to the future, working with Innovation Partners like Citrix is helping the team to address this challenge in new ways such as improving workflows and maximizing productivity for the engineering team. Simply making access to the right tools and data easier can mean direct performance improvement on track."
Today, Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops has been deployed to only a handful of team members. Citrix-driven tools, apps and VDIs have become common in the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing factory – enabling productivity across the business, and helping the team to drive performance both on the track and off. The next step in the journey will be moving some of these users to the fully integrated Citrix Workspace environment, to maximize productivity for users with complex multi-app workflows – enabling them to work smarter and more efficiently.
Zoe Chilton, head of technical partnerships, describes how users interact with it, “What Citrix Workspace promises is a platform to make those apps and tools so much more readily accessible – and easy to flip from one job to another with minimal time wasted. If there’s one thing Formula One teams care about, it’s making every millisecond count, and giving our team members the best working environment to focus on the important things. Like the overall car performance.”
When success comes is heavily based on the speed of and reaction to real-time data, every team member who is given access to relevant files can turn out to give the team the relevant edge on track. Collaborating with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing in this highly competitive environment helps us to derive learnings for future challenges as the world of work keeps constantly evolving and changing.