Aegis is a global outsourcing and technology services company committed to impacting clients' business outcomes by focusing on enhancing customer experience across all touch points and channels. Aegis has operations in 46 locations across 9 countries with more than 40,000 employees. Aegis manages over half a billion interactions each year for over 150 clients from verticals such as Banking and Financial Services, Insurance, Technology, Telecom, Healthcare, Travel & Hospitality, Consumer Goods, Retail, and Energy & Utilities. The company is wholly owned by Essar, a USD 27 billion conglomerate.
Distributed architecture woes
In India Aegis operates over 30 delivery centres across multiple cities, with each delivery centre having an independent IT set up, be it an active directory or an anti virus server. Having a distributed architecture brought along the challenge of having distributed data backup solutions and stand-alone storage across the enterprise.
The management of desktops was an even bigger issue with too many sites and end points to look after and manage. “Considering we serve multiple customers across industries from over 30 plus delivery centres, there are a
wide variety of applications that we need to run on each and every desktop as per the clients’ requirements. Thus, desktop management was becoming a challenge,” says Ganapathy Subramaniyan, SVP and CIO, Aegis Limited.
This also had an impact on the lead time to update any changes or install new applications for a specific customer or a new business opportunity. “Having a distributed architecture every site would have its own problems. So, when we actually wanted to install anything common across all sites we had bigger issues,” explains Subramaniyan.
To overcome these challenges Aegis decided to move towards a centralized architecture. This is when the company identified virtualization, on both the server and desktop, among the key elements of its move towards a centralized approach. “After evaluating our server footprint we realized that virtualization was a key imperative to our growth strategy and, therefore, eased many of our business requirements across a distributed architecture,” says Subramaniyan.
Citrix offers a compelling answer with a holistic solution
While evaluating the vendors, Citrix was chosen over the other competitors due to its ability to offer a holistic solution besides scoring on the key parameters of security, manageability and commercials.
Subramaniyan found Citrix to be the right fit as with it the company was able to look at everything together - be it desktop virtualization, server virtualization, application virtualization or application delivery control. “There was a compelling reason for us to move forward to a complete Citrix solution. Citrix had the complete and right set of products to help us get all the benefits together and to address all the issues from having a distributed IT infrastructure. Also, getting the entire portfolio from one vendor ensured seamless integration, improved customer experience, better management and convenience,” explains Subramaniyan.
Specifically with XenServer, the biggest advantage it offered Aegis was to go for unlimited number of licenses, which helped the company a lot. This was not an option with some of the other hypervisor vendors. Besides its product offerings, Citrix also impressed with its services. The Citrix consulting team provided a value add by doing
a health check and audit of the complete IT environment on which Citrix’s products were supposed to work. It offered recommendations around optimizing the entire IT infrastructure, including network parameters, network core configuration, WAN configuration, etc.
With Citrix being finalized as the solution of choice the implementation process started in a phased manner across the different delivery centers. XenServer, XenDesktop, XenApp and NetScaler were all deployed together in a big
bang approach and within a span of three years all the 30 centers of Aegis were running on Citrix. In terms of footprint, the company has covered around 3,000 users on VDI with 9,000 users accessing applications delivered by
XenApp. Both VDI and XenApp are hosted by 350 plus instances of XenServer. Besides these two, some of the other workloads hosted on XenServer are database, application servers and all Windows Infrastructure Services (AD, DHCP, etc.).
During the implementation process, the biggest challenge faced by Subramaniyan’s team was that most of the applications needed to be tested on the VDI for each and every customer that Aegis was serving. This entire exercise took the company almost a year to complete considering the large portfolio of customers.
After moving to the Citrix environment the company has benefitted on both business and IT management fronts. To begin with, XenServer has helped consolidate the IT infrastructure, bringing the server footprint down by almost 40% while drastically shrinking the storage footprint by 60%, leading to cost savings.
Aegis also benefited significantly from having a central access to everything as it made the deployment and management of applications much easier and less time consuming. “Earlier it was a significant challenge for our teams to roll out new applications that our clients would want to install on some of the desktops across multiple sites. Now it is just a matter of few hours for us to release a new application across the organization as compared to what used to take days earlier,” says Subramaniyan.
Moving from desktop to a thin client environment has meant that the time taken to deploy a new workstation has also reduced considerably. The moment there is a requirement within a few hours the IT team is able to build, deploy and make available the workstations. The time taken to deploy has reduced considerably. Further, there is no local support required across any of the sites, leading to better utilization of resources. Since the introduction of VDI there has been a reduction in power consumption, leading to savings in utility costs.
On the compliance front, overall audits as well as end-point audits have become much easier because of the centralized architecture that Aegis moved to with Citrix. Considering everything is now consolidated and centrally
done, the auditor is able to conduct the checks at the datacentre level and doesn’t have to visit individual delivery centers.
“Today our IT infrastructure runs like a well-oiled machinery without any issues. All that is possible by having the complete set of Citrix solution in our environment,” concludes Subramaniyan.