Letting access to data on the fly

By : |May 20, 2014 0

BANGALORE, INDIA: Data gives businesses game-changing insight into their customers and industries. The writing on the wallis quite clear ..it depends on the businesses whether they choose to flourish by using that data judiciously to make the right decision at the right time, or perish eventually.

PI Industries chose the first.

Today every professional walks with business most critical and confidential data on his system and fear of losing it. Therefore, the company started looking for a solution that will let its employees access the data on the fly and from anywhere.

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Virtual Desktop is the solution that fits the requirement of the organization well and empowers the users to let them travel without the fear of losing any data.

Being in the business of CRAMs (contract research and manufacturing), the IP (intellectual property) of the customers is very critical and needs to be protected at any cost. Selecting Virtual Desktop solution, PI on one hand was being able to secure the data of its customers from the prying eyes of competitors, and the users were also being able to access data from anywhere without carrying the data physically.

The initiative was first kept limited to some users on the bottom of the pyramid, but now has been converted into a full-fledged business service where both the organization and the users are reaping the benefits. Today the project covers around 1200 IT users spread across the globe.

After evaluating solutions from different vendors, PI zeroed on Citrix as it provided XEN desktop and could be easily integrated with Xen servers. The solution was very cost effective and was in line with the company’s IT strategy to provide Xen desktop to all its users.

The major driving force behind the project was the IP of the customers and hence PI industries adopted a private cloud model.

Citrix solutions helped IT to build, manage and secure virtual and mobile workspaces that seamlessly deliver apps, desktops, data and services to anyone, on any device, over any network or cloud. The organization has also been able to build more confidence in its customers, who were keen to protect their IP being shared with the organization.

Initial roadblocks:

The first and foremost challenge the IT team was facing was on how to deliver seamless integration and personalized experience across both on physical and virtual desktops. Second challenge was how to make the Cloud Desktop(CD) access secure and centrally controlled, being able to access from anywhere- just the local/single authentication was not sufficient. The third challenge was how to keep the data safe and secure from viruses and other malicious programs as this cloud desktop will be accessed from any device which may not have updated antivirus or security patch.

The solution:

Over the years, PI has built for its businesses an enviable reputation for its innovative approach to deal with the challenges. Observing these challenges, IT has to do some innovation to make all users concentrate on core power. The outcome was Cloud Desktop which will release all extra burdens and make them focus on core power.

The control of the Xen Desktop is with the admins. All the applications could be easily published on the Application Server which is accessible across the locations.

In order to provide seamless view and similar user experience as on desktop/laptop, IT configured UPM and mapping it with domain authentication to give the user same desktop view while logging in from local network LAN or from home using any internet connectivity will provide the same look and feel as local device.

IT introduced Two Factor Authentication to make the cloud desktop access secure and centrally controlled. Redundant MPLS links were provided in the plants and key offices. The access to the defined users centrally with one time usable secure code authentication provided on keychain Tokens or on Mobile phone as a message.

Another challenge was to keep the data safe and secure from viruses and other malicious programs as this cloud desktop will be accessed from any device which may not have updated antivirus or security patched. After considering all the business needs and data security aspects and to ensure secure/restricted data access on Cloud Desktop, PI IT team categorized the data access into two mode 1. When user is in PIIL Network (LAN), system will allow to update data from local device to cloud desktop as in backend all the data travelling in network is been scanned for any threats.
2. When user is accessing from home or using public network (internet), system will disable the upload or download of any data from local device to CD or CD to local device.

For the uptime assurance, the first level of uptime was assured by virtualizing the servers. And on the second level an active DR has been built which is in sync with Data center.

Implementation and Benefits:

The migration of users from desktop/laptops to Xen Desktops needs to be seamless experience and it was achieved within three days without any downtime to any users. However, adoption of Xen Desktop by the employees was a major risk, which was circumvented by change management.

The Cloud Desktop has provided the compute power of servers at the desktop level. There are no latency concerns that have been raised till now.

IT helpdesk service calls were reduced by 80 percent in the post-cloud deployment. Cloud has empowered IT to provide servers, storage on the fly. The backup of individual desktops/laptops has been stopped resulting in saving of around 20 percent of IT administration time.

 

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