news Virtualisation and remote access vendor Citrix has revealed that a sizable deployment of its desktop and application virtualisation solutions has aided local law firm Duncan Cotterill in setting up a completely mobile working environment for its staff that will assist it with productivity as well as with dealing with natural disasters affecting its operations, such as the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.
According to a statement issued by the vendor, the firm was significantly impacted by the 2011 earthquake in Christchurch. Duncan Cotterill has around 270 staff located in Australia and New Zealand, and suffered data and productivity loss, as well as wider business issues, as a result of the quake. Christchurch staff suffered limited access to files and devices during the emergency period due to the firm’s office in the city being condemned.
Following the disaster recovery phase, the firm took the opportunity to implement an improved business continuity plan to protect its operations moving forward, which included an enterprise software solution from Citrix. Duncan Cotterill Lawyer’s IT department moved to centralise its IT functionality, using the vendor’s XenApp and XenDesktop virtualisation solutions.
According to Citrix, the solution enables a completely mobile working environment for the firm’s lawyers as well as improving synchronicity and acting as a business safe guard should remote access ever be required as a business continuity necessity.
IT Manager at Duncan Cotterill Lawyers, Roger Sillars, said that before the implementation, the time required of lawyers travelling between offices to download and access information was limiting productivity.
“Now with the ability to access firm files securely from home using laptops and mobile devices, lawyers at the firm were suddenly unrestricted by time, device or location which has enhanced service delivery to our clients, collaboration and ultimately the productivity of the firm on an international scale,” said Sillars.
“Our clients work across jurisdictions and time zones. There was a strong desire among staff to be more mobile and aligned to the needs of our clients. This need prompted the firm to look at XenDesktop™ as the solution to enable this capability for the firm.”
By decoupling applications from the operating system of each workstation, the firm has also been able to streamline the future deployment of Windows 8 and other software.
“We also significantly improved our business continuity by ensuring each office was redundantly connected to our centralised datacentre. We then took additional measures to replicate this data centre in real time to a secondary data center in a different city. If any natural disaster occurs we can still meet the needs of our clients, regardless of where they are located.” said Sillars.
With an automatic failover of single and multiple Citrix components both within the primary office and across the smaller sites, the application delivery solution has also proved very reliable, according to Citrix, improving staff productivity and collaboration. “With automatic failover, even in the case of a hardware failure, the firm can continue work as normal with minimal interruption,” said Sillars.
As part of ongoing improvements to the efficiency of the firm’s mobile workforce, Duncan Cotterill Lawyers has implemented a new Practice Management System, is deploying the latest version of XenDesktop and providing tablets to mobile staff members to enhance productivity and mobility.
Citrix’s application virtualisation technology is very widely used in Australia, but desktop virtualisation software hasn’t traditionally been as popular, with most large organisations preferring to use the traditional desktop PC paradigm to deploy applications to staff, rather than a centrally deployed alternative. However, over the past several years the technology has found a home in Australian universities, which had started adopting it en-masse.
CIO Magazine revealed in November 2011 that the University of Sydney had launched a widespread desktop virtualisation project across its various campuses, for example, using XenDesktop. A similar rollout using VMware’s competing View product was revealed in April 2012 at Macquarie University. A number of private sector organisations are also known to have deployed virtual desktops, including recruitment firm Hudson and the National Broadband Network Company. A number of NSW councils have also recently signed a contract with VMware to use View for virtual desktops.