To enable an efficient IT operation for energy Südbayern GmbH and the various subsidiaries and joint ventures, the energy company strategically relies on Citrix technologies. Approximately 250 applications are provided through a XenApp environment in the data center. Network solutions from Citrix are centrally operated and ensure optimal performance, security and availability of IT resources.
Founded 50 years ago as regional gas suppliers, today's energy Südbayern GmbH (ESB) is an ecologically minded cross-regional energy company with a broad portfolio of products and services for private and corporate customers. With a natural gas pipeline network of approximately 8.500 kilometers in length, the company supplies more than 165.000 households, 14.000 business and corporate customers as well as 20 local public utilities with power. ESB promotes an efficient and environmentally friendly use of energy in domestic, commercial and industrial, and is a pioneer in the use of sustainable technologies. Its product portfolio includes not only conventional energy sources and CO2-neutral natural gas and green electricity from hydropower plants. Economical and modern energy solutions the company is developing in his contracting business segment: As one of the largest contracting service in Bavaria supplied energy Südbayern through its subsidiary ESB Wärme GmbH currently has around 400 large projects efficiently with heat, cooling and electricity.
The company's development of the energy supplier was greatly influenced by the unbundling and regulatory provisions of the amended Energy Act. Within the prescribed "unbundling" process ESB conducted a separation of network and distribution and set up a separate company for the natural gas grid. For the IT department of ESB, the organizational changes in the company were associated with substantial challenges: "The division in different societies increased both the administrative costs and the demands on the IT infrastructure," said Thomas Hofmann, Head of IT energy Südbayern GmbH. "We had a compliant IT operations perform a complete system separation of our central SAP environment and each set up their own structures for data storage."
With the organizational realignment new roles and responsibilities have been added. The IT department is now responsible not only for the subsidiaries of the ESB, but also provides services for subsidiaries and external partners. "Our remit has grown steadily in recent years," says Benjamin Nawrath, Head of IT / Systems of energy Südbayern GmbH. "Therefore it is critical that we work with IT solutions that enable us to react quickly to changing business needs."
One of the key technologies for energy Südbayern GmbH is now Citrix XenApp, the solution for centralized application provisioning. The IT department manages a total of around 250 different applications and makes them available to around 500 internal and external users via the data center in Munich. The administration effort is considerably reduced. Instead of software installations deeding to wait for hundreds of distributed devices and keep up to date, the IT department must manage only one instance of each application on the XenApp server farm.
Access to the centrally operated applications are made via company-specific SharePoint portals: "We have linked the Web Interface XenApp with SharePoint environments of the individual companies in order to provide users with one central point of entry to their IT resources," explains Thomas Hofmann. "The user can access all applications, documents, and information on the portal interface so today."
A challenge for the IT department was at first the integration of niche applications in the central deployment design. It focused primarily on applications that are only needed by individual users, or to software with high resource requirements, such as AutoCAD or Adobe Photoshop. The ESB decided to use the functionality "VM Hosted Apps" XenApp for these applications: In this process, the applications are not installed on the XenApp server farm, but each on a dedicated physical or virtual desktop in the data center.
"From the user's point of view it makes no difference in principle, where the applications are running - says Benjamin Nawrath "For the IT solution, however, is a very useful addition: We can also add applications that we had previously installed locally on individual computers and shift them to the data center. Since the applications are each operated in an isolated environment it eliminates complex compatibility tests. XenApp enables us to efficiently provide all the necessary applications as services."
With the growing importance of the XenApp infrastructure the demands on performance, security and availability have increased. As part of the migration to a newer version of XenApp, the IT department therefore began strategically developing the infrastructure network products from Citrix. An important issue was the optimization of the WAN performance in the 16-connected locations. The IT department had to permit requirements and utilize existing network bandwidth more effectively, prioritize critical data flows and to ensure optimal application performance o IT jobs.
With the use of Citrix Branch Repeater, the ESB was able to implement these goals. The WAN accelerates all data flows between the data center and the individual branches - from ICA traffic in accessing the XenApp environment up to the HTTP traffic of the SharePoint solution. The concrete results in practice were very convincing, according to Benjamin Nawrath. "On average, we achieve with Branch Repeater, a compression rate of 50 percent. In a 2 Mbit line is we have an effective bandwidth of approximately 4 Mbit.
Considerable improvements have been achieved, for example in the pressure range: Even without third-party products, users can print documents quickly and reliably at any location. Large graphic files such as logos that previously affected the pressure performance are now cached locally on the Branch Repeater in the office and therefore do not need to be sent across the WAN again every time you print.
The IT department has gained through the use of the WAN optimization solution entirely new possibilities. The Branch Repeater supports among other granular Quality of Service settings for prioritization of specific data flows: The ESB uses the QoS functionality, to ensure that critical applications such as VoIP, signaling anytime there is enough bandwidth available.
In addition to the Branch Repeater, the ESB has now implemented another networking solution from Citrix. A total of four NetScaler appliances are taking on tasks in the data center for both internal and external application scenarios. So two highly available designed NetScaler systems serve as a hardware-based load balancer for infrastructure services such as Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint and XenApp, while ensuring the optimization and validation of the online portal of ESB.
The Web-based communication has held considerable importance recent years. The company offers its customers and partners Internet diverse self-service services: retail, for example, enter on the online portal of ESB meter readings or get detailed usage information. Citrix NetScaler ensures that sensitive customer data and internal systems are fully protected in these processes from attacks from the Web with the integrated application firewall.
In addition, the solution relieved by caching and acceleration technologies, the Web server and improves performance on the user side: "In particular, in the provision of systems, the use of NetScaler is charged via the Internet enormously from" Benjamin Nawrath states. "We operate an extranet for example, construction companies, in the detailed geographical information is available to our cable network. With its content caching technology from Citrix, we have significantly shorten response times for queries in this network information system. "
In addition to the two NetScaler appliances for load balancing and Web optimization. For this task, the integrated Access Gateway Enterprise functionality of NetScaler is used: The SSL VPN solution, the IT department mobile users or external service allows encrypted web access to the XenApp environment and other IT resources. Usage rights can be this Directive is based on user roles, networks and devices control.
"We have built up with the Citrix technology a future-proof infrastructure in which access the individual components of each other very well," Thomas Hofmann summarizes. "The use of powerful network components is a prerequisite for the further development of our strategy to focus in the next few years very strong on the issues of centralization, virtualization, online services, and mobility." New projects in this area are already in progress: After a successful pilot installation of desktop virtualization solution Citrix XenDesktop for an internal training center, the IT department will next look at the mobile user."
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