Virsage, a Citrix Service Provider partner, supports a desktops as a service (DaaS) solution, branded WorkPlace, as a comprehensive, cloud-based managed IT environment for partner resellers and the resellers’ customers. Virsage also provides direct customer service for a select group of clients that have used its services for several years.
The information technology service provider delivers secure desktop and hosted applications to customers even when disaster hits, using Citrix XenDesktop®, XenApp®, XenServer® and NetScaler®.
When devastating floods hit Colorado in September 2013, Virsage wasn’t spared. Its headquarters in the front range of the Colorado Rocky Mountains experienced flood damage that kept employees away from their office building for weeks. Even in the wake of this natural disaster, Virsage needed to keep its customers up and running. Supporting widespread reseller partners and local Colorado customers was a high priority when the flooding began.
Virsage was able to provide desktop and application hosting solutions with an off-site datacenter and Citrix technology including Citrix XenDesktop®, XenApp®, XenServer® and NetScaler®. Virsage used Citrix hosted desktops for its own technical and corporate staff. This enabled Virsage to keep its own business running without any impairment as well as fully support its entire reseller network and all its local Colorado customers of its DaaS solution.
Even though the Virsage offices were flooded, customers experienced zero disruption.
“Our primary concern that day was making sure customers were OK,” says Chris Dodge, Virsage president and co-founder. “People experienced a loss of power and damage to on-premise equipment; we made sure to take care of customers. It never entered our thoughts that we would be going down ourselves until an employee drove into the office and saw six to seven feet of water in the basement parking garage. We started mobilizing and putting our disaster recovery plan in action.
“Times like this could have had a big impact on us, but we don’t even think about it because we have a flexible infrastructure in place.” Dodge says. He explained Virsage didn’t have to look for office space, plan an office move or change IP addresses. The team worked from their Citrix virtual desktops and kept customers up and running. While the office phone systems were damaged, mobile phones were available and a backup phone system quickly went into place.
“Everyone stayed at home and worked; we didn’t lose a minute,” says Matt Fargo, partner at Kurtz Fargo LLP, a longtime Virsage customer. While some of the boutique accounting firm’s employees had trouble driving to the office due to flooded and closed roads, the remainder of its employees chose to work from home and business kept on as usual.
“Other than the fact that we couldn’t reach them by regular phone for a few hours, Virsage was right there, probably very much so because of the work anywhere, anytime, on any device ability they have,” says Denise Duysen, CMPE, Practice Administrator for Rocky Mountain Primary Care, a full-range healthcare services provider.
“They were able to continue to answer our questions and solve our problems without missing much of a beat at all,” she says. “I’m unaware of any issues that didn’t get taken care of in a reasonable period of time.”
When it comes to client and patient data, security is a very big concern. For Virsage customers using Citrix hosted virtual solutions, there wasn’t any worry about exposing or losing private data during the Colorado flooding.
“When we originally set up these systems three years ago, one consideration was creating a completely virtual environment so working at home, in a coffee shop or at a client location was the same experience. Plus, we have complete security on client data,” Fargo says. “There is no client data on our physical machines; it’s all in the Citrix virtual environment.”
His accounting firm had moved physical office locations the day before the flooding hit the region. “We moved from our old office to a new office in two hours; the computers haven’t skipped a beat. The desks were set up, we walked in with computer monitors and personal items like desk photos, then started working—and billing—in just two hours,” Fargo says. “There were no servers to move, no team of IT people needed. We had nothing to move, it was so easy.
“With a storm like this, there was a high likelihood that stuff would get destroyed. In a flood, fire or earthquake, information may not be secure. Operating this virtual hosted environment, there’s not a single issue,” Fargo says. “We could have been flooded in the office and set up shop in a house or a coffee shop; it would not have been an issue. Continuity of business was not a concern for us with the flood. We were more focused on making sure employees were safe and were able to get back and forth to work.”
For Rocky Mountain Primary Care, the flooding affected a few of its 55 employees but spared all of the three office locations. Knowing a service provider managed the office applications and off-site patient data storage, Duysen had little to worry about during the disaster. “I’m certain that had we not been using virtual desktops and had a bunch of equipment housed locally, I’d be a lot more concerned about things that could potentially ruin our business,” she says. “But to be honest, it just never ever crossed our minds.
“We didn’t have to think about it. Our information is being stored and we use cloud-based desktops to update records and billing,” Duysen continues. She notes that even if the disaster had affected desktops, she had reassurance the data was secure and safe, even if not accessible.
Throughout the entire flood, Virsage and its customers were able to pay attention to truly important aspects such as employee safety instead of worrying about information access and data security. The small businesses were able to keep on serving customers, plus rely on Citrix virtual desktops to manage the day-to-day billing that keeps their practices going.
With a focus on tax and advisory services as well as merger and acquisition processes for emerging-growth, small and medium businesses, Kurtz Fargo was able to stay open and keep billing without interruption.
Physicians providing family practice as well as pediatric and internal medicine at Rocky Mountain Primary Care were able to continue to see patients and update records without challenges due to the flooding.
“Coming out of the IT service provider industry, we have a focus on the customer,” Dodge explains about the Virsage success during the recent natural disaster. Using proven and flexible Citrix hosted solutions made the challenges less difficult for his team. “With technology, there are going to be issues. What’s going to define your success in the long term is how you handle those issues when they come across. Being a Citrix partner for so long has helped us to deliver high value services. We are able to quickly resolve issues when they come across our plate.”
The Virsage team continues to provide hosted desktops and applications to businesses and, on a larger scale, to its partners that resell hosted services based on the Virsage WorkPlace model. “We use NetScaler, XenDesktop, XenApp and XenServer. We really have an entire infrastructure of Citrix technology, and we definitely don’t want to stop,” Dodge says.
“We work with a lot of ISVs [independent software vendors], but there had never been a provider where we really just jumped all in with the solution like we have with Citrix,” Dodge continues. “With the alignment we have and the way we see the industry going, we see Citrix driving that industry.”
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