LAS VEGAS: Baloise Group has used virtualisation technology from Citrix to overhaul its IT infrastructure and enable more efficient and secure flexible/remote working.
Olaf Romer, head of corporate IT and chief information officer at Baloise Group, explained in an interview with V3 at Citrix Synergy in Las Vegas that the company started using Citrix’s XenDesktop virtualisation as early as 2003.
But the company required more use of virtualisation technology as it started to modernise its offices and adopt more flexible working practices.
“Two years ago we started to rebuild our floors to go away from the single offices and normal floor space to a flexible office which means no-one has their own desk,” said Romer.
“In parallel to that we introduced a use-your-own-device [strategy]. Both things pushed up the whole need for Citrix products.”
Baloise Group now makes comprehensive use of Citrix’s XenApps, XenDesktop and NetScaler software to virtualise a lot of its IT services.
The use of virtualisation allows the company to offer remote desktop and app access on any device an employee wants to use.
Virtualisation means that data does not leave the servers or data centres in which it is stored, ensuring that employees can work flexibly and maintaining security and control over system and data access.
“You have security options and you can clearly define what a user can do," said Romer, noting that Citrix also helps control how employees access the company’s systems when outside Switzerland and thus subject to different data migration and access regulations.
“In the past we didn’t have this so we had a policy on paper to say the bank employee is not allowed to go with a notebook to a foreign country,” he explained.
“Today we still have this policy but on an infrastructure level we can say ‘OK if you are outside your IP address, outside Switzerland, it is not possible to use [the company’s systems and apps].”
Baloise Group also does a lot of work with external partners. In the past this meant trying to work on projects in a collaborative way yet on different IT infrastructures.
But virtualisation technology allows the company to extend its services to partners and have control over what they access and control.
“We use the whole infrastructure in parallel to connect the externals to the applications they need in a much more secure situation than we had before,” said Romer.
Virtual systems and apps also allow the company to push new applications and updates to its 8,000 employees far faster than before, reducing the rollout time from 30 days to overnight.
All this makes the very traditional Baloise Group a more modern company that can attract millennials and tech-savvy workers.
“I think we are more attractive now that we have the Google-style flexible office and the use-your-own-device and work mail possibilities on an iPhone,” said Romer.
Baloise Group is a good example of how adopting digital technologies can enable IT to have a significant positive impact on a business at an operational level, rather than simply act as a supporting department.
As such, it comes as no surprise that increasing numbers of organisations are pursuing a digital transformation strategy with the goal of streamlining operations and embracing more cutting-edge technology.
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